Coronavirus Update: 4 More N.H. Deaths; Funds Made Available For Residents Facing Housing Insecurity | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Update: 4 More N.H. Deaths; Funds Made Available For Residents Facing Housing Insecurity

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

Related: What's open and what's not in New Hampshire? Click or tap here to find out.

The latest numbers in New Hampshire

Credit Centers for Disease Control

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

The most recent update from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services on June 30: 

  • Four new deaths were reported. All were residents of long-term care facilities in New Hampshire.
  • So far, 371 people have died from COVID-19 in N.H. 
  • DHHS reported 22 new cases. The state's total case number is now 5,782.

Click here for NHPR's COVID-19 tracker for case and trend data in N.H.

Other important links:

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LIVE BLOG - CORONAVIRUS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE:

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 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.

UNH 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

Earlier updates

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