Coronavirus Blog: Earlier Updates (June 16 - July 31) | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Blog: Earlier Updates (June 16 - July 31)

Jul 31, 2020

This post gathers NHPR's past updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire with a date range beginning June 16, 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NOTE: Some of the stories below may contained outdated guidance and stories that have since evolved.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:

42 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

Update: Friday, July 31, 6:01 p.m.

The state announced 42 new cases of COVID-19 and one new hospitalization on Friday. No new deaths were reported.

The total confirmed case number in New Hampshire is 6,583, with 5,772 of those residents recovered, according to N.H. Health and Human Services. The number of hospitalized patients dropped a notch, to 18 people.

Nine of the new cases had no known risk factor, indicative of continued community-transmission of the virus. Three of the new cases were individuals under 18. A geographic breakdown of the cases: 12 from Manchester, three from Nashua, 12 from other parts of Hillsborough County; 10 from Rockingham, two from Merrimack County, two from Strafford County, and one from Sullivan County.

- NHPR Staff

State investigating potential exposure at Raymond restaurant

Update: Friday, July 31, 3:59 p.m.

The state is investigating possible community exposure at Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery in Raymond after confirming a person in the restaurant's bar area tested positive for the coronavirus.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said Friday that the person was in the bar area July 24, July 25, and July 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The state recommends anyone who visited or sat at the bar during those times should call DHHS at (603) 271-4496.

The state had conducted contact tracing, but issued the notice Friday in the event other people were at the bar and may have been exposed to the virus.

DHHS has updated guidance on available testing in New Hampshire.

- NHPR Staff

Hassan backs a mask mandate in New Hampshire

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan is urging Gov. Chris Sununu to issue an order requiring people in New Hampshire to wear face masks, as every other state in New England has now done. Sununu has resisted issuing such a mandate, saying that Granite Staters are mostly doing it on their own and that it would be difficult to enforce.

Speaking on NHPR's The Exchange on Friday, Hassan said requiring face masks in spaces where social distancing isn't possible is about sending the right message.

Many businesses in the state now require customers to wear face masks. Several New Hampshire communities are considering their own mask ordinances.

- Michael Brindley

Portsmouth devotes more outdoor space for restaurants, retailers, artists

Update: Thursday, July 30, 11:17 a.m.

Portsmouth is preparing to open a new pop-up venue to devote more space for city restaurants and entertainment venues.

PopUp NH, which is sponsored by Service Credit Union, plans to open Aug. 7 at the Bridge Street parking lot in Portsmouth. (Editor's note: This blog item was updated to reflect the venue pushed back its opening from Aug. 1, to Aug. 7.)

The PopUp Portsmouth site, shown here at the Bridge Street parking lot at the corner of Congress Street and Maplewood Avenue, is to open Aug. 1-2.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Josh Denton is the chair of the board of directors of the pop-up. He hopes the initiative will help Portsmouth businesses recover from their losses during COVID-19.

"The two industries struggling a lot in downtown Portsmouth are restaurants. Likewise, many of our concert halls have been shut down. It looks like they're doing now as they would have any other year in the middle of January on a bad day."

Denton says organizers are working to minimize the threat of an outbreak by keeping people far apart and minimizing their need to move around. Tables will be 14 feet apart and customers will order their food from an app, while the music venue and the food court will be separated by fencing to control crowd size.

The pop-up area will continue weekly, Thursdays through Sundays, until the school year starts. Then it will be open Fridays through Sundays until October 31.

- Shehzil Zahid

Strawbery Banke announces temporary closure

Update: Thursday, July 30, 10:59 a.m.

The Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth has temporarily closed as a COVID-19 precaution.

The museum announced it would impose a self-quaraninte for 14 day after someone associated with a staff member recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Strawbery Banke delayed its opening this season until July 1, and proceeded with outdoor guided tours. Lawrence Yerdon, museum president and CEO, said in a statement that staff continue to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, and do not share offices. Staff members also report their temperatures before starting work shifts. Visitors are required to wear face coverings on the grounds.

- NHPR Staff

2 deaths, 17 new cases announced July 29

Update: Wednesday, July 29, 6:11 p.m.

State health officials announced two additional residents died Wednesday due to the coronavirus. The state identified them as a man and a woman from Hillsborough County, both of whom were 60 or older. Total deaths in New Hampshire from COVID-19 are now 411.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported 17 new cases, and no new hospitalizations. The current hospitalization count, as of Wednesday, was 22 people. Two of the new cases are residents under the age of 18, and one of the 17 cases had no identified risk factors.

The DHHS geographic breakdown of the new cases: nine are from Manchester, one from Nashua, five from Rockingham County, and one each from Belknap and Strafford counties.

Go Deeper: Explore interactive charts of COVID-19 datasets in the Granite State

Of 6,513 residents testing positive for the virus since the outbreak began, 5,710 have recovered.

- NHPR Staff  

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CMC announces layoffs

Update: Wednesday, July 29, 4:49 p.m.

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester announced a round of layoffs today as it struggles in the wake of the pandemic.

The hospital is laying off 71 employees and reducing the hours for 40 other workers. The facility says it expects to lose $40 million this fiscal year.

Hospitals around the state have been forced to furlough or lay off employees, as patients forego elective procedures or non-urgent medical care due to the coronavirus.

- Todd Bookman

More towns consider mask requirements

Several Upper Valley towns are considering mask ordinances, adding to the roster of towns across New Hampshire considering a mandate.

The city of Lebanon and towns of Hanover and Enfield will have public hearings early next week about the proposed mandate.

Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin says that, as more than 2,000 Dartmouth students arrive in town this fall, she’s hearing some concerns from residents.

“One population group that we’re continuing not so inclined to wear masks and continuing to gather in large groups without masks or social distancing is our young adult population.”

Griffin says there are currently more than 400 Dartmouth students living in Hanover, and that she’s seen many parties on off-campus properties throughout the summer.

Hanover’s proposed mask mandate would be enforced through a verbal warning, then a $200 fine, and then a court appearance for the third violation.

- Daniela Allee

State launches review of how nursing homes have handled outbreaks

Update: Tuesday, July 28, 2:31 p.m.

The state of New Hampshire has launched a two-week review of those long-term care facilities that have experienced coronavirus outbreaks.

Gov. Chris Sununu says the review will collect data and examine the center's ventilation systems and infrastructure to identify possible patterns. The goal is to mitigate any potential future increases or outbreaks.

"We're leaving now stone unturned," Lori Shibinette, N.H. Health Commissioner, said during a news conference today in Concord. The review began Monday.

The announcement comes as the state closed out an outbreak at Hillsborough County Nursing Home in Goffstown -- and reported a new one at Ridgewood Center in Bedford, where two residents and seven employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Shibinette said the state has officially closed outbreak cases and investigations at 28 facilities, with four currently being monitored.

Sununu announces funds to expand scholarships

Sununu said the state will direct $1.5 million in coronavirus relief funds to further support scholarships for Black students and students of color. The funding, part of what Sununu said was an idea put forward from minority business owners, recognizes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.

Latest numbers:

  • New Hampshire has confirmed 6,500 total infections since the outbreak began. Of 59 new infections announced Tuesday, more than 80 percent are from Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, said Dr. Ben Chan, state epidemiologist.
  • The state reported only one new hospitalization Tuesday.
  • Sununu said the state will likely see upticks in cases in upcoming months. He added that, as of Tuesday, only 17 or 18 towns in New Hampshire have more than five cases.

