Coronavirus Blog: Earlier Updates (August 1 - August 31) | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Blog: Earlier Updates (August 1 - August 31)

Aug 31, 2020

This post gathers NHPR's past updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire with a date range beginning August 1, 2020.

NOTE: Some of the stories below may contained outdated guidance and stories that have since evolved. Please click the links below for the most up-to-date coverage and guidance. 

Earlier updates:

22 new cases reported in New Hampshire Monday

Update: Monday, August 31, 4:20 p.m.

There are 22 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, the state reported Monday. New Hampshire's case total is now 7,275.

No new deaths were reported, and no new hospitalizations were reported.

- NHPR Staff

9 new cases reported Sunday

Update: Sunday, August 30, 2:05 p.m. 

New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services reported nine new COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire.

The state reported no new death, and no new hospitalizations. So far, 432 Granite Staters have died from the virus.

- NHPR Staff

30 new cases, 1 new hospitalizations Saturday

Update: Saturday, Aug. 29, 4:36 p.m.

The state announced 30 new infections Saturday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 7,246. The current caseload is at 243.

No new deaths were reported. There was one new hospitalization, but the number of current hospitalizations statewide is down to seven.

Four of the new cases are residents under 18. The state's breakdown of where the new cases are: Manchester, eight; Rockingham County, eight; Hillsborough County, six; Cheshire County, four; and Belknap and Merrimack counties have two cases each.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. has 1 additional death, 35 new cases

Update: Friday, Aug. 28, 6:01 p.m.

State health officials announced a woman from Hillsborough County, who was 60 or older, died Friday due to COVID-19. There have been 432 residents who have died from the coronavirus since the outbreak began.

The state also reported 35 new infections, bringing the state's overall caseload since March to 7,216. As of Aug. 28, there are 230 active cases, and eight current hospitalizations. No new hospitalizations were reported Friday.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. anticipates uptick in college cases as students return

Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 6:11 p.m.

The state's top health official says she expects an uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hampshire in coming weeks, due to returning college students.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette told reporters today that results will bounce around but with students heading back to campuses the numbers will rise.

"We should expect to see increasing numbers in the demographic of 18-25 for sure as we start seeing colleges come back. And even pre-testing before people left their home states or their home communities we saw college students, asymptomatic college students testing positive."

Governor Sununu said he spoke with UNH President Jim Dean after seeing pictures of a large student gathering on the Durham campus that violated the college's social distancing policies. But Sununu says he's confident existing guidelines will allow New Hampshire colleges to operate safely.

- Sarah Gibson

N.H. is buying 25 rapid testing machines

Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 3:21 p.m.

New Hampshire is buying 25 new rapid testing machines to help improve turn-around for results, Gov. Chris Sununu said during a news update today on state response to COVID-19.

"The machines are called Quidel Sofia, antigen rapid covid test machines,” Sununu said. “And it will allow for community access to rapid antigen testing for student, teachers and the general community."

The machines, which the state said it selected because unlike other rapid tests, a negative result doesn't need to be confirmed by a secondary PCR test, will be placed at state designated community testing sites. 

Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the machines, which cost $2,000 each, can deliver results in 15 minutes.

Sununu said it might not be until October until the state receives the machines. He and Shibinette said the order from the manufacturer is about supply and demand.

In an update on state guidance for nursing home visitation, Shibinette announced that three counties, thanks to low transmission rates, will move into phase three, which means visitors will have fewer restrictions at long-term care facilities. The counties are Belknap, Coos, and Grafton.

Facilities in those counties will have reduced restrictions around communal dining and activities, as well.

Visit the state's website for guidance on and resources for long-term care facilities.

Public Health Update

Shibinette announced one additional death connected to COVID-19 - a resident of a long-term care facility. She reported 35 new infections, and no new hospitalizations.

Explore the Data: Tracking COVID-19 in New Hampshire

- NHPR Staff

Panel recommends purchase of rapid testing machines

Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 1:43 p.m.

A legislative advisory board recommends that New Hampshire purchase rapid result coronavirus testing machines for its hospital-based testing sites.

Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, had proposed acquiring the rapid testing machines for school districts given growing concerns about the ability to test students and teachers as schools reopen.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette instead suggested the machines be purchased for the roughly two dozen community testing centers already set up, mostly in hospitals.

Lawmakers advising the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery voted unanimously Wednesday to approve that plan.

- Holly Ramer, Associated Press

State alert: Watch out for COVID-19 scammers

Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 12:09 p.m.

The state is warning residents about COVID-19 scams after reports of scammers contacting people and claiming they can get them financial help during the pandemic.

The scammers use robocalls, text messages, emails and other means. They make a claim and then ask for personal information, such as credit card numbers or a Social Security number.

Some scams pretend they are from government agencies, and offer federal hazard pay for essential workers.

“Never trust anyone who offers financial help and then asks for money or your personal information,” reads an alert from Jennifer Harper, director of New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.

Tips they offer:

  • Never send money or provide your personal information to someone you don’t know.
  • If you receive an email or text asking for money, delete it immediately, without engaging with the sender - and do not open links in those messages.
  • The state’s consumer hotline is (603) 271-3641. Find a consumer complaints form here:

- NHPR Staff

Dartmouth to move ahead with fall plan for students returning

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 3:51 p.m.

Dartmouth College announced today it is moving forward with its reopening plan and will return half of its undergraduate student body to campus beginning on Sept. 8. Read the full announcement.

The college says, starting next week, it will beef up its COVID-19 online dashboard with more information on how the return to campus is going. The information will include, among other things: the number of tests given, the number of positive cases, and quarantine information for students and staff.

"We expect that there will be challenges and setbacks along the way. Having students back on campus will only work if we are all invested in our success and committed to doing our part to protect the health and safety of every person," reads the announcement by President Philip J. Hanlon and Provost Joseph Helble.

