MON: List Of Virus Loan Recipients Includes Balloon Fiesta And Opera, + More

Jul 6, 2020

Opera, Balloon Fest Among Businesses Getting Virus Loans - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The Santa Fe Opera, Meow Wolf artists collaborative and the non-profit organization that puts on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are among the New Mexico businesses that received loans from the U.S. government as part of the massive effort to support the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Treasury Department on Monday identified the borrowers that got more than $150,000 each through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The list in New Mexico includes tribal casinos and hotels, an elite private school in Albuquerque, restaurants, breweries, oil companies, electric co-ops, law firms, churches, two of the state's well-known newspapers, a few rural hospitals, dental and dermatology offices and a consulting company co-founded by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham more than a decade ago.

The consulting company founded in 2008 by Lujan Grisham and her campaign treasurer, state Rep. Deborah Armstrong, contracts with the state to run a high-risk insurance pool.

While Lujan Grisham divested herself from the company during her time in Congress, Armstrong is still an owner. Armstrong did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Also on the list are institutions that rely on tourists, such as the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Non-profit foundations that support New Mexico museums also received loans.

Across the country, the government handed out $521 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program, a crucial piece of its $2 trillion rescue package. The loans can be forgiven if the businesses mostly use the money to continue paying workers.

The program was recently extended to Aug. 8.

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, said Monday the program has been a lifeline for some businesses in the state and he urged New Mexicans to take advantage of the extension.

Opera officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the financial assistance.

Meow Wolf, a New Mexico-based startup company, laid off about 200 employees and furloughed more than 50 more in April. The business had been awarded more than $1 million in state and city financial incentives aimed at creating jobs.

The company, which operates an immersive art installation in Santa Fe, declined Monday to say how much it has received through the Paycheck Protection Program, but federal data shows it was among those companies to receive anywhere from $5 million to $10 million.

Meow Wolf also refused to say how many people remain on its payroll.

Other New Mexico businesses and non-profits to get loans worth more than $1 million include Bosque Brewing Inc., Calvary megachurch in Albuquerque, the Defined Fitness chain, The Downs at Albuquerque and Ruidoso Downs racetracks, and the Navajo Nation's agricultural enterprise in northwestern New Mexico.

New Mexico Schools Opening Comes Amid Nurse Shortage – Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

The hybrid reopening of New Mexico public schools will come amid a statewide nursing shortage, adding to the anxiety of parents and teachers. 

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports guidelines released by the New Mexico Public Education Department released last month have turned the spotlight onto school nurses. Some schools in New Mexico are reporting a lack of nurses. 

Around 1 in 5 districts reported having less than one full-time school nurse, according to the Annual School Health Services Summary Report for the 2018-19 academic year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of one full-time professional school nurse in every school.

Additionally, the National Association of School Nurses recommends 750 students to one nurse for healthy students. But in case of students with higher medical needs that require daily services, that ratio should be lowered to 225 to one nurse. 

Every region in New Mexico meets that initial ratio of one nurse to 750 students except the Northwest region, which consists of 13 school districts and has one nurse for every 896 students. 

At Farmington Municipal Schools, many of their schools must share nurses or fill those positions with health aides. 

Farmington Municipal Schools spokeswoman Renee Lucero said the district has been working hard through the summer by performing screenings on bus drivers delivering meals and on staff members working inside the buildings.

New Mexico health officials reported Monday an additional 253 coronavirus cases and two more deaths. That puts the statewide total of confirmed COVID-19 infections at 13,507 with the death toll at 515.

State COVID-19 Cases Top 200 For Fifth Straight Day – Albuquerque Journal, KUNM

State health officials reported 253 additional COVID-19 cases Monday, the fifth day in a row where cases have exceeded 200.

The Albuquerque Journal reported it was one of the highest numbers of daily cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Doña Ana County led the way with 85 new cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 60. The total number of cases is now 13,507.

There are also two new cases among state inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility in southern New Mexico. Total cases among state and federal detainees in that center are now 725.

Two more people died as well, bringing the total number of New Mexico deaiths related to COVID-19 to 515.

Last week Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham added a $100 fine to an existing public order to wear face masks in public spaces. She also warned that the state’s partial re-opening could be rolled back if numbers did not improve.

New Mexico Reports 203 More Coronavirus Cases, Zero Deaths - Associated Press, KUNM 

New Mexico health officials have reported 203 more coronavirus cases, but no additional deaths as of Sunday. 

That puts the statewide total of confirmed COVID-19 infections at 13,256 with the death toll remaining at 513. 

The state's most populous county, Bernalillo, led all others with 65 of the additional cases reported for the day. In southern New Mexico, Doña Ana County reported an additional 38 cases. 

COVID-19 continues to spread in the state and federal prison population. There are now 448 positive cases among those in state custody at the Otero County Prison Facility and 275 cases among federal inmates there. 149 people detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at the nearby Otero County Processing Center have now tested positive.

Health officials say there are 119 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. That number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state, but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico.  

New Mexico City Frustrated By Bail Reforms, Repeat CriminalsLovington Daily Leader, Associated Press

Authorities in one southeastern New Mexico community are frustrated with the state's bail reforms, saying the justice system is now failing Lovington by releasing repeat offenders from custody.

