Members of congress want answers on $3 million contract for possibly substandard masks for Navajo Nation

Members of Congress from New Mexico and Arizona sought answers about a $3 million contract given to a former White House staffer to supply masks to the Navajo Nation. The masks may be substandard, as the Navajo Nation deals with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the country. “The IHS facilities serving the Tribe are in dire need of PPE to combat the virus and ensure medical personnel are protected from potential exposure,” the lawmakers wrote. “Accordingly, we’re also concerned by reports that the federal contract to supply PPE to the Navajo IHS Service Area was awarded to a company established by a former senior official in the White House with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.”

Update: Masks sold by former White House official to Navajo hospitals don’t meet FDA standards

The letter, led by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, requests a number of answers from Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, the Director of the Indian Health Service. 

The Navajo Nation spreads across parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. As of Tuesday, Navajo Nation health officials had confirmed 4,842 COVID-19 cases and 158 deaths related to the disease.

Election officials prepare to count flood of absentee ballots

State officials have urged New Mexicans to vote via absentee ballots if at all possible, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, it appears, voters have heard this and are responding. New Mexicans are voting by absentee ballot at an unprecedented rate for this June’s primaries. 

As of Tuesday morning, 98,485 voters in the primary had cast ballots through absentees. In 2008, the year that previously had the highest amount of absentee ballots for a primary had just 30,854 absentee ballots cast. That number will continue to grow—as of Tuesday morning, 155,673 voters requested absentee ballots.

State will allow outdoor dining at restaurants in most of state starting Wednesday, with some restrictions

Restaurants in much of the state can serve patrons for outdoor dining—with some restrictions—starting Wednesday. Restaurants in Cibola, San Juan and McKinley counties are not included in the new lifting of patio dining restrictions. The state cited the fact that the northwest region has been hit hard by the virus. The New Mexico Restaurant Association asked that restaurants in Doña Ana County wait until June 1 to open for outdoor dining. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced late Tuesday that she amended the public health order to allow restaurants in most counties to begin serving patrons in outdoor patio dining areas but the outdoor dining can not be larger than 50 percent of the restaurant’s fire code occupancy.

107 new COVID-19 cases in NM, including spike in Torrance County

State health officials announced 107 additional cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico, including a dozen new cases in Torrance County and 14 cases among those held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Torrance County Detention Center. The state Department of Health also announced five additional deaths, bringing the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to 325. The state has now found 7,130 total COVID-19 cases. The state provided some details on the five additional COVID-19-related deaths; while the state discloses if the deceased had an underlying medical condition, they do not disclose the specific medical condition. A male in his 60s from Cibola County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 70s from McKinley County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup.A female in her 80s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 60s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 70s from San Juan County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Cedar Ridge Inn facility in Farmington.

What parents should know about coronavirus as kids return to babysitters, day cares and camps

Reopening states after the COVID-19 lockdown raises unnerving questions for working parents who depend on some form of child care, from nannies to day camp.

Instead of coming home with a snotty nose, is your child going to bring back the coronavirus? And how do you know your in-home babysitter or nanny, even your child’s teacher, isn’t a symptom-free spreader?