The college says it has tested 1,015 graduate and professional students to date, without finding any positive results. Its reopening plan includes pre-arrival testing and quarantine requirements for students.

- NHPR Staff

DHHS recommends anyone attending Sturgis rally get tested

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2:30 p.m.

Six residents who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month have tested positive for coronavirus.

The state is now recommending anyone who attended that rally to get a COVID-19 test.

More than 100 confirmed cases are linked to the rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Besides getting tested, Granite Staters who attended the rally are advised to quarantine for symptoms for 14 days upon returning to New Hampshire, even if they test negative.

The state’s guidance asks anyone traveling outside of New England to quarantine for 14 days when they return.

- NHPR Staff

N.H.'s mask requirement for large gatherings in effect for Trump rally

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6:01 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says New Hampshire’s face mask requirement will be in effect at President Trump’s campaign rally Friday at a Manchester airport hangar.

Sununu says the Trump campaign is on the same page as state health officials about the rule, which applies to gatherings of more than 100 people.

“I think they’ve been very good about trying to promote that message, making sure that people are safe … and to make sure they understand that – more than 100 people, everyone has to follow the rules," Sununu said.

Sununu says he expects to greet the President on arrival. But the governor says he tries to avoid large crowds and will probably not go to the rally itself.

The rally comes after one was postponed in Portsmouth last month, due to weather. It spurred that city to adopt one of the state's first masking ordinances.

Several other cities and towns have since followed suit.

- Annie Ropeik

Update on state study of ventilation systems at nursing homes

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 5:31 p.m.

The state says it didn't find any clear patterns in a review of ventilation systems at long-term care facilities that had COVID-19 outbreaks.

Engineers spent two weeks analyzing the design and placement of air circulation systems at affected homes.

It came amid new scientific questions about whether the virus could spread or survive that way.

But the state says it didn't find obvious links between different ventilation systems and the way the virus spread in long-term care facilities.

Still, officials say any kind of facility with an internal air system should keep an eye on it as a potential risk factor.

They say that includes schools and businesses as more reopen this fall.

- Annie Ropeik

Broadband expansion grants announced

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 4:46 p.m.

Governor Sununu announced another eight recipients of the state’s Emergency Broadband Expansion Program.

In total, about $14 million from the federal CARES Act will go towards expanding broadband in 17 different towns around the state.

The goal of the program is to build out the so called “last mile” of internet connectivity, which is the internet hook-up to a property.

Because of federal deadlines on when CARES Act money has to be used, these broadband projects need to be completed before the end of this year.

- Daniela Allee 

State announces outbreak at Rockingham County Jail

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 3:15 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials announced an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Rockingham County jail in Brentwood. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette says that 10 residents and one staff member have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state also announced 16 new positive test results for COVID-19, and reported no new deaths.

FEMA OK's state's application for $300 unemployment benefit

Gov. Chris Sununu said FEMA has approved the state’s application for the “Lost Wages Assistance Program,” as part of the president’s executive order earlier this month.

Sununu said the federal funding will pump more than $300 million into the state’s economy, at little cost to the state.

In connection with the program, Sununu said the minimum weekly unemployment benefit will be raised to $100 to ensure out-of-work residents can get the new $300 benefit from the “Lost Wages” program, going back to Aug. 1.

The governor added that CAP agencies are launching a new, streamlined application process to help people apply for housing relief.

<- NHPR Staff

Move-in delays for some Keene State students

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 11:54 a.m.

Keene State College announced yesterday that some students will have their move-in delayed because of delayed test results.

All students in the University System of New Hampshire must have a negative COVID-19 test result before arriving to campus.

The new move-in start for some Keene State students will be this Wednesday and will continue through the weekend.

Keene State is starting this first week of classes remotely, and will start in person instruction next week.

Plymouth State University students also experienced delays last week in getting their pre-arrival test results, affecting that university’s plans for move-in.

- Daniela Allee 

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State jury trials resume

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 10:19 a.m.

Jury trials in state courts resumed Monday after a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The judicial branch is restarting with what it's calling a pilot case in Cheshire County.

Jurors are spread out in the gallery rather than sitting in the jury box, and everyone in the courtroom is required to wear a mask.

The trial is being live streamed to ensure public access to the proceedings.

The case involves a man accused of resisting arrest.

- Todd Bookman

Dozens of N.H. towns have yet to apply for COVID funds

Update: Monday, August 24, 9:45 a.m.

More than 50 New Hampshire communities have yet to apply for reimbursement for expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic. Requests must be made by Sept. 15 to be reimbursed for expenses incurred between March 1 and Aug. 31.

As of Friday, 51 towns had not applied, according to the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, which is in charge of distributing the state’s $1.25 billion in federal aid. Communities also can request reimbursement for expenses incurred from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15. That deadline will be Oct. 30.

- The Associated Press

Task force emails show early division on economic reopening

Update: Sunday, August 23, 4:40 p.m.

The task force advising New Hampshire’s governor about reopening the state’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic hosts public call-in sessions each week, but it also has heard plenty via email since it began its work in April. Nearly 1,800 messages were sent to members between April 22 and May 1, when The Associated Press requested copies.

The emails, which were turned over two and a half months later, show stark divisions over what should reopen and what should stay closed. Hair salon owners were particularly vocal, as were those pushing for the reopening of campgrounds and golf courses.

- Associated Press

Sununu urges Bike Week attendees to use best judgment

Update: Saturday, Aug. 22, 9:00 a.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu is cautiously optimistic that Laconia Motorcycle Week can be a success, even during the pandemic.

Sununu said Friday that people need to be responsible and follow social distancing and hygiene recommendations. He also says if anyone has doubts about attending due to illness, they shouldn't.

