MON: New Mexico Tech Shuts Campus After Weekend Parties, + More

Oct 19, 2020

New Mexico Tech Shut Down After Reports Of Weekend PartiesAssociated Press

New Mexico Tech has temporarily closed out of caution against COVID-19 after officials learned of several off-campus weekend parties.

University President Stephen Wells announced on the school's website that the campus would be shut down Monday.

According to Wells, between 50-100 students gathered over the weekend at multiple parties in the area surrounding the Socorro campus.

Wells said “it is regrettable that I have to take this extreme measure due to the irresponsibility of a few.”

He warned any student who attended a party should go into self-isolation and report it to the office of the dean of students. Furthermore, the school will attempt to move all classes online.

Wells did not say if the school would remain closed beyond Monday.

Since the school year began, New Mexico Tech has reported four cases of COVID-19.

New Mexico health officials on Monday reported an additional 518 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 37,300 since the pandemic began. There were also 24 new cases at the Lea County Correctional Center.

There was also one additional death of a man in in his 50s in Bernalillo County, bringing that tally to 935.

New Mexico Tribes Concerned About Pitch To Expand Gambling - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Native American leaders in New Mexico are raising concerns about a proposal by non-tribal racetracks and casinos to open the state to Las Vegas-style gambling.

They told state lawmakers during a meeting Monday that allowing unlimited slot machines, table games, online gambling and sports wagering at the tracks and casinos would be a "reckless attempt to expand private wealth."

Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuart Paisano said the pueblo's resort and casino on the northern edge of Albuquerque have been closed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday's meeting marked the first time tribal leaders have spoken publicly about the proposal to expand gambling.

Calling the gambling operation the backbone of the pueblo's economy, Paisano said there's considerable uncertainty about how tribal operations will be affected going forward.

The tribal leaders also said they were not approached about the plan until just days before tracks executives testified before another legislative panel earlier this month.

Track executives predict that expanded gambling would boost tourism and ensure the survival of the horse racing industry in New Mexico.

At least a dozen tribes have voiced their reservations about overhauling New Mexico's gambling rules. Santa Clara Pueblo Gov. J. Michael Chavarria said Monday his tribe is among those that have outlined their concerns in letters to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state legislative leaders.

Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, said Monday that the governor's office thoroughly reviews legislation as it makes its way through the Legislature and that would be the case if any measure related to gambling is introduced during the upcoming session in January.

“The governor has a very deep respect for the tribal gaming compacts and their importance to the sovereign nations within our state,” she told The Associated Press.

Lawmakers acknowledged Monday that the proposal could have significant effects on tax revenues paid to the state and that more data is needed to better understand the implications of expanded gambling for the budget as well as tribal communities.

Navajo Nation Reports 42 New COVID-19 Cases But No DeathsAssociated Press

Navajo Nation health officials are confirming 42 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths.

The figures released Sunday night bring the total number of cases to 10,955. The known death toll remained at 573.

Tribal health officials said 116,368 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,381 have recovered.

A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation.

Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. 

Voters Flock To Early Voting Locations Across New Mexico - By Cedar Attanasio And Morgan Lee Associated Press

Voters flocked to early voting locations Saturday as New Mexico expanded early balloting in the lead-up to Election Day, Nov. 3.

At an early voting center in Santa Fe, cars lined up hours ahead of the 10 a.m. opening time. 

Reports of slow mail and long in-person voting lines in other states motivated many voters to show up early. 

Scores of voting convenience centers opened Saturday amid a surge in early in-person and remote absentee balloting. Those centers accept voters from across their home county without regard to traditional precinct assignments. 

In-person early voting extends for two weeks through Oct. 31. 

According to the Secretary of State's office, more than 180,000 ballots have been cast statewide as of Friday. Democrats account for nearly 55% of the tally, with a strong tendency toward voting by absentee ballot.

Registered Republicans accounted for one-third of ballots cast and mostly voted in person.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, is the final day to request an absentee ballot.

Torres Small Keeps Big Money Edge In Key US House Race - Associated Press

Democratic U.S. House Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has kept a fundraising edge in a crucial House race in southern New Mexico that Republicans hope to flip. 

