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Coronavirus Update: Health officials criticize rejection of vaccine funding

Coronavirus updates for New Hampshire
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR
Coronavirus updates for New Hampshire

NHPR is continuing to cover the developing story around coronavirus in New Hampshire. Bookmark this page for the latest updates, including case numbers and other important news of the day. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage.

THE LATEST NUMBERS IN N.H.

Scroll down to our live blog for more COVID-19 news and the latest updates.

The most recent update from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 25:

*DHHS has said data from  Oct. 23-24 is incomplete due to "an issue with the surveillance system healthcare providers use to notify DHHS of new cases." NHPR will update with fresh data as we get it.*

  • 1 new death reported
  • 49 new cases from Oct. 23, 583 cases from Oct. 22
  • The state's COVID-19 deaths total 1,544
  • Active cases total 3,295
  • 220 patients are currently hospitalized.
  • NOTE: Our reporting of the ages of newly-reported cases and COVID-19 deaths is a reflection of the state's reporting by age, which you can find right here.

Support NHPR's award-winning journalism by becoming an NHPR member today.


LIVE BLOG - CORONAVIRUS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Health officials criticize rejection of vaccine funding
Update: Monday, Oct. 25, 2:19 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials say rejecting federal funding for vaccine outreach and other programs will further strain the state's hospitals and delay the COVID-19 vaccines to children.

The Republican-led Executive Council recently rejected $27 million in federal vaccination funding.

A legislative committee later approved accepting $4.7 million. Executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society Jim Potter says pediatricians "desperately need" the money to begin vaccinating children. He and others spoke at a news conference on Monday along with the state's all-Democratic Congressional delegation.

— Holly Ramer, Associated Press

Dartmouth College requires remote employees to be vaccinated
Updated: Monday, Oct. 25, 8:30 a.m.

Dartmouth College is requiring employees working remotely to be vaccinated.

The Valley News reports that the college expanded its vaccine mandate. It already required that employees who access Dartmouth facilities be fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption.

All Dartmouth employees, including those who have been approved for fully remote work, must submit proof of vaccination or be approved for a medical or religious exemption by Dec. 8.

— Associated Press

4 additional COVID-19 deaths
Update: Friday, Oct. 22, 4:06 p.m.

There are four new COVID-19 deaths to report tonight, bringing the state's overall virus-related death count to 1,543.

State health officials said the four deceased were a man from Rockingham County, two women from Strafford County, and a male from Strafford County — the only one of the four who was under 60 years old.

Current hospitalizations are rising: There are 218 patients now hospitalized with the virus — about a dozen more from the previous day.

Active infections number 4,684, and the state reported 418 new cases from Thursday, with another 115 cases identified from over the past week.

— NHPR Staff

UNH will require all employees to be vaccinated
Update: Friday, Oct. 22, 3:15 p.m.

The University of New Hampshire says all employees on the Durham campus, including students who work for the school, will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines by Dec. 8.

UNH president James Dean says UNH is a recipient of federal grant money, which means it falls under the Biden Administration's requirement that all federal contractors be vaccinated.

In a note to students and faculty, Dean said there is only a relatively small number of people who aren't already vaccinated on campus.

— Todd Bookman, NHPR

NH mayoral candidate dies from COVID
Update: Friday, Oct. 22, 3:21 p.m.

A mayoral candidate in the city of Berlin, New Hampshire, has died of a COVID 19-related illness.

Fifty-four-year-old Robert Haynes died on Wednesday at Concord Hospital. Haynes had been in the hospital for over 20 days, with much of that time in the intensive care unit.

His daughter said he had developed COVID-19-related pneumonia. She declined to comment on whether he had been vaccinated.

Haynes was pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship Church in Berlin since 2014. He was part of a group called Berlin Prosperity that was running for local offices. The group's platform emphasized growth in the city's schools and businesses, and historic preservation.

— Associated Press

Hospitals announce vax mandate for workers
Update: Friday, Oct. 22, 8:07 a.m.

Some of southern New Hampshire’s largest Health Care providers — including SolutionHealth, the parent company of Elliot and Southern New Hampshire Health — have officially announced a vaccine mandate for employees.

The announcement is a bit of a “sooner rather than later” decision, with a federal mandate for all health care providers who accept Medicaid and Medicare funding still awaiting final details.

Some of the state's other health providers, like Dartmouth Hitchcock Health and North Country Healthcare, have already implemented mandates.

— Alli Fam, NHPR

Sununu asks legislative panel to OK funds
Friday, Oct. 22, 8:21 a.m.

Governor Chris Sununu is asking the legislature's fiscal committee to accept almost $5 million in federal money Friday.

As NHPR's Josh Rogers reports the money amounts to the Sununu administration's first crack at replacing the $27 million dollars in COVID vaccine aid rejected last week by the GOP-controlled executive council. Read more.

— Josh Rogers, NHPR

Coos County Family Health Services will see more patients via telehealth due to North Country surge
Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 5:01 p.m.

As Coos County battles a surge of COVID-19 cases, Coos County Family Health Services will pivot to telehealth. The facility serves over 12,000 of the region's residents, for everything from routine checkups to support for victims of domestic violence.

Over the summer, only around 5 percent of patients had been coming in virtually, but that figure started changing this week.

Ken Gordon, Coos County Family Health Services' CEO says the pivot to telehealth is expected to be temporary until COVID-19 case rates can come down.

But Gordon knows telehealth might not be an option for all patients, whether it’s lack of access to the technology, or the particular needs of the patient. For example, he says, some pregnant people might need care that can’t be provided virtually.

That’s why he says there’s no set target for how many patients should be seen virtually, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

He expects many children will be coming in person, so staff can catch them up on routine immunizations like measles or tetanus. That’s been a particular challenge across the state this year, with some children heading back to school behind on immunizations they need.

Gordon says this isn’t the organization's first pivot to telehealth during the pandemic, so all the hiccups of virtual waiting rooms and other technology glitches, can hopefully be avoided.

COVID-19 infections linked to clusters in New Hampshire schools increases over past two weeks
Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 4:51 p.m.
The number of COVID-19 infections linked to clusters in New Hampshire schools nearly doubled in the last two weeks.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, there have been 141 COVID clusters recorded in K-12 school this academic year. There are 1,400 individual cases associated with those clusters, mostly among students. The cluster averaged about 10 infections.

In a presentation to school leaders and school nurses on Wednesday, the state's top health officials noted that local COVID cases are continuing to increase in New Hampshire, despite a national downward trend. So far, the state hasn't documented any COVID deaths among people under age 18.

In keeping with state health guidance, many schools are requiring students with COVID symptoms to leave school until they get a negative test. This has led to backlogs at doctors' offices and urgent care centers. The state says ClearChoiceMD testing locations are now open seven days a week in Manchester, Claremont, Newington and Nashua to increase test availability. No appointment is required.

-Sarah Gibson

Gorham Walmart closes due to COVID-19 cases among staff
Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 4:34 p.m.

The Walmart in Gorham won’t be open until Oct. 21 after it closed early on Tuesday, Oct. 19, following a rise in cases among staff.

The announcement comes as Coos County battles high rates of COVID-19 transmission and a COVID-19 surge that has left the local hospital overwhelmed.

While no inside services will be available at Walmart, the pharmacy is open for curbside pickup. The closure will allow for the building to be cleaned and restocked.

Walmart does have a staff vaccine mandate, but it only applies to office and managerial staff, not to frontline workers.

The Berlin Marketplace and Dollar General remain open as options for grocery shopping during the closure.

-Alli Fam

Judge dismisses request to stop NH school mask mandates
Update: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 11:56 a.m

A judge dismissed a request to stop enforcing a mask-wearing policy at a number of school districts in New Hampshire’s Rockingham County.

Parents of children in the districts alleged in a lawsuit filed in August that wearing masks causes their children to have difficulty breathing, develop facial acne and rashes, suffer anxiety and experience headaches.

The parents challenged the legality of mask mandates on the grounds that they violate a state law prohibiting the use of “dangerous restraint techniques” in schools; that the school districts lack the authority to issue mask mandates and that the state Health Department’s authority under regulations concerning communicable diseases conflicts with the mandates.

Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling ruled on Saturday that the plaintiffs haven’t established a likelihood of success on their arguments.

The parents sued school districts in Exeter, Brentwood, Kensington, and Stratham.

-The Associated Press

N.H. reports additional 8 deaths
Update: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 6:01 p.m.

The state announced eight additional deaths from COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,532 since the pandemic began.

Two of the newly announced deaths were from August and September, and had been pending investigation.

Health officials also announced 377 new cases of COVID-19.

Currently, 198 people are hospitalized in New Hampshire due to complications from coronavirus. That number is an uptick — an increase of two patients from Monday's bed count.

— NHPR Staff

4 more COVID-19 deaths
Update: Monday, Oct. 18, 7:01 p.m.

The state announced 325 new COVID-19 test results today, along with more than 1200 new cases from earlier in the weekend.

There are currently 4,430 people with COVID in New Hampshire.

There are 178 people hospitalized with the virus — that's an increase from recent weeks.

The state also announced four more people have died of the disease, two of whom were younger than 60 years old.

— NHPR staff

Groups ask for remote public access to Legislature in 2022
Update: Monday, Oct. 18, 6:31 p.m.

Health providers and advocacy organizations in New Hampshire are asking legislative leaders to once again allow remote public access to the Legislature during the upcoming 2022 session.

The 25 organizations sent letters Monday to House Speaker Sherman Packard and Senate President Chuck Morse.

They raised concerns about the risk of testifying in person at legislative committee hearings, meetings and sessions. The groups said the last legislative session showed videoconferencing provided safe and secure access to proceedings. Messages seeking comment were sent to Packard and Morse.

— Kathy McCormack, Associated Press

Hassan: send COVID-19 test supplies to areas with most need
Update: Monday, Oct. 18, 3:01 pm

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan says she's hearing from New Hampshire residents who have been unable to access timely COVID-19 testing, so she's encouraging the Biden administration to ensure that testing supplies are going to areas with the highest need.