"If you have symptoms of any kind you should not be attending at all. So we just want people to take the event seriously, be very smart about how they approach it and if they do that, we can defiantly have a very successful event.”

State Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette said contact tracing would be a challenge if people with COVID end up mingling in large events. But she says state health officials are keeping their fingers crossed that Bike Week, which could draw attendees from across the country, won't prompt a spike in cases.

The annual event was posted from June. It runs Aug. 22-30.

- Josh Rogers

Dartmouth asked to reconsider return-to-campus plans

Update: Saturday, Aug. 22, 9 a.m.

About 100 Dartmouth College professors are asking administrators to reconsider bringing students back to campus next month.

In an open letter sent Friday, the professors said they weren't convinced that it would be possible to maintain a safe campus and wider community with students arriving from across the country, even with the reopening plan Dartmouth has in place.

The letter says, "we do not see rewards that would outweigh the ponderous risks in this plan," and urges the college to a adopt a fully remote plan.

Earlier this week, the college announced it would wait until next week to announce a return date as they monitor COVID-19 infection rates at other colleges.

- Daniela Allee

Sununu lifts indoor capacity limits on restaurants in 4 counties

Update: Friday, Aug. 21, 3:44 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu, citing low numbers of transmission, announced today that restaurants across New Hampshire will be allowed to have indoor dining at 100 percent capacity. Prior state restrictions required that restaurants in Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, and Strafford counties be limited to 50 percent capacity indoors.

Those counties were previously singled out because they are home to most of the infections in New Hampshire.

Restaurants are still required to adhere to social distancing, which limits some capacity indoors.

Sununu said the state has not seen any major issues with restaurants, in connection with COVID-19 and safety protocols.

"The 6-foot social distancing is very important. Wearing masks in the public areas of those establishments is very important. Making sure that the staff is wearing the masks, if they are front-facing staff with the customers. All those provisions are in place and will remain in place for quite some time, without a doubt."

Sununu said capacity limits on retailers and tourist attractions will remain in place.  Sununu said he looked at lifting those, but said it was impractical given the range of affected businesses.

The 100 percent indoor capacity allowance is effective immediately.

State Closes Outbreak at Greenbriar

State health officials say one of the largest and most persistent nursing home outbreaks of COVID-19 in New Hampshire has ended.

Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced Friday that the state is closing the outbreak case at Greenbriar Healthcare in Nashua, where 28 residents have died due to the coronavirus.

That leaves just one facility, Evergreen Place in Manchester, with an active outbreak that is being monitored.

At Greenbriar, 124 residents and 34 staff members had tested positive for coronavirus, according to Shibinette.

- NHPR Staff

State says towns can require voters to wear face masks

Update: Friday, Aug. 21, 2:01 p.m.

State officials say New Hampshire towns and cities can require that both voters and poll workers wear face coverings on Election Day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Secretary of State Bill Gardner released new guidance for the Sept. 8 primary and Nov. 3 general election.

They said they agree with town moderators that decisions about mask requirements should be made locally, given the wide variation in the size of polling places, expected volume of voters, and other factors.

Communities that require face coverings for voters must, however, provide alternatives for those who can't or won't comply.

- NHPR Staff

Restaurants concerned about indoor dining restrictions

Update: Friday, Aug. 21, 9:51 a.m.  

Struggling New Hampshire restaurant owners want the state to both reduce restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus and increase efforts to educate the public about them.

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Officials with two restaurant groups were among those speaking up at Thursday's public input session hosted by the governor's Economic Reopening Task Force.

They said workers are dealing with abusive customers who don't understand mask requirements, and they're worried that cold weather will soon end outdoor dining.

-- Holly Ramer, AP

14 new cases, 1 new death reported

Update: Thursday, Aug. 20, 4:31 p.m.

Another resident has died from coronavirus, state health officials reported today. There have been 428 deaths since the outbreak began. The latest death is a man from Hillsborough County, who was 60 or older.

The latest public health update includes 14 new infections, bringing the total New Hampshire cases to 7,050, and the state says 6,367 have recovered. The current caseload is 255.

Two of the new cases are residents under 18. The new cases are from: Rockingham County, four; Merrimack County, three; Hillsborough County, two; and there was one each from the city of Manchester and Cheshire and Strafford counties. The state is trying to determine the county of residence for two of the new cases.

There were no new hospitalizations announced Thursday, and the current number of people in the hospital due to COVID-19 is down to 11.

- NHPR Staff

Dartmouth undergrads will not be allowed to travel outside of Upper Valley area

Update: Thursday, Aug. 20, 10:31 a.m.

Dartmouth College students barely will be able to venture off-campus when they return this fall.

According to the latest travel restrictions, undergraduate students will not be permitted to travel beyond the local area, which is defined as the towns of Hanover, Enfield, Lebanon, Lyme, and West Lebanon in New Hampshire, and Norwich and Hartford in Vermont.

Graduate students, faculty and staff have more leeway. But those traveling outside New England, even for day trips, will be prohibited from accessing campus buildings for 14 days upon return.

- Holly Ramer, AP

Currier Museum now open

Update: Thursday, Aug. 20, 9:59 a.m.

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester will reopen its doors to the public today.

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The museum is capping the number of entrants to ensure social distancing and changing its schedule. Special times slots are being set aside for seniors.

Tours of the museum's two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses will remain closed.

- Todd Bookman

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3 more deaths, 19 new cases

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 19, 4:31 p.m.

State health officials today announced 19 new cases of COVID-19, and three new deaths.

One female resident from Rockingham County and two female residents from Hillsborough county died from the disease. All three were 60 years of age or older.

