May 27, 2020

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (5/28/20 edition)

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This daily recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free daily email. Sign up here.

See all of our COVID-19 coverage here.

  • The state announced 127 additional cases of COVID-19 and 4 additional deaths on Wednesday. See the details here.
  • Federal lawmakers want answers from the Indian Health Service about a $3 million contract that went to a former Trump administration official for potentially substandard masks for the Navajo Nation. See what they said here.
  • Searchlight New Mexico wrote about the spread of COVID-19 through an Albuquerque halfway house, one of the largest in New Mexico. See the story here.
  • Scientists answered questions about COVID-19 during an online town hall Wednesday night. See what they said here.
  • Navajo Nation health officials said they found 102 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and reported one additional death related to the disease, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,944 and the total number of deaths to 159. About 1,620 Navajo residents have recovered. 
  • U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján wanted the Secretary of State to extend the deadline for primary voters to turn in absentee voters to allow ballots postmarked by Election Day to count; the Secretary of State’s office, citing state law, told NM Political Report, “The secretary does not have the authority to make this change.”
  • U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small joined other Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition of conservative Democrats in Congress, asking congressional leadership to investigate actions by the Chinese government in addressing COVID-19. The coronavirus originated in China.
  • An Otero County Commissioner, and prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, told The Daily Beast that he believed some Democratic governors could be guilty of treason.
    “You get to pick your poison: you either go before a firing squad, or you get the end of the rope,” Couy Griffin told the online outlet. When asked about if anti-lockdown protesters would consider violence, he said, “I’ll tell you what, partner, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table.”
  • Some elected officials in San Juan County, including the sheriff who attended, addressed concerns about a San Juan County rally that featured a New Mexico flag twisted to use the Zia symbol as a swastika, the Farmington Daily Times reported. Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett also encouraged people to wear masks and said it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
  • A maintenance worker at the New Mexico State Capitol tested positive for COVID-19, KOB-TV reported. In response, about 70 people were tested.
  • New Mexico In Depth wrote about the particular challenges Native voters face in voting during a pandemic.
  • Senate Finance Committee chairman John Arthur Smith said that New Mexico might not have deep budget cuts currently, but that spending would need to be pared back, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • New Mexico restaurants were able to start serving in-person diners on patios and other outdoor areas on Wednesday.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the Republican response to the news that the governor bought jewelry during the pandemic from a store that was closed. The governor’s office said she did nothing wrong and that the entire process was “entirely contactless and remote.”
  • The Village of Tularosa closed its parks because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the Alamogordo Daily News reported.
  • Motor Vehicle Division offices in McKinley, San Juan and Doña Ana counties will remain closed because of the continued spread of COVID-19 according to MVD.
    “Our primary concern right now must be the well-being of our customers and staff, and that means we must limit in-person contact, especially in areas where COVID-19 continues to spread,” said Taxation and Revenue Department Stephanie Schardin Clarke.
  • The New Mexico State Parks Division is handing out citations for those who are visiting the 18 state parks that remain closed.
  • A Rio Rancho man who has hosted pop-up drive-in theaters found out he’s in violation of the state’s public health order, KOB-TV reported.
  • As the state allowed restaurants to begin outdoor and patio services, the City of Albuquerque announced it would allow restaurants to have sidewalk seating, though it would not apply for places that sell beer or spirits because of state law. Mayor Tim Keller also said they were looking at how to allow restaurants to serve meals in public, outdoor areas like the Railyards or Civic Plaza.
    Keller also said they would have the $500 outdoor seating application fee for the next three months, though the $2.50 per square foot annual fee for use of the city right-of-way and need for insurance would still exist.
    The City also said communities should explore closing city streets to traffic to allow for more outdoor seating.
  • An expectant mother drove from Louisiana to Taos to have her baby during the public health emergency. The Santa Fe Reporter talked to Santa Fe midwives about an increased interest in expectant mothers avoiding hospitals to give birth. 
  • State Rep. Gregg Schmedes sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr asking for a federal investigation into evictions at Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque. The state turned the senior care facility into a facility to treat senior patients who tested positive for COVID-19. See the letter here.