MON: State Sets New Daily Record For COVID-19 Cases, + More

Jul 27, 2020


State Sets New Daily High For COVID-19 Cases With 467KUNM, Albuquerque Journal

State health officials reported 467 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, which is a new daily record.

The spike was driven in part by 170 new cases among federal inmates at the Cibola County Correctional Center.

Doña Ana County led the state with 76 new cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 62. New Mexico has now had a total of 19,502 COVID-19 cases

There were also five additional deaths among people with ages ranging from the 50s to over 100. All but one had underlying health conditions. That pushes the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to 619.

Officials said there are 159 people hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday the state’s efforts to boost contact tracing are falling behind.

The median time the state takes to contact and recommend isolation for someone who tested positive for the coronavirus is 81 hours, which is almost triple what it was a month ago.

Officials blamed delays on the surge in cases in recent weeks.

Official Regrets Voting For School Conquistador Name RemovalLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A member of a New Mexico school board who made a key vote that ended up removing the name of a Spanish conquistador from a high school now regrets her decision.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Carol Cooper of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education said she wishes she could go back in time and reverse her decisive July 14 vote to remove the name of Don Juan de Oñate from Oñate High School.

Las Cruces school board members voted 3-1 in favor of changing the name during a virtual special meeting July 14. It remains unclear if the board can revisit.

The proposal to change the name of the school came amid a national conversation about monuments and names of institutions honoring historical figures linked to racism.

But after Cooper voted, she said she heard from many constituents who told her they wished she had kept the school's name. Officials have not come up with a new name for the school.

Critics have said figures like Oñate, who led early Spanish expeditions into present-day New Mexico, shouldn't be celebrated.

They point to Oñate's order to have the right feet cut off of 24 captive tribal warriors after his soldiers stormed Acoma Pueblo and say Oñate enslaved Native Americans and oversaw the brutal treatment of Indigenous populations in the American Southwest.

Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Laying Off 900 EmployeesAssociated Press

Hundreds of people who had been on paid leave from their jobs with the Navajo Nation's gambling enterprise won't be paid after Monday.

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise had kept 1,180 people on the payroll since March when its casinos in New Mexico and Arizona shut down because of the coronavirus. The enterprise says it no longer can afford to support the full payroll.

The enterprise's interim chief executive says 900 employees will be among the initial layoffs. Another 125 will be paid for another week.

The total number of people infected on the vast reservation now stands above 8,890 with 439 known deaths as of Sunday night. 

Santa Fe County Man Recovering From Bubonic PlagueAssociated Press

New Mexico health officials say they have found a case of bubonic plague.

The New Mexico Department of Health reported Monday that a Santa Fe County man in his 60s has the plague. He is recovering at a hospital.

According to health officials, an environmental investigation is being done around the man's home to see if his immediate family or neighbors face any risk.

Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says this case is a reminder there are other infectious diseases to be aware of besides COVID-19.

It is the state's first case of bubonic plague this year.

A bacterial disease that usually originates with wildlife, the plague can be transmitted to humans and pets through the bites of infected fleas. Symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, and swelling of the lymph nodes. It can lead to death.

Doctors say it can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough.

Health officials advise avoiding dead rodents or rabbits as well as nests or burrows. Pet owners should also consider not letting pets go hunting or roaming.

Roswell Doctor Adamantly Against Statewide Mask MandateKOB-TV, Associated Press

A Roswell physician says he will not force anyone to wear a mask at his clinic.

KRQE-TV reported Sunday that Dr. Krafimir Hirstov is likening the state mandate to wear face coverings because of coronavirus to "a dictatorship."

Hirstov owns Reinecke Medical and Chiropractic medical center. Hirstov also believes masks are ultimately useless against airborne viruses.

Roswell city officials voted last week not to enforce the state mask requirement.

New Mexico health officials called Hirstov's attitude "shocking" for a medical provider. They will refer the clinic to the state's chiropractic board for possible sanctions. 

State health officials say anyone not following the statewide mask mandate may face criminal and civil penalties.

Troubled New Mexico Sheriff's Office To Get 'Superhero' Tool Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff, whose office is plagued by racial profiling lawsuits, said deputies will be outfitted with new superhero-style restraining devices but not body cameras.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is giving 20 deputies a BolaWrap — a handheld device that shoots a Kevlar wire, which wraps around a fleeing suspect several times and restricts movement. Supporters of the device say it's a tool that looks like something Batman would use to take down villains.

