Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/24/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state reported 200 new cases of COVID-19, the first time the state had 200 or more cases reported in a single day in nearly a month. Read more here.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health officials will provide a COVID-19 update on Thursday.Four staff members and two students tested positive for COVID-19, the state Public Education Department announced. Details here.A third-grader at Puesta Del Sol Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19, KRQE-TV reported.Officials closed Yucca Height Elementary School in Chaparral because an employee had exposure to a potential COVID-19 case, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.The school district in Carlsbad is encouraging parents to get COVID-19 tests in an attempt to get Eddy County to the point where they can open to in-person instruction, KRQE-TV reported.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/23/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. State health officials reported 110 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths related to the disease. Read more here.The state of New Mexico is using federal loans to pay unemployment benefits because the unemployment benefits trust fund, the Associated Press reported.The Santa Fe New Mexican spoke to some teachers who are ready to go back to school—but with precautions.State health officials spoke about COVID-19 and encouraged residents to get flu shots during a livestream on Tuesday, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. Also see the coverage from the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican.They implored parents to not send students to school if they’re sick, KRQE-TV reported.The state Public Education Department announced three additional positive cases of COVID-19, KRQE-TV reported.Rio Rancho Public Schools reported a positive COVID-19 case at Sandia Vista Elementary, the TV station reported.The Navajo Nation instituted a 57-hour weekend lockdown because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Navajo Times reported.KOB-TV looked at how far CARES Act funding will go towards water projects for the many residents who lack running water.The Santa Teresa High School volleyball teams had to quarantine after a coach for the team tested positive for COVID-19, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

State reports 110 new cases and three deaths related to COVID-19

State health officials reported Tuesday 110 new cases of COVID-19 and three related deaths. The state has now recorded a total of 27,790 cases of the disease and 854 deaths since the pandemic began in March. Three counties reported double-digit increases in new cases. Bernalillo County reported 21 new cases, Doña Ana County reported 18 new cases and Eddy County reported 14 new cases. The state Department of Health provided a few details about each of the three deaths:

A female in her 70s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions.A male in his 90s from Eddy County.A male in his 90s from Santa Fe County who was a resident of the Las Palomas Center facility in Albuquerque.

DOJ backs suit challenging COVID-19 rules for private schools

The U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on a lawsuit alleging that the state’s COVID-19 rules on private schools, including religious schools, during COVID-19 are unconstitutional ahead of a hearing on a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction scheduled for Wednesday. U.S. Attorney John Anderson filed a brief agreeing with plaintiffs that the state’s rules violate the U.S. Constitution. “The United States also has a strong interest, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, in ensuring the development and maintenance of the best possible public health strategies to combat the virus and protect the people of the United States from harm,” the brief filed in federal court said. “But that interest must be balanced with constitutional liberties.”

The brief contrasts the rules that say private schools are limited to 25 percent of capacity for in-person instruction to those that allow daycare facilities to operate at 100 percent capacity and elementary schools to operate at 50 percent capacity—as part of a hybrid model which includes online instruction—with COVID-safe precautions, and says this is unfair to families enrolled in private schools. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office said that private schools actually have more flexibility than public schools.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/22/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state Department of Health reported 106 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. The spread rate also went above the state’s gating criteria. Read more details here.The federal Department of Justice filed a brief in a lawsuit that claims the state is being unfair to private schools through its public health rules.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/21/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. On Saturday, the state DOH reported 164 new cases of COVID-19 and another 67 on Sunday. DOH also reported eight additional deaths related to the disease.Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver spoke to NM Political Report about voting during the pandemic for this year’s general election.Doña Ana County will put drop boxes at all voting sites, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.Conditions have improved in a number of counties, including Doña Ana County, giving them the go-ahead to look at opening up their schools to in-person learning through the hybrid model, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.Advocates have said that the pandemic and the reliance on distance learning has led to problems for special education students, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.Ten of the fifteen positive cases reported on Thursday and Friday last week by the state Public Education Department were among those at Roosevelt Schools, including three students, The Eastern New Mexico News reported.Another inmate at the Grant County Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 last week, the Silver City Daily Press reported, bringing the total to seven. More tests are still pending.The State Auditor’s office released its report on Rehoboth McKinley Christian hospital in Gallup, which was at the center of the response to the massive spread of COVID-19 in the area—and found problems with oversight at the facility, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.Speech language pathologists spoke to KOB-TV about how they are dealing with people who have recovered from COVID-19, mostly those who were intubated.An event at the Northern Edge Casino on the Navajo Nation had the distribution of food, hygiene products and also encouraged census participation among Navajo Nation residents, the Farmington Daily Times reported.Silver School District will start sending students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade to in-person learning in the hybrid model on Monday, the Silver City Daily Press reported.Things are stabilizing with the worldwide oil industry, the Albuquerque Journal reported, but it’s at a far lower level than before the pandemic.The pandemic has led to problems with interim committee hearings for legislators, a key part of crafting legislation for the annual legislative session in January, the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote.Red River won’t be able to hire international students to work at the ski area and other businesses around the town because of COVID-19, KRQE-TV reported.Most Las Cruces city councilors aren’t in favor of lowering the minimum wage for tipped workers as proposed by the city’s mayor, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.The Albuquerque Journal wrote about an upcoming meeting of the New Mexico Activities Association, which governs high school athletics in the state, in which it will discuss COVID-19.The Public Employees Labor Relations Board ruled that the city of Santa Fe violated labor law when implementing its furlough plans, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.The Greater Chaco Coalition joined many other groups in asking for an extension period on comments for the resource management plan in the area, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

Groups condemn forced hysterectomies in a Georgia detention facility

Nicole Martin, a sex education developer and co-founder of the grassroots reproductive rights organization Indigenous Women Rising (IWR), called forced hysterectomies reported by a whistleblower in a migrant detention facility in Georgia a crime against humanity. Martin, of Laguna Pueblo and Diné (Navajo Nation), likened the forced hysterectomies as “directly linked to genocide and colonization and white supremacy.” She said the forced hysterectomies make it impossible for migrant people to reproduce and “bring in more generations.”

