KUNM

MON: Governor Pushes Back On Call With Trump Over COVID-19 Resources, + More

Mar 16, 2020

Governor Tells Trump States Need More ResourcesNew York Times, Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a conference call Monday with President Donald Trump said states need more resources from the federal government to avoid putting the entire nation at risk in the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

The New York Times reported Lujan Grisham and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee were angry when Trump told governors on the call Monday morning that they should try getting more equipment like respirators and ventilators themselves rather than waiting for the federal government.

Lujan Grisham also said the federal government was creating a scenario where states would compete with one another for resources.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Lujan Grisham has issued five executive orders authorizing $3.25 million in emergency response and disaster relief aid funding.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told the New Mexican the governor got a requested followup-call from Vice President Mike Pence who assured her New Mexico would get resources to accelerate testing.

New Coronavirus Hits New Mexico, Visiting Actor - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

As Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the Trump administration on Monday to help the state expand testing for the new coronavirus, a popular music store in Santa Fe suspended business after film star Idris Elba shopped there and tested positive. Elba had been scheduled to film in New Mexico.

Randy Cook, co-owner of The Candyman Strings & Things, said the store weeks ago started a rigorous, hourly cleaning and canceled weekend gatherings including a ukulele club after the first infections appeared within the state — but it wasn't enough.

Economic development officials confirmed that Netflix and NBCUniversal Studios, which both have operations in Albuquerque, have paused work on current productions for two weeks.

Prisons and county jails have halted contact visits with inmates over the new coronavirus. And Lujan Grisham freed up over $3 million in additional funding for emergency response and disaster relief.

Across the state, 21 people have tested positive after 1,270 tests.

Albuquerque City Council Considers Emergency Powers Bill As COVID Cases Rise – Albuquerque Journal

As the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in New Mexico rose to 21 Monday the Albuquerque City Council planned vote on broadening emergency powers that can be used by the mayor.

The Albuquerque Journal reported four more adults in Bernalillo County tested positive, making 14 cases in Bernalillo County, three in Santa Fe County and two each in Sandoval and Socorro counties.

According to the Journal a bill introduced by Council President Pat Davis would distinguish a public health emergency from other civil emergencies. It gives the mayor authority to closes streets and places of mass assembly as well as daycare centers.

An updated version of the bill also allows the mayor to order retailers to put limits on the “kinds and quantities” of items that they can sell each day in an effort to curb panic hoarding.

The Monday night council meeting is closed to the general public because of statewide restrictions on large gatherings.

New Mexico Officials Say Proposed US Cleanup Budget Falls Short - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Top New Mexico officials are concerned the U.S. government isn't taking seriously its obligations to clean up waste left behind by decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at one of the nation's premier laboratories.

The birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory would see only a fraction of the $6 billion the U.S. Energy Department is proposing to spend next year on cleanup work nationwide.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration is taking another look whether it can make stronger a 2016 agreement with the federal government that spells out cleanup milestones and consequences for not achieving them.

Archdiocese Postpones Chimayó And Tome Hill PilgrimagesKUNM

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is postponing traditional pilgrimages around Easter Week to Tome Hill south of Los Lunas and the Santuario de Chimayó in northern New Mexico.

Archbishop John Wester said in a news release this is a “very difficult decision” that was made with a “great sense of sadness.” Hundreds of New Mexicans take part in the pilgrimages each year.

He also strongly discouraged individual pilgrims from visiting the Santuario de Chimayó, which many believe has miraculous healing properties, to avoid contracting COVID-19 or passing it on to others.

Wester wrote that if people are unwilling or unable to postpone their pilgrimage to Chimayó, they should follow guidelines on social distancing and safety protocols to protect fellow pilgrims and their families.

Asylum Seekers Attend Border Court Amid Outbreak - By Cedar Attanasio, Associated Press

U.S. immigration courts sharply scaled back operations Monday but have stopped well short of a total shutdown demanded by employees, including judges and government attorneys.