- NHPR Staff

Plymouth, Keene State cancel fall sports seasons

Update: Tuesday, July 28, 2:00 p.m.

Plymouth State University and Keene State College's fall athletic seasons are being canceled due to the coronavirus. This involves all regular season play and championships in the Little East Conference, following the conference's Presidents Council's unaminous vote.

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UNH, SNHU and Dartmouth all called off their upcoming seasons in recent weeks, as did Saint Anselm and Franklin Pierce University. Officials say each school will decide individually on how to hold any practice activities, under state and NCAA health guidelines. 

The conference says they’ll try to reschedule their fall contests for the spring, in basketball, golf and tennis.

A spokesperson for Keene State says the school is still exploring non-conference options.

- Annie Ropeik

Note: This item was updated from an earlier version.

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Growing number of younger residents being infected with COVID-19

Update: Monday, July 27, 9 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials reported seven new cases of COVID-19 in the state Monday, the lowest one-day number in well over a month.

The state's weeklong average in newly identified cases, though lower than a month ago, is at roughly the same level as in March, when the coronavirus pandemic was still ramping up.

Older residents and those in long-term care facilities continue to account for most of the state's deaths from COVID-19. But a growing number of young adults and children are also being infected.

Over the past week, 28 people under the age of 20 were diagnosed with COVID-19. The state also added another 70 cases among those in their 20s and 30s during the same time period; that’s the largest jump among any age group for which data is available.

At least 31 new infections were reported among healthcare workers in the last week, as well.

- NHPR Staff

Extreme heat affects testing sites

Update: Monday, July 27, 4:55 p.m.

Extreme heat events, like today’s high temperatures, are forcing some changes in COVID-19 testing in the state.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nashua has run a weekly testing site in the parking lot of St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Church. Justin Kates, the city’s director of emergency management, says hot weather has caused them to move that site into a parking garage.

“And so what that did was… it not only provided some cover from severe storms and other types of things that we deal with during the summer, but it also reduces the heat impact by about ten, fifteen degrees in some cases.”

Kates says the city will also cancel any COVID testing site if the National Weather Service declares a heat advisory.

There is currently a heat advisory for Southern and Central New Hampshire, with temperature reaching the mid to upper 90s today, possibly hitting 100 degrees in some locations.

- Alex McOwen

Update: Monday, July 27, 4:20 p.m.

Governor Chris Sununu says he will lift the state’s COVID-19 ban on reusable shopping bags. The policy has been in place since March. It stemmed from fears that bags brought from people’s homes could spread the virus in grocery stores.

Scientists say the bags are safe as long as people wash them between uses, and that face masks are a far more effective way of preventing new infections. New Hampshire is now the only New England state without a mask requirement.

Sununu says in a tweet that grocery shoppers are asked to be courteous to store workers by washing their bags. Further details on the end of the ban were not immediately made available.

- Annie Ropeik

State doesn't plan to make list of COVID outbreaks in schools

Update: Thursday, July 23, 4:45 p.m.

State public health officials say should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in New Hampshire schools, daycare facilities or child care centers, there is not an intention to make a public list of those places.

Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, says that public notification of an outbreak would depend on how contact tracing goes.

“If through contact tracing we get to a point where we’re not able to identify every close contact, then we would do a notification to the public, as we have done all along.”

Since the pandemic started, 412 people under age 19 have tested positive for COVID-19. in New Hampshire.

- Daniela Allee

Sununu says draft of new relief bill breaks promises made with CARES Act

Update: Thursday, July 23, 3:45 p.m.

Governor Sununu expressed frustration Thursday with the working proposals for a new congressional stimulus bill. He said federal officials said the funds from the original CARES Act were meant to go toward emergency relief efforts, and that future bills could be used to backfill state and local revenue shortfalls.

Sununu claims the current draft legislation abandons that promise to states, and now states the previously allocated money can be used to offset revenue losses.

He says states like New Hampshire, which had early outbreaks and have already spent a large chunk on supplies and equipment, are at a disadvantage to states still sitting on their money. He’s asking Congress to re-work its proposal.

- NHPR Staff

State creates new program for hospital visitors

Update: Thursday, July 23, 3:30 p.m.

Lori Shibinette, the state's Health and Human Services Commissioner, has announced a new program with New Hampshire hospitals that will allow non-COVID patients to designate one person as a support person who can visit the patient and assist with care decisions.

Visitor access to many acute care facilities has been greatly restricted during the pandemic. Shibinette says the hospitals can expand or reduce the number of family members or friends designated as “support persons” based on changing conditions in their area or their facilities.

Other news from today:

  • The state announced a new partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to take over the state's long-term care facility surveillance program. DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette says the intent is to increase the state's testing capacity.
  • Gov. Sununu announced a new application process for a program called Empower Youth,  which will provide funding to organizations looking to expand summer recreation and sports activities for kids.
  • Applicants for the state's self-employment fund will be notified of their eligibility by email tomorrow. $26 million dollars in benefits will be distributed, according to Gov. Sununu.

- NHPR Staff

State Says Testing Capacity Needs To Improve

Update: Wednesday, July 22, 6:45 a.m.

New Hampshire health officials say they hope to improve the state's ability to turn around COVID-19 tests but rising case numbers in other parts of the country are in part to blame for delays.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people, on average, are being tested for COVID-19 in New Hampshire every day. But with most tests going out of state to be processed, it can take a week for results to return.  Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday the state is working to speed things up, particularly as schools contemplate reopening, but national demand is making that hard.

Sununu said the state Department of Public Health can process between 300 and 500 tests per day, with a two-day turnaround. Dartmouth Hitchcock also processes tests, sometimes several hundred per day. The state says those results tend to get turned around in one day.

-Josh Rogers

State launches mask-wearing campaign aimed at young people

Update: Tuesday, July 21, 3:45 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu has announced a new public service announcement campaign to encourage mask wearing. The campaign will largely target digital platforms like Facebook and TikTok and includes messaging like “Don’t take a selfie. Take a test” and “This is the one time you don’t want to go viral.”

The outreach is targeting younger people, those statistically likely to be asymptomatic carriers.

The governor also announced a new mask distribution effort. He says the state will make hundreds of thousands of reusable cloth face coverings available to schools, HHS offices, and other local community entities.

- NHPR Staff

Other updates from this week:

  • Gov. Sununu signed HB 1623, which expands telemedicine in New Hampshire, allowing healthcare providers to be reimbursed at the same rate for remote appointments as for in-office visits.
  • The New Hampshire General Assistance and Preservation Fund targets businesses that did not qualify for other rounds of assistance. Applications for the $30 million dollars in funding are now open.
  • The state's Department of Revenue is reviewing about 8,500 applications from self-employed residents seeking help from the state's SELF Fund, funded through the federal CARES act. 

New Hampshire State House adopts face mask rules

Update: Tuesday, July 22, 2:00 p.m.

Anyone entering areas of the New Hampshire State House controlled by the Legislature must wear a face mask under a policy adopted today by the Legislature’s Joint Facilities Committee.

The policy exempts children under six or people with health conditions that preclude them from donning a face covering.

Terry Pfaff, the Legislature's chief operating officer, says there will be masks available for people who lack them.

“The goal is to have compliance with this, not to be punitive in any way. But if they don’t comply or refuse absolutely to comply with this policy – if there is not the exemption, or the age exemption -- they will be denied entry. That’s what this policy is stating," Pfaff says.

