Briefs filed in case over whether NM will move to vote-by-mail primaries during coronavirus emergency

Parties involved in the dispute over a petition asking the state Supreme Court to allow election administrators to conduct this June’s elections by primarily mail-in voting filed their responses ahead of next week’s oral arguments. The Supreme Court had set Wednesday as the deadline for the briefs. At its heart, the state Supreme Court must decide whether it is practicable for the state Legislature to meet to make changes to the state’s election code in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and, if not, whether the court could legally order an all-mail election under the circumstances. Many states have delayed their primaries because of the pandemic. And after the state and federal Supreme Courts denied attempts to ease absentee voting rules in Wisconsin, critics called the elections “disturbing” and a “travesty” after in-person voting continued.

Republicans in Congress target Planned Parenthood with stimulus bill, with potentially larger impacts

The federal stimulus bill passed by Congress could lead to negative impacts on women’s health in New Mexico and other states. The unprecedented $2 trillion in federal relief, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump late last month is expected to provide aid to many who have been impacted by the economic fallout caused by the lack of infrastructure to contend with the respiratory virus. But buried deep within the nearly 1,000 page bill is language designed to take a swipe at Planned Parenthood. Businesses and nonprofits seeking relief money will have to go through the Trump Administration’s Small Business Association—and the agency has the ability to refuse the nonprofit organization, according to Vice. Anti-abortion lawmakers claimed it as a “win” against abortion rights.

State says it will help erect roadblocks to Pueblo land

The governor’s office said Wednesday the state of New Mexico is helping Pueblo tribes erect roadblocks to keep non-tribal members off reservations, as outbreaks of COVID-19 have begun to spread through at least three of the communities —  and expectations are for the virus to impact others. New Mexico is home to 19 Pueblo tribes, with populations ranging from a couple hundred to 10,000 people. 

The governor will “go to any length to keep these areas closed if that’s what needs to be done. The state is exploring all mechanisms,” Nora Meyers Sackett wrote in an email today. Meyers Sackett is Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary. Yesterday, the office of Lujan Grisham confirmed 31 cases in Zia Pueblo and 52 cases in San Felipe Pueblo, both in Sandoval County.

Lack of PPE hinders possible help in expected hospital surge in Las Cruces

A group of home health organizations said they could help with the expected surge of COVID-19 patients in Las Cruces if they could find personal protective equipment. Adrian Rodriguez, who heads three home health organizations in Las Cruces and El Paso, said he has been trying to order personal protective equipment (PPE) but because of the severe shortage in PPE from national stockpiles, the lack of infrastructure has created a crisis. “We’re not trying to get anything from the national stockpile,” Rodriguez told NM Political Report. “It’s not worth trying to get. Mostly it’s going to hospitals.

DOH: Clusters at two pueblos; total NM COVID-19 cases nears 800, deaths reach 13

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 109 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 794. 

The amount of new cases is the most in one day so far, and the last few days have seen significant increases in positive tests as testing capacity expanded and the state relaxed qualifications for who can receive a test. Update: (4/8/2020): DOH: Three more COVID-19 related deaths; 72 additional positive cases

The state also announced one additional person with COVID-19 died, a male in his 30s with underlying medical conditions. The death in Bernalillo County, which took place on Monday, was the 13th confirmed death in the state related to COVID-19. Clusters

The state also announced clusters of COVID-19 cases in San Felipe Pueblo and Zia Pueblo, both of which are in Sandoval County. The state has found 52 cases at San Felipe Pueblo and 31 at Zia Pueblo, the majority of the cases in Sandoval County so far.