The partial shutdown doesn't extend to courts in immigration detention centers or to the government's "Migrant Protection Protocols" policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in the U.S.

Wearing face masks, about 30 asylum-seekers who had been waiting in Mexico were escorted by authorities into a federal building on Monday in El Paso, Texas, some carrying children. 

States Turn To Cash Reserves As Coronavirus Strains Budgets - By David A. Lie, Associated Press

State across the U.S. are allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to respond to the new coronavirus, even as the U.S. government prepares to send billions of more dollars their way.

Trump announced Friday that he would free up as much as $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak. But many states already have taken steps to pitch in their own money.

Some are pulling money out of their rainy-day funds for emergency expenses. Others are looking to place more in reserves in case the economic uncertainty caused by the new coronavirus leads to a downturn in state tax revenues. 

New Mexico lawmakers adjourned Feb. 20. This past week, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed about $150 million in infrastructure spending as coronavirus concerns caused world oil prices to plunge. The oil sector is a mainstay of the New Mexico economy.

The cuts included nearly $50 million for local transportation projects plus funding for a rural water system, a preschool and senior center at Native American communities, and improvements at district courts.

ENMU Chancellor Will Not Seek Contract RenewalAssociated Press

The head of Eastern New Mexico University System is stepping down.

University officials announced over the weekend that Chancellor and ENMU-Portales President Dr. Jeff Elwell is not extending his contract.

Elwell notified the ENMU Board of Regents that his tenure will end June 30, 2021.

He says he wanted to give early notice so the board has plenty of time to search for a successor.

Elwell is credited with furthering unity between all three campuses of the ENMU system through his "One Eastern" plan.

Amended Public Health Order Limits Restaurant Capacity And Seating - Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the state of New Mexico has released an amended public health order that impacts restaurants, bars, breweries and other food establishments. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports state Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel announced Sunday that local eateries must operate at or below 50% of their maximum occupancy and seating capacity. 

Additionally, no more than 6 people at a time can be seated at a single table or booth, which must be positioned at least six feet away from others. Customers also can no longer be seated at bars or be served while standing. 

The amended public health order goes into effect Monday morning at 9 a.m.

More Test Positive For COVID-19 In Bernalillo County - Associated Press

State health officials announced Sunday that four more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, pushing New Mexico's total to 17. They said the latest cases all were men from Bernalillo County — one in his 20s, two in their 30s and one in his 40s.

Previous cases were reported in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Socorro counties. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said more cases are likely to emerge as testing ramps up via drive-thru screening centers.

The virus usually causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can be hit with more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Albuquerque Hospitals Launch Drive-Up Covid-19 Testing - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Drive-up COVID-19 testing is now available at two clinics outside Albuquerque hospitals.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday the downtown Lovelace Medical Center began offering drive-up services from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. After running low on supplies, the hospital ended testing early on Sunday, at noon. 

On Sunday, Presbyterian Healthcare Services also began COVID-19 testing. Their testing center, located at the PresNow urgent care center on the city’s westside, will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Vesta Sandoval, Lovelace's chief medical officer, said the mobile testing can reduce emergency room crowding and give better data to public health officials. 

People with mild symptoms, or those who don't have symptoms, but recently traveled or had contact with an infected person can remain in their car and a nasal swab would be taken, health officials said. 

The tests will then be sent to TriCore Reference Laboratories and results would be available within 48 to 72 hours.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

No Sunday Mass For Many New Mexico Catholics Due To Virus - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Officials with one of the oldest Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States have opted to forego Sunday Mass indefinitely as New Mexico hopes to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Health officials say more than a dozen people in the state have tested positive for the virus. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says more cases are likely to emerge as testing ramps up via drive-thru screening centers. 

This marks the first Sunday that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is asking its parishes in central and northern New Mexico to suspend the public celebration of Mass and other services.  