Hassan said in a letter to Health Secretary Xavier Becerra that one family waited for nearly two weeks to get their daughter's test results back, so she had to stay home from school the entire time.

She said another parent visited six different pharmacies in search of an at-home COVID-19 antigen test.

— Associated Press

An infectious disease specialist answers your questions about kids and COVID in New Hampshire.

Updated 4:02 p.m., Oct. 15

NHPR spoke to Dr. Sharon Vuppula, a pediatric hospitalist and infectious disease specialist at St. Joseph Hospital, about the current state of the pandemic in New Hampshire and how it's impacting kids.

Here's some of what she told us. Find the rest here.

Why are we seeing more cases among children in New Hampshire?

Several reasons. There are high vaccination rates among older populations, so cases aren't occurring in older adults as much as they were before vaccines were widely available.

The highly transmissible delta variant is also playing a part. It's far more contagious than earlier strains of the virus and therefore can be passed more easily, especially among unvaccinated individuals which, at this point, are all children under the age of 12.

Children are also largely back to in-person learning. Cases among children were low when they were learning remotely, but it's easier for COVID-19 to spread in a classroom setting.

Why are case numbers remaining steady in New Hampshire as they slow down around the rest of the country?

The delta variant is partially to blame. The variant reached New Hampshire later than it did other states, like those in the Midwest and the South, so New Hampshire is seeing a later peak and later downturn in cases than other states that already saw spikes due to delta.

— Julia Furukawa, NHPR

Executive Council rejects $27 million federal funding for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, passes other measures for mobile vaccination
Update: Wednesday, Oct. 13, 3:18 p.m.

The contracts that sparked disruptive protests that shut down an executive council meeting two weeks ago were voted down at today’s Executive Council meeting.

The scope of the two contracts included $27 million in federal funding that would have created 13 state health department positions for immunization work. The positions included vaccine outreach, assistance for health care providers navigating the logistics of vaccines and support for data entry on the state’s immunization information system.

Councilor Cinde Warmington, a Democrat, was the only councilor to vote in favor of the funding.

The vote followed a period of intense questioning of Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibenette, an angry back and forth between Gov. Chris Sununu and several councilors and a long statement from Councilor Janet Stevens hailing the importance of vaccine equity and combating disinformation, meant to preface her “no” vote.

Gov. Chris Sununu said the “vote showed a reckless disregard for the lives we are losing while they turn away the tools our state needs to fight and win this battle against COVID,” in a statement issued after the vote.

Read more here.

-Alli Fam, NHPR

2 additional deaths, 1,536 new cases reported
Update: Tuesday, Oct. 12, 6:45 a.m.

State health officials on Monday reported two additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,399 new cases from Friday to Sunday.

There were also 137 newly identified cases from last week, in the latest public health update.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday night that a female from Belknap County and a male from Coos County had died from COVID-19; both were older than 60.

There are 3,941 active infections and 142 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.

— NHPR Staff

Merck asks US FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pill
Update: Monday, Oct. 11, 9:01 a.m.

Drugmaker Merck has asked U.S. regulators to authorize its promising antiviral pill against COVID-19, setting the stage for a decision within weeks.

If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, adding a new, easy-to-use weapon to the world's arsenal against the pandemic.

The FDA will scrutinize company data on the drug's safety and effectiveness before rendering a decision. All COVID-19 drugs now authorized by the FDA require an IV or injection.

— Associated Press

Active cases increase to 4,109
Update: Friday, Oct. 8, 3:41 p.m.

The number of active COVID-19 infections in New Hampshire increased by around 100 to 4,109 on Friday.

State health officials also reported 568 new cases from Thursday, along with 53 new ones confirmed from earlier in the week.

No new deaths were announced.

There are 130 patients hospitalized with the virus.

Of the new cases, 189 are individuals under 18 years old.

— NHPR Staff

Sununu says AG memo underscores NH sovereignty
Update: Friday, Oct. 8, 12:16 p.m.

Governor Sununu sought a legal opinion of New Hampshire's Attorney General to further his point that the state's sovereighty remains unaffected if the state accepts federal funds to support vaccination efforts. READ THE MEMO

"I appreciate that the Attorney General has been very clear in his determination that these contracts do not bind New Hampshire state government to any sweeping federal mandates, ensuring our state's sovereignty in how we manage the COVID pandemic," Sununu said in a statement.

The legal opinion of AG John Formella, who previously served as legal counsel to the governor, comes a week after anti-vaccine protesters disrupted an Executive Council meeting, which led to its postponement, over federal funds for vaccination.

— NHPR Staff

FormellalegalopFedfundsSnap.png
Excerpt of AG John Formella's memo on Oct. 8, 2021

N.H. sees 4 additional COVID-19 deaths
Update: Thursday, Oct. 7, 4:11 p.m.

The state reported four additional COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, with three of the four being younger than 60 years old.

The deceased were residents of Belknap, Coos, Rockingham and Sullivan counties.

Here's everything you need to know about getting a COVID test in N.H.

There were 528 new cases announced for Wednesday, and another 97 confirmed for the two previous days. Of the new cases, 198 people are under 18 years old.

There are currently 130 patients hospitalized with the virus, and 3,966 active cases statewide.

— NHPR Staff

State identifies nearly 100 COVID clusters tied to N.H. schools

3 new deaths, 3,600 current cases statewide
Update: Wednesday, Oct. 6, 5:27 p.m.

State health officials announced three more COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, one of whom was younger than 60.

New Hampshire also reported 486 new coronavirus cases, with 86 from over last weekend.

Of the new cases, 149 are under 18 years old.

There are 3,600 active infections and 132 current hospitalizations.

After an investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed that two deaths — one from September, and one from February — were related to COVID-19.

— NHPR Staff

4 new deaths, 1,200 new infections
Update: Oct. 4, 6:01 p.m.

Four additional Granite Staters have died from COVID-19.

The fatalities were announced Monday, along with 1,200 new coronavirus cases from Friday to Sunday. Another 91 cases were confirmed from earlier last week.

There are 3,502 active infections statewide and 141 patients hospitalized with the virus.

The COVID death toll in New Hampshire is currently 1,485.

— NHPR Staff

Treasury to shift rental assistance to places with demand
Update: Oct. 4, 4:43 p.m.

(AP) The Treasury Department has announced plans to start reallocating rental assistance money in a bid to get more cash into the hands of families facing eviction.

The details released Monday follows the slow pace of distribution in many parts of the country.

A little more than 16.5% of the tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance reached tenants in August, compared with 11% a month earlier.

Grantees that have struggled to get money out will have to submit plans by November 15 showing they will speed up distribution or face losing the money.

Lawmakers have approved $46.5 billion in spending on rental assistance.

— Michael Casey, Associated Press

Court dismisses challenge to NH's vaccine equity plan
Update: Oct. 4, 4:01 p.m.

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit from a man who alleged that New Hampshire's vaccine distribution plan discriminated against residents on the basis of race.

Before he obtained a vaccine appointment, 55-year-old James Pietrangelo, who is white, sued Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials in February to challenge New Hampshire's vaccine equity plan.

Up to 10% of the vaccine supply was allocated for "vulnerable populations in areas at risk of disproportionate impact from COVID-19," including people identifying as a racial or ethnic minority.

A judge ruled against him, and he appealed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled on Friday that his claims are moot.

— Associated Press

Hospitalizations tick up
Update: Oct. 1, 4:20 p.m.

State health officials tonight are reporting 150 hospitalizations, an increase of five patients with the virus since Thursday.

No new deaths were announced.

There are 421 new coronavirus cases, with an additional 114 cases confirmed from earlier in the week.

There are 3,830 active infections statewide.

Of the new cases reported Friday, 149 are under 18 years old.

The state's COVID-19 dashboard shows the 20-29 age group has had the most number of confirmed infections over the course of the pandemic. Here's a graph from the dashboard, as of Oct. 1, 2021.

COVID cases by age group, as of Oct. 1, 2021
NH.gov
COVID cases by age group, as of Oct. 1, 2021

— NHPR Staff

Grocery store workers, people in homeless shelters are among those eligible for booster shots
Updated: Oct. 1, 12:31 p.m.

Top New Hampshire health officials held a webinar with healthcare providers Thursday around booster shots. One focus of the call was the role providers should play in determining eligibility.

Among the four groups who can now get a booster, are people who were vaccinated at least six months ago with the Pfizer vaccine, and are at an increased risk of being exposed to and transmitting the virus, based on their jobs or where they live.

Grocery store workers, or people who are residing in homeless shelters, for example, fall into this category.

As officials explained, this group may get a booster if they want but their case for boosters is stronger for those 65 and older who are at greater risk of a severe COVID-19 case.

Officials were also clear that the decision to give the Pfizer booster based on occupation or residential setting is not something that’s up to a pharmacy or other vaccine provider to determine. Rather they said, it’s up to the individual who can self attest that they are at higher risk, and feel they would benefit from the booster.
-Alli Fam, NHPR

N.H. reports 3,845 active infections
Update: Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m.

New Hampshire is reporting 3,845 active infections statewide, as well as 438 new cases of coronavirus.

The numbers released Thursday include 144 current hospitalizations and two additional deaths.

Health officials announced the women, both 60 or older, were residents of Merrimack and Strafford counties.

Since the pandemic began, New Hampshire has recorded 1,481 COVID-19 deaths, and the state has confirmed 120,268 positive cases.

— NHPR Staff

2 more COVID deaths, 443 new cases
Update: Sept. 29, 4:31 p.m.

The state reported 443 new coronavirus cases today, as well as 169 additional cases confirmed since Saturday.

There are 3,648 active infections, and 146 patients hospitalized with the virus.

Two additional deaths were announced Sept. 29: a male resident of Rockingham County, who was younger than 60, and a female from Hillsborough County, who was older than 60.

To date, 1,479 people in New Hampshire have died from COVID-19, according to Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist.

— NHPR Staff

Additional death confirmed
Update: Sept. 28, 8 p.m.

