WED: NM's Governor Confirms First Coronavirus Infections, + More

Mar 11, 2020

New Mexico's Governor Confirms First Coronavirus InfectionsAssociated Press

Three people in New Mexico have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state's first known cases, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday.

She said a husband and wife in their 60s at Socorro County tested positive, along with a woman in her 70s in the Albuquerque area.

The infected couple recently traveled to Egypt, and the older woman in Bernalillo County recently returned from a trip to New York City. All three have been isolated at their homes.

Lujan Grisham said the state health department has been preparing for weeks and reiterated the importance of washing hands and cleaning indoor surfaces that can be touched.

The state Health Department plans to deploy public health nurses this week to assisted care facilities for the elderly.

For most people, the virus causes only mild 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.

GOP Unveils 'Diverse' Slate In Move To Take New Mexico HouseAssociated 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.

New Mexico Plans Surveillance For COVID-19 At Nursing Homes  - Associated Press

New Mexico's Health Department plans to deploy public health nurses this week to assisted care facilities for the elderly to look for evidence of the new coronavirus and ensure adequate precautions. 

Health Department spokesperson David Morgan on Tuesday confirmed the planned deployment of nurses and said visits to nursing homes already are underway by the agency's quality management bureau.

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. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

State health officials are asking people who believe they have symptoms to call a state hotline  before going to a physician or health care provider. They say the goal is to take care of patients in a way that does not expose other people to the possibility of infection.

The state is in the process of trying to expand testing availability to all people with signs of respiratory infection who test negative for influenza, regardless of travel history or contact with confirmed cases.

Around 30 Graves Discovered At New Mexico Construction Site - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Around 30 graves from what is believed to be a former cemetery have been found at a construction site in New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports workers at a construction site in downtown Santa Fe found human remains in February and more remains have since been found.

Archaeologist Alysia Abbott told the city's Archaeological Review Committee last week that her team is in the early stages of formalizing a testing plan for the future site of a retirement community.

The remains are believed to have been buried in what was once the original Masons and Odd Fellow Cemetery.

The Territorial Legislature incorporated the Masons and Odd Fellows Cemetery in 1853. Abbott says it was closed in the early 1900s, and most graves were moved to other cemeteries in Santa Fe.

Legislative Races Take Shape In State As Candidates Register - Associated Press

Candidates have registered to run for state House and Senate positions in New Mexico's Democrat-dominated Legislature as at least seven lawmakers leave open seats. 

Several moderate Democrats including Senate President Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces are confronting primary challenges by progressives within their party, as Republicans plot a comeback after losing several House seats. 

The Democratic Party in 2018 expanded its House majority to a 46-24 advantage, while flipping the governor's office and consolidating control over New Mexico's congressional delegation and every statewide office outside the judiciary. 

Multiple candidates are seeking to defeat Democratic state senator Richard Martinez who was recently convicted of drunken driving.

New Mexico GOP Contractor Drops Out Of US Senate Race Associated Press

Republican construction contractor Mick Rich has announced he is ending his second run for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

Rich said a statement Tuesday he remained committed to Republicans in the state and the re-election of President Donald Trump.

His announcement comes days after he failed to gain enough delegates to get on the ballot for the New Mexico GOP Senate primary.

Navajo Nation member and anti-abortion advocate Elisa Martinez won the top ballot position in the GOP race. She will vie against well-recognized television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti. Both are seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is the lone candidate in the Democratic primary.

Rich lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich in the general election in 2018.l Torres Small for a crucial seat in southern New Mexico.

University Of New Mexico Settles Child Death LawsuitAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has agreed to pay $38 million to settle part of a lawsuit alleging some pediatric cancer patients with leukemia received substandard care at the university's hospital.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the settlement would bring a partial end to a lawsuit on behalf of 250 children. The lawsuit cited practices from 1977 to 1997 where young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia were given diluted, outdated drug treatments.

The settlement offer was filed in court last week and is awaiting a judge's approval. The judge is expected to decide how the money would be administered.

University officials reported the heirs of no more than 89 children who died could be eligible to receive partial compensation from the settlement. That’s according to attorney for the plaintiffs Jacob Vigil. A trial is scheduled in August for the children who survived their treatment.

The Journal reported the university has settled more than 90 cases in the past 20 years related to substandard care for childhood cancer patients for about $52 million.

GOP Hopeful: Republican Congress Showed 'Lack Of Leadership' - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A Republican U.S. House candidate in a crucial New Mexico race says the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump Administration showed a "lack of leadership" during President Donald Trump's first two years in office. 

Former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell told conservative podcast host Daniel Horowitz this week she felt GOP leaders in the House and Senate could have done more to push a conservative agenda from 2017 and 2018. 

She also faulted the Trump administration for failing to tackle issues that "could have been put to bed." Herrell later praised Trump for "fighting Republicans." 

Herrell was responding to a question Horowitz asked about rising spending and the national debt under Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress before Democrats took over the U.S. House in 2019.

A campaign manager for Claire Chase, a Herrell GOP primary opponent, says Herrell's comments make her sound like Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A spokesperson for Herrell did not immediately return a phone message.

New Mexico Super PAC Forms With Massachusetts, Oil Ties - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A new Super PAC with ties to a oil trucking company owner who lives in the northern part of New Mexico has been formed to likely target candidates in a district in the southwestern part of the state.

Federal election records show that Butch Mathews, owner of the Farmington-based M & R Trucking company, recently filed documents for a super PAC called Citizens for a United New Mexico.

Records on the U.S. Federal Election Commission's website list Mathews as treasurer of the Super PAC, which has a mailing address in Carlsbad, 460 miles away from Farmington.

M & R Trucking has worked in the oil and gas industry for about three decades. The company is active in the natural gas region of the Four Corners and the oil-rich Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico.

It's unclear which candidates the Super PAC will target. Citizens for a United New Mexico "intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts," according to documents in its filing.

Mathews did not immediately return a phone message.

The creation of Citizens for a United New Mexico comes as two Republican candidates are locked in a heated primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for a crucial seat in southern New Mexico.

Filings also list Charles Gantt of Beverly, Massachusetts as “custodian of records” of the Super Pac. Gant runs a company called Bulldog Compliance, a division of Red Curve Solutions. Bulldog Compliance helps “independent expenditure-only committees (Super PACs) and other fundraising-driven organizations,” according to its website.

He has been linked to the Trump For President Committee, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, and conservative-leaning Massachusetts Super PACs.

Pedestrian Goes Through Windshield; Driver Critically Hurt Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a pedestrian was killed and a driver critically injured when a vehicle struck the pedestrian who then crashed through the windshield, striking the driver.

Police say the incident occurred Monday night when the pedestrian was standing in the far-left eastbound traffic lane of Interstate 40.

Identities weren't released and police said investigators weren't immediately able to determine why the pedestrian was standing on the highway.

The freeway was partially closed for several hours after the incident.