The state announced there are no new hospitalized cases, which continue to drop: as of Aug. 19, there were only a dozen hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

The current case number is 262. To date, 6,347 of the overall 7,036 reported infections in New Hampshire have recovered, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the outbreak began, 427 residents have died from coronavirus.

- Daniela Allee

Postal Service, union reps, say they prioritize mail-in ballots

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 18, 11:05 a.m.

Union representatives say postal service workers in New Hampshire can sort and deliver the mail, including election ballots, despite facing challenges like loss of equipment, revenue, and staff.

The representatives spoke with U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday, saying they prioritize mail-in ballots and that they are are secure. They said they think there's a lot of disinformation circulating about mail-in voting.

Recent changes made in New Hampshire include the elimination of five mail sorting machines in Manchester. Dana Coletti, president of the American Postal Workers Union in the state, said that it just seems a little unusual that this would happen around election time.

Sununu: No mask mandate will be in place on election day

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 18, 10:57 a.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says he plans to vote in person this year, but he says people and communities should exercise their own judgement when it comes to election procedures.

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Sununu says guidance issued by state election officials and the Attorney General has convinced him it will be safe to vote in person. But he says if other people feel differently there are other options.

"Now you can take an absentee ballot and just walk it over to one the safe drop boxes at all of the polling locations now,” he said during a news conference Tuesday. “So there is a variety of ways to do it in a safe way, if people don't feel comfortable going to the polls."

Sununu said he didn't see a need to impose a statewide mask mandate at polling places, or know if one would be legal. But he said if cities and towns wanted to consider requiring people to wear masks at polling places, it would be their right to do so.

For the state primary and the general election, any voter in New Hampshire may choose to vote by absentee ballot, or go to the polls in person.

- NHPR Staff

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Laconia area businesses ready for Bike Week

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 19, 10:09 a.m.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission plans to step up enforcement in the Lakes region ahead of next week's 97th Laconia Motorcycle Week.

But many Laconia restaurant owners say they're confident their customers will continue to follow safety guidelines.

"Most everyone has been really good about it," says Cynthia Makris, owner of the NazBar & Grill at the Naswa Resort.

"They understand that this is the only way that restaurants and hotels can remain open. They understand what the guidelines are."

Not at all restaurants are so sure. Laconia's Broken Spoke Saloon is closing for Bike Week because of coronavirus concerns.

- Ava Sasani 

State applies to federal $300/week unemployment program

Update: Tuesday, August 18, 3:35 p.m.  

Gov. Chris Sununu says the state is submitting its application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to participate in the “Lost Wages” assistance program, which will provide an additional federal unemployment benefit of $300 weekly.

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The program, which President Trump signed by executive order, allows states to opt-in with a 25 percent state match. According to Sununu, if current unemployment recipients are getting $100 a week, that would count toward the match. Those currently receiving less will have their benefits increased to $100 by the state.

Sununu said the program will add $340 million to the state’s economy over the next 22 weeks. The state can participate and cover those receiving benefits at a cost of less than $10 million from the state’s existing unemployment trust fund, Sununu said.

"It now appears we will be able to cover 100% of those currently receiving benefits at a cost of less than $10 million dollars from our current unemployment trust fund," Sununu said.

The state will need to kick in $100 per week per beneficiary. The new boost in benefits will be retroactive to August 1. Learn more about FEMA's Lost Wages supplemental payment assistance.

- NHPR Staff

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Today's numbers:

State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan announced one additional death of a New Hampshire resident today due to COVID-19. The patient was a resident of a long-term care facillity.

There have now been 424 deaths from the corornavoirus in the state since the outbreak began. Three new individuals were also hospitalized for the virus.

Dr. Chan also reported 13 new infections, bringing the state's total to 7,017.

"We continue to see low but persistent transmission in our communities," he said.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. added nearly 19,000 jobs in June

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 18, 12:27 p.m.

The state’s economy continues to rebound from the coronavirus shutdown imposed this spring.

New data from New Hampshire Employment Security shows the state added close to 19,000 jobs in June. That helped push the unemployment rate down to 8.1 percent.

The unemployment rate peaked at 17.1 percent in April.

Nearly 40,000 residents have dropped out of the labor force since this time last year, however, meaning they are no longer employed or looking for work.

- Todd Bookman

Testing lab to be established in Durham

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 18, 11:59 a.m.

The chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire says a coronavirus testing lab with 12-hour turnaround times should be set up in Durham within a few weeks.

Chancellor Todd Leach joined colleagues from private colleges and the community college system for an online discussion Monday.

Students have begun returning to many campuses this week, and officials said so far the process has gone smoothly. Leach says the in-house lab will handle thousands of tests per day from UNH, Keene State College and Plymouth State University.

State announces 16 new infections

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 18, 11:00 a.m.

New Hampshire announced 16 new positive test results for COVID-19 Monday. The state has averaged around 23 new cases a day for the last week.

Most of the new cases are from the southern half of New Hampshire.

Health officials say community spread is still happening across the state, and people should continue to take precautions to protect themselves or others from getting sick.

- Ava Sasani

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Northeast states investigate virus spread via youth hockey

Saturday, Aug. 15, 1:09 p.m.

A youth hockey player who attended a camp at the Rinks at Exeter earlier this month contracted coronavirus at a tournament in Connecticut just days before.

The player, from Massachusetts, participated in a skills clinic on August 3 and August 4 at the Rinks. On the second day of camp he was informed that 12 to 14 of his teammates from the previous tournament had tested positive. The player was promptly pulled out of the clinic.

Dozens of players from New Hampshire and other New England states also attended the clinic and were immediately informed of the possible exposure.

Rinks at Exeter general manager Chet Murch says he hasn’t been told of any other positive test results.

The New Hampshire guidelines for sports allows players from New England to freely travel across the border.

This is one of the first documented cases of COVID-19 related to sports in the state.

