Coronavirus Update: 72 New N.H. Cases; State Tax Revenues Tumble

16 hours ago

NHPR is continuing to cover the developing story around coronavirus in New Hampshire. Bookmark this page for the latest updates. 

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Gov. Chris Sununu has amended N.H.'s stay-at-home order. N.H. schools are closed for the rest of the academic year.

State announces 72 new positive test results for COVID-19; additional pay for first responders

Update: Monday, May 4, 6:15 p.m.

Positive tests for coronavirus in New Hampshire, as of May 4, 2020.
Credit N.H. DHHS

The state announced 72 newly identified cases of COVID-19 Monday (May 4), bringing New Hampshire's case total to 2,588. So far, 86 residents have died from the virus.

Related: Click here for our tracker of cases and testing in New Hampshire

At a press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said the state will be dealing with coronavirus for several months or longer, stressing that residents should maintain social distancing guidelines as the weather gets warmer.

Chan said those heading outside to exercise should be mindful of maintaining six feet between themselves and others, and that dog owners should keep their pets leashed to avoid contact with other people.

"The risk that animals pose to other people in terms of spreading COVID-19 is considered low," Chan said. "But as you may be aware, there have been a small number of reports of animals worldwide becoming infected with COVID-19, from people."

Additional pay for first responders, money for communities

Gov. Chris Sununu announced that $40 million in federal funding will be allocated to help New Hampshire cities and towns cover expenses related to the pandemic. He said the money will cover costs incurred between March 1 and August 31, including cleaning, social services, telework, and child care for first responders.

"These funds will help bridge the gap between what towns have incurred and what FEMA will ultimately cover," Sununu said. "Every town, from Pittsburg to Portsmouth, will be able to be reimbursed for COVID-19 costs."

Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted this graphic breaking down additional pay for New Hampshire first responders, funded through federal CARES Act funds.

Sununu said that the state's first responders will receive additional pay funded through the CARES Act, the federal relief package passed in March.

Sununu tweeted details of the "front line stipend," which includes pay enhancements for firefighters, EMS workers, law enforcement, and corrections personnel through the end of June.

- NHPR Staff

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State tax receipts foreshadow big hit to N.H. budget

Update: Monday, May 4, 5:10 p.m.

New Hampshire's tax receipts tumbled in April, providing a glimpse at how severe the pandemic’s impact will be on the state budget. The state collected $76 million less in taxes than it targeted for April. That’s a shortfall of 22 percent.

Business tax receipts, the state’s single largest source of revenue, were down about 40 percent, although some of that is due to filing extensions.

The shuttering of hotels and many restaurants put a big dent in the Meals and Rooms tax. Those collections were down 43 percent.

Real estate taxes held largely steady, though that’s likely because of the lag time in transactions. The state's tobacco tax was the only bright spot, though not from a public health standpoint. Sales were up 30% from the same month last year.

- Todd Bookman

PPP loans granted to 9,000 more New Hampshire businesses

Update: Monday, May 4, 3:35 p.m.

Nearly 9,000 more New Hampshire small businesses and non-profits were approved for emergency loans last week through the Paycheck Protection Program. Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office says those loans total more than half-a-billion dollars.

Under the PPP, businesses with under 500 employees can apply. If the money is spent on payroll or other approved expenses, the loans will be forgiven.

In the first round of the program, which ran out of money in April, more than 11,000 New Hampshire entities received more than 2-billion dollars.

NHPR is among the companies that have received a loan through the PPP.

- Todd Bookman

State to receive money for affordable housing, rural healthcare

Update: Monday, May 4, 2:40 p.m.

New Hampshire will receive another round of federal coronavirus aid for affordable housing and rural healthcare providers. The state’s Congressional delegation announced the new disbursements of funds from the federal stimulus package Monday.

Passed last month, that package includes more than $1.25 billion for New Hampshire. In the next round of allocations, the delegation says the state’s rural hospitals and health care providers will receive another $115 million. They’re also expecting $3.6 million dollars in aid for local public housing and vouchers used by low-income tenants.

- Annie Ropeik

Seacoast bus system to reopen with new protections in place

Update: Monday, May 4, 12:00 p.m.

The Seacoast public transit service will reopen on May 11 with new health protections in place. Unlike other municipal bus routes in the state, the COAST service shut down at the end of March, citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Now, COAST says they’ll resume some bus service next Monday (May 11) as staffing allows. They're asking passengers to only ride for essential reasons such as for work, groceries or medical needs.

Passengers are also encouraged to wear face masks. Drivers will sit behind clear barriers and have their own protective gear.

COAST is discounting its monthly passes for May by about 60 percent.

- Annie Ropeik

2 deaths, 90 new coronavirus cases in New Hampshire

Update: Sunday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.

