WED: State Cracks Down On Medical Supply Hoarding As COVID Cases Rise To 28, + More

Mar 18, 2020

New Mexico Cracks Down On Hoarding Of Medical SuppliesAssociated Press

New Mexico has confirmed a coronavirus infection that has no apparent link to travel as the governor takes new steps to limit the spread of the contagion by limiting restaurants to take-out service and closing down movie theaters, gyms and shopping centers.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced five new positive tests for coronavirus, bringing the state total to 28 infections. A woman in her 40s in the Albuquerque area is the first case of so-called community spread in which there is no clear connections to travel outside the state.

Purchase are being limited for over-the-counter medical and some sanitary supplies to prevent hoarding and shortages. New state orders take effect Thursday morning.

New Mexico previously closed schools, banned many large gatherings, ordered state personnel to work from home and shut down public access to state buildings.

Endangered Gray Wolf Population On The Rise In Southwest US - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

There are more Mexican gray wolves in the wild now than at any time since the U.S. government began reintroducing the endangered species in the American Southwest more than two decades ago.

Federal officials on Wednesday announced the result of the latest survey, saying there are at least 163 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

That marks a nearly 25% jump in the population from the previous year. No matter the number, ranchers and rural residents say the situation for them has become untenable.

They point to thousands of dollars in losses as 2019 marked a record year for cattle killed by the wolves.

Man Is Accused Of Threatening New Mexico Gov. Grisham OnlineAssociated Press

Prosecutors say an Albuquerque man accused of threatening New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and others online faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted.

Daniel Mock appeared in federal court in Albuquerque on Wednesday. A criminal complaint charges the 33-year-old Mock with transmitting threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce.  

According to the complaint, Mock threatened the life of Grisham and some law enforcement officers earlier this month.

Mock allegedly posted threatening messages to the governor's Facebook page on March 2 and 13. Authorities say Mock remains in custody pending a detention hearing Friday.  

It was unclear Wednesday if Mock has a lawyer for his case yet.

Coronavirus Tests Rural Health Networks In New Mexico - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico is bracing for the possible spread of coronavirus to some of America's most remote, impoverished communities, as hospitals across the state prepare to convert operating rooms into acute respiratory care units.

Health officials are outlining medical triage strategies in the state that struggles to keep physicians in rural areas. Those preparations take place as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham clamps down on social gatherings that might spread infection.

In rural areas, doctors are still concerned about shortages in protective medical equipment and limited access to ventilator machine that may be needed to save lives.

Getting Coronavirus Updates In Spanish Is Mixed Bag In US - By Astrid Galvan and Regina Garcia Cano, The Associated Press

As government officials across the country warn about the dangers of the coronavirus, they're doing so predominantly in English.

They're potentially not reaching the millions of Spanish speakers in the U.S. who aren't proficient in English to make sure they know how to stay healthy during a global pandemic.

In Arizona, the health department website doesn't have Spanish-language updates. But in Washington state, where most coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have occurred, officials have led the way in Spanish messaging and reaching people in many other languages. Advocacy groups and Spanish-language media are filling in the gaps as cities and states say they're working to translate guidance.

While states have started adding Spanish to their health department websites, it can be hard to find. A day after The Associated Press asked the New Mexico governor's office about a lack of Spanish on the health department website, its Spanish-language site went live and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted about it in Spanish. A purple-highlighted banner atop the website's main page has, in small letters, a link to Spanish updates.

The nation's most Hispanic state also has had a Spanish educator and health official at every news conference to do an interviews with Spanish-language media.

New Mexico Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit On Education ChangesSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The state of New Mexico has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that resulted in a 2018 ruling that the state failed to provide a sufficient education for every student.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported attorneys for the state public education system say New Mexico has complied with the ruling by increasing education funding and revising programs designed to assist at-risk students.

The state education department did not respond to a request for comment. A private law firm representing the state has argued the court should determine whether the state has complied with the terms of the ruling. Attorneys for the students and their families have argued otherwise.

New Mexico Man Says He Unknowingly Stole TVs While DrunkGallup Independent, Associated Press

A New Mexico man is facing charges after he told police he unknowingly stole two televisions while drunk.

The Gallup Independent reports Sage Aaron Cummins was arrested last week shortly following his arrival to the victim's apartment to return the TVs. According to Gallup police, an officer was investigating a burglary report when Cummins approached him and admitted he had stolen the televisions from the victim's home.

Cummins told police he was "very intoxicated" when he entered the residence. The 24-year-old Cummins was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property. He was released on an unsecured bond of $1,500.

Albuquerque Hospital Hosts Blood Drive Amid Coronavirus-Related Shortage - Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News

Lovelace Medical Center is hosting a blood drive as concern over the spread of the Coronavirus has led to a regional donation shortage.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the drive will be held Wednesday from 10 a.m – 3 p.m. at Longfellow Elementary School in Albuquerque. 

In an effort to comply with public health recommendations of social distancing, a spokesperson for Lovelace Medical Center says donors will wait in their cars until they receive a text notifying them to come in. 

Donors must call ahead for an appointment and to be screened at 505-727-2700.

