MON: Film Industry To Resume Work, State Reports Lowest Number Of COVID Cases In Months, + More

Sep 7, 2020

New Mexico Film Industry To Resume Some Production WorkSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico officials have approved the start of production work by film crews in a sign the industry could soon be back in business after a suspension because of the coronavirus.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported film companies will follow specific guidelines created by an industry task force, while also adhering to public health rules for all businesses in the state.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has not yet announced when health restrictions will be eased to allow filmmaking to fully resume. A union representative says several hundred crew members have returned to work.

The state Economic Development Department said about 80 film productions were shot in New Mexico in fiscal year 2020, bringing nearly $400 million into the state economy.

The figure was a decrease from fiscal year 2019, when the state received $525 million in direct spending by film productions.

On Monday, state health officials announced 46 more cases of COVID-19. There have been 26,144 cases in the state since the pandemic began.

There were also four additional deaths, including a woman in her 40s in Bernalillo County. That brings the total number of COVID-related deaths to 807.

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 Reports 46 New Virus Cases, Lowest In MonthsAssociated Press

New Mexico health officials are reporting 46 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus — the lowest daily number in the state since early April.

The new cases announced Monday bring the state's total to 26,144. State health officials also said four more people have died from the virus.

According to state numbers, 807 people in New Mexico have died from COVID-19.

There are 65 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for the virus. That number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico.

There are 13,604 COVID-19 cases designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.

University Of New Mexico Probes Officer's TikTok PostAssociated Press

University of New Mexico officials are investigating a video posted by a campus police officer that appears to make fun of people of Mexican descent.

The school announced last week it has suspended University of New Mexico Police Department officer Eric Peer in connection with a video posted March 29 on the social media app TikTok.

In the video, a man is seen laying tile with a "South Park" voice-over saying "scanning for Mexicans."

The video was recorded inside an unspecified house and showed the floor where the tile is being placed. No phone number is listed for Peer. 

US Senate Hopefuls In New Mexico Release 1st Attack Ads - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Candidates for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat have released their first slate of attack ads. Democratic Rep.

Ben Ray Luján on Friday unveiled a commercial that assails Republican Mark Ronchetti for seeking to replace the Affordable Care Act. The ad named "Decision" uses a nurse practitioner who says Luján will protect coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Ronchetti shot back on Saturday with a commercial that blasts Luján for supporting the New Green Deal —­ a proposal Republicans say would hurt New Mexico's oil and gas industry.

The ad also seeks to link him to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The ads come as Republicans attack Luján for opting not to participate in scheduled KOB-TV debate with Ronchetti.

Luján has agreed to join a debate sponsored by KOAT-TV and the Albuquerque Journal and another one hosted by PBS-affiliate KNME-TV.

But Ronchetti said Luján is seeking to "run for his D.C. record" by not participating in at least three debates.

KOB-TV said the station will leave an empty podium meant for Luján is he does not appear for the Oct. 5 debate.

In a statement, Luján's campaign manager Travis Brimm said the congressman is looking forward to participating in two debates.

New Mexico Governor: Don't Let Your Guard Down On Holiday - Associated Press

New Mexico officials are urging residents to take precautions while celebrating Labor Day to avoid spreading the coronavirus. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the state "has made great progress in the fight against COVID-19." But she says the holiday weekend will be a key to keeping spread of the virus low and to ensuring that students can return safely to school this year. 

She asks New Mexicans to "not let their guard down" and to continue wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. 

Specific practices recommended by state officials including celebrating outside and keeping celebrations within households. Also, wearing a mask, washing hands and staying six feet apart.


New Mexico Reports 66 More Virus Cases, 3 Additional Deaths - Associated Press

New Mexico reported 66 more cases of coronavirus on Sunday and three more deaths. 

The latest numbers from the state Department of Health bring the total reported number of cases statewide to 26,107, with 803 deaths from COVID-19. 

The three deaths reported Sunday were a man in his 90s in Doña Ana County, a man in his 80s with an underlying health condition in San Juan County and a man in his 30s with an underlying health condition in McKinley County. 

New cases include 16 in Chaves County, 10 in Bernalillo and 9 in Doña Ana . The rest were in 10 other counties.

The Navajo Nation reported nine new coronavirus cases and one new coronavirus-related death on Sunday. The total number of deaths on the reservation now stands at 523, and the total number of cases is 9,900.

The Standard Diner Becomes The Range Café Albuquerque Journal

The Standard Diner in Albuquerque can be added to the list of local businesses that won’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. The diner will close Monday, Sept. 7, after 14 years of service on Central Ave. However, the doors won’t be closed for long.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the restaurant announced last week on social media that it will reopen this Friday as a location of the Range Café, a local chain and a “sister” restaurant of the Standard Diner.

The menu will be changed to that of the Range Cafe, but restaurant management says popular items off the Standard Diner menu will included.

The staff of the Standard Diner will be retained to run the new restaurant.

Virus Relief Helps Bring Electricity To Navajo Nation Homes - Associated Press

Federal coronavirus relief funding has helped more than 100 homes on the Navajo Nation get connected to the electric grid. 

The Navajo Nation said Sunday that electric line crews are working to connect more homes to the grid ahead of a December 2020 deadline to use the funds. 

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority plans to extend electricity to 510 families. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that access to the electric grid can help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 for families. 

The utility was awarded $13.8 million in coronavirus relief funds for power projects and $24.7 million to increase the electrical grid capacity.


US Regulators Take Public Comments On Nuclear Fuel Plan - Associated Press

U.S. nuclear regulators have hosted their final public hearing on a proposal to build a multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico to store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the country. And there's still disagreement about whether granting a license to Holtec International would be a good thing. 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission heard from supporters and critics during a meeting last week. The commission's draft environmental review says the project would have minimal environmental effects. A study on the project’s impact on human safety is pending. That will require another round of public comment.

New Jersey-based Holtec is seeking a 40-year license to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex near Carlsbad. The first phase calls for storing up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium, which would be packed into 500 canisters. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent nuclear fuel.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other elected officials are among those with concerns about the potential environmental effects and the prospects of New Mexico becoming a permanent dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel. They point to the lack of a permanent plan by the federal government for dealing with the waste piling up at power plants around the country.


Hearse Believed To Have Carried Old West Lawman At New Home - Associated Press

A historic hearse that is believed to have carried the Old West lawman known for killing Billy the Kid to his grave is now part of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. 

The hearse was the only one available in Las Cruces when Pat Garrett was fatally shot in a dispute over a southern New Mexico ranch. That has created the widespread belief that it delivered Garrett to his final resting place. 

The museum's curator of history says the odds are just as good that his family put him in the back of a farm wagon and drove Garrett to the cemetery. Still, the hearse likely will spark interest in Garrett. 

The hearse has changed hands many times over the years. It was at the Historical Museum of Lawmen in the lobby of the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department office until recently when the museum closed. 

Garrett died in 1908 and is buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Las Cruces.

Navajo Nation Calls For Investigation Into Fort Hood Deaths - Associated Press

The Navajo Nation has joined calls for an accounting of the deaths at Fort Hood after one of its members became the latest soldier from the U.S. Army post in Texas to die. 

Officials say 25-year-old Corlton L. Chee, of Pinehill, New Mexico, died Wednesday after he collapsed following a physical fitness training exercise five days earlier. 

Data obtained by the Associated Press shows he was the 28th soldier from the central Texas post to die this year. 

The Navajo Nation Council praised Chee in a statement and urged the Army to investigate his and the other soldiers' deaths. Speaker Seth Damon says Council members are “deeply disturbed by the string of deaths at Fort Hood.”

The Army says Chee's death is being investigated.