Masks remain voluntary in areas of the state house not under legislative control, like the governor’s office, executive council chambers, and secretary of state’s office. But legislative leaders say all people will need to wear a mask that covers the face and nose to enter or pass through the State House complex.

- Josh Rogers

New Long-Term-Care Outbreaks Still Emerging in N.H.

Update: Monday, July 20, 8:50 p.m.

Just days after state officials said they had closed out all but a few COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities, New Hampshire’s top health official said Monday that new outbreaks are still emerging.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said she took last week off work and thought the state would be on track move towards a new phase of managing COVID-19 at long-term care facilities by the time she returned. But that isn’t the case.

“I was hoping to come back and see maybe two or three facilities at the end of their outbreaks, still on our outbreak list, and maybe start thinking about how do we do indoor visitation,” Shibinette said at a meeting of the state Commission on Aging. “But I came back today and our list is as long as it was when I left and there’s four or five new facilities added.”

State officials declined to provide additional details on the new outbreaks and said more information would be provided at a Tuesday press briefing.

Market Basket now requiring customers to wear masks

Update: Monday, July 20, 1:50 p.m.

A sign directs shoppers to go one way down an aisle in the Rye, N.H. Market Basket
Credit Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Starting Monday, a major New Hampshire grocery store chain is joining other big brands in requiring face masks.

Customers at Market Basket are required to wear masks or face coverings moving forward. Shoppers without masks can get them at each store's customer service desk. Market Basket follows the lead of other chains that have implement mask rules, including CVS, Walmart, and Kohl's.

- Shehzil Zahid

Survey: Revenue for substance abuse treatment providers has taken a hit during pandemic

Update:  Monday, July 20, 8:30 a.m.

A new survey from a New Hampshire non-profit shows that income for substance use treatment and recovery providers had decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group New Futures received responses from 23 organizations that provide substance use treatment about how COVID has affected revenue, costs and staff.

About 80 percent of survey respondents said they experienced an overall decrease in revenue since March – with a decrease in Medicaid billing accounting for nearly all the total decrease from insurance billed revenue. Most respondents to the survey say that they’ve been unable to hire staff during this time, and several had to lay off employees.

New Futures is asking the Governor’s office handling coronavirus relief money to allocate $15 to $18 million for treatment centers in the state. The non-profit says this would cover lost billed income and reimbursement costs for technology and PPE.

- Daniela Allee

Governor, congressional delegation seek National Guard role extended

Update: Friday, July 17, 5:14 p.m.

New Hampshire's congressional delegation has joined the governor in asking to extend the National Guard's role in the state's coronavirus response.

They wrote to the Secretary of Defense asking to extend the funding authorization that lets the Guard pitch in.

Guard members have been staffing COVID-19 testing sites and contact tracing centers, and assisting with food banks, unemployment call centers, and other response efforts.

The delegation's letter Friday echoes a request from Gov. Chris Sununu to President Trump earlier this month.

Sununu wants to be able to keep on up to 400 guard members through the end of the year.

He had to ask in May for that authorization to extend through September.

- Annie Ropeik

26 new cases, 2 new hospitalizations

State health officials announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, July 17, bringing the state's total confirmed number of cases to 6,165. There were no new deaths reported. 

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

Of the new cases, two individuals were under 18. The new cases geographic breakdown: Six from Manchester, four from Nashua, eight from Hillsborough County not including the state's largest cities, four from Rockingham County, two from Carroll County, and one resident each from Grafton and Merrimack counties. Seven of the new cases had no identified risk factor, indicating community-based transmission, according to the New Hampshire Division of Public Health.

The state reported two new hospitalizations, with the current hospitalization number statewide being 24. 

- NHPR Staff

N.H. universities, colleges canceling fall sports due to COVID

Update: Friday, July 17, 3:09 p.m.

More college athletics are being canceled in New Hampshire for the fall due to COVID-19. UNH, SNHU and others have just announced their decisions.

UNH says is postponing the fall seasons for men and women's soccer and cross country, along with football, field hockey and women's volleyball.

They are still planning how practices and other on-campus activities will take place. They will decide in early fall whether winter sports, including basketball and hockey, will proceed.

Saint Anselm College, Franklin Pierce and Southern New Hampshire Universities are also canceling fall competitions, as has the entire Northeast-10 Conference in which they compete.

Those schools say they hope to play the canceled seasons in the spring, if possible. Plans for team practices and other activities will be left to the individual schools, under NCAA and state guidelines.

- Annie Ropeik

Surge in other states delaying some N.H. tests

Update: July 16, 5:19 p.m.

A surge in coronavirus cases in nearly every other state in the country is delaying testing times in New Hampshire, one of the few states not experiencing a spike in confirmed cases in recent weeks.

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Approximately 70% of the swabs taken in New Hampshire are sent to labs in other states for COVID-19 analysis. Those labs, however, are struggling under a surge in demand.

“The two to three day turnaround times that we were seeing about a month ago have really exacerbated to seven, and sometimes almost up to 10 days because not of what is happening in New Hampshire, but what’s happening in the rest of the country,” Gov. Chris Sununu said during a press conference Thursday.

Public health officials say that all tests performed on residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes are processed by the state’s local public health lab, where the turn-around time for results remains three days.

- Todd Bookman

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State to provide financial support for foster care providers

Update: Thursday, July 16, 4:31 p.m.

Foster parents in New Hampshire will receive additional financial support as they care for children who have suffered abuse or neglect.

The state announced it will use federal CARES Act money to give $500 per child to caregivers.

The money is aimed at providing foster children with additional socialization and recreational activities this summer. Applications will be released next week.

- Todd Bookman

Child care providers question state's reopening guidance

Update: Thursday, July 16, 4:21 p.m.

Some New Hampshire child care workers are asking the state to revisit their industry’s reopening guidelines, following the new guidance for schools released Tuesday.

Kim McKenney, director of Easterseals Child Development Center in Manchester says the public health protocols that day cares are being asked to follow are much stricter than those for schools.

“They’re not limiting their room to 10 individuals. They’re going to have 20 kids in a room," she says. "So why is it ok for school-aged kids to be in a larger group. Why are we being limited?”

The state’s back-to-school guidance does not specifically limit class size, although some districts may choose to do so on their own.

- Alex McOwen

N.H. state university system gets another $19 million

Update: Thursday, July 16, 3:33 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced the state is giving a $19 million grant to the state university system to help respond to coronavirus concerns and keep students safe upon their return to campus. The state previously directed $10 million to the University System of New Hampshire from the federal CARES Act.

The latest grant will go toward what the respective universities and colleges need to support operations and public health, including testing and personal protective gear. 

Sununu also said $6 million in new funding will go to the community college system of New Hampshire for tuition support - for existing students or new students.

The governor  made the announcement during a news conference Thursday in Concord. Other news items addressed include:

  • The "Self-Employed Livelihood Fund" application period closes Friday, July 17. Sununu said the state has received nearly 7,000 applications so far.
  • 1 additional resident has died from COVID-19. The state reported 27 new cases.
  • The state has closed two more outbreaks at long-term care facilities: Bedford Hills and Holly Cross; outbreaks at long-term care centers are down to three: Birch Hill, Greenbriar, and Hillsborough County nursing home.

- NHPR Staff

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2 additional deaths, 24 new cases

 Update: Wednesday, July 15 , 7:27 p.m.