State health officials have announced an additional COVID-19 death, which occurred three weeks ago. A woman from Carroll County, who was in the 30-39 age group, died from the virus the week of Sept. 6.

To date, 1,477 people in New Hampshire have died from the coronavirus.

The state reported 362 new cases on Tuesday, Sept. 28,and 3,433 active infections statewide.

— NHPR Staff

N.H. nursing homes working with local pharmacies for Pfizer booster shot clinics
Update: 4:55 p.m.

N.H. nursing homes are working to coordinate on-site Pfizer booster clinics for eligible residents and staff, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s approval of the booster for certain populations late last week.

These on-site clinics will get the vaccines in a different way than earlier in the vaccine rollout when facilities accessed their shots through a federal pharmacy partnership program.

While nursing homes are still working with pharmacy partners, many are now using local pharmacies for the clinics rather than the federal program. These facilities often meet nursing home’s needs for other services, like flu shots.

Some are also planning to have their own staff administer the vaccine to residents, rather than pharmacy staff. Dee Brown, the administrator of Mountain View Community, a county nursing home in Ossipee, says while the details aren’t finalized yet, having staff administering the vaccine could help residents feel more comfortable getting a booster.

Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, says working with local pharmacies will be more efficient than the federal pharmacy partnership was over the winter, when some facilities were waiting weeks to get clinics scheduled. He also said supply is no longer a constraint as it was during the early stages of the vaccine rollout.

— Alli Fam, NHPR

Judge rejects suit contesting end to pandemic jobless benefits
Update: Sept. 28, 8:31 a.m.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit over the early end to unemployment benefits providing during the pandemic.

NHPR's Todd Bookman has the story here.

In her ruling, Hillsborough County Superior Court Justice Jacalyn Colburn wrote the plaintiffs' arguments were based in part on flawed interpretation of the law. READ MORE

Four new COVID-19 deaths in N.H.
Update: Sept. 27, 5:30 p.m.

Four more people have died of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, according to state health officials. Three of the deaths were associated with long-term care facilities.

There have been almost 1,500 deaths attributed to COVID in the state since the pandemic began.

Active cases and hospitalizations dropped in the state over the weekend. State health officials reported about 3,595 active infections, and 143 hospitalizations on Monday.

— Staff, Wire Report

U.S. has enough COVID vaccines for boosters, kids' shots
Update: Sept. 27, 11:52 a.m.

With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they're confident there will be enough for every American who qualifies.

A spike in demand is expected after the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention endorsed boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older. The CDC said younger people at higher risk from the coronavirus because of health conditions or their jobs would also qualify.

Meanwhile, more than 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated. That despite the enticement of lottery prizes, free food or gifts and pleas from exhausted health care workers as the average number of deaths per day climbed to more than 1,900 in recent weeks.

— Associated Press

Granite Staters Begin Lining Up For Vaccine Booster Shots
Update: Sept. 26, 8:30 p.m.

This past weekend was the first chance for thousands of Granite Staters to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Heading into a Concord CVS, Kathy Rothwell of Hopkinton said she was happy to be getting a booster, but she was focused less on her own protection from COVID that of others.

"I'm getting it more for my grandchildren, who are not eligible, in case I inadvertently give it to them,” Rothwell said.

CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are offering the booster shots at locations nationwide free of charge. Under new CDC guidance issued Friday, anyone over 65 who completed their primary series of Pfizer vaccines six months ago is eligible for a booster. Anyone over 18 with underlying medical conditions or who faces increased risks due to their job, or who lives in an institutional setting, is also eligible.

People seeking an appointment at CVS should schedule an appointment online; Walgreen's is accepting reservations for booster online or by phone.

The CDC has yet to approve boosters for the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

-Josh Rogers, NHPR

33% of new cases are those under 18 years old
Update: Sept. 24, 5:20 p.m.

The state announced 740 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 243 of the new infections coming from individuals under 18 years old.

There were three additional deaths to report, all younger than 60, from Belknap, Cheshire, and Strafford counties.

Current hospitalizations are 147, and there are 3,852 active infections.

— NHPR Staff

NHHA applauds CDC booster call
Update: Sept. 24, 4:40 pm

The association representing many of New Hampshire's long-term care facilities is cheering new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend boosters of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for frontline workers.

In a statement issued Friday, New Hampshire Healthcare Association President Brendan Williams said essential workers have been treated as expendable during the pandemic... and he praised the CDC's decision for recognizing the value of those workers' lives.

In a statement issued Friday morning, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said 6-month Pfizer boosters should be given to people over age 65, residents of long-term care settings and people age 50-64 with underlying health conditions.

She also said adults under age 50, or those increased risk for COVID due to their job or presence in an institutional setting, MAY also elect to take a 6-month Pfizer booster shot, based on their individual circumstances.

— Casey McDermott, NHPR

3 new deaths in N.H. as active cases swell
Update: Sept. 23, 5:11 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials reported 304 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Three new deaths related to the coronavirus were also confirmed, one each in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

Currently, 142 patients are hospitalized with the virus and there are roughly 4,000 active infections statewide.

The state Department of Health and Human Services also announced rapid test results from previous days that had yet to be reported, as the system did not process antigen data accurately between Sept. 15 and Sept. 20. As a result, the state reported 381 new cases over that six-day period.

— NHPR Staff

COVID Outbreak At Bedford High School Prompts New Mask Policy
Update: Sept. 22, 4:34 p.m.

COVID outbreaks among students have caused some New Hampshire schools to start requiring masks indoors, in spite of parent pushback.

As of Wednesday, Bedford High School, which was mask-optional, is now requiring masks because of 32 active cases of COVID-19.

Bedford Superintendent Mike Fournier says COVID issues are taking up 90 percent of his time this year. "How do we communicate data to parents, how do we interpret that data to parents, how do we respond to constituents who have questions," he asks. "All we do every single day is customer service with people who want masks and people who don't want masks."

Fournier says that so far, only two students in the high school have been sent home because of refusing to follow the new mask policy. He says it is within the district's right to keep those students home. "If a student elects to stay home because they refuse to comply with policy, we are still providing 5 days a week instruction; they are just choosing not to participate. So eventually they would be considered truant."

Bedford High's mask mandate will be in place for the next two weeks.
-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

Five Things To Know About The Pandemic In N.H. Right Now, According To State Epidemiologists Dr. Chan And Dr. Talbot
Update: Sept. 22, 4:11 p.m.

State epidemiologists Dr. Benjamin Chan and Dr. Elizabeth Talbot spoke to NHPR's Morning Edition team in a lengthy interview. Here are the main takeaways. Find the whole conversation here.

  • Dr. Chan says of the 600 or so individuals who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since January, 35 of those people were fully vaccinated. The state does not receive detailed data on the vaccination status from individuals who are hospitalized, but they do receive aggregate data.
  • Dr. Talbot says as more data becomes available on COVID vaccines, it shows that they are both safe and the most effective way to prevent transmission and serious illness from the virus.
  • Dr. Chan says public health officials don’t have the authority to require face coverings in schools. But they will continue to strongly recommend students and staff wear masks.
  • Dr. Talbot says the state is much better prepared and more equipped to handle a potential winter surge this year.
  • Dr. Talbot says she thinks we’ll see approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old very soon.

-Mary McIntyre, NHPR News
New Hampshire sees another 4 COVID deaths
Update: Sept. 21, 4:15 p.m.

The state announced four additional COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total number of virus-related deaths in New Hampshire to 1,462.

The four deaths were from Belknap, Cheshire, Merrimack and Rockingham counties — one of the deceased was under 60, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There were 211 new cases, with 51 of them individuals under 18 years old. There are 141 patients hospitalized with the virus, and 3,603 active infections, as of 9 a.m. on Sept. 21.

— NHPR Staff

11 Positive Cases of COVID-19 At Valley Street Jail
Update: Sept. 20, 4:02 p.m.

The Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, known as Valley Street Jail, is testing unvaccinated inmates on Monday and Tuesday after 11 positive cases of COVID-19 were identified there last week.

The Manchester jail's superintendent Willie Scurry says three units are in quarantine as a result of the positive cases.

Some jails and prisons in New Hampshire are still seeing occasional outbreaks of COVID-19 in spite of the majority of staff being vaccinated and masks being worn in certain settings.

Last January, the Valley Street Jail faced a major outbreak of COVID-19, which many believe could have been prevented had the jail followed public health guidelines.

According to Scurry, about 100 people incarcerated at Valley Street Jail were vaccinated in May. It's unclear whether the jail has provided the COVID vaccine more recently to inmates, but the jail says it plans to schedule another vaccination clinic soon.

This story is developing and we'll continue our coverage here.
-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

Health commissioner targets lawmaker's misinformation
Update: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9:30 a.m.

The head of New Hampshire's health department on Friday says a Republican lawmaker is spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

At a meeting of the legislative fiscal committee, Rep. Ken Weyler of Kingston said he has heard from emergency room workers that 90% of those admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 have been vaccinated.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the opposite is true, that 90% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“That is incorrect," she responded, "and that is the problem we are having increasing our vaccination rate, is spreading misinformation about the COVID vaccine. WMUR first reported the Shibinette-Weyler exchange.

She told Weyler that his comments were misinformation that contributes to the state's difficulty in increasing its vaccination rate.

— Associated Press

U.S. Reps urge Canada border opening
Update: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9:01 a.m.

New Hampshire's two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging President Joe Biden to reopen the land border between Canada and the United States.

On Friday Democratic U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas sent a letter to the president urging him to allow the safe and responsible reopening of the land border between the two countries to vaccinated, non-essential Canadian travelers.

The border was closed to non-essential travel in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last month Canada opened its land border to fully vaccinated Americans.

The U.S. order that keeps the border closed is set to expire on Monday. Previously the U.S. has extended the closure.

— Associated Press

5 new deaths in New Hampshire
Update: Sept. 17, 3:01 p.m.

State health officials announced five additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday.

Two of the five, both residents of Hillsborough County, were under 60 years old. The other fatalities, all over 60, were from Belknap County, Hillsborough, and Rockingham counties.

