KUNM

THURS: All Public Schools To Close For Three Weeks As 6th COVID Case Confirmed, + More

Mar 12, 2020

All New Mexico Public Schools To Close For Three WeeksAssociated Press

New Mexico's governor announced Thursday that K-12 schools will close for three weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release that the extended closure will begin at the end of the school day Friday. Many public school districts had shorter spring breaks scheduled next week.

Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said the extended closure is designed to guard against the spread of COVID-19 within communities.

The state confirmed a sixth positive test for coronavirus for a woman in her 50s from Santa Fe County.

Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said the extended closure is designed to guard against the spread of COVID-19 within communities. The state confirmed a sixth positive test for coronavirus for a woman in her 50s from Santa Fe County.

The announcement comes after New Mexico health officials announced they are temporarily banning many mass gatherings that involve 100 or more people in spaces such as stadiums or auditoriums to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

A nonprofit lab on Thursday increased the state's capacity to test for the virus by an additional 5,000 people.

Exceptions to the ban on gatherings includes airports, mass transit, shopping malls, homeless shelters, courthouses, health care facilities, places of worship, weddings and funerals.

Gov. Lujan Grisham has declared a public health emergency to help secure emergency provisions and personnel.

New Mexico Finds 5th Virus Infection, Bans Big Gatherings - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are temporarily banning many mass gatherings that involve 100 or more people in a space such as a stadium or auditorium in an effort to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

The move came as the state announced a sixth person had tested positive for the virus. The public health order Thursday on gatherings provides exemptions for airports, mass transit, shopping malls, homeless shelters, courthouses, health care facilities, places of worship, weddings and funerals.  

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared a public health emergency to help secure emergency provisions and personnel and to enforce health directives.

The latest cases of coronavirus are a Santa Fe County woman in her 50s who traveled to Italy, according to a release Thursday evening from the Department of Health.

The fifth case is a woman in her 40s from Bernalillo County. A possible travel link was being investigated. That is the second infection in the Albuquerque area. Other positive tests include a couple in their 60s in Socorro County who recently returned from Egypt and a woman in her 60s from Santa Fe who had visited New York.

Albuquerque Academy, a private high school, has closed after someone associated with the school came into contact with a person infected with the virus.

Public school districts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe previously imposed education-related travel restrictions on staff and students, while Las Cruces schools canceled games, tournaments and musical performances.

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.

New Mexico has opened a medical hotline to help people assess symptoms and seek care with precautions against new transmission. Nonessential state workers have been instructed to work from home if possible.

The Gathering of Nations on Wednesday announced postponement of what organizers bill as North America's largest powwow. The event draws thousands of indigenous people from around the globe. Organizers are hopeful they can reschedule.

Nearly a dozen other events at the state fairgrounds have been cancelled, and this year's Bataan Memorial Death March event that typically draws thousands of military members and veterans to White Sands Missile Range was cancelled. The remainder of a popular statewide basketball tournament for high school teams will be played without fans after the New Mexico Activities Association decided to bar spectators.

New Mexico court administrators have announced precautions designed to protect trial juries from potential exposure to possible infection, limiting jury-selection pools to 25 people. Judges will postpone civil jury trials while criminal proceedings continue.

Plan To Store Nuke Fuel In New Mexico Gets 1st Regulatory OK - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Federal regulators are recommending licensing a proposed multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico that would temporarily store spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors around the United States.

But the preliminary recommendation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is making waves with critics who say the agency did not look closely enough at potential conflicts with locating the facility in the heart of one of the nation's busiest oil and gas basins.

New Mexico's governor and other politicians are among those with concerns. But regulators indicated in a draft environmental review released this week that the facility wouldn't interfere with the oil industry or affect the environment.

The commission noted in its draft environmental review that the facility would not affect the environment or interfere with the oil industry because drilling taps into layers that are far deeper than where the storage site would be located.

New Jersey-based Holtec International is seeking a 40-year license to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex near Carlsbad. The first phase calls for storing up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium, which would be packed into 500 canisters. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent nuclear fuel.

Lawyer Says Archdiocese Moved Assets Before Bankruptcy FilingAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A lawyer says a creditors committee of clergy abuse survivors believes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe moved assets to hinder creditors before it filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that attorney James Stang told a federal judge Monday that the committee may seek standing in the case to challenge the movement of assets.

Parties in the Chapter 11 case were in court Monday updating a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on the status of mediation.

Ford Elsaesser, an attorney representing the archdiocese, says good faith mediation continues and he was hopeful litigation involving church assets could be avoided.

Archbishop John C. Wester has said in the past that he decided to file for reorganization to ensure that all claims of child abuse survivors, including those who come forward in the future, can be settled "fairly and equitably."

Health Emergency Declared For Navajo Nation Because Of VirusAssociated Press

The Navajo Nation is now under a public health state of emergency declared by tribal President Jonathan Nez due to the growing spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Nev's office said in a statement announcing the declaration Wednesday that there were no confirmed cases on the the tribé's sprawling reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. But Nez said the declaration is a "proactive measure to help ensure the Navajo Nation's preparedness and the health and well-being of the Navajo people."

