Northwest NM continues to outpace the rest of the state for COVID-19 cases

With more than twice as many reported cases of COVID-19 in McKinley County than the more populated Bernalillo County, the state Department of Health announced 107 new test positive cases across the state of COVID-19 Tuesday. There are six new deaths related to the respiratory disease. The numbers released Tuesday brings the state to 4,138 cases of the disease and 162 total deaths related to the virus. There are 964 COVID-19 cases designated as recovered by the state’s DOH. There are 48 patients on ventilators and 178 who have been hospitalized, according to DOH.

Eight new positive COVID-19 cases, including first in southern and western New Mexico. Total is 43

With the state’s announcement of 43 people total who have tested positive for COVID-19, the virus has now been detected in southern and western New Mexico for the first time. The state announced eight new positive tests on Friday. Update (3/21): State DOH reports 14 new COVID-19 cases; total of 57

A male in his 20s tested positive in Doña Ana County and a male in his 30s tested positive in McKinley County, the first in those counties

 The other new cases include:

A female in Bernalillo County in her teensTwo males in Bernalillo County in their 40sA female in Sandoval County in her teensA male in Sandoval County in his 80sA female in Taos County in her 70s. Including the above newly reported cases, New Mexico has now had a total of 43 positive tests for COVID-19:

Bernalillo County: 23Doña Ana County: 1McKinley County: 1Sandoval County: 6San Miguel County: 1Santa Fe County: 7​​Socorro County: 2Taos County: 2

The state has processed 3,814 tests for COVID-19 as of Friday. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
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Seven new COVID-19 cases, total in NM now 35

The state announced Thursday seven more people have tested positive for COVID-19, rising the overall number to 35. Update (3/20): Eight new positive COVID-19 cases, including first in southern and western New Mexico. Total is 43

The new cases are four people in Bernalillo, one person in San Miguel and two people in Santa Fe counties. This is the first time COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, has been detected in San Miguel County. So far, the breakdown of cases by county, including the seven new ones announced Thursday are:

Bernalillo County: 20​Sandoval County: 4​San Miguel County: 1​Santa Fe County: 7​​​Socorro County: 2​Taos County: 1

The state says they have processed 2,797 tests.

Two new cases of COVID-19 brings state to 23 positive tests

Two new positive tests of COVID-19 have been found in New Mexico, increasing the number of overall cases to 23. The state Department of Health announced a man in his 50s in Taos County and a man in his 40s in Santa Fe County tested positive for COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus. Update (3/18): Five new cases of COVID-19, one case without a known link

This is the first positive test of COVID-19 in Taos County so far. Previous test positive cases have been in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro and Santa Fe counties. Including the two cases from Tuesday morning, the positive tests are in:

Bernalillo County: 14​Sandoval County: 2​​Santa Fe County: 4​​​Socorro County: 2​Taos County: 1

The state says 1,272 people have been tested so far. 

The Department of Health is actively investigating the new cases, including contact-tracing and swabbing symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases, according to the news release.

East Mountain water application spurs protests from residents, silence from State Engineer

The tony neighborhoods tucked into the juniper-dotted grasslands on the east side of the Sandia Mountains represent yet another battleground in New Mexico’s water wars, one in which the state’s top water official has abandoned one side for the other. Last week, testimony ended in a trial over whether a private company can pump more water—114 million gallons more each year—from the Sandia Basin. Nancy Benson and her husband live in San Pedro Creek Estates, where they built their retirement home in 2000 after living in Albuquerque. She is shocked the state would consider granting the application after rejecting it previously. “This area is fully appropriated, there is nothing extra,” she said.

DOJ threatens (again) to withhold funds from Bernalillo County over immigration info sharing

The U.S. Department of Justice is again threatening to withhold some crimefighting funds from Bernalillo County over what the Trump administration has called “sanctuary” policies. The DOJ contacted Bernalillo County and 22 other jurisdictions, including New York City and the states of California, Illinois and Oregon, saying they violated the law that promotes sharing immigration enforcement information with the federal government. DOJ says the statute requires cooperation as a condition for receiving grants through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Wednesday, DOJ threatened to subpoena officials who do not comply with their documents request. The threat is the latest in the fight between the federal government and local jurisdictions they deem as “sanctuary.” There is no formal definition of a so-called “sanctuary” city or county, though the Trump administration generally uses it to refer to local jurisdictions that do not fully comply with federal requests to aid enforcement of immigration law.

Running Dry: Groundwater levels are dropping across the West, including in the East Mountains

Garrett Petrie and Teri Farley moved to New Mexico about ten years ago. They found a house on five acres in the East Mountains because they liked being “off the grid.” Moving from Tucson, they were both well-aware of the water issues in the region. “We asked a lot of questions,” Petrie said. “We kept hearing things like, the wells really vary out here and you can get a good one, you can get a bad one.”

They thought they had a good well when they bought the house.

DOJ threatens to withhold crime-fighting resources over ABQ immigration policies

The Department of Justice says for the city of Albuquerque to qualify for a partnership to combat violent crime, the city will have to comply with efforts federal immigration enforcement for immigrants who are detained. To qualify for the cooperation and funding, the DOJ says Albuquerque, and three other cities, must answer questions on how the city cooperates with federal authorities on immigration

“By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We saw that just last week, when an illegal alien who had been deported twenty times and was wanted by immigration authorities allegedly sexually assaulted an elderly woman in Portland, a city that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement.”

The term “sanctuary-city” does not have a specific definition, but the term is usually used to refer to municipalities that don’t fully cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on enforcing federal immigration laws. The federal program in question is the Public Safety Partnership, announced in June by the DOJ. The City of Albuquerque currently does not use city resources to help federal authorities apprehend or identify undocumented immigrants unless otherwise required by law.

Bernalillo County passes ‘immigrant-friendly’ resolution

After more than 45 minutes of sometimes-impassioned public comment in Albuquerque Tuesday night, the Bernalillo County Commission voted to reaffirm Bernalillo County’s status as an immigrant-friendly county. The commission voted 4-1 to approve the resolution. This echoes votes by the Albuquerque City and Santa Fe city councils in recent weeks. On the same night, the Village of Corrales rejected a similar resolution. In addition to declaring the county immigrant-friendly, the resolution also asked that “no county monies, resources or personnel shall be used to enforce federal civil immigration laws or to investigate, question, detect or apprehend person on basis of immigration status unless otherwise required by law to do so.”

Commissioner Stephen Michael Quezada sponsored the legislation.

That other question on Bernalillo County ballots: Home rule

One ballot Bernalillo County initiatives voters will weigh in on this election season may appear perplexing on the surface, but the idea is relatively simple. “It’s basically like a constitution for the county,” former Bernalillo County attorney Randy Autio said of the proposition to establish a home rule charter in the county. “It sets guidelines on what governance in the county would look like.”

The county is home to more than 674,000 people, including all of Albuquerque, and is currently subject to the same governance guidelines as all but one other county in New Mexico. One of those guidelines from state law, for example, only allows for a maximum of five elected officials to represent the county. But state law also allows communities to establish “home rule,” which Autio said would give county voters “the greatest ability to govern themselves.” If voters approve this for Bernalillo County next week, they could in the future push to amend the charter to change the number of county commissioners, who currently represent more than 100,000 people per district on average.