TUES: State Reports 116 New COVID-19 Cases Among Inmates As State Passes 8,000 Mark, + More

Jun 2, 2020

New Mexico Reports 116 New Virus Cases Among State InmatesAssociated Press

New Mexico health officials on Tuesday reported an additional 227 coronavirus cases, with just over half of those among inmates at a detention center in southern New Mexico.

The figures released Tuesday include 116 new cases among inmates in the custody of the New Mexico Corrections Department that are being housed at a lockup in Otero County. That comes after officials announced a day earlier that a male inmate in his 30s there had died after being infected.

The inmate had preexisting conditions. His death marked the first COVID-19 inmate fatality for the facility.

State officials also reported that 92 detainees at a federal processing center in Otero County also have tested positive, along with 66 inmates in federal custody at the facility.

There are also confirmed cases among federal inmates at correction centers in Torrance and Cibola counties.

One case each has been reported at the state penitentiary near Santa Fe and the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County.

Five additional deaths were reported statewide Tuesday, bringing the total to 367.

Navajo Nation Reports 131 New COVID-19 Cases, 2 More DeathsAssociated Press

The Navajo Department of Health has reported 131 new cases of coronavirus on the Navajo Nation and two more known deaths.

That pushes the numbers to 5,479 positive COVID-19 cases and 248 known deaths as of Monday night.

Tribal officials also say preliminary reports from eight health care facilities indicate about 1,920 people have recovered from COVID-19 with more reports still pending.

The vast Navajo Nation reservation stretches into northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah.

Report Finds Child Disparities Highest In US South, West - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A new report says childhood disparities are worst among rural, black-majority counties in the American South and isolated counties with large Native American populations.

A Save the Children report released Tuesday found that children in the most disadvantaged counties die at rates up to five times of children elsewhere in the same state.

The report says children in those counties also are 14 times as likely to drop out of school and are three times as likely to lack healthy food and consistent meals.

The report examined 2,600 counties using federal data from 2018. The group recommends expanding early childhood education programs.

So far, children in some of the poor counties cited in the report live among the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. New Mexico's McKinley County, which sits on the Navajo Nation is ranked near the bottom in child hunger and graduation rates.

According to the report, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the lowest-ranked states for these childhood disparities.

New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire earned the highest marks.

Hundreds Of Protesters March Peacefully In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

Hundreds of people marched peacefully Monday night in downtown Albuquerque a day after a similar protest against the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis preceded the setting of dozens of small fires and other damage in New Mexico's most populous city.

There was a heavy police presence as the crowd that gathered Monday evening near the University of New Mexico marched in rain while chanting "I can't breathe." The crowd began to disperse around 10 p.m. and most had left by midnight.

Mayor Tim Keller said agitators for violence were to blame for damage that occurred hours after Sunday' evening's largely peaceful march.

Albuquerque Mayor Blames 'Agitators' for Gunshots, Violence– Associated Press

The mayor of New Mexico's largest city is blaming small groups of what he called agitators for violence that broke out hours after a peaceful protest in downtown Albuquerque. 

Dozens of small fires were set, windows were broken and police officers say they were fired upon early Monday. 

Mayor Tim Keller says Albuquerque welcomes protests but that gunfire and violence cross the line. 

On Sunday evening, several thousand people took part in a march along historic Route 66 in protest of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. 

New Mexico Virus Cases Top 7,800, With 6 Additional Deaths– Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are reporting an additional 113 positive tests for the novel coronavirus as the state begins easing some of the restrictions that had been placed on businesses to limit spread. 

Officials said Monday that the state now has 7,800 cases, with more than half of those originating in McKinley and San Juan counties. 

The death toll is now 362. Six new deaths were reported Monday, with one of those involving an inmate in state custody in Otero County who had underlying conditions. 

Monday marked the first day restaurants could resume indoor seating at 50% occupancy under an amended public health order.

Hair salons, gyms and indoor shopping malls also were allowed to reopen on a limited basis.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the first phase of reopening the economy wasn't an invitation to forget about the risks of this virus.

"It is a mandate that we be more cautious and careful about our choices and decisions than ever before," she said. "Just because you can go doesn't mean you should."

The provisions of the amended public health order apply statewide. It will be effective through the end of June.

Open House, Senate Races at Stake in New Mexico Primary– Associated Press

Seven Democratic contenders for Congress including a famous former CIA operative, a district attorney and a professional advocate for Native American communities are facing off Tuesday in a likely decisive congressional primary in northern New Mexico.

Polls are opening amid the coronavirus pandemic as election officials saw a surge in absentee balloting ahead of Election Day. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is leaving his congressional seat as the presumptive Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Udall.

Republicans were picking favorites in hopes of winning back a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico and seizing control of Udall’s Senate seat in the November general election.

Democratic contenders for Congress including a renowned former CIA operative, a district attorney and a professional advocate for Native American communities were facing off Tuesday in a likely decisive congressional primary in northern New Mexico.

In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti of Albuquerque was competing against anti-abortion activist and Navajo Nation member Elisa Martinez, also of Albuquerque, and Las Cruces-based professor and perennial political candidate Gavin Clarkson.

3 New Members Appointed To New Mexico Spaceport Authority – Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed three new members to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and re-appointed three other members. 

The Spaceport Authority is administratively attached to the New Mexico Economic Development Department. 

It consists of eight members with six appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

The lieutenant-governor and the cabinet secretary of the Economic Development Department are also members. 

By statute, no more than three of the appointed members shall belong to the same political party. 

The three new appointees are Ethan Epstein of Los Ranchos, Peggy Johnson of Williamsburg and Eric Schindwolf of Tijeras. 

The members reappointed are Michelle Coons of Albuquerque, Laura Conniff of Las Cruces and Richard Holdridge of Deming.