Thursday’s Top Stories
- Man who confessed to decades-old cold cases now charged with another murder
- Man faces charges following armed robbery leading to deadly police shooting
- Teens wanted in connection to February murder
- New Mexico sheriff’s office reduces staffing amid surge of COVID cases
- Attorney General investigating propane problems in northern New Mexico
- Lawmakers want to study costs, benefits of public power
- City’s draft Clean Car rules open to public comment
- Sunport expects thousands of travelers
- Pause on student loan payments is extended through May 1
Thursday’s Five Facts
 NMDOH reports seeing high COVID transmission rates in every New Mexico county New Mexico health officials are urging people to get their booster shots and to get tested this holiday season. During Wednesday’s COVID update, the latest data shows high virus transmission in all New Mexico counties with the spread of the omicron variant fueling concerns about yet another surge. Officials are urging people to get a COVID test before attending any family gatherings. The state is trying to make that easier by distributing 20,000 at-home tests for free as part of a pilot program. The latest numbers show more than 80% of COVID cases and deaths in New Mexico are among the unvaccinated.
 New Mexico sees thousands of job openings as record numbers leave the workforce There is a high number of open job positions on top of a record number of people choosing to leave the workforce altogether. This is now causing a strain for New Mexicans. According to the Department of Workforce SOlutions, there are more than 125,000 job openings right now in the state. Workforce Solutions is also looking into those on unemployment benefits to find out if they’re back in the workforce, still on unemployment, or in a different circumstance.
 Warm and breezy day before the storm We’re waking up to milder temperatures statewide this morning as moisture and clouds continue increasing from the west. Our dewpoints are rising for Grants and Gallup, so this is great news. We could squeeze out some sprinkles close to Farmington today before the bulk of the rain and snow arrives overnight into Friday morning. Highs will reach into the middle 70s east, middle to upper 50s and upper 40s to around 50° west. Come tonight, we’ll see heavier snow bands set up over the San Juan and Tusas Mountains, potentially piling up over a foot above 9,000 ft. Rain will mix with snow below this elevation, but we’ll still see a couple of inches for Taos and our ski resorts.
 Does New Mexico’s climate impact the spread of COVID-19? A team of UNM professors is studying how COVID spreads in the lungs and they’re also looking to see if New Mexico’s dry climate impacts the spread. Melanie Moses is a professor of computer science and biology at UNM and says that the colder weather and drier air could be making COVID easier to transmit. The team’s paper on their study has been accepted for publication and should come out soon.
 BioPark elephant sways to choir teacher singing One of the BioPark’s elephants is getting into the holiday spirit with some Christmas carols. A video shows choir teacher Theresa Sanderson singing “The First Noel” to an elephant named Albert who then sways back and forth to the song. He puts a foot on a rock and poses at the end. The video has been viewed more than 1,700 times.