FRI: State Sees Highest Daily Average Yet Of COVID-19 Cases,+ More

Jul 10, 2020

State Hits Highest Daily Average Of New COVID-19 Cases To DateAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico health officials reported 301 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

That’s the second highest daily number of cases to date and the Albuquerque Journal reported it pushed the state’s daily average of infections to its highest point so far.

Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, had the most new cases, followed by Doña County, which includes Las Cruces. The state has now had a total of 14,549 cases.

There were an additional six deaths as well, bringing that total to 539. There are 151 people who are currently hospitalized.

Calling the situation untenable on Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reinstated some restrictions. That includes halting indoor restaurant service, closing state parks to nonresidents and suspending autumn contact sports at schools.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Outdoor dining at restaurants and breweries will still be allowed under health order revisions that take effect on Monday. 

Lujan Grisham has urged residents of Texas in particular to stay away from nonessential visits until a vaccine is found to halt the spread of COVID-19.

'Cowboys For Trump' Ordered To Pay Fines, Register As Group - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The New Mexico group, Cowboys for Trump has been ordered to register as a political committee in the state, and pay $7,600 in fines for not filing expenditure reports.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday in a letter to the group's lawyers that if it fails to comply she will refer the matter to the state Ethics Commission for civil enforcement of the fine.

Cowboys for Trump has protested the requirements because it argues campaign finance laws violate free speech, and the group doesn't meet the definition of a political committee. 

No COVID-19 Around These Parts, For 1 New Mexico County - By Cedar Attanasio, Associated Press/Report For America

As New Mexico rolled out increased precautions to combat a spike in COVID-19 cases, two rural counties had not had a single confirmed case since the outbreak began.

That changed Friday when Mora County reported its first. De Baca County remains at zero. Residents with underlying medical conditions fear their neighbors are using the statistic to lower their guard, gather in groups and go without masks.

Others are growing impatient as they're forced to follow health guidelines in a place where the threat hasn't revealed itself.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has cited accelerating rates of infection across large expanses of the state for new restrictions and the rolling back of restaurant reopenings.

No COVID-19 Around These Parts, For 2 New Mexico Counties - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press/Report For America

As New Mexico rolls out increased precautions to combat a spike in COVID-19 cases, two rural counties still haven't had a single confirmed case.

Residents in Mora and De Baca counties are safe for now. Residents with underlying medical conditions fear their neighbors are using the "zero" statistic to lower their guard, gather in groups and go without masks.

Others are growing impatient as they're forced to follow health guidelines in a place where the threat hasn't revealed itself.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has cited accelerating rates of infection across large expanses of the state for new restrictions and the rolling back of restaurant reopenings.

Tailgating Tradition Takes On New Form As Opera Goes Virtual - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The famed Santa Fe Opera is offering a series of virtual performances after being forced to cancel the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Saturday night events are meant to celebrate the five originally-scheduled operas that would have been performed this summer, including the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly.

The opera's general director says the message is simple: Dress up, pop the cork and join in from home.

He hopes the digital initiative can bring some joy in what has been a trying time. The opera is facing a $10 million loss in revenue. 

The opera is among businesses across the U.S. that received loans under the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the effort to rescue an economy devastated by shutdowns and uncertainty. The government is backing $659 billion in low-interest loans that borrowers can use for payroll, rent and similar expenses.

The Santa Fe Opera received a $2 million loan that has helped to retain several dozen full-time staff and provide some compensation to nearly half of the 700 employees who make up the seasonal staff, Meya said.

In a regular year, the opera's operating budget is about $25 million, with 40% of that coming from ticket sales and donations making up another 40%.

New Mexico Rep. Linda Trujillo Resigns Amid Financial WoesAssociated Press

A New Mexico state representative has resigned from the Legislature, citing financial burdens caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Rep. Linda Trujillo submitted her resignation Thursday to the secretary of state's office after having won election to the House in 2016.

Trujillo has been working as an attorney in Albuquerque but said she had to cut back her hours by 25% because of her commitment to the Legislature. Trujillo was set to be unopposed in the fall election.

During her tenure, Trujillo successfully co-sponsored legislation to establish a new early childhood department, make settlement records public immediately rather than after a six-month wait and revise election procedures.

Trujillo also served as vice chairwoman of the House Education Committee and as a member of the Legislative Education Study Committee. She said it's up to legislators to replace her on those committees, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The Santa Fe County Commission will appoint Trujillo's immediate successor, and a Democratic Party committee will choose a nominee to replace her on the ballot.

New Mexico Halts School Sports, Indoor Dining, Filmmaking - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico will halt indoor restaurant service, close state parks to nonresidents and suspend autumn contact sports at schools in response to surging coronavirus infections within its boundaries and neighboring Texas and Arizona. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that accelerating rates of infection across large expanses of the state, including population centers in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, have forced her to instate new restrictions and backtrack on restaurant reopenings. 

Outdoor dining at restaurants and breweries will still be allowed under health order revisions that take effect on Monday. 

Lujan Grisham has urged residents of Texas in particular to stay away from nonessential visits until a vaccine is found to halt the spread of COVID-19.

She said nonresidents who enter New Mexico with out-of-state plates should be prepared to answer questions about their compliance with the 14-day self-quarantine mandate.

Cancelled autumn sports include football and soccer — not only at public schools but also recreational leagues for all ages. People exercising outdoors will be expected for the first time to wear a mask — including runners.