Federal election reports show the Las Cruces Democrat pulled in $2,247,575 during that third quarter, which ended September 30. She now has $1,869,189 cash-on-hand going into the final weeks before the election. 

Republican challenger Yvette Herrell saw a surge in fundraising during the same period and raised $1,013,687 _ one of the biggest fundraising quarters for a Republican congressional candidate in state history. 

The Alamogordo Republican reported having $514,096 cash-on-hand in a campaign that expected to draw more outside SuperPAC money. 

In recent weeks, Herrell has brought in President Donald Trump and other big-name Republicans to campaign for her virtually. 

New Mexico Reports 448 New COVID-19 Cases And 5 More Deaths - Associated Press

Health officials in New Mexico on Sunday reported 448 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. 

The latest numbers increase the total cases to 36,788 statewide since the pandemic started with 934 known deaths. 

Of the new cases, New Mexico Department of Health officials say 151 of them were in Bernalillo County. 

New Mexico set a single-day record with 819 confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday and had 577 more on Saturday. 

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 State Police Fatally Shoot Suspect Who Had Rifle - Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say a suspect is dead after a shooting on Interstate 40 left a person wounded. 

The Valencia County Sheriff's Office received a call from a woman just before 11 a.m. Saturday. She reported being shot by an unknown man, who then drove away in an SUV. 

State police spotted the vehicle on I-40 and officers used a pit maneuver and the SUV crashed into a cable barrier in the median. 

They say the driver ignored orders to surrender. 

Laguna Tribal Police shot a bean bag round into the car and the driver then reportedly fired a shot toward officers through the front windshield. 

State police say an officer returned fire and the suspect was declared dead at the scene with a rifle in his lap.

The wounded woman told sheriff's officials that she didn't know the man who shot her.

She's hospitalized in stable condition and authorities have not released her name, age or hometown.

State police said the suspect hasn't been identified yet and the officer who shot him is on administrative leave.

Explosion At New Mexico Cannabis Plant Critically Injures 2 - Associated Press

Two employees are in critical condition after an explosion at a cannabis manufacturing facility in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the explosion Thursday at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine facility in Santa Fe was the second explosion that has injured workers at the plant in the last five years.

The two injured employees were transported by air ambulance to a hospital. Their identities were not made public. They are currently in intensive care at a hospital in Denver, said Jimmy Vigil, New Mexico State fire investigations bureau captain. 

The employees were burned on their heads and torsos, said Greg Gurule, spokesman for the Santa Fe Police Department.

Vigil said the incident is under investigation. Fire officials obtained two search warrants Friday for camera footage of the dispensary. 

An explosion at the plant in 2015 severely burned two workers. OSHA fined the company $13,500 and cited it for 12 violations of workplace health and safety.

Shop Owners See Skyrocketing Demand For Bikes Amid Pandemic - By Tony Raap Santa Fe New Mexican, AP Exchange

Kristopher Hayne started looking for a mountain bike around the time the coronavirus pandemic began.

Six months later, he's still waiting to get one.

He called several bicycle shops, but says "nothing was out there.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that with limited access to gyms, people are snatching up bikes as soon as they hit the sales floor. From April to July, U.S. bike sales were up 81% compared to the same period last year, according to the NPD Group, a marketing research company.

The pandemic has also disrupted the supply chain, shutting down bicycle manufacturers in China and Taiwan when infections began to rise. Many factories have reopened but face a severe backlog.

In Santa Fe, retailers are struggling to keep bikes in stock.

Mike Chapman, owner of the Broken Spoke on Cerrillos Road said it’s been busier than ever. 

Though, it could be even busier were it not for a lack of inventory. A few weeks into the pandemic, his main distributor ran out of bikes under $1,000. And the supply crunch hasn't improved since then. He says customers willing to put money down on a new bike have to wait a month, sometimes longer, before their order arrives. 

Spaceport America Board Fires Executive Director – Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

The CEO of New Mexico's commercial spacecraft launch facility facing accusations he pressured a former chief financial officer to circumvent internal financial controls has been ousted. 

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Dan Hicks was terminated as Spaceport America's executive director and CEO with little public discussion on Friday. 

The governing board of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority met in a special session via video conference. 

The firing comes as Hicks has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. 

Dan Hicks was named Spaceport America CEO in 2016. He did not immediately return phone messages.