Gov. Chris Sununu plans to let the state of emergency put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year end on Friday at midnight.
The declaration, which was expected, brings to an end a period in which Sununu and other state officials used the state of emergency to have more freedom in responding to the health and economic crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re not in a public health crisis, we’re in more of a management mode,” Gov. Sununu said Thursday during a weekly press briefing.
The state of emergency gave the executive branch the ability to spend money and reallocate state employees without normal oversight, along with other flexibilities. Some Republicans were critical of Sununu’s continued use of emergency powers. Lawmakers are working on legislation that would reform future states of emergency, and give more power to the legislature.
Sununu said New Hampshire will remain in “public health incident” status, which offers some liability protections for entities participating in vaccination efforts, and other flexibilities for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The state also announced three additional deaths from COVID-19 Thursday, as well as 51 new cases of the coronavirus. The state is now averaging about 50 cases per day, according to Dr. Ben Chan, N.H’s state epidemiologist.
Vaccination uptake rates continue to slow, with supply now exceeding demand. After requesting half of its normal weekly allocation of doses last week, public health officials say they didn’t request any vaccine vials from the federal government this week, reflecting a growing stockpile of vaccines. Sununu said about 10,000 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines will likely expire in the next week due to lack of demand, though on Thursday, the company reported that Food and Drug Administration officials extended the expiration dates on the vaccine by six weeks.
More than 817,000 people have now received their first shots in New Hampshire. Shots are available at more than 450 locations, including many walk-in options.
The governor also said that next week’s briefing will be the last weekly COVID-focused press conference. After taking a few weeks off, the press conferences will return on an as-needed basis.
This post has been updated.