- Staff & Wire Report

U.S.-Canada border closure to non-essential travel remains in place

 Update: Saturday, Aug. 15, 8:31 a.m.

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month. Friday's statement by Canada's Public Safety Minister Bill Blair came a day after Mexico announced a similar measure for its border with the United States.

The land border restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic were first announced in March and have been renewed monthly.

Essential cross-border workers like health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. 

- Rob Gillies, AP

8 of 43 new cases are 18 years old

Update: Friday, Aug. 14, 6:31 p.m.

State health officials announced an additional death Friday from the coronavirus: A male resident of Hillsborough County, who was 60 and older. To date, 423 residents have died from COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services also reported 43 new cases, with eight of those being individuals under 18.

Currently, there are 323 active cases and 13 people in the hospital for treatment related to COVID-19.

A geographic breakdown of the new cases: Manchester, 13; Nashua, seven; Hillsborough County, eight; Rockingham County, seven; Cheshire and Strafford counties, three each; and one each in Belknap and Grafton counties.

- NHPR Staff

Town says New Ipswich event will take precautions

Update: Friday, Aug. 14, 4:02 p.m.

Today marks the start of a tent revival taking place in New Ipswich. Town officials have expressed concerns about the event's organizers’ compliance with COVID-19 precautions.

But Town Administrator Scott Butcher says the group, called The Last Reformation, will now provide hand sanitizer, masks and social distance. “They’re making an effort to comply, which is more progress than we had 48 hours ago.”

Earlier this week, Butcher says event organizers told the town that they would not wear masks or practice social distancing.

Governor Sununu issued a mandate earlier this week requiring masks in gatherings of more than 100 people. He said that mandate would be enforced.

- Daniela Allee

Retail, grocer, and restaurant groups ask Nashua to reject amendment

Update: Friday, Aug. 14, 9:54 a.m.

Nashua is considering altering its mask ordinance to require businesses to not serve any customer who violates the order.

Currently, masks are required to enter any business for anyone over the age of 10.

Some retailers oppose the proposed ‘No Mask-No Service’ provision, however, citing the risk of confrontation between employees and customers.

Three prominent business groups are calling on Nashua city leaders to reject a proposed amendment to a mask ordinance that would have stores and restaurants and their employees enforce a requirement for customers to wear a mask.

"There is a distinct difference between a requirement that allows the business owner or employees to tell a customer that it's the law, and putting them in the position of being the enforcement arm," the groups write in a joint letter.

It is sent from the N.H. Retail Association, the N.H. Grocers Association, and the N.H. Lodging & Restaurant Association.

John Dumais is with the state Grocers Association.

“To get to the point where we are going to get into a confrontation who just refuses to wear a mask or for health reasons can’t wear a mask, is not something that we should be put in the position of doing.”

The Board of Alderman will vote on the rule change in late September.

- Todd Bookman

2 additional deaths, 34 new cases of COVID-19

Update: Thursday, Aug. 13, 5:41 p.m.

The state announced two female residents of Merrimack County have died from COVID-19. Both women were 60 and older. 

To date, 422 residents have died from the coronavirus and there have been 6,921 overall confirmed cases, with 6,190 cases recovered, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

There are 309 current cases and 15 current hospitalizations, as of Aug. 13.

The new cases Thursday are from: Manchester, nine; Nashua, six; Rockingham County, nine; Merrimack County, five; Hillsborough County, three; and Belknap County, two.

- NHPR Staff

State outlines steps if schools have outbreaks

Update: Thursday, Aug. 13, 5:14 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says state public health officials will work hand in hand with school districts to identify positive cases, conduct contact tracing, and notify the public about outbreaks.

In a press conference Thursday, Sununu said the state will track positive cases and outbreaks in all school districts and publish the information on a centralized website, so families can stay informed.

“If you get one positive case or some kid is quarantining, rumors can go very quickly through the system,” Sununu said, “so we want to make sure that the data that's been confirmed and that we have is very available to the parents and communities out there.”

Sununu says the state does not have a plan yet to expand rapid COVID-19 testing in schools.

- Sarah Gibson

Update: Thursday, Aug. 13, 3:21 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says he will sign a new emergency order to require districts to continue to provide special education services for students, regardless of how their district is starting the school year: in-person classes, remote learning, or a combination of both.

Related story: N.H. Will Not Waive Special Ed Requirements As Schools Reopen

The state will also be releasing a centralized website to help the public know what’s occurring within districts, in terms of COVID-19. It will help parents, as Sununu put it, to know “where their school stacks up.”

There is a new communications plan, as well, that outlines how positive COVID-19 cases are reported. The aim is to foster transparency, the governor said.

"An outbreak doesn't necessarily mean that a school has to close," Sununu said.

- NHPR Staff

New guidance for nursing home visitations

Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the state has closed the case on an outbreak at Ridgewood Genesis, which leaves only two current outbreaks at long-term care centers in New Hampshire. She also announced new guidance for long-term care facilities, with the intent of allowing more visits at most facilities. The plan is outlined the governor's slideshow Thursday.

The state has different phases for visitation at long-term care facilities, with phase zero being any center that has an outbreak, or within 14 days of an outbreak, with compassionate care visitation only.

Other phases spell out screening, social distancing, and communal dining and group activities, among other things. Residents at almost all long-term care homes will soon be able to get haircuts and have one designated visitor, as long as COVID-19 rates in their county don't rise.

Part of the governor's slideshow Aug. 13, 2020. See link above for the full slideshow.

- NHPR Staff

Lebanon passes mask ordinance

Update: Thursday, Aug. 13, 9:41 a.m.

The Lebanon City Council approved a mask ordinance on Wednesday night, making it the eighth municipality in New Hampshire to do so.

COVID Map: Which N.H. Towns Require Masks?