Two more residents died from COVID-19 on Wednesday, state health officials announced.

There are now a total of 6,113 confirmed cases and 394 overall deaths, according to the New Hampshire  Department of Health and Human Services. The state reported 24 new positive test results July 15. Go Deeper: Explore interactive data graphics of COVID in New Hampshire.

There were three new hospitalizations, and the current hospitalizations are 22 residents, as of Wednesday.

The two latest deaths were two residents of Hillsborough County, both women 60 and older. 

Four of the new cases had no identified risk factors. Most of the remaining cases had close contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, recently traveled, or are associated with a known outbreak. The state says community-based transmission continues to occur each of the state's 10 counties.

Of the new cases, two individuals are under 18. Eight cases were reported from Manchester, and two from Nashua, with four others from Hillsborough County. 

- NHPR Staff

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Sununu says N.H. wants to build its PPE wares

 Update: Wednesday, July 15, 1:09 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says he wants the state to have a two-month stock pile of PPE on hand at any given time in the event of a surge of COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire.

At a press conference Tuesday, Sununu said there are signs of improvement in the economy and in COVID-19 cases, but there’s still a long road ahead as New Hampshire continues to respond to the pandemic.

“This is not a mission accomplished moment, not by any means. We are right in the middle of a very long marathon.”

Sununu said state has that two-month stockpile of masks and gowns on hand, but is behind its target of having half a million gloves in stockpile.

- Daniela Allee

N.H. releases guidance for reopening schools this fall

Update: Tuesday, July 14, 3:45 p.m.

NOTE: This is a developing story and will be updated shortly

Gov. Chris Sununu unveiled back-to-school guidance for New Hampshire schools to reopen this fall. (Click here or scroll down to read the guidance document.)

New N.H. School Reopening Guidelines Leave Major Decisions to Local Districts

Professional development, class size, classroom health screening, and mask guidance are part of what Sununu describes as a "flexible" and "dynamic" document that provides guidance for districts to reopen or operate under hybrid learning models. 

"Schools can choose to be in a remote learning environment," the governor said.

"This entire document has to be practical. It has to be manageable," Sununu said at a news conference in Concord.

Face masks or cloth face coverings will not be mandated, but they will be encouraged, he said.

It spells out best practices for hygiene and facility cleaning or disinfection, and for use of common areas, including cafeterias, to limit crowding. Schools are advised to establish procedures to screen staff, students, and visitors for potential symptoms.

Onsite after-school day care for students of each school can be considered by school districts.

- NHPR Staff

Read the guidance here:

Portsmouth councilors back mask resolution

City councilors in Portsmouth passed a resolution Monday encouraging the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The resolution doesn’t apply to anyone who can’t wear a face mask for health-related reasons. Children under the age of 6 aren't required to wear one either.

While there are no fines or penalties if you don’t wear a mask, the council hopes the resolution sends a message of support to protect the city’s health.

- Shehzil Zahid 

Judge rules against man challenging Nashua's mask rules

Update: Monday, July 13, 5:45 p.m.

A judge says Nashua’s face-covering ordinance and the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency will stand while they’re being challenged in court.

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Nashua resident Andrew Cooper had filed a request for a preliminary injunction as part of his lawsuit seeing to end Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency declaration and the city’s rules requiring members of the public to wear face masks when entering any business, work site or government building.

He argued that Sununu lacked the authority to make the declaration because “there is no ‘emergency’ in New Hampshire,” a claim that Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn said Monday defied common sense.

- Associated Press

N.H. mayors make plans for next school year despite no official state announcement

Update: Monday, July 13, 5:10 p.m.

As New Hampshire parents and students wait for Gov. Chris Sununu to make an official announcement about how and whether the state's schools will open next year, mayors across the state are already making plans for their own districts.

Click or tap here to read the story from NHPR.

COVID cases top 6,000 in N.H.

Update: Saturday, July 11, 5:17 p.m.

With 33 new positive test results, coronavirus cases in New Hampshire topped 6,000 Saturday.

One additional death and four new hospitalizations were announced. A woman older than 60 from Hillsborough County died from COVID-19, becoming the 391st resident to die from the virus, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

To date, 5,013 of the residents to test positive have recovered. 

- NHPR Staff

N.H. deaths rise to 390

Update: Friday, July 10, 5:20 p.m.

Three more Granite Staters have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths here to 390.

New Hampshire health officials say the three residents were 60 and older. Two lived in Hillsborough County, and one was from Belknap County.

The state reported 18 new cases. Of the total 5,991 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, 4,897 people have recovered. Four new hospitalizations were announced, as the number of current hospitalized patients decreased to 20.

- NHPR Staff

Snowmobile event 'Grass Drags' canceled due to COVID

Update: Friday, July 10, 2:39 p.m.

Organizers of a three-day snowmobile event known as the Grass Drags announced today the annual fall event is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was scheduled for Oct. 9-11. But town officials in Fremont expressed concern about possible transmission of COVID-19.

The event organized by the N.H. Snowmobile Association is also known as the Race Into Winter Grass Drags. Participants operate their snowmobiles on grass, as the name entails, and skimming across water on their machines.

- Dan Tuohy

1 additional death, 21 new cases

Update: Thursday, July 9, 6 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials announced one additional COVID-19 death on Thursday, a woman over 60 from Hillsborough County. There have been 387 deaths from coronavirus.

The state reported 21 new cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 5,973. Of those, 81 percent, or 4,831 residents, have recovered.

Three of the new cases require hospital care. The current hospitalization number is 24 patients. 

- NHPR Staff

Mobile food bank traveling to Lakes Region

Update: Thursday, July 9, 4:28 p.m.

A mobile food pantry is traveling through the Lakes Region to help families put food on the table.

The New Hampshire Food Bank and Army National Guard are hosting a food pantry Friday at Laconia Middle School. The pantry will start at 1 p.m. and finish at 3 p.m.

The Food Bank says that since the spread of COVID-19, one in seven people in the state don’t know where their next meal will come from.

The mobile pantry will also drive through Manchester and Nashua in the coming weeks. More information can be found on nhfoodbank.org.

- Shehzil Zahid

Catholic schools to resume classroom instruction in fall

Update: Thursday, July 9, 4:10 p.m.

Catholic schools in New Hampshire will resume classroom learning in the fall. The Diocese of Manchester is also announcing a new program to encourage students to transfer to their schools.

The Transfer Incentive Program gives transfer students from non-Catholic schools grants off tuition.

Transfer students from grades 1-8 will receive $1500 for the first two years of school, while students from grades 9-12 will receive $3000. The program is not need-based and will run July 1 - August 31.

- Shehzil Zahid

5,200 filed unemployment claims last week

Update: Thursday, July 9, 12:31 p.m.

Another 5,200 residents filed unemployment claims last week, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

That’s a slight uptick from the previous week, when 4,800 New Hampshire workers filed new claims.

The number of unemployed workers requesting benefits had been declining since it peaked in early April at around 40,000 first time filings.

- NHPR Staff

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State Library reopening with restrictions

New Hampshire's State Library is re-opening to the public by appointment only. The library will allow visitors on weekdays, in half-hour and hour-long increments.

They say the scheduling will leave time for cleaning between appointments. Use of masks and physical distancing will also be enforced.

State officials say walk-up appointments may be accommodated, but they encourage people to schedule visits in advance.

