‘Cartels are scrambling’: Virus snarls global drug trade
NEW YORK (AP) — Coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, paralyzing economies and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such drugs as methamphetamine and fentanyl. One of the main suppliers is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak. Associated Press interviews with law enforcement officials found Mexican and Colombian cartels are still plying their trade as evidenced by recent seizures but lockdowns that have turned cities into ghost towns are disrupting everything from production to transport to sales. And prices for drugs in short supply have soared to gouging levels.
ELECTION 2020-SENATE-NEW MEXICO
Luján keeps money edge in open US Senate race in New Mexico
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján continues to hold a comfortable fundraising edge over his GOP opponents in a race for open Senate seat in New Mexico. Federal election records show the Santa Fe Democrat raised more than $1 million in contributions during the first three months of 2020. That’s more than all of his potential Republican opponents combined. Records also show that Lujan had a healthy $2.5 million cash-on-hand going into April. Meanwhile, former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti led the money race among Republicans during the same period, records show. His campaign reported around $650,000 in contributions.
NAVAJO NATION COUNCIL-SESSION
Navajo Nation Council to hold spring session as scheduled
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer have vetoed a resolution that sought to cancel the tribal council’s session less than three days before the scheduled start. The Navajo Nation Council is required to hold four regular sessions each year in the months of January, April, July and October. The spring session is scheduled to begin Monday morning. Although the resolution passed by the council cites concerns over the possible spread of coronavirus among Navajo Nation employees and officials, Nez and Lizer said the Council and its committees have continued to hold regular and special meetings throughout the pandemic. They say with proper protective equipment for staff and the use of teleconferencing, the session can proceed as scheduled.
STATE EDUCATION FUNDING
Feds tell New Mexico to stop diverting federal school aid
The New Mexico Public Education Department has been told to stop diverting millions of dollars in federal Impact Aid grants designated for specific school districts. The decades-old program provides funding for districts nationwide to offset property tax losses from tribal lands, military bases, national forests and other tax-exempt federal lands within their boundaries. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state essentially has redistributed much of that aid — over $63 million in 2019 _ and U.S. Department of Education has determined New Mexico wasn’t meeting an equity measurement required to redistribute federal aid. Districts need the federal Impact Aid money to build and maintain facilities because they can’t raise enough construction funds through property taxes.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
Gallup high school gym to reopen as coronavirus hospital
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A federal agency says a high school in Gallup will reopen its gym as a 60-bed alternative care facility to help hospitals treat an increasing number of coronavirus patients. The Gallup Independent reports that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to turn over the keys to Miyamura High School to local and state health officials on Monday, about two weeks after construction began. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham first announced that the high school was selected as the site for an auxiliary hospital on April 3. The first patients with COVID-19 may be admitted as early as April 25. State health officials say New Mexico had at least 53 reported deaths and over 1,798 reported coronavirus patients as of Saturday afternoon.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
Navajo Nation orders protective masks worn on reservation
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says the average death of the more than 40 people who have died from coronavirus on the reservation is 66. The tribe has ordered all people on its vast reservation to wear protective masks when out in public to help fight the spread. As of Saturday, 1,197 residents of the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive for COVID-19. The Navajo Nation has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American tribe. Tribal resident Jonathan Nez says officials would consider even more aggressive requirements to reduce the spread.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHILD ABUSE HOTLINES
With no school, calls drop but child abuse hasn’t amid virus
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — With schools closed and teachers unable to report suspected cases of abuse, child welfare agencies have lost some of their best eyes and ears as the coronavirus pandemic strains families. States are reporting fewer calls to child abuse hotlines, not because officials believe there are fewer cases but because they’re going unreported. Agencies nationwide are asking neighbors, relatives, store workers and others to fill the reporting gaps that have emerged with school closures. Officials say child abuse and neglect are likely to increase with families facing job losses and being locked down together at home during the outbreak.
US grants Navajo Nation authority to use unassigned airwaves
PHOENIX (AP) — The federal government is giving the Navajo Nation temporary authority to use unassigned airwaves to provide wireless broadband service. The Federal Communications Commission on Friday granted the requested authority for 60 days to help the tribe’s emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak. The commission says the authority should help the tribe as reservation residents work from home and increasingly rely on telemedicine and remote learning. Many residents in remote areas without broadband service sit in vehicles parked near local government centers, fast-food restaurants and grocery stores to connect to Wi-Fi.