The latest public health update includes 122 patients hospitalized with the virus and 4,173 current cases in New Hampshire.

There were 388 new cases reported Friday.

Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 1,457 COVID deaths and confirmed 114,322 positive cases of the coronavirus.

— NHPR Staff

Finding a COVID test in Concord N.H. proves tricky
Update: Sept. 17, 12:49 p.m.

Last week, the Biden administration announced it would be increasing production for COVID-19 tests. But these days, actually getting an over-the-counter test in New Hampshire can still feel like a wild goose chase.

Of the three pharmacies on Loudon Road in Concord, only Walgreens had tests Thursday evening. Walmart and CVS were out.

Matthias Nevins bought two boxes, each with two rapid antigen tests. The four tests cost just under $50.

“I only need two for myself and my partner, but I figured I may as well get another box,” he said.

Nevins works in Weare. He tried searching closer to his job, calling around local pharmacies. But they were all sold out. The pharmacy staff mentioned he should come back on the day they got a new
shipment of tests. That's if he could make it there before those tests sold out, of course.

He'd only been able to find a test at the Concord Walgreens because the shipment had come earlier in the day.

He wanted to get the tests before visiting family in Vermont. Nevins says he’s fully vaccinated but just wanted to be extra cautious.
-Alli Fam, NHPR

New and current case counts on the rise
Update: Sept. 16, 3:45 p.m.

Active infections statewide increased again today and, at 4,030, these current case counts are the highest they've been since early February.

State health officials also report another increase in new cases: 614 new cases on Thursday, with 53 of those identified from Sept. 14.

Of the new cases, 172 are individuals under age 18.

There are 126 patients hospitalized with the virus. No new deaths were announced.

— NHPR Staff

N.H. Health Officials Emphasize Asymptomatic COVID screening, Indoor Masking

Updated: September 15, 5:32 p.m.

New Hampshire's top health officials are stressing the importance of indoor masks, rapid testing, and asymptomatic COVID screening at schools, as COVID infections rise among young people.

“We recommend that all schools and childcare programs implement as many of the prevention strategies as possible to prevent in-school and childcare transmission, not only to protect the health of individuals and people in classrooms, but to keep kids in school,” Dr. Ben Chan, the state’s epidemiologist, told over a hundred staff of schools and daycare centers on Wednesday.

So far this academic year, the state has identified 25 clusters in K-12 schools involving 146 people. Dr. Chan said clusters range in size from three to 16 people.

“This is a remarkable number of clusters to occur in schools over a two-week period,” Dr. Chan said. “The majority of these are occurring in children.”

Dr. Chan says schools should implement universal mask policies before these clusters occur, but many school boards have chosen mask-optional policies.

When asked about these policies, Gov. Chris Sununu and Education Commissioner Frank Edleblut have emphasized the importance of local and parental control in mask decisions.

Citing cases on school sports teams, Dr. Chan also recommended that all schools implement an asymptomatic COVID screening program at least among sports teams. The program is federally funded and free to schools, but not all districts are participating. Students would not be tested unless they received parental permission.

State health officials confirmed they are not conducting contact tracing for individual cases, though they still encourage schools to report known positive cases.

In a press conference today with Gov. Chris Sununu, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the state is only getting involved during an outbreak or cluster.

“The clusters we know about, we are absolutely tracking,” she said. “We are giving assistance and having open communication channels with the school district but the reality is that testing is so broad now that there’s likely to be cases we know nothing about.”

The state’s school COVID dashboard does not reflect the number of COVID cases in schools, but health officials say they are working to update it.

-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

4 new deaths, 549 new case
Update: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 3:10 p.m.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan announced four additional COVID-19 deaths today, with one of the fatalities associated with a long-term care facility.

New Hampshire continues to see an uptick in new infections. There were 549 new cases Wednesday, and the state's seven-day average is 400 new cases per day, Chan said.

There are 3,726 active infections and 130 hospitalizations.

Dr. Chan said low vaccination is continuing to affect community transmission of the coronavirus. To date, 1.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered, and 756,000 people have been fully vaccinated, he said.

Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, announced 13 institutional outbreaks on Wednesday. The federal prison in Berlin, Hillsborough County jail, and the Rockingham County nursing home are among the outbreaks.

The commissioner, Dr. Chan, and Governor Sununu held a news conference at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua.

— Dan Tuohy

StubHub COVID-cancellation funds for 2,175 in N.H.
Update: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 12:09 p.m.

Thousands of New Hampshire consumers will be entitled to full refunds from StubHub in a pandemic-related settlement.

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced that the Granite State joined nine other states and the District of Columbia in the settlement. At issue was the company’s refusal to pay refunds to consumers for concerts, sports events and other events that were canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AG says StubHub stopped honoring its “FanProtect Guarantee” following the cancellation of events in March of 2020. After investigation, StubHub reversed its decision and notified customers they would get full refunds if they purchased their tickets prior to March 25, 2020 -- unless they preferred account credits.

Formella says this included 2,175 consumers in New Hampshire, or who had purchased a ticket for an event in New Hampshire. The AG says consumers who have not been contacted by StubHub, who believe they are entitled to a refund, can contact the company at (866) 788-2482 or call the AG’s office at (603) 271-3641.

— Dan Tuohy, NHPR

4 deaths, 422 new cases
Update: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 5:31 p.m.

Four additional Granite Staters have died from COVID-19.

The state says the four, all of whom were older than 60, were from Belknap, Carroll, Merrimack, and Rockingham counties.

The latest public health update shows 329 new cases — 195 from Sunday, and 227 from Monday.

There are 3,519 current cases statewide, and 141 patients are hospitalized with the virus.

State health officials announced that another COVID-19 death was recently confirmed, after further investigation, and the man from Strafford County died the week of June 7. He was in the 60-69 age group.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. Schools Turn To Updated Protocol As COVID Cases Emerge

N.H. reports 2 more deaths, increase in new cases
Update: Monday, Sept. 13, 7:01 p.m.

State health officials on Monday reported two additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,228 new infections.

The new cases represent 728 from Friday and 500 from Saturday — Sunday's numbers will be included in Tuesday's public health update, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The new cases on Friday is the most reported in a day since January. Explore the Data: Tracking COVID-19 in New Hampshire

The new deaths were a female from Rockingham County, who was younger than 60, and a male from Strafford County, who was older than 60.

The number of active infections increased by about 300 from Friday to 3,437, while 154 patients are hospitalized with the virus.

— NHPR Staff

Biden requirement could affect up to 250K N.H. workers
Update: Friday, Sept. 10, 5:27 p.m.

President Biden's new COVID-19 vaccine requirement will affect all businesses with 100 or more employees.

Employees must either be vaccinated or get tested weekly. Roughly 250,000 Granite Staters work for private businesses with 100 or more employees, about 46 percent of the state’s total labor force, according to data from New Hampshire Employment Security.

There are 755 total firms in New Hampshire with 100 or more workers. Around 1 in 4 adults remain unvaccinated in New Hampshire, according to CDC data.

With the mandate so recently announced, some of the state's largest private largest employers, including Fidelity and Easter Seals New Hampshire, are still evaluating what it will mean for their businesses and employees.

— Alli Fam, NHPR

Families in lawsuits want to stop school mask policies
Update: Friday, Sept. 10, 2:01 p.m.

Dozens of families have challenged mask-wearing policies in New Hampshire school districts during the coronavirus pandemic, with two cases in court calling for injunctions to stop enforcing them.

A lawyer representing families in the Epping, Londonderry and Timberlane school districts argued at a hearing Friday that mask mandates violate the parents' rights to make health care and medical decisions for their children, and they are illegal restraints under a state law that limits the use of child restraint practices in school.

Attorneys for the school districts argued for the case to be dismissed, saying the districts have been following Department of Health and Human Services guidance, and that a mask mandate isn't a violation of the restraint law.

— Kathy McCormack, Associated Press

Many N.H. Hospitals Already At Or Near Capacity, as COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise
Update: Sept. 10, 12:12 p.m.

Hospitals across the state are seeing high demand for emergency services,

Right now, most of the emergency room traffic is not COVID-19 related, but rather patients in need of more traditional emergency care. Some Granite Staters delayed care during the pandemic, which hospitals say could be a contributing factor.

Many of the state’s hospitals report being at or near capacity. They’re also juggling staffing shortages and the expectation that COVID-19 hospitalizations are likely to keep rising.

With that in mind, Martha Wassell, director of infection prevention at Wentworth Douglass Hospital is urging patients who don’t need emergency care to seek treatment at other settings, like urgent care or primary care, and reserve trips to the emergency room for true emergencies.

Hospitals are making plans to handle an increase in patients as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise. Some hospitals are also increasing their administration of monoclonal antibodies, a treatment with emergency use authorization for patients who are at risk of a COVID-19 hospitalization.

Governor Chris Sununu and N.H. Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette suggested New Hampshire “push therapeutics.” The message follows a one-day trip to Kentucky, billed as a chance to look at how the southeastern state is handling a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The two wrote “one of the single best tools hospitals had in Kentucky was the utilization of monoclonal antibodies,” in a recent op-ed published in Seacoastonline.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off COVID-19 and can help reduce the severity of COVID-19 cases.

Wassell says that Wentworth Douglass just finished its plan to roll out the service this week. She expects they’ll be treating 3-4 patients a day. The FDA says that the treatment is not a substitute for vaccination.

Wassell stresses a similar message. “Prevention is always better than cure.”

Currently, 140 Granite Staters are hospitalized with COVID-19, a number the state hasn't seen since the winter surge. From January 20 through September 1 of 2021, 95 percent of those hospitalized have been unvaccinated.

-Alli Fam, NHPR

N.H. announces 5 new COVID deaths
Update: Thursday, Sept. 9, 5:40 p.m.

State health officials announced five additional COVID-19 deaths and 522 new cases on Thursday.

The latest numbers show a continuing uptick: active infections are up to 3,079. Of the new cases, 130 are individuals under 18 years old.

The Department of Health and Human Services releases only limited identifiable information about COVID fatalities — which now total 1,436 since the pandemic's start.