The library offers genealogical records, microfilm and other research materials, with more than 600 thousand items in its catalog.

- NHPR Staff

2 additional deaths, 20 new cases in N.H.

Update: Wednesday, July 8, 5:17 p.m.

State health officials have announced two additional deaths from coronavirus. In New Hampshire, 386 residents have now died from the virus. The deaths Wednesday were two women, age 60 and older, from Hillsborough County.

The state reported 20 new cases and one new hospitalization. It continues to record a decrease in patients receiving hospital care; as of July 8, current hospitalizations numbered 22 - the lowest since mid-March. 

Of the overall confirmed cases in the state, 81 percent of the patients have recovered, the state says.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. officially closes another nursing home outbreak; 6 remain

Update: Tuesday, July 7, 3:14 p.m.

New Hampshire Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced that an outbreak at Bedford Nursing and Rehabilitation is officially closed. There remain six outbreaks at long-term care facilities. 

Long-term care homes have been largely impacted by COVID-19, with more than 80% of deaths linked to these facilities. On Tuesday, Shibinette announced two additional coronavirus deaths; both were at long-term care facilities.

The state announced 19 new positive test results for the coronavirus, which brings the total confirmed cases to 5,932. There are three new hospitalizations.

Face Mask Questions

Gov. Chris Sununu said he encourages residents and visitors to wear face masks when out in public, and in situations where social distancing is impossible. And he says that remains the advice for anyone attending President Trump's rally Saturday in Portsmouth.

Sununu says he will be wearing a mask when he meets the president.

“We hear from the Trump campaign that they’ll be there wearing masks as well," he said during a news conference Tuesday in Concord.

- NHPR Staff

COVID-19 impacts substance abuse, disorder recovery efforts

Update: Tuesday, July 7, 2:10 p.m.

Specialists in the substance use recovery field say the pandemic is hitting them and their clients hard.

On a call Tuesday with Senator Maggie Hassan, Michelle Merritt, of the advocacy group New Futures, said many substance use disorder providers in New Hampshire have received COVID relief funds, but they are still struggling to support their staff and clients.

“Over the coming months it's really going to be critical to make sure our provider system which again is young and fragile has some protection,” Merritt says.

Providers say they need help connecting their clients to basics like housing, food, and phones to help them stay connected during the pandemic and avoid relapse.

- Sarah Gibson

New Hampshire reports 21 new COVID-19 cases; one more death

Update: Monday, July 6, 5:25 p.m.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that a resident of Rockingham County has died from COVID-19. The patient, who was identified as a female over 60, is the 382nd New Hampshire resident to succumb to the coronavirus since the outbreak began.

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The state also announced 21 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the state's total cases to 5,914. Several cases are still under investigation, the state says. The results of those investigations will be included in future updates.

- NHPR Staff

Related: Explore the data of COVID-19 in N.H.

5 more deaths, 43 new cases in New Hampshire

Update: Sunday, July 5, 7:00 p.m.  

New Hampshire health officials reported five new deaths from COVID-19, bringing New Hampshire's total deaths to 381. 

The state also reported 43 new cases, bringing New Hampshire's total positive corononavirus test results to 5,897.

- NHPR Staff

4 additional deaths: 380 total deaths in N.H.

Update: Saturday, July 4, 7 p.m.

State health officials reported four additional deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing New Hampshire's total deaths to 380. 

Overall confirmed infections are 5,871, up from 5,857 reported on July 3. The current coronavirus case tally is 824.

The current hospitalization bed count registered at 25 on July 4. To date, 569 residents have required hospital care at some point for coronavirus. Go Deeper: Explore the data of COVID-19 in N.H.

- NHPR Staff

1 additional death, 38 new cases reported July 3

Update: Friday, July 3, 5:23 p.m.

A woman from Hillsborough County has died from COVID-19, state health officials announced Friday. The resident, who was 60 or older, was the 376th Granite Stater to die from the coronavirus.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services also reported 38 new cases, bringing the state's total confirmed cases to 5,857.

Two new coronavirus hospitalizations were also identified, bringing the current total to 27 people. That's down from a high of more than 120 hospitalizations in May.

- NHPR Staff

State replacing defective PPE sent to N.H. nursing homes

Update: Friday, July 3, 8:16 a.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says the state has replaced defective personal protective equipment that was shipped to some nursing homes in New Hampshire from the federal government.

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Sununu said the state has been working with nursing homes to make up for the defective PPE that the feds sent, which included medical gowns without armholes and gloves too small to use.

“We're making sure that as soon as we hear of those incidences, we're replacing it out of our own stockpile,” he said.

State public health officials also announced Thursday that communal dining and recreation can resume in long-term care facilities in certain counties. Facilities in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, which have been hardest hit, will not be allowed to take that step.

Seven long term care facilities in New Hampshire still have active outbreaks of COVID-19.

- Jason Moon

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Sununu lifts quarantine for lodgings for N.E. residents

Update: Thursday, July 2, 3:11 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu is continuing to relax coronavirus restrictions in the state.

Sununu on Thursday announced visitors from other New England states will no longer be asked to quarantine for two weeks.

Hospitals in the state will also be allowed to resume procedures that are not time-sensitive.

The moves come as state public health officials announced 21 new COVID-19 cases and 2 new deaths in New Hampshire.

The 14-day quarantine requirement remains in effect for residents from states outside New England. Sununu said lifting the restriction was made in cooperation with neighboring states, and reports of declining cases. Read the "Safer at Home" guidance for hotels

The state has adapted its restrictions on lodgings since the early days of the pandemic, including an emergency order restricting hotels and similar businesses to provide lodging for vulnerable populations or essential workers.

- Jason Moon

N.H. COVID-19 Deaths Rise to 375

State health officials announced two additional deaths and 21 new cases of coronavirus Thursday. As of July 2, 375 residents have died from COVID-19. Dr. Ben Chan, state epidemiologist, said the two deaths were associated with long-term care facilities.

The total confirmed cases climbed to 5,822, but Chan said New Hampshire statistics continue to show promising signs. The state reported two new hospitalizations, the first announced in four or five days, and new cases have gradually declined over the past month, according to Chan.

The U.S. at large is seeing a surge in infections, but that is not the case in New Hampshire.

The 375 deaths in the state reflects the impact COVID-19 has on more vulnerable populations, Chan said.

He encouraged residents to continue to take precautions to limit possible transmission, such as maintaining social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings.

Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced the state has officially closed the outbreak at Villa Crest Nursing and Retirement Center in Manchester.

The state has identified seven current outbreaks at long-term care facilities, and it has closed 23 outbreaks since the beginning of March.

- NHPR Staff

Back-to-school guidance coming soon

 Update: Thursday, July 2, 8 a.m.

A task force convened by the New Hampshire Department of Education to determine how schools should re-open in the fall has sent their final recommendations to Gov. Chris Sununu.

The task force says districts should implement professional development on remote learning, and be prepared to provide remote instruction or a remote/in-person combination, depending on the circumstances.

The recommendations leave many of the final decisions - such as how to conduct screenings of staff and students, and whether to open schools back up - to individual districts.

Sununu is expected to give official guidance to schools by mid July.

- Sarah Gibson

Consumer Advocate Wants Rulemaking on Plan to End Utility Shutoff Ban

Annual Shrine Game canceled

The annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl has been canceled this summer because of the pandemic.

It would have been the 67th summer football game between two all star teams of high school seniors from New Hampshire and Vermont.