Passed by unanimous vote, the ordinance requires employees of businesses to wear a mask when interacting with a customer, and for members of the public to wear masks when entering businesses or government buildings.

The ordinance also encourages people who use the Northern Rail Trail, Mascoma Greenway or public recreational lands to wear masks when practicable and when there’s a high likelihood that social distancing won’t be possible.

- Daniela Allee

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N.H. Liquor Enforcement to keep closer eye on restaurants, bars

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 6:01 p.m.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is increasing outreach, education and enforcement efforts with Lakes Region licensees and restaurants to ensure the health and safety of visitors for the Laconia Motorcycle Week, which is Aug. 22-30.

Gov. Chris Sununu says the stepped up efforts will be to enforce existing guidance and requirements.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has created unique circumstances for licensees to navigate as they prepare for motorcycle week,” Joseph Mollica, chairman of the state Liquor Commission, said in a statement. “We want to inform all licensees of the guidelines as they relate to seating, capacity, mask-wearing and social distancing so we can ensure that everyone has a safe, successful and enjoyable week.”

State liquor enforcement officers will be highly visible throughout Motorcycle Week to enforce the state's guidelines, Mollica says. The state also sent liquor license holders a document outlining the COVID safety protocols, with notice of the potential penalties for violating the state's emergency order.

- NHPR Staff

1 additional death, 26 new cases

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 5:19 p.m.

Another Granite Stater has died from the coronavirus. A man from Hillsborough County, who was 60 or older, became the 420th resident to die from the virus.

State health officials also reported 26 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,887. The Department of Health and Human Services says 89 percent of those have since recovered.

The current case estimate is 305, while current hospitalizations are 18. There were no new hospitalizations disclosed Wednesday.

The geographic breakdown of the new cases: Rockingham County, 5; Hillsborough County, 3; Sullivan County, 3; Belknap County, 2, Cheshire County, 2; and Carroll, Grafton, Merrimack, and Strafford counties, with 1 case each. Nashua had 5 cases, and Manchester 1. The state is still trying to determine the residence of one of the new infections.

- NHPR Staff

Lebanon considers mask mandate

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 12:01 p.m.

The city of Lebanon will hold a public hearing tonight on adopting a mask mandate. The proposed ordinance would require employees of all businesses to wear a mask when interacting with customers.

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Members of the public would also be required to wear masks in businesses, government buildings, and on public transportation.

The proposed ordinance would also apply to people using the Mascoma Greenway, Northern rail trail and sidewalks.

The first violation of the ordinance is a $100 fine, the second is a $250 fine.

If Lebanon adopts the ordinance, it would become the eighth municipality in New Hampshire to pass a mask mandate.

- Daniela Allee 

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State mandates masks for gatherings of more than 100 people

Update: Tuesday, August 11, 3:20 p.m.  

Citing the need to proactively minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, Gov. Chris Sununu issued an executive order Monday requiring masks for scheduled gatherings of more than 100 people.

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While the mask mandate does not apply to smaller events, Sununu said the state strongly encourages people to wear cloth face coverings when in large crowds and when one cannot maintain six feet or more for social distancing.

“We have Bike Week coming up … we have some other large events coming up this fall,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “Sturgis was a really clear warning sign to us.”

At the motorcycle rally last week in Sturgis, South Dakota, thousands of riders showed up, many without face masks.

Sununu also said the mandate would apply to a scheduled religious revival planned for New Ipswich, whose organizers have said publicly that they will not wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines.

Sununu also announced increased enforcement of public health guidance in the state's restaurants and bars to ensure that capacity limits are being met, and that other rules, such as prohibiting gathering around bars, are being followed.

- NHPR Staff

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Sununu: It's unacceptable that Congress hasn't delivered more COVID relief

Update: Monday, August 10, 4:40 p.m.

As states await further clarity on a federal plan to continue enhanced unemployment benefits, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen says she's in favor of keeping benefits the same as they've been since the start of the pandemic, for stability, and to avoid new delays.

“We know there were bugs in the program that are still being worked out. Many of them have been worked out. But any changes at this point will put us back into the cycle where people are going to have trouble again with the system,” Shaheen says.

President Trump announced executive orders this past weekend that would provide $400 dollars of unemployment pay per week, among other benefits. Congress continues to work towards their own plan.

In a tweet today Governor Chris Sununu wrote that it is “unacceptable” that Congress has still yet to deliver another relief package.

- Alex McOwen

14 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

Update: Sunday, Aug. 9, 4:29 p.m.

State health officials reported 14 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday. The total confirmed N.H. cases since the outbreak began is now 6,831.

One new hospitalization was announced; the total to date, is 701 - the current number of COVID patients  in hospital on Aug. 9 is 23.

The current active cases are 349. One of the new cases was an individual under 18. The new cases reported Sunday were from: Strafford County: four; Rockingham County: three; Manchester, three; Nashua, four.

- NHPR Staff

40 new cases reported Saturday

Update: Saturday, Aug. 8, 4:51 p.m.

The state announced another 40 new infections Saturday, bringing the New Hampshire total to 6,818 cases since the outbreak began.

There are 350 current cases. No new hospitalizations, nor new deaths, were reported Aug. 8. There are 24 residents currently in the hospital for treatment related to the coronavirus.

The geographic case breakout provided by state health officials: Rockingham County, 12; Hillsborough County, three; Strafford County, two; Cheshire, Coos, and Merrimack counties - one each; Manchester, nine; Nashua, six; and the county of residence is still being determined for five other cases. Go Deeper: Explore The COVID-19 Data in New Hampshire

- NHPR Staff

State of Emergency extended

Update: Saturday, Aug. 8, 8:08 a.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu has extended the state of emergency he first declared on March 13, in response to the coronavirus epidemic. This is the seventh extension of the emergency order. View all emergency orders here.