“Their whole sense of being is stripped away from them. I can’t imagine how the people detained right now, how they’re coping or functioning or making it day by day. My heart really hurts for them. I can’t believe this is the world we’re living in,” Martin told NM Political Report.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/18/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced some easing of COVID-19 restrictions on youth activities. Read about them here.If you want to watch the press conference, see the video here.Here are the stories on the new loosened restrictions from the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, Santa Fe Reporter and the Las Cruces Sun-News.The owners of McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty aren’t happy with the governor’s orders on reopening, KOB-TV reported.A lawsuit led by a Republican state representative is challenging the state’s rules that bar some school districts from opening because of high rates of COVID-19 in their counties, the Albuquerque Journal reported.While the governor said she is “cautiously optimistic” that college basketball will be able to restart, University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University basketball teams are not currently able to practice because of the state’s public health order, the Albuquerque Journal reported.The City of Santa Fe plans to buy a motel to provide COVID-safe housing for homeless people in the city, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.On Thursday, the state of New Mexico reported 159 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 additional deaths related to the disease. See which counties had the most newly reported cases.The Las Cruces Sun-News wrote about the state’s multi-agency effort to address complaints about nursing homes and long-term care facilities.Indoor movie theaters will remain closed under the state’s new public health order, KOB-TV reported.Hundreds of employees, including teachers at Santa Fe Public Schools have asked to stay at home or shift hours when the districts shifts to a hybrid model, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.An employee of the Curry County Sheriff’s Office tested positive for COVID-19, KRQE-TV reported.COVID-19 vaccine trials are starting on the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Times reported.Socorro County’s El Defensor Chieftan wrote about the return to in-person learning as part of the hybrid model.The Navajo Nation has spent $4.9 million in CARES Act funding so far according to the Office of the Controller, the Navajo Times reported.The Chaves County Board of Commissioners spoke about distributing CARES Act small business grants, the Roswell Daily Record reported.The Grant County Commission spoke about CARES Act funding and the balance of tourism versus public safety and more, the Silver City Daily Press reported.The Village of Tularosa’s mayor said they didn’t apply for CARES Act funding because it would be a loan that would need to be paid back, the Alamogordo Daily News reported.Racinos in the state want the governor to reconsider the public health order that keeps them closed, even as tribal casinos have reopened the Santa Fe New Mexican reported; casinos on trial and pueblo land do not have to abide by the state’s public health order.The Valencia News-Bulletin wrote about the protest in Belen by churches over COVID-19 restrictions.The San Miguel Fiesta in Socorro will be canceled this year, but the church will hold a raffle according to El Defensor Chieftan.The Voice winner Chevel Shepherd will hold a drive-in show in Albuquerque, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

Testimony highlights conflicting reports on support for Wild and Scenic bill for Gila Wilderness

Representatives from two opposing groups in New Mexico testified before the U.S. House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, painting conflicting portraits of support for a bill that would see portions of the Gila River receive federal Wild and Scenic designations. 

The M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act would designate 446 miles of the Gila River and other waters in the Gila and San Francisco water basin as either wild or scenic, protecting those portions of river from future development. U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich presented the legislation at the hearing. The bill is named after M.H. Dutch Salmon, a nature writer and longtime advocate of the Gila River who passed away in 2019. Heinrich said the bill would “permanently protect some of the most dynamic and spectacular rivers and streams in our country.”

“The Gila and San Francisco Rivers are the beating heart of southwest New Mexico and are home to some of the most spectacular places in the west, full stop,” he said. 

Udall said the bill was the result of two years of work by groups in New Mexico, and said the bill was drafted with extensive input from various stakeholders. 

“Sen. Heinrich and I took the unusual step of posting a discussion draft of the legislation early this year, which we revised to reflect community concerns,” Udall said. 

RELATED: A win for the state’s last wild river

Udall and Heinrich were joined by Jamie Crockett, the co-owner of Gila Backcountry Services, who also spoke in favor of the bill. 

“This bill is the result of a grassroots movement and nearly a decade of work, from and by the people of my community, to guarantee protections of these rivers, their values, their current uses, and our traditional ways of life,” Crockett said.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (9/17/20 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state passed 27,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after reporting 119 new cases on Wednesday, with two additional deaths. Read more here, including information on the state’s gating criteria.The Albuquerque Journal looked at the per capita COVID-19 numbers by region, with the highest in the southeast for the week ending Sept. 13.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will hold a press conference on the state’s COVID-19 response and the response to the census Thursday at 2:30 p.m.Scientific American wrote about New Mexico’s COVID-19 response and how it has had better results than neighboring states like Arizona and Texas.The state health department said that all campaign rallies must abide by the state’s public health order, the Albuquerque Journal reported.