The annual event is one of 30 similar games across the country that raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

The Shrine Board met Tuesday night and announced on Facebook that while disappointing, the decision was in the best interest of all parties.

- Lauren Chooljian

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Confirmed cases in N.H. now 5,802

Update: Wednesday, July 1, 5:30 p.m.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced 20 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state Wednesday. There are now 5,802 confirmed cases, 77% of which have recovered from the coronavirus.

There were no new hospitalizations from the virus. The current number of patients in the hospital stands at 32.

There were also two more deaths linked to the illness announced July 1 - two women from Hillsborough County. The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state is 373.

- NHPR Staff

Lawmakers seek UNH COVID-support funds

Update: Wednesday, July 1, 4:44 p.m.

A group of lawmakers is recommending that Gov. Chris Sununu send $10 million to the University System of New Hampshire, and $5 million to community colleges, to help them operate safely next year.

The money would come from federal CARES Act funds for New Hampshire that are set aside for higher education.

USNH has already received its first installment of $10 million to cover COVID-related expenses, including converting spring and summer classes to online formats, and training teachers.

It says it would use the next $10 million for enhanced cleaning and safety measures this fall, and for developing a testing lab with a capacity to process 2,000 tests per day.

- Sarah Gibson 

COVID-19 blows up state's revenue plan

Update: Tuesday, June 30, 5:59 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu is predicting a significant drop in state revenues due to COVID-19 -- to the tune of over half a billion dollars in the current budget.

Sununu says he'll oppose any efforts to raise taxes to make up for the shortfall, but he’s asked every state department to make cutbacks.

“Eliminating discretionary spending, at least until we see what might be coming out of the federal government," he said. "Putting a hold on any new capital projects that might be beginning in the next month or so. Let’s just put a hold on that. Doesn’t mean we’re canceling the projects, but we’re just trying to be smart with our cash management.”

Sununu says he’s also put a hiring freeze in place.

Under current law, the state cannot use existing federal CARES Act funds to make up for revenue shortfalls. Sununu repeated calls for Congress to produce additional relief that helps states financially.

- Alex McOwen

Relief funds made available as eviction moratorium ends

Update: Tuesday, June 30, 3:40 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced that $35 million in federal CARES Act money is being made available to provide an "off ramp" for New Hampshire residents facing housing insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state's moratorium on evictions ends tomorrow, July 1. (Related story: 'Tsunami of Evictions' Could Follow N.H.'s Eviction Ban')

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The funds will be accessible through two programs: grants distributed to households and a short-term rent assistance program, both administered through the state's Community Action Programs. Residents interested in applying should visit capnh.org or dial 2-1-1.

An order preventing utility shut-offs as a result of non-payment of bills is set to expire on July 15.

The application for that assistance opened Tuesday. Greg Schnieder of Southern New Hampshire Services says his phone has been ringing off the hook.

“So I think we had a couple of hundred applicants, or you know potential applicants, they may not all follow through with it, or people who expressed an interest anyway and needed help. I couldn’t tell you how many more have come in since then,” he said.

The funding will also go to help those who owe money on utility bills.

- NHPR Staff

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Outbreaks at three nursing homes closed

The state's Department of Health and Human Services is closing the books on three COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state: at Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Manchester, The Courville at Manchester, and the Crestwood Center in Milford. 

DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette made the announcement Tuesday. Four new COVID-19 deaths - all patients who were residents of long-term care facilities on the state - were also announced.

- NHPR Staff

Relief Funds for Hospitals, Medical Providers

Governor Sununu also announced disbursements for hospitals and medical providers that have shouldered financial losses since March.

Nearly 68 long-term care facilities will receive $10.8 million, and 134 smaller organizations and providers are getting $8.8 million from the emergency health care system relief fund.

And eight additional hospitals are receiving funds.

Credit Governor's Office

N.H. courts to resume jury trials

Update: Tuesday, June 30, 2:19 p.m.

New Hampshire courts will soon resume jury trials that were sidelined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Judicial branch officials announced Tuesday that jury trials would gradually resume, starting in Cheshire County. The state expects to hold a pilot jury in August.

New Hampshire Superior Courts put on hold nearly 1,000 jury trials. All criminal and civil trials were canceled April 16. The courts have a COVID-19 resource guide, and requirements, such as cloth face coverings.

- NHPR Staff

Tourism picking up in New Hampshire, but travel habits changing

Update: Monday, June 29, 4:15 p.m.

As the economy reopens, leaders from New Hampshire’s tourism industry say they’re starting to see more visitors, but not as many as they would have seen before COVID-19.

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Christopher Bellis, owner of the Cranmore Inn in North Conway, says people’s travel habits are changing.

“There’s definitely a lot more day trippers who are coming up. How people are choosing to travel I believe is different this year," he says. "And I believe more people are doing campgrounds and Airbnbs where they feel somehow more protected.”

Bellis says about a third of his guests are New Hampshire residents, and the rest are coming from out of state.

Industry leaders say they’re expecting this coming July 4th weekend to be the busiest since reopening earlier this month.

- Alex McOwen

Hotels, lodgings can be 100% open today

Update: Monday, June 29, 8:20 a.m.

Some of the final pieces of the New Hampshire economy are allowed to reopen today, after the state ordered them closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Starting June 29, movie theaters can begin screening indoors again, although, many theaters, including independent houses, aren’t reopening just yet.

Performing arts venues are also allowed to begin staging events starting today. Like at the movies, occupancy is limited to 50%. Amusement parks in the state can reopen, as well, but only at 25% of capacity.

And overnight camps for kids are allowed to start their summers, but most camps are taking a pass and will remain closed for the season.

Sununu announced last week that hotels and lodgings could also reopen June 29 at 100 percent, under social distancing guidelines.

- Todd Bookman

31 new positive test results Sunday

Update: Sunday, June 28, 5:09 p.m.

The state announced three new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Sunday, but the current number of hospitalizations remains at one of its lowest points at 37. 

New Hampshire health officials report 31 new cases. The total identified coronavirus cases are now 5,747. Of those, 4,412, or 77 percent, have recovered.

The new cases Sunday include 14 residents of Manchester, and five residents of Nashua.

- NHPR Staff

51 new cases, 2 additional deaths

Update: Saturday, June 27, 5:59 p.m.

Another two residents have died from coronavirus.

State health officials say two women from Hillsborough County, who were 60 years old or older, died from the virus. There have now been 367 deaths in New Hampshire from COVID-19.

The state on June 27 also announced 51 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 5,717. Of the total caseload, 77 percent have recovered from the infection.

Twenty-one of the new cases were from testing linked to a known outbreak at Greenbriar Healthcare in Nashua, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. sees 8 additional COVID-19 deaths

Update: Friday, June 26, 5:31 p.m.

New Hampshire announced eight new deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the state's total number of deaths to 365.

There are 34 new positive cases of COVID. Most of those are in Hillsborough, Merrimack and Rockingham counties.

The state says three of those cases had no identified risk factors, but most of the new cases had close contact with an infected person or are associated with an outbreak setting.

Current hospitalizations continued to drop - to 32 on Friday. Of 5,671 total cases identified since March, 4,381, or 77 percent, have recovered.

- Daniela Allee

Governor issues fifth extension of state emergency order

Update: Friday, June 26, 5:11 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday issued a fifth extension to the state emergency declaration

The state of emergency is extended for another 21 days.