Coronavirus Cases Jump To 23 As National Guard Delivers Food Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Health officials say two more people in New Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus. A man in Taos County in his 50s and man in Santa Fe County in his 40s both recently tested positive for COVID-19.

That brings the total number in New Mexico to 23. It's the first positive test in Taos County. The state Department of Health has active investigations into each of the positive patients, which includes finding people they were in contact with and swabbing those with symptoms.

The National Guard is helping deliver food to some school districts scrambling to feed children on the first day of a statewide school shutdown.

Nine districts lacked supplies because students there were supposed to be on spring break. 

State officials on Tuesday said many businesses have seen rapid declines in customer traffic and sales. Employees at businesses that close temporarily can access unemployment benefits without having to search for a new position.

Albuquerque Emergency Housing Center Begins COVID-19 Screening – Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News

Extra precautions are being taken to reduce the spread of Coronavirus among those experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reports individuals and families who wish to stay at the Westside Emergency Housing Center are being screened for COVID-19 prior to being taken to the facility. The screening is being conducted at the usual pick-up locations for the housing center.

Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness with the City of Albuquerque, Lisa Huval, says people will be questioned about their risk for carrying COVID-19, including travel history and symptoms, and have their temperatures taken.

If determined to be at-risk, potential residents will be taken to the emergency housing center separately, where they will be tested. If someone tests positive for Coronavirus, they will be housed in isolation.

Screenings will also be continuously conducted at the center itself.

Emergency Help Coming To Aid Of NonprofitsAlbuquerque Journal

A new emergency fund will provide grants to nonprofits struggling with lost revenue due to the coronavirus.

The Albuquerque Journal reported United Way of Central New Mexico and the Albuquerque Community Foundation will provide grants from $500 to $5,000 from the fund to nonprofits in the greater Albuquerque area.

Nonprofits can fill out requests at the Community Foundation’s website. People can also make donations to the Emergency Action Fund at the website.

UNM Makes Changes To Spring Break ScheduleAlbuquerque Journal

The University of New Mexico has modified its plans to extend spring break in response to the COVID-19.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that originally officials extended spring break from March 16 through April 5. But the university provost office sent a clarification on Friday that there will be no delay for online coursework that is already scheduled.

There are also a number of academic units in the university working to put instruction online and other activities will continue such as research, internships and studio project work.

Hazardous Waste Found Under Housing Site In New MexicoSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A crew in northern New Mexico has found low-level radioactive waste buried on land the U.S. Energy Department had transferred to Los Alamos County. The discovery has stopped construction of an affordable housing project northwest of Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the state Environment Department ordered the agency to provide more information about the waste found last month at a former Los Alamos National Laboratory site.

The Energy Department has supplied documents to the state and is now analyzing the waste. There are concerns over the potential threat to human health and the environment.

Officials say dozens of housing units were scheduled to be built.

Watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico has expressed concern about waste being discovered at a construction site that state and federal agencies had deemed clean.

Ex-Eunice Officials Sue Mayor, City Manager For Defamation - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

The previous administration of a southeastern New Mexico city is suing the current administration for libel and slander. 

The Hobbs News-Sun reports former Eunice mayor J. Matt White and former city manager Martin Moore last week filed the lawsuit in state district court against Mayor Billy Hobbs, City Manager Jordan Yutzy and others. 

Court documents say the officials communicated falsehoods maliciously to defame White and Moore. 

Hobbs and Yutzy did not immediately return phone messages. 

Last year, Yutzy told the News-Sun the city would be seeking reimbursement of more than $34,000 for repair of the house that had been damaged in a sewer back-up situation while it had been unoccupied around June 2015.

Storm System To Cross New Mexico On Wednesday, ThursdayAssociated Press

The National Weather Service says a storm system producing widespread rain, mountain snow and strong wind will move eastward across New Mexico on Wednesday and Thursday.

The weather service says impacts on travel are possible over high terrain and strong winds are likely Thursday with gusts of 55 mph possible.

Forecasters say a few thunderstorms are likely and that snow levels will be at 8,000 feet but fall to near 5,000 feet by Thursday morning.

Man Fatally Shot By New Mexico Police Officer IdentifiedAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities have identified a man fatally shot by a State Police officer during an encounter after the man allegedly fired at a Luna County sheriff's deputy in Deming last month.

State Police Officer Daniel Soliz shot 36-year-old Rodrigo Aguirre after Aguirre disregarded commands by the officer to put down a shotgun during the Feb. 22 incident, the State Police said Tuesday in a statement.

According to the State Police, Aguirre previously had led Deming police on a pursuit and later fired the shotgun at a sheriff's deputy who was not injured.

The agency said the fatal shooting occurred after earlier gunfire when Aguirre's minivan got stuck and he got out and fired several times at the deputy.

Teen Pleaded No Contest For Impersonating New Mexico Deputy KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A New Mexico teen has pleaded no contest after being arrested for impersonating a sheriff's deputy.

KRQE-TV reports Brenden Wysynski was sentenced to a year of probation following his arrest last year. Authorities say Wysynski pulled over a car in Albuquerque. An officer was driving by and noticed the situation didn't appear right.

The officer found Wysynski was driving what looked like a police car and he also had a badge on his belt. He told police he was a Bernalillo County deputy. Wysynski was arrested after the officer checked and found he was not with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office.