The company that makes the BolaWrap shooter, Wrap Technologies, markets it as a way to improve officer safety. Each device costs about $1,000, according to the company’s website.

The move comes as Sheriff Manuel Gonzales says he can’t afford to purchase body cameras for his deputies as now required by state law.

Gonzales has faced criticism before for refusing to force deputies to wear body cams amid a string of deputy shootings.

New Mexico Reports 266 New Coronavirus Cases, 7 More DeathsAssociated Press

Health officials in New Mexico report 266 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

Data released Sunday by the state Department of Health pushed the total of coronavirus cases to 19,042 with 614 known deaths.

Bernalillo County led all counties in new cases with 91 and four of the latest reported deaths occurred in that county.

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.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, 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.

Man Who Found Forrest Fenn Treasure Located It In WyomingAssociated Press

Famed art and antiquities collector Forrest Fenn says the man who found his hidden treasure last month located it in Wyoming.

The 89-year-old Fenn filled a bronze chest with gold, jewels and other valuables worth an estimated $2 million and hid it a decade ago somewhere in the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

But Fenn now says “the [anonymous] finder understood how important some closure is for many searchers,” so he agreed to reveal the treasure was found in Wyoming, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Fenn, a Santa Fe resident, had posted clues to the treasure’s whereabouts online and in a 24-line poem that was published in his 2010 autobiography “The Thrill of the Chase.”

Hundreds of thousands hunted in vain across remote corners of the U.S. West for the treasure. Many quit their jobs to dedicate themselves to the search and others depleted their life savings. At least four people died searching for it.

Navajo Nation Reports 69 New COVID-19 Cases, But No DeathsAssociated Press

Navajo Nation health officials report 69 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths.

The total number of people infected on the reservation now stands at 8,837 with 434 known deaths as of Saturday night.

Tribal health officials said 76,902 people have undergone testing and 6,525 have recovered from the virus.

The latest weekend lockdown that includes the closure of businesses began after sunset Friday and will end early Monday morning. The tribe also has implemented daily and nighttime curfews.

Residents of the vast reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have also been under a mandate to wear masks when out in public.

New Mexico's National Parks Need Millions In UpgradesAssociated Press

The maintenance backlog at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is close to $40 million.

The park’s needs make up almost a third of the $121 million backlog at New Mexico’s national parks and monuments, according to the National Park Service.

The Great American Outdoors Act, which is expected to pass the U.S. House and be signed by President Donald Trump this month, would provide $1.9 billion a year for five years to address deferred maintenance.

White Sands National Park listed deferred maintenance at a little more than $3 million in 2018, but park Superintendent Marie Sauter said more work is needed because more visitors are coming since it was upgraded to national park status in December.

Maintenance needs aren’t limited to the two national parks.

The parks system listed the backlog for Chaco Culture National Historical Park at more than $18 million and Bandelier National Monument at more than $14 million.

Carlsbad Woman Sentenced For Jail Escape After Son's Funeral Associated Press

A New Mexico woman was allowed to leave jail to attend her son’s funeral but never returned has been sentenced.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Angela Sotelo of Carlsbad pleaded no contest this month to an attempting to escape charge.

According to a criminal complaint, a state judge allowed Sotelo to attend the funeral of her son in August 2019 on a furlough. But Sotelo did not return at her assigned time.

Police found Sotelo on Dec. 5 and charged her with escaping from jail, failure to appear and failure to comply.

She was sentenced to three years in prison.

A judge added four years to Sotelo’s original sentence, as Sotelo is a habitual offender.

She previously had been sentenced for drug charges.

Civil Rights Group Rebuffs Member, Supports Ethnic Studies Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization said Friday it strongly supports Ethnic Studies programs in colleges and won’t participate in the “glorification of historical figures” or defend monuments that eulogize violence like those around Spanish conquistadors.

The League of United Latin American Citizens said Ethnic Studies programs in universities across the U.S. should be defended and vowed to celebrate “Indo-Latinx-Afro history” after a member publicly called for some programs at the University of New Mexico to be censored.

The statement came after New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes wrote to the president of the University of New Mexico that the school should dismantle some Ethnic Studies programs and censor classes.

Arellanes was upset about the recent removals of Spanish conquistador monuments in New Mexico. After The Associated Press reported his demands, Arellanes denied on social media that he was referring to Chicano Studies and Native American Studies but declined to say which programs he wanted dismantled.