The first declaration was issued March 13, which was the same day the federal declaration was made. The governor has issued more than 55 emergency orders so far, as the state is now reopening most sectors of the economy, under state guidelines for public health.

- Dan Tuohy

N.H. has a new fund for self-employed residents

Update: Thursday, June 25, 3:21 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced a new relief effort for self-employed residents Thursday. Called SELF, the Self-Employment Livelihood Fund will be capped at $50,000 for qualifying business people.

Applications will be accepted from July 6 to July 17.

The idea for the fund comes from the Main Street Relief Fund, a $400 million fund to help small businesses in New Hampshire, using CARES Act funding.

Scores of self-employed individuals applied for the Main Street fund, but were not eligible for that recovery aid. Sununu said criteria will include:

  • self-employed businesses must be located in New Hampshire,
  • the owners must be the only employees, and it must be a for-profit business,
  • the business cannot be permanently closed - not including temporary closure due to COVID-19;
  • it cannot be in bankruptcy,
  • the business must have had gross receipts in 2019 of less than $1 million.

Sununu on Thursday also announced $1.5 million in CARES Act funding to be awarded to Volunteer NH. And the state on Monday, June 29, will notify about 600 childcare and early childhood programs and providers $15 million in funds. The money will go toward family childcare, after-school programs, recreation, and summer camps.

Hotel Update: Sununu said New Hampshire hotels and campgrounds will be allowed to operate at 100 percent occupancy, starting Monday, June 29. The guideline for out-of-state visitors to self-attest they quarantined for 14 days will remain in place.

10 More Deaths: Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced 10 additional deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday. Eight of the deceased residents were from long-term care facilities.

Shibinette reported 40 new cases, which brings the total confirmed cases to 5,638.

An estimated 137,000 residents have been tested for coronavirus in the state.

- NHPR Staff

NASCAR event at Loudon will allow fans

Update: Thursday, June 25, 3:16 p.m.

The NASCAR Race originally scheduled for July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been postponed to August. The NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will be Sunday, August 2.

Gov. Chris Sununu has approved a plan that directs attendees to follow social distancing requirements and other protocols. The wearing of masks is quote "highly encouraged."

Cash will not be accepted at this event, only card and digital payments.

Camping around the track, which usually begins a week before the race, will not be allowed.

- Peter Biello

N.H. unemployment rate: 14.5%

Update: Thursday, June 25, 11:12 a.m.

Another 5,200 people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits in New Hampshire last week, according to new data from the U.S. Labor Department.

That’s significantly lower from the early stages of the pandemic, when more than 40,000 residents filed initial claims in a single week.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 14.5 percent.

That’s higher than in neighboring Vermont and Maine, where the unemployment rates are 12.7 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

- Todd Bookman

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Merrimack H.S. staff member tested positive for COVID-19

Update: Thursday, June 25, 11:09 a.m.

A staff member who volunteered at Merrimack High School’s outdoor graduation two weeks ago has tested positive for COVID-19.

The district’s superintendent shared the news with families Wednesday night. The district says the state health department has contacted other staff who came within 6 feet of the staff member, unmasked, for longer than 10 minutes.

The superintendent says the infected staff member did not have unsafe contact with any graduate or family member of a graduate.

The district did not respond to requests for more information about when the staff member was tested, and how long the district has known about the positive test results.

- Sarah Gibson

Deerfield Fair canceled

Update: Thursday, June 25, 9:53 a.m.

Public health concerns around potential COVID-19 transmission has led to the cancellation of the Deerfield Fair, which bills itself as New England's oldest family fair.

"At this time, we do not feel that it would be possible to provide our valued guests and supporters with a safe and traditional fair experience," the fair's board of directors said in a statement. "The Deerfield Fair without 4-H, FFA, amusement rides, and most of our vendors and exhibitors would not be the annual family event that our community looks forward to. We understand that this is disappointing news, and we share in your sadness."

- NHPR Staff

N.H. announces 4 additional deaths, 27 new cases

Update: Wednesday, June 24, 6:09 p.m.

State health officials announced four additional deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday. The total number of deaths from COVID-19 is now 347.

The four residents were all 60 years old or older; two lived in Hillsborough County and two in Rockingham County.

With 27 new positive test results, New Hampshire's total case count is 5,598. Nearly 80 percent, or 4,358 people infected, have recovered from the virus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

No new hospitalizations were announced. 

- NHPR Staff

COVID also impacts housing for those in recovery

Update: Tuesday, June 23, 6:01 p.m.

COVID-19 equity task force members are asking Gov. Chris Sununu to help fund housing for people in recovery.

Members of the task force say many people with mental health disorders or substance addictions have lost their jobs during the pandemic and aren't able to afford rent at recovery houses, making it hard for those residences to survive.

Kim Bock is the executive director at New Hampshire Coalition of Recovery Residences.

"These houses are run by very caring individuals who would do anything to try and keep this house running, whatever that house happens to be. But finances are a reality and like every other small business in New Hampshire, if they can’t make the finances work, they’ll have to close.”

So far, six recovery houses in the state have closed. Bock says houses may need as much as $1.5 million in funding for rental assistance and capacity building.

- Shehzil Zahid

New funds to support veterans, children, and those with mental health and drug problems

Update: Tuesday, June 23, 3:20 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced new funding allocations Tuesday to support children's programs, veterans, and residents in need of mental health services and substance abuse help. The money from the federal CARES Act:

  • $5 million for youth-focused programs
  • $6 million for mental health and substance use disorder
  • $7 million for veterans assistance, including services for vets with housing needs.  

The governor also said that a $300 weekly stipend to frontline workers from a long-term care stabilization fund would be extended until July 31. The benefits have gone to 23,000 workers to date, and $30 million in funds have been disbursed.

N.H. Reports 4 Additional Deaths

State epidemiologist Ben Chan said four additional residents have died from COVID-19. All four were residents of long-term care facilities.

There have now been 343 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in New Hampshire.

The state reported 15 new cases, for a total of 5,571 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

Chan says state data continues to show promising trends, including decreases in the number of cases and hospitalizations. The state reported zero new hospitalizations Tuesday. Regardless, he urged Granite Staters to continue to practice social distancing and to wear cloth face coverings when in public, in places where one cannot maintain a 6-foot area from others.

"Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette," he said.

Chan says the state has not seen a spike in coronavirus cases stemming from recent protests for racial justice in cities like Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth.

- NHPR Staff

Hotline aims to help unemployed residents find temporary health insurance

Update: Monday, June 22, 5:50 p.m.

Three New Hampshire hospitals have set up a free hotline to help people who are unemployed because of COVID-19 find temporary health insurance.

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Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Parkland Medical Center and Portsmouth Regional Hospital are all part of the HCA hospital network, which is offering this service.

Hotline advisors can walk people through a number of different options, including how to enroll in state and federal health insurance exchanges or apply for Medicaid.

- Daniela Allee

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Some day camps open in New Hampshire...and some are holding off

Update: Monday, June 23, 10:45 a.m.

New Hampshire’s day camps are allowed to open today, but some won’t be bringing kids back until later in the season. But how are towns and cities making that call?

Click here to get the story from NHPR's Alex McOwen.

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Dept. of Ed issues guidelines for school summer programs

Update: Friday, June 19, 2:50 p.m.

The New Hampshire Department of Education is issuing guidance for local schools to open their buildings for in-school summer programs. The recommendations include the wearing of face masks, staggered drop-off and pick-up times for parents, and moving class activities outside if possible.