The latest five deaths were four men over 60 years old and one male, who was under 60.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, 140 patients are hospitalized with the virus.

— NHPR Staff

Hospital reports ER over 100% capacity
Update: Thursday, Sept. 9, 2:59 p.m.

One New Hampshire hospital says its emergency department has been at over 100% capacity this week because of rising COVID-19 cases.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover also says its resources are stretched because it is short-staffed and there's been an increase in other patients who had delayed getting medical help.

Stacy Savage, clinical director of emergency services, told Seacoastonline.com that health care workers are exhausted by the numbers of people they are seeing, but also exhausted emotionally, and mentally.

She says they are concerned about contracting the virus and they are concerned for their families and their patients.

- Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — One New Hampshire hospital said its emergency department has been at over 100% capacity this week because of rising COVID-19 cases.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover also said its resources are stretched because it's short-staffed and there's been an increase in other patients who had delayed getting medical help.

"COVID cases are a fair share of what we are seeing," Stacey Savage, clinical director of emergency services, told Seacoastonline.com in a story Wednesday. "We have definitely seen more of an uptick recently and vaccination is what is going to save us. But we are also seeing people who have delayed care and are now coming in sicker than they expected to be."

Wentworth-Douglass admitted 20 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, including 18 who were unvaccinated. The emergency department has a total of 33 beds among the hospital's total of 178 beds, according to officials.

Savage said she is seeing more nurses and other staff leaving than ever before in her 20-plus-year career.

"I am most concerned about health care workers," she said. "They are exhausted by the numbers of people we are seeing, but also exhausted emotionally, and mentally. They are concerned about contracting the virus. They are concerned for their families and their patients."

Sununu And Shibinette Reflect On Kentucky Visit In Op-Ed
Update: Wednesday, Sept. 8, 11:54 a.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu, health commissioner Lori Shibinette and other top officials spent a little over six hours in Kentucky last Monday. The previously unannounced trip was billed as a chance to learn more about how a rural state with small cities was dealing with a surge in cases.

In an op-ed published in Seacoast Online Monday, Sununu and Shibinette said key takeaways included the risk the delta variant poses to younger people, and the need to increase vaccination rates in lagging communities.

They also wrote that hospitals should be prepared to expand beds, including in parking lots, if necessary, rather than relying on off-site surge centers.

Following Kentucky’s lead, the state will also now build a 180-day stockpile of PPE.

-Todd Bookman, NHPR

4 new deaths; hospitalizations increase
Update: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 6:08 p.m.

State health officials announced four additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,079 new cases today.

The new cases include 371 from Friday, 460 from Saturday, and 248 from Sunday. Numbers from Labor Day will be included in Wednesday's report.

Of the new cases above, 231 individuals are under 18 years old.

Two of the latest fatalities are women from Cheshire County, both of whom were older than 60, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Two others, identified as being under 60 years old, were a male and a female from Hillsborough County.

There are 3,221 active infections statewide, and 141 current hospitalizations - about a dozen more patients receiving treatment than on Friday.

Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has had 1,430 COVID-19 deaths, and recorded 109,716 overall cases.

- Dan Tuohy

Dartmouth adds new restrictions ahead of fall term
Update: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 12:02 p.m.

Dartmouth College has announced new COVID-19 related restrictions ahead of classes starting next week.

Officials say vaccinated students will be tested for the virus weekly, while unvaccinated students will be tested twice a week.

Masks must be worn in all indoor locations, with a few exceptions, and officials also plan to use a campus tennis center for isolation housing if there is a significant outbreak.

Since Saturday, campus buildings have been open only to enrolled students and employees. Classes start Sept. 13.

- Associated Press

5 new deaths, 444 new cases
Update: Friday, Sept. 3, 4:31 p.m.

Five additional COVID-19 deaths were announced Friday, bringing New Hampshire's overall coronavirus-related deaths to 1,426.

The state Department of Health and Human Services, in the limited information provided about the deceased, said one of the five was a female resident of Rockingham County, who was younger than 60. The remaining four were 60 or older.

The latest public health update shows a steady increase in new cases. The state announced 444 new cases, with 91 of them under 18 years old.

There are 3,120 active infections and 129 current hospitalizations.

- NHPR Staff

Governor admitted to hospital
Update: Friday, Sept. 3, 3:06 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu was admitted to Portsmouth Regional Hospital Friday afternoon for additional testing, his chief of staff, Jayne Millerick, said.

Sununu called in sick earlier this week after a trip to Kentucky to observe how that state was handling a surge in COVID-19 cases. He tested negative for the coronavirus, his office said.

"He is in good spirits and confident in his care," Millerick said in the statement. "More information will be shared as it becomes available."

- NHPR Staff

One new death, 348 new cases
Update: Thursday, Sept. 2, 4:49 p.m.

New coronavirus cases continue to rise in New Hampshire.

The state announced 348 new cases Thursday, and 3,041 active infections. Of the new cases, 63 are under 18 years old. Over the past week, the Granite State has averaged 331 cases per day.

One additional death was reported — a man from Belknap County, who was older than 60.

There are 118 patients hospitalized with the virus.

— Dan Tuohy

Dartmouth-Hitchcock experiencing staff shortage
Update: Thursday, Sept. 2, 4:09 p.m.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock says just like other health care providers, it too, is experiencing staff shortages during the coronavirus pandemic that range from nursing positions to food service workers.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock said Wednesday in response to the trend, it organized a "Managing and Staffing to Capacity" task force to identify solutions to the shortage, especially in the inpatient units and other care areas at its flagship hospital in Lebanon.

It also began planning for reallocation of resources and staff. Earlier this year, as part of its efforts to recruit and retain qualified staff, it increased the starting rate for newly licensed nurses to $30 per hour. It plans to provide a 2% wage increase for other staff beginning in October.

- Associated Press

N.H. reports 3 additional COVID deaths
Update: Wednesday, Sept. 1, 4:45 p.m.

Three additional COVID-19 deaths were announced Wednesday.

The public health update included 372 new coronavirus cases, with 63 individuals under 18 years old.

There are 2,963 active infections statewide, and 112 patients hospitalized with the virus.

- NHPR Staff

Mobile vaccine van tour to expand
Update: Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2:09 p.m.

The New Hampshire Mobile Vaccine Van is planning to extend operations past the initial end date of Sept. 30.

The van can be requested for any event, from festivals, to block parties to employer clinics, and the state is already fielding requests for the fall.

While demand for the vaccine van is high, many of the events vaccinate fewer than 10 people.

A spokesperson for the state says they expect a contract will be submitted for consideration by the Executive Councils in September for the extended timeline and a second van.

- Alli Fam

N.H. reports 1 new death, 121 in hospital
Update: 4:06 p.m., Aug. 31

State health officials reported one additional COVID-19 death Tuesday, bringing the overall virus-related death count in New Hampshire to 1,417.

There are 218 new cases, 2,864 active infections, and 121 patients hospitalized with the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has confirmed 107,689 positive coronavirus cases.

- NHPR Staff

Governor Sununu Visits Kentucky To Examine Best Practices Amid Bluegrass State's Severe Wave Of COVID-19
Updated: 5:20 p.m., Aug. 30

Governor Chris Sununu and a team, including state officials, hospital CEOs, and businessman Dean Kamen are visiting Kentucky as the southeastern state faces its most severe wave of COVID-19 and a record number of hospitalizations.

The Sununu administration says the trip will provide an on-the-ground perspective on lessons learned and best practices in one of the hardest-hit states.

With Kentucky hospitals overwhelmed, FEMA strike teams are serving as backup for local ambulances and the National Guard will be deployed this week to help hospitals with severe staffing shortages.

About 56 percent of Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The number is only slightly higher for Granite Staters, at 59 percent, according to state data.

Earlier this month, Kentucky Governor Andy Bashear rescinded an indoor masking mandate for schools after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in favor of new laws limiting his emergency powers. A Department of Education mandate does still stand.

There is no state mask mandate for schools in New Hampshire, although some districts are requiring them.

At a press conference earlier this month, Governor Sununu said New Hampshire hospitals are preparing for a fall surge.

Some New Hampshire hospitals have already expressed concern about bed capacity, with a high volume of non-COVID patients leaving them little flexibility to accommodate an increase in virus-related hospitalizations.

- Alli Fam, NHPR

New cases continue to rise in NH

New Hampshire continues to see new infections increase. The state on Monday announced 1,026 new cases over the weekend (384 from Friday, 429 from Saturday, and 213 from Sunday).

Active infections are now up to 2,927.

Of the new cases, 182 are residents under the age of 18.

One additional death was reported: a woman from Cheshire County, who was older than 60.

There are currently 119 patients hospitalized with the virus. The state does not release much demographic information, such as any personally identifiable information, about patients and the COVID-19 deaths.

- NHPR Staff

Dartmouth workers not at college yet asked to stay remote
Aug. 30, 11:01 a.m.

Dartmouth College is asking employees who have not yet returned to campus to keep working remotely until Oct. 4.

Scott Bemis, chief human resources officer, says the previous plan was for workers to return at the start of September, but the college is adjusting its plans as COVID-19 cases increase regionally and nationally.

He said those employees who have already returned to campus can continue to work on site.

Bemis said the date is being pushed back a month "to help slow the increase in the density of people on campus, with the goal of interrupting COVID-19 transmission wherever possible."

- Associated Press

NH schools get $206M in pandemic aid
Aug. 27, 12:11 p.m.

An Associated Press analysis shows wide variation in how much money New Hampshire school districts have received in federal pandemic aid.

The AP tracked more than $155 billion sent to states to distribute among schools since last year. More than $200 million was sent to New Hampshire.

That includes $4,200 for the tiny northern town of Errol and $37 million for Manchester. Funding per student in New Hampshire ranged from $200 for the CSI Charter School in Concord to $5,500 in Stratford. Nationally, aid averaged $2,800 per student.

- Holly Ramer, Associated Press

NH reps push for border to reopen to vaccinated Canadians
Aug. 27, 12:10 p.m.

