MON: GOP Calls For Easing Business Restrictions, COVID Deaths Top 1,300, + More

Apr 13, 2020

New Mexico GOP Pushes Back On COVID-19 Business Restrictions - By Morgan Lee and Russell Contreras, Associated press

The Republican Party is urging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to allow the reopening of nonessential small businesses with some requirements for social distancing.

Speaking on a virtual press conference with small business owners, GOP Chair Steve Pearce said new restrictions are unfairly hurting small "mom and pop" shops while allowing big box stores like Walmart to continue operating.

Pearce said the precautions are too drastic and put small businesses in jeopardy of financial ruin.

Lujan Grisham said she is working on a plan to re-open the state economy while putting the highest priority on public health and safety.

The number of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico rose to 1,345 Monday, with an additional five deaths, all in San Juan County, bringing the total deaths to 31.

The first-term Democratic governor and state health officials have suspended nonessential business through at least April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They also want to ensure health care facilities are not overwhelmed by a surge of patients.

The National Rifle Association and allied businesses have sued the state, alleging it infringed on 2nd Amendment rights by closing down gun shops and shooting ranges as nonessential businesses. Firearms are still sold at some feed and hardware stores.

Republicans Push Back On Coronavirus Business Restrictions - Associated Press

The Republican Party is urging New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to reopen nonessential small businesses with some requirements for social distancing. 

The first-term Democratic governor and state health officials have suspended nonessential business through at least April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ensure health care facilities are not overwhelmed by a surge of patients. 

The state Republican Party says the precautions are too drastic and put small businesses at a disadvantage. 

GOP leaders scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon to explain their views further. 

Lujan Grisham says she is working on a plan to reopen the state economy while putting the highest priority on public health and safety.

Rio Arriba County Settles Over Mexican Flag-Flying EpisodeAssociated Press

A New Mexico county has settled with a man who said a troubled sheriff pulled him over for flying a Mexican flag on his truck on the Fourth of July.

The attorney for Joshua Talamante said last week that Rio Arriba County has agreed to settle for $55,000 nearly six months after Talamante filed a tort claim notice, a precursor to a lawsuit.

Talamante says Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan pulled him over during Chama, New Mexico's July Fourth parade, last year and told them he needed to take down the Mexican flag flying from this truck.

Lujan did not return phone messages.

The settlement is one of many recent legal problems involving Lujan and his office.

Lujan is facing charges after police say he showed up drunk to a SWAT standoff, tried to order officers away, and then ignored commands to leave the "kill zone."

New Mexico Gets Late Dose Of Winter With Spring SnowAssociated Press

Some parts of northern New Mexico are getting a late dose of winter, as several inches of snow have been reported in some locations.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque on Monday issued winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for several counties through midnight. East of Albuquerque, forecasters reported several inches had fallen, marking the greatest single day of snowfall in April since at least 2012.

Forecasters say higher elevations in central New Mexico will continue to see snow accumulations through the evening. Chilly temperatures will continue through early Wednesday with many locations having hard overnight freezes.

New Mexico State Police Car Chase Leads To 1 Dead, 1 InjuredAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police are investigating after a vehicle pursuit in Los Lunas ended with an officer shooting two men, killing one.

Authorities say the incident started Sunday evening when Valencia County Sheriff's deputies asked for State Police assistance in securing a scene and searching for a female in the area.

A State Police officer then spotted a passenger car driving at a high speed. The officer tried to get the car to stop but the driver fled. A high-speed pursuit ensued. The car eventually came to a stop.

According to authorities, the officer used his Taser and then his firearm on two men. Gunfire from the officer hit them both.

New Mexico Celebrates Easter At Home Under New Restrictions - Associated Press

Church pews were empty across New Mexico as residents celebrated Easter at home amid a prohibition on public gatherings that was extended this weekend to houses of worship. 

About 850 logged on to a live Facebook feed Sunday of Easter Mass celebrations at St. Francis Cathedral in the state capital. Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester has been supportive of social distancing directives. 

Across town, online services at a Unitarian Universalist church highlighted the unknown outcome of coronavirus testing at a center for the homeless. 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expanded her mass gatherings ban to combat spread of the coronavirus to include churches and other houses of worship on the eve of the Easter hold day. 

Lujan Grisham's announcement of her deletion of a previous exemption for houses of worship said many congregations had already canceled in-person services because of the pandemic. But she said it was still necessary to be "absolutely clear that mass gatherings of any type are not permitted in houses of worship." 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the state is looking at economic recovery options but is unlikely to reopen the economy before health officials identify a peak in coronavirus infections. 

New Mexico Reports Highest Coronavirus Deaths In One Day As Cases Surpass 1,200 - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico has reported 1,245 known coronavirus cases with 26 deaths Sunday. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports the 6 additional reported deaths statewide is the highest one-day increase to be announced since the pandemic began. The state also announced 74 new cases of the virus as of Sunday. 

Infection rates remain highest in the northwest section of the state that includes a portion of the Navajo Nation. 

Quay County along the Texas state line has its first confirmed infection.

The state has identified infections among staff or residents or both at several assisted living centers for the elderly and other congregate care facilities. They include Advanced Health Care, Central Desert Behavioral Health, Good Samaritan Manzano del Sol, La Vida Llena and Uptown Genesis in Albuquerque; Aztec Health Care in Aztec; Beehive Homes in Farmington; and Legacy Santa Fe in Santa Fe.
 

New Mexico Coronavirus Strategy Gets National Spotlight - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's aggressive approach to the health crisis put her in the national spotlight on a Sunday television news broadcast. 

She told CNN that the state is looking at economic recovery options, but it is unlikely to reopen the economy before health officials identify a peak in coronavirus infections.

Lujan Grisham was asked whether she wants to be the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate alongside presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.

"I want to be the governor of New Mexico," Lujan Grisham responded. "I will do whatever it takes to support a Biden administration. And I'm looking forward to a federal administration that can do a national strategy in good times and in bad times both."

Police: School Board President Fired Gun At Family Member - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

The president of a northern New Mexico school board is facing charges after police say he fired a gun at a family member's feet. 

The Las Vegas Optic reports Las Vegas City School Board of Education president Robert Duran was arrested last week following an argument with a family member. 

According to police, Duran told the officer that the family member had called him to question him about allegedly slapping another family member. When the family member tried to approach Duran, police say Duran took a firearm out of his pickup truck and fired at the ground near the family member's feet.  

He was charged with aggravated assault and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

New Mexico Officials Crack Down On Overcrowded Parks - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration on Friday issued guidelines saying people going outdoors should practice social distancing and be cautious about potential crowding at places such as parks, trailheads and parking lots, particularly during the Easter weekend.

Las Cruces closed its public parks during the Easter weekend and officials said police would conduct patrols to enforce the closures and could issue trespass citations to repeat offenders.

Albuquerque officials said they weren't closing open spaces but that police would be stationed at trailheads to ensure that people followed social-distancing rules.

Transportation Department OKs Rest Stop Food Trucks To Reduce Truckers In Rural Communities - Associated Press

The state Department of Transportation said food trucks will be allowed to operate at highway rest areas statewide during the pandemic.

The move should help commercial truckers traveling in rural areas where communities have limited options for takeout food and minimize the need to stop in communities, the department said.

“We continue to encourage commercial vehicles to also utilize available truck stops and other options for fuel and food purchases when it makes sense," the department said.