The document doesn't provide any limits on the number of students allowed inside a school.

In-school summer programs range from special education services to drivers-ed programs.

- Jason Moon

New guidance for amusement parks, movie theaters, performing arts and music venues

Update: Thursday, June 18, 3:16 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says the state will announce a new fund next week for self-employed business people.

The fund is originating as an offshoot of the Main Street Relief Fund, a $400 million pool of federal funds. Checks are being mailed Friday to some 5,500 small businesses in that relief fund.

In the application process, Sununu said thousands of self-employed people who submitted paperwork were rejected, because they did not meet the qualifications for the Main Street fund.

The state is also creating an appeals process for businesses that believe their submissions were wrongfully disqualified.

The state has issued new guidance for amusement parks, movie theaters, performing arts and music venues, and adult day care operations.

The guidelines require those businesses to limit capacity and to encourage visitors to wear face masks. Sununu said the guidance aims to allow the venues to open with the space to ensure physical distancing of customers and parties.

Starting June 29, indoor movie theaters, performing arts centers, and music venues will be allowed to operate at half capacity. Amusement parks will be limited to 25 percent capacity.

- NHPR Staff

1 new death, 17 new cases reported June 18

Update: Thursday, June 18, 3:17 p.m.

The state on Thursday said another resident has died from COVID-19. The individual was at a long-term care facility, said Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

There have now been 331 coronavirus deaths in the state. Shibinette announced 17 new cases, which brings the total confirmed cases to 5,450.

Of the total cases, 533 people, or 10 percent, required hospitalization at some point.

“As you can see, our data is certainly trending in the right direction,” Shibinette said.

She announced two long-term care facilities that had outbreaks - Mountain Ridge in Franklin and Ridgewood Center in Bedford - were both cleared from the state’s list.

The state reports 109,000 residents have been tested for coronavirus.

- NHPR Staff

Uptick in weekly jobless claims in N.H.

Update: Thursday, June 18, 2:03 p.m.

New Hampshire saw a small uptick in weekly unemployment claims in early June.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports there were around 6,300 first-time filers in each of the first two weeks of June. That was up slightly from the 6,100 new claims for the week ending May 30.

New Hampshire unemployment rate stood at 14.5% last month.

- Shehzil Zahid

Long-term care centers make up most of new COVID cases

Update: Wednesday, June 17, 6:39 p.m.

New Hampshire reported 73 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, with 75% of them from three long-term care facilities dealing with an outbreak, according to state health officials.

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The new positive results were identified after recurring testing of residents and staff at those homes. The state did not immediately disclose which three facilities account for the 54 cases.

Ten of the new cases required hospitalization, and 10% of the overall confirmed cases of COVID-19 have required hospital care at some point. (Go Deeper: Explore the data of coronavirus cases and testing in N.H.)

Four additional residents died June 17 due to coronavirus. They were three women and one man from Hillsborough County. All were 60 or older.

The total number of deaths in the state is now 330.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. amusement parks eye reopening dates

Update: Wednesday, June 17, 4:06 p.m.

Canobie Lake Park in Salem announced its reopening day will be July 16.

The amusement park says it will roll out new policies, including online ordering, as part of a plan to reopen safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There will also be health and safety protocols, such as social distancing in accordance with state and federal recommendations.

Amusement parks may reopen June 29, under the state's emergency orders and universal guidance design to limit potential exposure to the virus, including screening of employees for possible symptoms and wearing cloth face coverings or masks.

- NHPR Staff

Seafood festival at Hampton Beach canceled

Update: Wednesday, June 17, 3:31 p.m.

The 2020 Hampton Beach Seafood Festival has been canceled.

Organizers say the event - which typically draws 100,000 visitors over three days each September - would be impossible to hold given the public health and safety protocols that would have to be put in place.

Instead, the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce will produce a summer seafood guidebook which will direct would-be festival goers to local seafood restaurants.

The chamber also plans to have some activities during the festival’s scheduled dates in September that would include a Sept. 11th tribute, fireworks, and a 5K road race.

- Alex McOwen

U.S.-Canada border to remain closed to non-essential travel

The U.S., Canada and Mexico have agreed to extend their agreements to keep their shared borders closed to non-essential travel until July 21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest agreement extends the closure by another 30 days. The restrictions were first announced March 18 and extended twice previously.

U.S. border patrol says it will also no longer detain illegal immigrants in holding facilities, but will immediately return the undocumented individuals to the country they entered from, either Canada or Mexico. If that is not possible for a particular person, the government says they will return the individuals to their country of origin.

- Staff and Wire Report

Main Street Relief Fund grants soon in the mail

Update: Tuesday, June 16, 3:40 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu says the state will soon cut checks to 5,456 small businesses that applied for aid under the $400 million Main Street Relief Fund.

The average grant is about $62,000. The total amount being disbursed is $338 million. It's short of the $400 million because the state capped the total allowable grant at $350,000.

The money, from the federal CARES Act, was established as a pool for small businesses to cover some of their losses, including rent and utilities. 

“This wasn’t to make anybody rich, it wasn't even to cover all their losses,” Sununu said.

Around 13,000 businesses submitted pre-qualification applications. Nearly 5,000 submissions were disqualified because the individuals were self-employed, and another 2,300 were disqualified for not meeting the criteria, the governor said. Sununu says the state is looking into what more it might be able to do to help self-employed business people.

- NHPR Staff

Updated: What's Open (and what's not open) in New Hampshire

4 of 6 new deaths are from long-term care centers

Update: Tuesday, June 16, 3:19 p.m.

Dr. Ben Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, said six more residents have died from COVID-19. Four of them were associated with long-term care facilities.

The state announced 27 new positive test results, bringing the total confirmed cases to 5,364.

Two of the new cases are hospitalized.

Chan said the state’s data points to continued good news in terms of fewer cases and hospitalizations.

More than 100,000 have now been tested for coronavirus, and the state is avering 1,700 tests a day, he said.

New guidelines for visiting nursing homes

Update: Tuesday, June 16, 3:09 p.m.

Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette reported a new outbreak at a long-term care facility. She says 10 residents and three staff members at Holy Cross Health Center in Manchester have tested positive for the virus.

She announced Greystone Farm at Salem is now removed from the state’s list of outbreaks.

The state on Tuesday unveiled its new visitation plan for long-term care homes. Every facility is required to develop an individual plan that’s tailored to their needs and safety.

The visits will be:

  • “No-contact visits” outside
  • Limited to two people, and no one under the age of 12
  • by appointment

Residents will continue to be screened regularly, and visitors will be screened before visits. And visits will only be at facilities that are not experiencing an outbreak.

Residents at long-term care facilities account for nearly 80 percent of coronavirus deaths in the Granite State.

- NHPR Staff

Jobless rate falls as economy starts to fully reopen

Update: Tuesday, June 16, 1:01 p.m.

The state’s unemployment rate fell in May as more parts of the economy reopened.

The rate now stands at 14.5 percent, according to New Hampshire Employment Security. Unemployment peaked in April at 17.1%.

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Food service, retail and construction all saw positive job growth last month as businesses began to reopen.

The numbers remain a stark reminder of the economic challenges in New Hampshire. While 24,320 more people were working in the state in May, compared with April, more than 105,000 residents were unemployed in May. That estimate is nearly 86,000 greater than May of 2019.

- Todd Bookman