Police officers tell the Lovington Daily Leader they know many offenders on a first-name basis because they have to arrest them over and over — often for the same charges but different victims.

Prosecutors and law enforcement say some crimes are committed by people with mental health issues and that officers have been forced to take on the role of social workers.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 cleared the way for judges to detain defendants facing felony charges in jail pending trial if prosecutors prove by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is so dangerous that nothing other than detention will reasonably protect public safety.

The change also was aimed at releasing low-risk defendants who otherwise may have remained in jail because they did not have the means to make bond.

Prosecutors, public defenders, judges and law enforcement all have voiced concerns with different aspects of the system in recent years.

Report: New Mexico's Suicide Rate Is Highest In The Nation - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's suicide rate reportedly is the highest in the nation. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports  that New Mexico had 535 suicides in 2018, the most recent year for which nationwide data is available. 

According to the newspaper, rates of suicide in the youngest age group jumped significantly and mirrored a nationwide trend. 

New Mexico was fourth in the nation in 2017 with 491 suicides or a rate of 23.5 for 100,000 residents. 

Official data released annually by the American Association of Suicidology showed New Mexico trailed only Montana, Wyoming and Alaska in suicides. 

But the state had a 9% increase in 2018 and reached the top of the list with a rate of 25.6 suicides per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 14.8 suicides per 100,000. 

The Journal says New Mexico's 535 suicides in 2018 was the its highest number of suicides since the state began consistently keeping track in 1999.

New Mexico's Department of Health has re-established a coalition of advocates and organizations who will meet and discuss how to address suicides.

The department also is working with emergency departments in various hospitals to implement a secondary suicide prevention program to provide treatment and support for patients.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-NM-CRISIS or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Troubled New Mexico City To Replace Police Chief - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

The mayor of a troubled New Mexico city has fired its police chief but will keep him until a replacement is named. 

The Las Vegas Optic reports Las Vegas, New Mexico, Mayor Louie Trujillo confirmed this week he told current Police Chief David Bibb he will be replaced. 

Trujillo has chosen a replacement for Bibb, but said he won't make a formal announcement until he presents the candidate to Las Vegas City Council. 

That announcement could come as early as the next regular meeting, which is scheduled for July 15. 

The city has struggled to retain a police chief in recent years, and Bibb has only been on the job for 19 months. He was appointed by former Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron in November 2017 to replace Jerry Delgado, who resigned just days after starting the job.

The shakeup follows similar shifts in other high-profile positions within the city following Trujillo's election victory.

Last year, New Mexico's attorney general charged Gurule-Giron with six felony bribery and abuse of power counts after prosecutors said she steered contracts to a construction firm owned by a man they allege she was romantically involved with. 


New Mexico Finally Establishes Alternative Fuel Corridors - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

New Mexico officials have announced that the Federal Highway Administration has designated the state's first alternative fuel corridors. 

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the state's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department said the federal agency designated New Mexico's first alternative fuel corridors after years of not participating in the program. 

New Mexico was one of just four states not yet participating in a program that helps federal, state and local governments and private companies plan and build an interstate network of alternative fuel stations.  

Federal designations exist for electric, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas stations, with different criteria for each fuel. 

The FHA requires that electric charging facilities be established at 50-mile intervals along a designated corridor, for instance, or 100-mile intervals for hydrogen.

Before New Mexico's inclusion, the FHA said the program had designated 135000 miles along the national highway system as alternative fuel corridors, touching 46 states. 

National Gallery Of Art Acquires Painting By Native American - Associated Press

A painting by artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is joining works by the legendary pop artists Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol at the National Gallery of Art. 

Smith's "I See Red: Target" is the first painting on canvas by a Native American artist to enter the collection. 

The gallery announced the purchase of the painting this week. 

A Corrales resident, Smith is an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana. 

She tells the Albuquerque Journal she was shocked to be the first Native American painter to appear in the national museum.

Smith's roles as artist, teacher, curator and activist have resulted in hundreds of exhibitions across four decades. Her work hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Albuquerque Museum.

Navajo Nation Reports 38 More Coronavirus Cases Plus 1 Death – Associated Press

Navajo Nation health officials have reported 38 additional cases of COVID-19 and one more known death.

Tribal Department of Health officials say 7,840 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive with 378 known deaths as of Sunday night.

Health officials also say reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate 58,768 people have been tested and 5,581 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.

Tribal police and the New Mexico National Guard are enforcing weekend curfews on the Navajo Nation as officials continue to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people.  

Navajo Nation Reports 71 More COVID-19 Cases, 2 More Deaths - Associated Press

Navajo Nation health officials have reported 71 additional cases of COVID-19 and two more known deaths. 

A total of 7,804 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah have tested positive with 337 known deaths as of Saturday night. 

Tribal Department of Health officials say reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that 58,440 people have been tested and 5,543 have recovered from COVID-19. 

Tribal police and the New Mexico National Guard are enforcing a weekend curfew on the Navajo Nation as officials on the sprawling reservation continue to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The curfew that started at 8 p.m. Friday and expires at 5 a.m. Monday is the first of three consecutive weekend lockdowns on the reservation.