The governor told reporters earlier this month that he anticipates keeping the declaration in place for some time, as the state continues to deal with COVID-19 infections.

"We're not out of the woods yet," he said this week. "We're smack dab in the middle of it."

- Dan Tuohy

State investigating possible exposure at Windham church events

Update: Friday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m.

The state is investigating a potential COVID-19 outbreak associated with people who attended events hosted by the Windham Crossing Life Church in Windham.

The state says the events include a YouthStorm Inc. camp event held in Windham on July 16-18. Sixteen people with COVID-19 have been identified with connections to the church community, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state said the public should not attend Windham Crossing Life Church events over the next week while it investigates the infections. DHHS recommends anyone associated with the church since July 10 should get tested.

The state is offering a testing event for those who may have been exposed to the virus. It is scheduled for Aug. 10, 5-7 p.m. Anyone associated with the church’s events are asked to call (603) 271-5980, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Other testing options are available here.

- NHPR Staff

39 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

Update: Friday, Aug. 7, 5:34 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials reported 39 new infections Friday. The total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak began is now 6,779 - roughly 88% have recovered, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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Six of the new cases have no identified risk factors. There was one new hospitalization; current hospitalizations number 23, as of Friday.

The state says there are currently 365 active cases.

- NHPR Staff

Emergency order directed at summer camps

Update: Friday, Aug. 7, 2:01 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu's latest emergency order targets summer camps, and another community has adopted a mandatory mask policy as New Hampshire responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergency order issued affects camps that are allowed to operate outside of zoning ordinances because they pre-date the regulations.

Properties can lose that status if they are closed for 12 months, but the order prevents municipalities from discontinuing a camp's status if it closed, shortened its season or opened at reduced capacity this summer because of the virus.

Pressed on bike week safety, Sununu creates task force

Gov. Chris Sununu has formed a task force to ensure Laconia Motorcycle Week proceeds safely on its rescheduled dates - Aug. 22-30.

Sununu said the state had learned a lot from organizing coronavirus protections for the recent NASCAR race in Loudon. He says they can apply those lessons to Bike Week through the new task force, which includes the city, event organizers and state officials.

“I think we all feel confident it can go off very successfully, and we’re just going to put a team together just to make sure that everyone understands what guidelines will be imposed … to make sure it all goes off without a hitch.”

Sununu says they could model those guidelines off protocols in place at other large gathering spots, such as Hampton Beach.

- Annie Ropeik

Inmate in Berlin tests positive

Update: Friday, Aug. 7, 1:01 p.m.

An inmate at the federal correctional facility in Berlin has tested positive for COVID-19, but has recovered, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

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The agency would not give any additional details about the case, including when the inmate first tested positive, citing privacy reasons.

In a statement on the Bureau of Prisons website, the agency says its facilities are testing inmates more broadly as resources become more available.

- Mary McIntyre

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1 more death, 25 new COVID-19 cases

Update: Thursday, Aug. 6, 3:09 p.m.

Another resident has died from the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the death was not associated with a long-term care facility. New Hampshire has now had 419 deaths due to COVID-19.

The state reported 25 new infections, bringing the total confirmed cases since the outbreak began to 6,742. Approximately 88% of the cases have recovered.

Shibinette announced that the state is moving its community-based testing to hospitals around the state - but won't close down the state's fixed sites until hospitals are ready. "The access to testing should not be an issue for anybody at all," she said at a news conference today with Gov. Chris Sununu. The slide below was shared at the conference:

Gov. Chris Sununu image of COVID-19 testing options in N.H.

-- NHPR Staff

Traffic volume picks up on N.H. turnpikes

Update: Thursday, Aug. 6, 2:01 p.m.

Traffic on New Hampshire's highways continues to rebound as the warmer weather brings more people out of their homes and into the state.

After falling by more than half during the height of the coronavirus shutdown in April, last week, the Department of Transportation recorded 2.3 million toll transactions, which is down about 18 percent from the same week last year.

Massachusetts is reporting a similar trend, with traffic volume still down between 12- and 20- percent statewide.

- Todd Bookman

State reports 27 new cases

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 7:11 p.m.

State health officials announced 27 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday. The total number of confirmed cases is now 6,719, with 5,923 having recovered from the virus, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are 378 current active cases, and 20 current hospitalizations. The state did not report any new deaths, nor any new hospitalizations on Aug. 5.

Two of the new cases are individuals under 18. Manchester had seven cases, and Nashua three. Other geographic breakouts: Rockingham County, five; Hillsborough County, five; Cheshire and Belknap counties, 2 each; and Carroll and Merrimack counties, one each. The county of residence was still being determined for one person.

- NHPR Staff

3 major bus companies announce return of service this month

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2:50 p.m.

Three prominent private bus companies have announced plans to resume service this month, after having suspended operations in March due to the coronavirus.

Concord Coach Lines says it will resume bus service to Logan Airport Aug. 16, and Dartmouth Coach will re-launch its bus service the same day.

C&J Bus Lines will return Aug. 23 with service to Boston's South Station and Logan Airport. C&J's executive class travel to New York City is scheduled to restart on Aug. 28.

The companies say each bus will be subject to thorough cleaning and passengers must wear cloth face coverings.

- Dan Tuohy

More towns are adopting face mask requirements

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 12:21 p.m.

With no statewide mask mandate in place, several New Hampshire’s cities and towns are continuing to pass ordinances of their own.

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The Lebanon City Council begins the process tonight of considering a plan to mandate mask usage. Neighboring towns Hanover and Enfield just passed similar ordinances.

Durham passed its own mask mandate on Monday night, meaning New Hampshire’s two biggest college towns now have mask requirements when students return this fall.