Catholic leaders in Las Cruces and Gallup say Mass will continue as scheduled but that parishioners aren't obligated to attend given the public health emergency.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe says churches will remain open for individual prayer and parishioners can catch Mass via a recording available on television, radio and online.

Meanwhile Sunday, state health officials say four more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, pushing New Mexico's total to 17.

New Mexico Jails Suspend In-person Visitations, Test Inmates - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

County jails across New Mexico have suspended in-person visitations and are rapidly testing inmates to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Officials at Albuquerque's Metropolitan Detention Center — the state's most populous county jail — announced last week it will temporarily discontinue all in-person visits to the secure area of the facility. 

Inmates will continue to have access to the tablets, telephone and mail for contact with their attorneys and families, officials said.

The jail is actively working on expanding remote visitation through the tablets, the center said in a statement.

Santa Fe County Department of Public Safety also has suspended visitation for residents at the jail facility. 

All incoming inmates are being screened for all infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 

Officials with the San Miguel County Detention Center have suspended in-person visitation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Warden Matt Elwell told the Las Vegas Optic  the suspension of visitations would last at least three weeks, and that officials will review the policy at that point.

Rail Runner Suspends Service Due To Coronavirus - Associated Press

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter train service from Belen to Santa Fe is suspending service through April 3 due to the coronavirus.

Terry Doyle, director of Rio Metro Regional Transit District, says there’s no indication that anyone has contracted the virus through riding the train or the train service has transported anyone who has been infected.

There are no plans at this time to suspend or curtail service provided by Rio Metro buses and shuttle services.

New Mexico State Police Involved In Fatal Shooting In Taos - Associates Press

New Mexico State Police say one of their officers has been involved in a fatal shooting in Taos. 

They say the incident occurred Saturday when a state police officer tried to make a traffic stop on a passenger car in Española that had a stolen license plate. The suspect driver made a u-turn during a police chase and another police officer saw the vehicle speeding past other vehicles in a no passing zone. 

Officers used a maneuver that made the vehicle crash and it came to rest on its roof. Police say the suspect brandished a gun and officers shot the man. 

The man was transported to a hospital in Taos, where he later died from his injuries. The name of the man wasn't immediately released by police.  

New Veterans Clinic Coming To Southeastern New Mexico - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

U.S. military veterans are getting a new clinic in southeastern New Mexico. 

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the planned veterans clinic has been placed on a "fast track" to be completed by the end of 2020. 

Officials say the lack of options for veterans in Hobbs force many of them to make the grueling trip out of state to receive care. 

According to statistics from the Veterans Medical Center in Big Spring, Texas, there are around 6,000 veterans living in New Mexico's Lea County. 

The clinic comes after Hobbs City Commissioner Dwayne Penick had been working on bringing a veterans clinic to the Hobbs and Lea County area for around a year.

District Settles For $475K After Teacher Punched 9 Year Old Student - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico school district has agreed to pay $475,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a boy who was punched by a music teacher. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a copy of the settlement says New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority agreed to make the payout on behalf of Tony E. Quintana "Sombrillo" Elementary School in December. 

The school is part of Española Public Schools. 

The boy's parents filed the suit in November 2017, two months after former teacher John Andrew Valdez pleaded guilty to three counts of battery. 

He agreed to complete 18 months of probation as part of the plea agreement. 

Prosecutors say Valdez struck the then-9-year-old boy and two other children. 

Children Among 6 Injured In New Mexico Carnival Ride Mishap - Associated Press

The Chaves County Sheriff's Office is investigating a carnival ride accident that injured six people in the town of Hagerman, which is south of Roswell.

County Sheriff's officials say the ride with swings malfunctioned Saturday night.

They say children were among the injured, but none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.

Authorities didn't immediately say how many children were hurt or release their ages.

They say the injured were taken to a Roswell hospital for treatment.

The agency that oversees carnival ride accidents also joined the investigation Sunday. 

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