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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Doña Ana County Commissioners retreat on sodium cyanide bomb amendment

Doña Ana County commissioners gave a federal agency the green light to use lethal sodium cyanide bombs to combat livestock predation. County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve an amended contract with the federal Wildlife Services agency to continue use of the devices, despite an outpouring of opposition from local environmentalists. “It’s pretty shocking,” said Amanda Munro, communications director for the Southwest Environmental Center and a resident of Las Cruces. “I’m very disappointed in the commissioners who voted to instate this next amendment.”

Southwest Environmental Center and other groups have been fighting the use of sodium cyanide bombs, also called M-44s, in Doña Ana county. Environmentalists have argued that the devices are inhumane and that the use of lethal measures to combat predation are based on outdated science.

Herrell sues to impound Doña Ana County absentee ballots

Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell filed a suit Tuesday, asking a judge to order the impound of absentee ballots in a key southern New Mexico county after she lost to Xochitl Torres Small in last week’s election. Herrell filed the suit in state district court and asked the court to order State Police to take control of absentee ballots and associated documents from Doña Ana County. She also wants an investigation into “reports of chain-of-custody issues and other improprieties” though she provided no evidence of problems.

The Doña Ana County Canvassing Board unanimously certified the results of last week’s election hours before Herrell filed the suit. In the filing, Herrell claims she was “stripped of [the] title” of winner of the election because of the results from the Doña Ana County absentee ballots. Some media outlets had already projected Herrell to win, but at least one, the Albuquerque Journal, did not know of the absentee ballots.

Doña Ana County’s early vote surge

Early voting in one key southern New Mexico county is not only outpacing past years, it is so far beating out all other counties in the state. Through the end of Monday, 4,304 Doña Ana County voters already cast their ballots either by early in-person voting or by returning absentee ballots. And Democrats are happy, as 56.9 percent of those voters are Democrats. In 2016, 50.28 percent of early and absentee voters were Democrats. Statewide, 22,702 voters have already cast ballots.

Nearly 300,000 New Mexicans have already voted

As early voting enters its final week, roughly 300,000 people have already cast ballots, nearly 260,000 through early voting. These numbers, as of close of polls Saturday, come from the Secretary of State’s office. Early voting was not open Sunday, and the final day of early voting will be Saturday. Absentee ballots must be returned by close of polls on Tuesday to be valid. The new numbers show Democrats maintaining a solid lead over Republicans, but declining.

Doña Ana County sees big early voting numbers

Bernalillo County has the most residents and the most registered voters in the state—but right now, Doña Ana County has the most voters who have cast ballots early. That is according to numbers from Tuesday morning from both counties, two counties with a number of key legislative races and the two counties with the largest number of registered voters, as of Sept. 30. In Doña Ana County, 6,639 people voted early, as of 11:45 a.m. compared to 4,293 voters in Bernalillo County who cast their votes early as of approximately the same time. That is 6 percent of registered voters in Doña Ana County and 1 percent of registered voters in Bernalillo County.

Latest turnout numbers for Bernalillo, Doña Ana counties

New Mexicans are headed to the polls on election day —and it appears voters are out in full force in some of the state’s most populous counties. In Bernalillo County, more than 1,000 voters turned out within 15 minutes of the polls opening. A spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office said within the first hour, voting convenience centers saw about 4,000 voters overall. As of 11:00 a.m., four hours after voting convenience centers opened, 14,275 votes were cast in Bernalillo County. Bernalillo County has also received 222 returned absentee ballots.