(AP) New Hampshire's congressional delegation is pressing the Biden administration to reopen the U.S.-Canada border to vaccinated Canadians, saying businesses in the state are hurting from the ban on nonessential travel.

The U.S. government recently extended the ban to slow the spread of COVID-19, until at least Sept. 21. Canada opened its side of the border to vaccinated U.S. travelers on Aug. 9.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas met Thursday with representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Canadian Consul in Boston, and many business leaders in the state to discuss the impact of the ban.

- Kathy McCormack, AP

DHMC returns to restrictive visitor policy
Aug. 27, 12:10 p.m.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has gone back to a more restrictive visitor policy and has resumed COVID-19 testing for patients being admitted.

The changes took effect Wednesday, "in the interest of continuing to protect the health and safety of patients and Dartmouth-Hitchcock staff, and our communities," the center said in a news release. It said the policies are a result of "substantial levels of statewide community transmission of COVID-19."

Under the revised visitor policy, adult inpatients are allowed one visitor per day. Pediatric inpatients are permitted to have two caregivers, who can't be changed once they are designated. For outpatient visits, both adults and children are permitted one caregiver. Two caregivers are allowed for newborn/infant appointments.

The center said for births, two adult support people are permitted during the entire stay: before, during and after the birth. Two adult support people may spend the night during labor and delivery, and one adult support person may stay overnight before and after the birth. These designated people cannot change.

The center also will resume COVID-19 testing for any patient being admitted to the hospital, regardless of vaccination status, and prior to surgical procedures in select circumstances.

-AP

N.H. reports 2 more deaths
Aug. 27, 7:30 a.m.

The state announced two additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday night, bringing New Hampshire's overall virus-related death toll to 1,410.

There were 357 new cases confirmed Aug. 26, and has averaged 300 per day over the past week, a 31% increase from the previous seven-day period.

There are 2,736 active infections and 113 patients are currently hospitalized with the virus.

- NHPR Staff

Music Hall updates COVID protocols
Aug. 26, 1:31 p.m.

The Music Hall in Portsmouth will require proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to attend full-capacity indoor events, starting Sept. 1.

Tina Sawtelle, executive director of The Music Hall, announced the update to their COVID protocols Thursday. "Given the current high transmission ranking for Rockingham (NH), we continue to follow the CDC recommended protocols as we have throughout the pandemic, which has allowed us to operate safely," she said in a press release.

Sawtelle said the temporary measures will allow audience members to attend events in a safe setting.

- Dan Tuohy

Poll: Some still not planning to get vaccine
Aug. 26, 8:43 a.m.

A total of 19% of participants in an online poll say they will probably not or almost certainly not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a University of New Hampshire survey that wrapped up the day the U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer's vaccine.

The Granite State Poll conducted by UNH's Survey Center said those who don't plan to get vaccinated are "far less likely than earlier in the year" to doubt the threat of COVID-19, "but are more dubious about the efficacy of the vaccine," the center said in a news release Wednesday.

Very few said the Delta variant will encourage them to get vaccinated.

A total of 977 people completed the survey online between Aug. 19 and Monday.

Among those who said they will probably not or almost certainly not get a vaccine, most said they don't believe it's safe. Others said they don't believe the vaccine will stop them from getting COVID-19 or don't trust the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the vaccines. Fewer said they've already had COVID-19, so they don't feel that getting vaccinated is necessary.

- Associated Press

3 new deaths, 2,524 active infections in NH
Aug. 25, 4:12 p.m.

Three additional Granite Staters have died from COVID-19.

New Hampshire health officials said the three residents, men who were 60 or older, were from Grafton, Merrimack and Rockingham counties.

The state has recorded 1,408 COVID-19 deaths and confirmed 105,883 positive coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

There are currently 105 people hospitalized with the virus and 2,524 active infections statewide. The 2,524 number is the highest current case total since late April.

New cases continue to increase: the state announced 290 new cases yesterday, and 329 new cases today.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. sees 1 additional death
Aug. 24, 4:33 p.m.

State health officials announced 290 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Fifty-three of the new positive tests are people under 18 years old.

There are 2,377 active infections, and 113 patients are currently hospitalized with the virus.

The state also reported one additional death - a man from Belknap County.

Based on the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date. Other data points from DHHS:

  • Total individuals fully vaccinated: 755,520
  • Those with at least one dose: 828,414
  • 54% of N.H. residents are fully vaccinated

- Dan Tuohy

Masks required at Nashua City Hall
Aug. 24, 12:01 p.m.

Masks will be required at Nashua City Hall for employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, effective Wednesday.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess said the mask requirement comes as the city sees substantial transmission of COVID-19. While there is not currently a mask mandate in Nashua, Donchess said in a press release that businesses and organizations retain the right to require one on their property.

The mayor's office notes masks are currently required in the offices of Nashua Public Health and Community Services, in public areas of the Department of Public Works Administrative building and - in line with federal guidelines - masks are required for those riding on city public transit buses.

- Dan Tuohy

C&J To Resume Express To South Station
Aug. 24, 12:01 p.m.

C&J will reintroduce its dedicated express service to Boston's South Station, starting Sept. 7.

The route will serve all of C&J's bus terminal locations, and operate seven days a week.

C&J's Dover terminal will reopen on a limited basis as part of the service reintroduction, Jim Jalbert, president of C&J Bus Lines, said in the announcement.

Jalbert said the move reflects economic recovery, a need for faster flexible service to Boston, and more demand from passengers, including business people.

- Dan Tuohy

5 new deaths, hospitalizations rise
Aug. 23, 5:22 p.m

The state announced five additional COVID-19 deaths today.

Current hospitalizations and cases are both on the rise. There are 2,324 active infections.

There are 107 people hospitalized with the virus - that's more than double the number from two weeks ago, and the highest number since April.

Health officials reported 791 new cases over the weekend, with Friday and Saturday accounting for 617 of them.

The five deaths brings New Hampshire's overall COVID-19 death toll to 1,402.

All five residents were 60 or older, with two from Belknap County, two from Hillsborough, and the fifth person from Sullivan County.

- Dan Tuohy

Active cases continue to increase
Aug. 21, 9:51 a.m.

Health officials say New Hampshire has 2,191 active infections statewide. The state reported 338 new COVID-19 cases Friday - and no new deaths.

Sixty-four of the new cases are individuals under 18 years old.

Eighty-two people are currently hospitalized.

- NHPR Staff

Community mental health contracts extended during pandemic

Community mental health centers across the state are getting more money for crisis intervention services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Executive Council has approved the renewal of state contracts with eight centers through May 2022 and increasing the total payments to $3.7 million using federal funds.

The Department of Health and Human Services said adults and children with serious mental illness, health care workers and others continue to develop new mental health challenges or are seeing their conditions worsen during the pandemic.

- Holly Ramer, Associated Press

N.H. reports 1 new death
Aug. 19, 5:32 p.m.

The state announced one additional COVID-19 death Thursday - a woman from Strafford County.

Health officials also reported 299 new cases, 2,059 active infections and 77 current hospitalizations.

- NHPR Staff

Hospitalizations on the rise
Aug. 18, 6:01 p.m.

New Hampshire has not had this many people hospitalized with the coronavirus since early May. The state announced Wednesday that 77 patients are currently receiving hospital care for the virus.

As cases have increased in recent days, the number of active COVID-19 infections has similarly risen: There are 1,910 current cases.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. seeks to expand vaccination marketing
Aug. 18, 8:11 a.m.

New Hampshire health officials want to significantly expend and expand a public service campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Executive Council on Wednesday will be asked to approve paying an additional $844,000 in federal funds to a Manchester marketing agency that already has a $434,000 contract.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette says the campaign will feature real stories from residents and doctors across the state because people are more likely to get vaccinated if advised by their doctor or someone they know.

- Holly Ramer, Associated Press

1 new death, 1,844 active infections
Aug. 17, 4:19 p.m.

A woman from Rockingham County had died from COVID-19, the state announced Tuesday. She was 60 or older - some of the limited identifying information the state releases in these cases.

New Hampshire has recorded 1,396 COVID-19 deaths, and confirmed 100,493 cases of the virus, since the start of the pandemic.

New infections continue to increase in the state. Health officials reported 271 new cases and 1,844 active infections - the most since May 8.

Sixty-eight people are currently hospitalized with the virus.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. offers vaccines, day passes at state parks
Aug. 17, 8:41 a.m.

Visitors to New Hampshire state parks can get both vaccinated and pick up free day passes over the next six weeks.

The Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to offer vaccines at state parks via the state's mobile vaccine van.

Those who get vaccinated at the parks will receive complimentary passes that can be used until the end of 2022. The first stop will be Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown on Wednesday. Sixteen other stops at 10 different parks are planned between then and Sept. 30.

- Associated Press

586 new cases over the weekend
Aug. 16, 5:19 p.m.

The state on Monday announced 586 new cases and 1,704 active coronavirus infections. The new cases are from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Of the new cases, 96 are individuals under 18 years old.

Sixty-one people are hospitalized, as of 9 a.m. Monday.

- NHPR Staff

NH sees uptick in hospitalizations
Aug. 13, 5:08 p.m.

COVID-related hospitalizations have increased by five to 63 current patients.

The latest update from the state also shows an increase in active infections - up to 1,601, or 88 more than Thursday's estimate.

One additional death was announced. The state says a man from Hillsborough County, who was older than 60, died from coronavirus-related complications.

There were 268 new cases reported Friday.

- Dan Tuohy

N.H. NEA Backs COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements For Educators
August 13, 3:18 p.m.

The New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association (NEA), the state's largest teachers’ union, says it supports COVID-19 vaccination mandates for educators.  

The announcement comes a day after the national office for the NEA came out in support of requirements for teachers to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.  

A mandate is unlikely to come from the federal government or the state of New Hampshire. But it's been discussed, as other states (including California) begin to issue mandates ahead of the new school year.  

The other big teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is taking a slightly different stance. They say they're open to meeting with employers about vaccination policies.  