Nez also imposed travel restrictions for all executive-branch employees For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for some, it can cause more severe illness.  

Mom In New Mexico Christian Sect Sentenced In Son's DeathGallup Independent, Associated Press

The mother of a teen whose death prompted a raid of a paramilitary Christian sect in New Mexico has been sentenced to prison.

The Gallup Independent reports Stacey Miller was sentenced earlier this month to nine years in prison after pleading guilty in connection with the death of her 13-year-old son, Enoch Miller.

Miller entered a plea agreement Dec. 16 in which she admitted to abandonment of a child resulting in death. The secretive sect Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps in the small ranching community of Fence Lake, New Mexico, was spotlighted when authorities raided its compound in 2017 in connection with a child abuse investigation.

New Mexico Governor Confirms Virus Cases, Declares Emergency - By Morgan Lee And Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Four people in New Mexico have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state's first known cases of infection. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday that a husband and wife in their 60s within Socorro County in central New Mexico tested positive, along with a woman in her 70s in the Albuquerque area and a woman in her 60s from Santa Fe County. 

The residents who tested positive recently traveled to Egypt and New York City. 

As a result, the governor declared a public health emergency and sought to postpone major public events. 

She said one event being postponed is the annual Gathering of Nations, which draws tens of thousands of indigenous people from around the world.

Lujan Grisham, a former state Health Department secretary, reiterated the importance of washing hands and minimizing contact with other people where coughing or sneezing can enable transmission.

The state also is prohibiting out-of-state travel for work by its employees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has assigned $6.5 million to New Mexico state and local authorities for responses to the coronavirus, according to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services.

Albuquerque Academy Closes Classrooms On COVID-19 Concerns - Associated Press

A private high school in Albuquerque has closed its classrooms after someone associated with the school came into contact with someone infected with COVID-19. 

Albuquerque Academy announced Wednesday evening the suspension of in-person classes at its campus in the city's Northeast Heights at least through the March 20 start of spring break. 

Public school districts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe have imposed education-related travel restrictions on staff and students. 

New Mexico health officials have confirmed four positive tests for the new coronavirus, including a woman in her 70s in the Albuquerque area who traveled to New York City. 

Other infections include a couple in their 60s from Socorro County who recently returned from Egypt and a Santa Fe County woman who had visited New York.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared a public health emergency and cancelled public events that are under her authority where the virus might spread through crowds. 

Fans Barred From State High School Basketball TournamentAlbuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, KUNM News

Fans will no longer be permitted to attend the state high school basketball tournament due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.

The Albuquerque Journal reports The New Mexico Activities Association made the announcement Wednesday evening following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recommendation earlier in the day that fans not attend the tournament.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports around 10,000 people Wednesday attended the tournament’s quarterfinals at The Pit at the University of New Mexico. According to Sally Marquez, Executive Director of the NMAA, each team will be allowed to bring no more than 20 people total to their games, including players and coaches. The Governor’s Office has said those in attendance should not exceed 100 at any one time.

New Mexico Governor Signs Budget Amid Coronavirus Worries - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham trimmed $100 million in infrastructure projects as she signed a $7.6 billion annual general fund budget that makes major new investments in public education. 

The governor said Wednesday that the slightly trimmed budget strikes a balance by investing in transformative changes while ensuring financial stability in the event of an economic downturn. 

It increases salaries across state government and at public schools by an average of 4% and overall state general fund spending by 7.5%. 

Republicans in the House minority voted in unison against the budget bill as an unsustainable expansion of state spending and favored a rebate instead.

GOP Unveils 'Diverse' Slate In Move To Take New Mexico House Associated Press

Republicans have introduced a slate of candidates they hope will flip the Democratic-controlled New Mexico House amid rural anger over a new red-flag gun law and uncertainty over oil prices.

Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Steve Pearce said Wednesday the party will run 101 candidates in 112 races during the July 2 primary and will challenge many Democratic House and Senate members. He says nearly half of the slate is women, and it also includes Native American and Latino candidates.

Republicans have been aggressively seeking inroads in New Mexico's Hispanic and Native American communities since the 2018 election when Democrats won the governorship and expanded their majority in the state House. 

Republican House Minority Leader James Townsend said House Democrats had moved the state too far left. Still, Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf predicted that Democrats would hold and expand their majority.

Albuquerque Shop Owner Gets Prison Term For Tax Evasion - Associated Press

A 77-year-old Albuquerque jewelry store owner faces over two years in prison after being sentenced for tax evasion. 

A federal judge sentenced David Castle on Tuesday to 27 months in prison following his Dec. 3 guilty plea. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico says Castle admitted committing tax evasion between 2010 through 2013 as sole owner and operator of the Gold and Silver Exchange, a business specializing in purchase, sale and repair of jewelry.