Lujan Grisham said she is recommending that local universities follow the example of Ivy League schools and suspend collegiate contact sports for the fall. 

The first-term Democratic governor said that discussions are underway with Albuquerque's professional soccer team, New Mexico United, that could allow competition to resume, while "all bets are off" for now. 

Plans to resume film production in an isolated "pod environment" are on pause, the governor said.

The state Republican Party noted a gradual downward trend in mortality rates since mid-May and issued a statement calling the new restrictions illogical and inequitable. 

Health officials blamed the state's backslide into accelerating rates of infection on fatigue and frustration, and urged New Mexico residents to buckle down for the sake of neighbors, family and their own safety. 

Human Service Secretary David Scrase says that aggregated cellphone data on mobility proves that people are venturing out more.

Gov. Says August Return To School May Be Canceled Or Delayed - Associated Press 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during a briefing Thursday said she is weighing whether to possibly cancel or delay the state's scheduled Aug. 3 return to classrooms if the spread of the coronavirus cannot be reined in by more responsible behavior such as wearing masks in public and avoiding gatherings, including family celebrations.

She pushed back against threats by President Donald Trump to withhold federal funds to public schools that don't fully resume classroom studies, defending the state's "science- and data-driven approach" to fighting the pandemic.

The state Public Education Department has issued guidance that requires schools to start the year in a hybrid learning mode with in-person attendance limited to half the normal classroom capacity, billing the plan as "a prudent and responsible process."

Most New COVID Cases In Populous Bernalillo And Doña Ana Counties - Associated Press 

The state on Thursday announced six coronavirus-related deaths and 238 newly reported cases. Counties encompassing Albuquerque and Las Cruces had the most new cases.

New Mexico's seven-day average rate for positive tests has crept upward to 3.9%, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. 

Arizona led all states with a roughly 27% rate.

New Mexico has detected 14,251 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 533 related deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Tribal College Will Offer Nearly All Fall Courses Online - Associated Press

A college on the Navajo Nation plans to offer nearly all of its courses online this fall and says it is instituting safety and technology measures to help students succeed during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dine College officials said all but 10 of its planned 358 courses will be offered online and that its preparations include a $6.4 million technology upgrade and development of a laptop loan program.

College President Charles Roessel said on-campus safety measures include new signage encouraging social distancing and installation of plexiglass barriers in offices and classrooms to block transmission of COVID-19.

Nearly 1,500 students, mostly Navajo Nation members, are enrolled at the school that has several campuses across the Navajo reservation, which includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. 

Navajo Nation Reports 40 More COVID-19 Cases, 3 More DeathsAssociated Press

Navajo Nation health officials have reported 40 more coronavirus cases and three additional known deaths.

Tribal Department of Health officials say 7,981 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive for COVID-19 with 382 known deaths as of Wednesday night.

Health officials also say reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate 61,371 people have been tested and 5,693 have recovered from COVID-19.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
 

New Mexico College To Award 'George Floyd' Scholarship - Associated Press

A foundation for a New Mexico college has announced it has created a scholarship in George Floyd's name for Black students.

The New Mexico Highlands University Foundation said Thursday it developed the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship to benefit African American students, thanks to a generous donor.

Highlands vice president of student and donor engagement Theresa Law says the new scholarship will benefit Black Highlands University students who are leaders on campus or are working on diversity, equality, and injustice.

New Mexico Highlands University is located in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Floyd, who was Black, died May 25, 2020, after a white Minnesota police officer pressed a knee to his neck. The killing was caught on video and sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and demands for police reforms.

Northern New Mexico Horse Shootings Spark Investigation - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

Authorities are investigating the shooting of two horses in northern New Mexico. 

The Las Vegas Optic reports two horses in the Monte Aplanado area of Mora County were shot last month. 

Animal Protection of New Mexico says one of the horses died from gunshot wounds while the other is recovering. 

No arrests have been made. 

Horses were reported to have been running in the Laguna Alta area. 

The New Mexico Livestock Board is investigating the shootings as a felony animal cruelty case.

Agencies, Group Take 'Step Forward' With Mexican Owl Talks - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Negotiations among environmentalists and state and federal officials in Arizona and New Mexico have resulted in a set of recommendations and other provisions that environmentalists say will help protect the threatened Mexican spotted owl and allow forest thinning projects to move forward.

The Center for Biological Diversity says it's backing down from its threat to sue as a result. Environmentalists have complained for years that the U.S. Forest Service has failed to consider the effects of thinning and logging on the owls.

Regional officials with the Forest Service say the new understanding made public Wednesday marked a positive step in an ongoing battle over the owl.

A separate case that raised similar concerns by the group WildEarth Guardians is still pending. The parties are working toward a settlement but it's unclear how soon an agreement may be reached.

North Dakota Man To Pay $74K For Poaching Trophy Mule DeerAssociated Press

A North Dakota man has been ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution for poaching a trophy mule deer buck in northwestern New Mexico.

The state Department of Game and Fish says Cody Davis also was ordered to make a $3,000 donation to the Operation Game Thief program.

Authorities say Davis killed a mule deer out of season and didn't have a license.

The investigation started in 2015 when game officers found a large headless buck near Lindrith. They put up surveillance at the site and caught Davis four months later when he returned to retrieve the severed head that was stashed nearby.