Both the NEA and AFT estimate based on surveys that about 90 percent of their members are already vaccinated, though this rate could vary depending on the region.  

-Sarah Gibson

As COVID Infections Climb, ‘Vaccines Are The Solution,’ Gov. Sununu Says

Active coronavirus infections in New Hampshire have risen to 1,513, the highest number since the beginning of May. Hospitalization numbers are climbing as well, with 58 people treated as of Thursday.

At a press conference today, Governor Chris Sununu encouraged the public to get vaccinated as the state braces for a potential surge of infections due to the Delta variant. The state is averaging between 160 and 170 new infections per day.

Sununu said he doesn't anticipate instituting another state of emergency should infections continue to rise, but emphasized the importance of continued vaccination efforts as the new school year draws nearer.

“Masks are not the solution, vaccines are the solution,” the governor said. No vaccine has yet been authorized for children under the age of 12.

Sununu had previously been optimistic about lowering infection numbers by the summer but said he anticipates the virus will still be a problem come winter.

“We’re not just putting in mitigation efforts for the next month or two...COVID is not going to be gone by Christmas,” he said. “We got to plan for the long game.”

New Hampshire is one of the top ten states with the highest vaccination rates, with 752,000 Granite Staters who are fully vaccinated, although it has the lowest vaccination rate among the New England states.

Sununu also announced the rollout of a second mobile vaccine van, after the success of the first, that can be booked for any event. The first van has already distributed over 200 doses, with 75 more events on the books.

2 men accused of unemployment payment pandemic fraud scheme
Thursday, Aug. 12, 1:09 p.m.

Two New Hampshire men have been charged with participating in schemes to defraud government programs that provide economic assistance related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A federal indictment alleges that the men laid off employees from two companies that they controlled. However, they directed the workers to continue working for the companies while collecting unemployment insurance payments from the New Hampshire Employment Security agency.

The indictment said the payments included the additional $600 emergency weekly benefits provided for by the federal CARES Act. Both men were arrested Wednesday and were released pending their trial, which is scheduled for Oct 5. Messages to their lawyers seeking comment were left Thursday.

- AP

Churches deemed essential in future states of emergency
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2 p.m.

Churches and other houses of worship will be considered providers of essential services during future states of emergency in New Hampshire.

Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday signed a bill that allows such religious organizations to operate to the same degree as essential businesses during a state of emergency.

Supporters argued that it wasn't fair to shut down churches during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic while hardware and liquor stores remained open. Many religious organizations held services online during that time. The new law takes effect in 60 days.

- AP

N.H. Teacher's Unions Won't Call For COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Yet

New Hampshire teachers' unions say the COVID-19 vaccine is essential for safe school reopening, but they're stopping short of calling for a mandate.

National teachers’ unions estimate about 90 percent of their members are already vaccinated. But debate is heating up over whether the remaining teachers should be required to get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that in some circumstances, states and local entities should mandate teacher vaccinations.

In New Hampshire, some teachers' unions aren't so sure.

Deb Howes, the president of the American Federation of Teachers in New Hampshire, says that if they mandate the vaccine for teachers, districts should consider requiring it for other staff and all students, too.

"We would have to have a discussion about everyone in the schools, because why would you want to just have one group of people in the school be vaccinated, but not everyone else?" she says.

Howes also pointed to a new New Hampshire law prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine requirements and said it would hinder local or statewide mandates.

The state’s largest teachers union, the NEA-NH, did not rule out the possibility of pushing for a statewide vaccine mandate.

“We cannot issue mandates at the state or district level and are looking to our elected officials to do what is necessary to ensure the safety of all New Hampshire citizens,” a NEA-NH spokesperson wrote to NHPR. “In the meantime, we are urging all of our members to get vaccinated if they have not already done so and to wear masks in the classroom and in the presence of students as schools starts this year. “

The CDC recommends school mask mandates in areas with high and substantial COVID transmission rates, which now includes most of New Hampshire.

-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

The Difference Between CDC And New Hampshire's Reporting Of Transmission Rates

You may have noticed that federal agencies and the state report COVID-19 transmission rates per county differently. It matters because CDC masking guidance and the eviction ban are based on the CDC's assessment.

Here's a comparison:

Read more here.

-NHPR News

N.H. Employers Reevaluate COVID Safety Protocol And Return-To-Work Plans
Update: Monday, Aug. 9, 5:45 pm.

New Hampshire employers are following many other companies around the country in reexamining return-to-work policies and COVID-19 safety protocols in the office, amid a spike in COVID-19 cases related to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Easter Seals New Hampshire provides social services to Granite Staters with disabilities and employs around 14,000 people. The company just returned to universal masking, citing the increased test positivity rate which has almost quadrupled in the past month.

While all staff that work directly with clients are in-person, about half of Easter Seals' administrative staff are working from home. The organization says that's more than at this time last year.

Dartmouth College also returned to universal masking last week.

Lincoln Financial Group went forward with a voluntary return to the office on Monday for vaccinated staff. But a spokesperson for the company says decisions on vaccination policies for a full return haven't been finalized.

-Alli Fam, NHPR

Updated COVID protocols for all UNH campuses
Update: Saturday, Aug. 7, 8:58 a.m.

The University of New Hampshire has updated its COVID-19 safety protocols to now require everyone at all three campuses to wear a mask in indoor settings.

The requirement, effective immediately, follows CDC recommendations that everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, wear masks indoors in certain situations, said UNH President James W. Dean Jr.

Dean's update Aug. 6 says masks will be required in the following indoor spaces:

  • classrooms
  • labs, offices and other indoor spaces where people will be in close proximity to others for more than a few minutes
  • highly congested spaces and events
  • elevators when riding with other people

"Masks are not required in individual office/lab spaces where you are by yourself," Dean writes. "The CDC continues to recommend that unvaccinated people wear a mask at all times in indoor public spaces. At this time, there is no mask requirement for outdoor spaces nor is there any limitation on gathering size."

Dean continued to urge people to get vaccinated. A week ago, UNH announced in another update that it will require arrival testing, as well as regular testing for the month of September, for every member of the university community - vaccinated or unvaccinated.

— Dan Tuohy

N.H. announces 176 new infections
Update: Friday, Aug. 6, 3:44 p.m.

There were 176 new coronavirus cases announced Friday, with 31 of them individuals under 18 years old.

The number of active infections statewide increased a notch to 1,125 residents, and 38 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

No additional deaths were reported. Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 1,389 deaths and confirmed 101,662 overall cases.

The state has averaged 148 cases per day over the past week, an 87% increase compared to the previous seven-day period, according to Health and Human Services.

- NHPR Staff

More indoor mask mandates are popping up around the state
Update: Friday, August 6, 4:10 p.m.

The town of Hanover reinstated its indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, with Dartmouth College following suit on Thursday, Aug. 5. Both entities cited the rise in COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated students and employees, and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. There were 8 active cases on campus as of Friday.

The Keene YMCA also announced earlier this week that it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees and volunteers and will reinstate its indoor mandate.

-Daniela Allee, NHPR News

School districts watching impact of Delta variant
Update: Friday, Aug. 6, 12:41 p.m.

New Hampshire school districts are keeping an eye on the impact of the COVID-19 delta variant as they work on their plans for students and staff.

WMUR-TV reports that in Concord, schools will require masks inside regardless of vaccination status until the city reaches a full vaccination rate of 70% or vaccines are available to elementary school children.

The district used federal funds to hire a nurse to give rapid COVID-19 tests to staff or students not feeling well, with parental permission.

Manchester is still working on its plans. Currently, the district wants all students in class, saying "that in-person instruction is crucial to helping students recover from both the learning and social-emotional impact of this pandemic."

Bedford says, for now, masks continue to be recommended but not required in schools.

- Associated Press

Last Federal Grant For COVID Related Education Costs In N.H. Announced
Update: Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

Over $100 million in federal COVID relief money is headed to New Hampshire to help cover COVID-related education costs.

The $116 million grant announced today is the last installment of federal funds given to New Hampshire schools over the course of the pandemic to address COVID-related costs.

Ninety percent of the funds will go directly to school districts to cover expenses like cleaning supplies, and extra tutors and counselors to help students get back on track after a year of often disrupted schooling.

The state says it will also use some of the money for afterschool, summer, and privately-run programs for low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, and others seeking extra support.

The federal government has sent an unprecedented amount of money to states for education during the pandemic — close to $600 million for New Hampshire schools since March 2020.

-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

N.H. reports 1 more death, 138 new cases
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 4, 4:33 p.m.

The state announced an additional COVID-19 death today, bringing New Hampshire's virus-related death toll to 1,389.

Health officials said a man from Cheshire County, who was over 60 or older, died.

There were 138 new cases and 893 active infections Aug. 4. And there are 34 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus.

- NHPR Staff

Notable uptick in new COVID cases in NH
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 3, 4:16 p.m.

New Hampshire is continuing to see an increase in coronavirus infections. The state reported 169 new cases Tuesday - the most in a single day since mid-May.

Active infections also rose to 850, and the number of people hospitalized with the virus — 37 — is the most since May 30.

One additional COVID-19 death was announced: a woman from Hillsborough County, who was 60 or older.

- NHPR Staff

Masking Required In Concord Schools For Fall 2021

Students and staff in Concord district schools will be required to wear a mask this fall indoors. The Concord school board approved the rule on Monday night, becoming one of the first large school districts reinstate a mask mandate for the fall semester.

The new measure requires masks until a vaccine is available to elementary school-aged children and they have sufficient time to get vaccinated, or the city of Concord reaches 70 percent vaccination rate. It's currently at 59 percent.

Until COVID transmission rates shot up last month, many districts assumed masks would be optional this fall. But rising transmission rates and the increase in breakthrough cases among the vaccinated has the CDC recommending masks in schools, even among the vaccinated.

Gov. Sununu says masks are still unnecessary in schools, but the ultimate decision is up to local school boards.

-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

N.H. nursing home in Coos County returns to outbreak status, pausing visits and new admissions, after single positive test
Even with nursing home activities and visitations back in place across New Hampshire, just one case of COVID-19 in a facility can bring everything to a halt.