The Portsmouth City Council adopted a mask regulation last month, but is now taking steps to tighten restrictions, including enforcement by the Portsmouth Police Department, and a $25 ticket for non-compliance.

Keene city councilors are voting on their proposed mask ordinance Thursday night.

- Alex McOwen

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NH GAP fund deadline extended until Friday

Update: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 12:01 p.m.

Businesses now have until the end of the day Friday to apply for fuding through the New Hampshire General Assistance and Preservation Fund, or NH Gap Fund.

That fund was established to assist nonprofit and for-profit businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that have not been able to qualify for other relief programs.

The Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery announced the deadline change, citing power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias.

1 new death, 33 more infections confirmed in N.H.

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 3:21 p.m.

The state epidemiologist announced one new death and 33 additional COVID-19 infections today.

Dr. Ben Chan said the resident who died was an older adult who was not associated with a long-term care facility. New Hampshire has reported 418 deaths since the outbreak began.

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Chan said the number of cases has ticked up in the past one to two weeks, but that there is no evidence of a surge. The number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus remains low.

"We are going to see the numbers fluctuate up and down," he said.

Chan said it remains important for people to practice good hygiene, with regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing cloth face coverings when in public.

- NHPR Staff

Durham adopts a mask requirement

The Durham Town Council voted unanimously Monday to pass an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings in public.

Fines will only be issued if someone refuses to use a face covering when reminded. Read a draft of the ordinance here.

Several other communities, including Hanover and Portsmouth, are discussing mask requirements this week as a way to limit potential community transmission of COVID-19.

- Mary McIntyre

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New funding program aims to help smaller N.H. farms

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 3:19 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced a new funding opportunity for specialty crop producers - with an additional $1 million to be directed to smaller farmers with less than $50,000 in 2019 gross sales.

The state’s Agriculture Relief Program is being expanded to include non-dairy farms that were previously ineligible, or who missed an earlier deadline for COVID-19 expenses, or lost sales. 

State temporarily closes testing sites due to Tropical Storm Isaias

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 12:01 p.m.

The state announced today it is closing its COVID-19 testing sites until Thursday out of a precaution for workers and residents.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said the sites are closed, effective at noon Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Credit DHHS

26 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

Update: Monday, Aug. 3, 6:33 p.m.

The state announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The total number of confirmed cases in New Hampshire are now 6,660.

Four of the new cases are residents under 18. Six of the new cases had no identified risk factors; the rest had either recently traveled or had close contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus.

There was one new hospitalization reported, and the current number of COVID-19 hospital patients is 23, as of Aug. 3. The current number of active cases is 395.

- NHPR Staff

Bus lines aim to resume service soon

Update: Monday, Aug. 3, 5:11 p.m.

Bus companies that suspended operations back in March due to the coronavirus are looking to resume some service in the near future.

Three private bus lines may also soon get support from the CARES Act.

The state Department of Transportation has requested $7.5 million of the funds be disbursed to C&J Bus Lines, Concord Coach Lines and Dartmouth Coach.

Jim Jalbert is president of C&J Bus Lines. He's hopeful to resume reduced service this month - with various health safety and cleaning protocols in place.

He says relief funding is critical to the industry -- and the economy.

"It's been tough for the whole industry. Without funding I would say almost half the industry may never open their doors again."

Jalbert hopes to make an announcement later this week.

The funding in the DOT request does not even closely reflect how much the three bus lines lost in revenue during the pandemic. The DOT letter states the three bus lines realized revenue losses of $16 million dollars between March and July.

- Dan Tuohy

Mask ordinances on the agenda in Durham, Portsmouth Monday

Update: Monday, Aug. 3, 5:08 p.m,.

Mandatory face covering ordinances are on the agenda for public meetings in two communities Monday night.

The Portsmouth City Council is scheduled to begin reviewing a proposal to require face coverings to be worn by anyone over age 6 while in indoor settings accessible to the public, or outdoors when 6 feet of social distancing isn't possible.

Meantime, the Durham Town Council is considering a slightly different ordinance with similar requirements for indoor spaces, but that only would require masks outdoors in certain areas.

The Durham proposal also exempts children under 10.

Delegation pushes for extension of deadline

Update: Monday, Aug. 3, 5:01 p.m.

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is asking Congressional leaders to extend the period of time in which state and local governments can use CARES Act funds.

The current deadline to use those funds is Dec. 30, which the delegation says could be a tight turnaround for states like New Hampshire that are using federal funds for projects like broadband expansion.

Gov. Chris Sununu has allocated $50 million for broadband projects in underserved areas. But with the current federal deadline, those projects need to be built by the end of this year.

In its letter, the delegation said that an extension can help quote “time-intensive” projects like broadband come online and assist in the pandemic response and recovery.

1 additional death, 21 new cases reported Sunday

Update: Sunday, Aug. 2, 7:09 p.m.

State health officials announced an additional death and 21 new cases of coronavirus Sunday.

As of Aug. 2, 417 residents have died from COVID-19, and the total confirmed cases are now 6,634. The state said Sunday that a man from Hillsborough County, who was 60 or older, died from complications from the virus. 

New Hampshire's current active cases number 397, and current hospitalizations are at 24. 

- NHPR Staff

Update: Saturday, Aug. 1, 4:46 p.m.

New Hampshire announced one additional death related to the coronavirus on Saturday.

A female resident of Hillsborough County, who was 60 years old or older, died from the virus -- 416 residents have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Explore the Data: Tracking COVID-19 in New Hampshire.

The state also reported 35 new positive test results, bringing the total confirmed cases since March to 6,613. The current case tally is 403.

There were two new hospitalizations. Since the outbreak began, 695 Granite Staters have received hospital care due to COVID-19. Current hospitalizations are 22.

- NHPR Staff