Two weeks ago, a resident at Coos County nursing home tested positive for the coronavirus, sending the facility into outbreak status, which meant a pause on social visits, group activities, and new resident admissions.

It also meant two rounds of staff and resident testing.

“We were fortunate that we were able to receive all of our results on Friday,” Lynn Beede, the facility’s administrator, says. Otherwise, Beede says “We would have had to hold off through the weekend, which means more hardship for families.”

With no additional positive cases, the nursing home has been able to return to pre-outbreak operations.

During an outbreak, there are rules, regulations and guidance from the state and federal agencies to follow.

Beede says the facility follows the most restrictive guidance. In some cases, she says “we also take it a step further.” For example, Beede says, during the outbreak, they chose to have staff wear N95s, a more protective type of mask, than is required.

Beede says 99 percent of residents and 80 percent of direct-hire staff are vaccinated.

- Alli Fam, NHPR

State reports 118 new cases, no new deaths
Update: Friday, July 30, 3:03 p.m.

State health officials announced 118 new COVID-19 cases Friday, showing another slight increase in new daily infections.

There are 586 active infections statewide, and 29 people hospitalized with the virus.

- NHPR Staff

Judge considering $1.25M settlement for some SNHU students
Update: Friday, July 30, 8:19 a.m.

A federal judge is considering a proposed settlement of $1.25 million in a lawsuit filed on behalf of some Southern New Hampshire University students for tuition reimbursement during the coronavirus pandemic.

The more than 3,000 students were enrolled in in-person classes for the spring 2020 semester at SNHU. Their instruction was switched to online that March because of the pandemic.

The lead plaintiff is a recent SNHU graduate with a bachelor of science in justice studies. The lawsuit argued the program relies "extensively on in-person instruction, peer collaboration, and access to SNHU's facilities," and that those resources were not available.

- Kathy McCormack, Associated Press

Sununu: Still no plans to update mask guidance after CDC reversal
Updated: July 30, 12:03 p.m.

Rising COVID transmission levels and updated CDC guidance aren’t changing the state’s guidance for masks in schools, Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday.

“The message for today for the start of school is: Right now there is really no need for masks,” he told NHPR.

The CDC recently reversed its guidance for schools, advising all staff and students to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has long pushed for in-person schooling, also advised masks indoors for anyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status.

The updated recommendations come in response to rising COVID transmission rates due to the highly contagious delta variant. But Sununu said the evolving federal guidance was less important than local transmission levels, hospitalization rates, and vaccine availability. “We create our own guidance on masks on businesses, on individuals, on the pathways we need,” he said. “Sometimes we align with the CDC and sometimes we don’t.”

Last year, the state advised masks but left the final decision up to local school districts, even during the statewide mask mandate.

Many districts have dropped their mask rules, in response to guidance from state health officials this summer and vaccine availability for people over 12.
But with conflicting guidance on the importance of masks, school boards are gearing up for a big debate next month.

Nashua school board chair Heather Raymond is getting letters from pediatricians and parents urging a mask mandate, and from other parents who say it's unnecessary or even claim it's illegal.

“I think it's going to be an extremely contentious and difficult discussion,” she said.

-Sarah Gibson, NHPR

N.H. announces additional COVID death
Update: Thursday, July 29, 4:19 p.m.

Another Granite Stater has died from coronavirus. The state announced today that a male from Hillsborough County, who was younger than 60, had died.

The latest public health update shows a continued increase in new cases reported each day. There were 101 new cases July 29, and active infections increased to 528.

There are 26 people in the hospital with COVID-19. Since the pandemic's start, the state of New Hampshire has recorded 1,387 COVID-19 deaths.

- NHPR Staff

90 new cases, 489 active infections
Update: Wednesday, July 28, 5:01 p.m.

The state announced 90 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, about 20 cases above the daily case average over the past week.

There are 489 active infections and 20 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

No new deaths were announced July 28.

- NHPR Staff

Sununu: No plans to issue new mask guidance in NH
Update: Wednesday, July 28, 2:11 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says New Hampshire will not be issuing new mask guidance following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas where COVID-19 transmission is substantial or high.

Four of New Hampshire's 10 counties and the city of Nashua are experiencing moderate transmission, while the rest of the state is seeing minimal transmission. That's according to figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services. Over 53% of the state has been fully vaccinated.

"At this point, it isn't about the government providing that bubble of safety around individuals," Sununu told WMUR-TV on Wednesday.

Instead, he said it's about the individual taking on personal responsibility.

- Associated Press

1 more death, 118 new COVID cases
Update: Tuesday, July 27, 4:39 p.m.

State health officials announced 118 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, representing a notable jump in new daily infections.

The state reported 29 cases Monday, and was averaging 55 new cases per day over the past seven days. There are 440 current cases statewide.

A woman from Rockingham County, who was 60 or older, died due to the virus, according to New Hampshire Health and Human Services. Since the pandemic began, the state has recorded 1,386 COVID-19 deaths.

There are currently 20 people hospitalized with the virus.

- NHPR Staff

Poll: Jobs replaces COVID-19 as most serious issue in NH
Update: Tuesday, July 27, 8:49 a.m.

A new University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll says just 10% of residents believe COVID-19 is the most serious problem facing the state.

That's down from 36% in March and 48% in November. The virus used to be the No. 1 problem listed in previous Granite State polls, but now, it's jobs and the economy, which is favored by 19% of residents.

Another 10% of residents believe housing or the cost of housing is the most important problem facing New Hampshire. The poll was released Monday.

- Associated Press

Bill aims to help minor league teams like Fisher Cats

A bill in the U.S. Senate would provide funds to independent professional baseball and minor league baseball teams like the New Hampshire Fisher Cats that have struggled economically during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill would provide $550 million in federal relief funding for an emergency grant program to be administered by the Small Business Administration. Grants would be provided up to a maximum of $10 million. The money would cover payroll costs, rent, utilities, worker protection, and independent contractors.

A club would have a chance to get a second grant at 50% of the first one if its revenue doesn't recover and doesn't significantly exceed its 2019 total.

"Baseball is America's pastime, and few sights signal recovery more than baseball stadiums filling up again as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic," U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, a bill co-sponsor, said in a statement Sunday. "When families and friends come together to share in their love of baseball, small business owners also win — serving customers and stimulating the local economy."

- Associated Press

Colleges prep for return of students, staff
Update: Saturday, July 24, 9:21 a.m.

New Hampshire colleges and universities continue to prepare for the return of both students and employees for what they expect to be full-capacity campuses this fall.

At Dartmouth College, officials are figuring out how to meet demand for undergraduate housing. The college has converted some double rooms into triples, made common areas into dorm rooms and has reserved hotel space for COVID-19 quarantine needs to free up dorm rooms.

Meanwhile, the president of the University of New Hampshire said this week that the target date for faculty and staff to return to their campus workplaces is Aug. 16.

- AP

U.S. extends land border restrictions
Update: Saturday, July 24, 9:01 a.m.

The United States government is extending the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21.

The move announced Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security came two days after the Canadian government announced it would begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 both the U.S. and Canadian governments restricted non-essential travel by land between the two countries, although Canadians have been able to fly into the United States. Until the Canadian decision on Monday, the two governments had extended the closure every month.

- AP

1 additional COVID death reported
Update: Thursday, July 22, 5:15 p.m.

State health officials announced an additional COVID-19 death today. They said a resident of Cheshire County, a woman who was 60 or older, died from the virus.

This brings the overall coronavirus death toll in New Hampshire to 1,385 since the pandemic began.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, announced 48 new cases and 308 active infections, with the state averaging about 40 new cases a day.

Twenty-two people are hospitalized with the virus.

-NHPR Staff

Sununu urges Granite Staters to get vaccinated
Update: Thursday, July 22, 4:49 p.m.

As case rates in New Hampshire and the U.S. continue to rise, and the more contagious Delta variant spreads rapidly, Gov. Chris Sununu is pleading with Granite Staters to get vaccinated.

“Folks really need to get vaccinated, the Delta variant is very serious, it’s very real, it’s having a very significant impact with the unvaccinated populations and significantly with the younger populations," he said at a news conference Thursday.

The state’s mobile vaccination van hit the streets last week, showing up to events upon request and offering the COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, the van's efforts have resulted in around 50 vaccinations.

Around 100 events have requested the service between now and September.

The mobile effort comes as vaccination rates in New Hampshire have plateaued. Around 60 percent of the state's total population has received at least one shot.

- Alli Fam
In the past week, just under 1,000 first shots of the vaccine were administered in New Hampshire.

N.H. surpasses 100,000 COVID cases
Update: Wednesday, July 21, 4:24 p.m.

New Hampshire announced 60 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, and 282 active infections statewide.

Twenty-five people are hospitalized due to the virus.

The state has recorded 100,072 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

No additional deaths were reported July 21.

- NHPR Staff

DHHS reports 1 new COVID death
Update: Tuesday, July 20, 6:01 p.m.

State health officials announced 61 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, continuing an uptick in new infections in New Hampshire.

There were an average of 38 cases per day from July 14-20, which is a 40% increase compared to the previous seven-day period, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS says there are 270 active infections statewide. Thirteen of the new cases are individuals under age 18. Twenty-four people are currently hospitalized with the virus.

The state announced one additional death - a woman from Rockingham County, who was 60 or older.

New Hampshire also surpassed 100,000 recorded coronavirus cases, as of Tuesday at 9 a.m., since the pandemic began.

- NHPR Staff

Another COVID-19 death in New Hampshire

Update: Monday, July 19, 4:40 p.m.

Another Granite Stater has died as a result of the coronavirus, state health officials announced Monday. The patient who died was a woman from Grafton County.

Get NHPR's reporting in your inbox - sign up for our Rundown newsletter today.

The state reported a weekend total of 75 new positive test results for the virus, reflecting cases identified on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Officials are currently tracking 224 active COVID-19 infections.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,382 New Hampshire residents have succumbed to the virus. Eighteen residents are hospitalized.

- NHPR Staff


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