The state released this map showing positive test results for coronavirus in New Hampshire as of May 3, 2020.
Credit N.H. DHHS

The state has announced two more deaths related to COVID-19 in New Hampshire. Both patients were over 60 years old, one a female resident of Hillsborough County and one a male resident of Rockingham County.

Related: Click here for our tracker of cases and testing in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services also announced 90 new positive test results for coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number of cases to 2,518. 

Of the cases with complete information, the regional breakdown is: 32 in Rockingham County; 43 in Hillsborough County (including 18 in Manchester and 12 in Nashua); six in Strafford County; three in Merrimack County; and one in Belknap County. The counties of residence are still being determined for five of the new cases. 

DHHS says that community transmission continues to increase in the state. 

- NHPR Staff

N.H. reports 3 additional deaths, 121 new cases

Update: Saturday, May 2, 7:17 p.m.

State health officials announced three additional deaths and 121 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday. The three new deaths, all of whom were 60 or older: a woman from Hillsborough County and a man and a woman from Rockingham County. There have now been 84 deaths due to COVID-19 in New Hampshire.

Of the new cases identified Saturday, there are four individuals under the age of 18.

Seven of the new cases were hospitalized. At some point, 277 of the total confirmed cases in the state required hospital care.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services also announced more than 1,500 people were tested for coronavirus on May 1, the highest one-day total since the state began ramping up testing.

Nearly 26,000 Granite Staters have tested negative for the virus.

Of the 2,429 people identified with COVID-19 to date, 1,017 have recovered, according to DHHS.

- NHPR Staff

State providing free masks for business employees and customers

  Update: Saturday, May 2, 3:12 p.m.

With the partial reopening of some businesses set to begin in the next few weeks, Gov. Chris Sununu announced Saturday that the state is providing free disposable face masks for those business employees and customers.

Businesses can fill out a form online and pick up the masks at any New Hampshire DMV next week.

The form says businesses will need to reorder masks as needed. Retailers, barbershops, hair salons and restaurants can reopen, under various new restrictions, later this month.

Daniela Allee

Surrogates get OK to consent to treatments

  Update: Saturday, May 2, 2:39 p.m.

A new emergency order allows agents or surrogates to give consent to experimental treatments on behalf of COVID-19 patients in certain situations.

If a patient experiencing severe symptoms or complications doesn't have the capacity to consent to experimental treatment, the person designated under an advance directive can provide the consent. 

And in the case there is not an advance directive, a surrogate, or an adult who has health care decision-making capacity, can also consent to the treatment for the patient. 

But the order says that consent by another person can only be given in three situations: If it's life threatening, if informed consent from the patient cannot be obtained due to an inability to communicate, or if there's no alternate therapy method that provides an equal or greater likelihood of saving the patient's life.

- Daniela Allee

WMNF to open some trailheads

Update: Saturday, May 1, 9:29 a.m.

The White Mountain National Forest has reopened several trailheads that were closed a week ago due to concerns about crowding and hikers not maintaining social distancing. WMNF officials said the decision was also made due to illegal parking while trailheads were closed.

The WMNF is implementing a phased-in approach to reopening trailheads and sites. A limited number of sites, including Tuckerman Ravine, will remain closed. Here is a list of what is open and closed at this time.

Trailheads reopening include Alpine Garden, Great Gulf Wildnerness, Lincoln Woods, Osceola, and Welch-Dickey, according to the list updated Friday.

- NHPR Staff

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Dairy farmers feel economic squeeze

  Update: Saturday, May 2, 8:59 a.m.

Two-thirds of New Hampshire's dairy farmers are at risk of closure, says Shawn Jasper, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

Jasper mentioned the economic impact due to the coronavirus pandemic while on a conference call Friday.  Although there have been milk shortages in grocery stores, he says the closure of schools and restaurants forced many farms to dump their product.

"We expect some balancing to take place," he said. "However, prices are falling and farms are being asked to cut production by up to 15 percent."

Jasper is asking the state to allocate $5 million from the $1.25 billion in CARES Act money the state has received to support dairy farms.

-Alex McOwen

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Sununu amends stay-at-home order

Update: Friday, May 1, 6:08 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced an amended stay-at-home order today that will remain in effect until May 31. The previous order was due to expire May 4.   

Starting May 11, golf courses, hair salons, drive-in movies, and retail operations may reopen, but with certain restrictions. Golf courses will be limited to residents and club members. Barbers and hair salons will have to limit occupancy to no more than 10 people at the business. Campgrounds may continue to remain open, but access will be limited to residents and members, Sununu says in his presentation of what he's calling Stay At Home 2.0.

Retail stores will be limited to 50 percent occupancy, staff must wear cloth face coverings and maintain social distancing, and workers will be either screened or questioned about possible symptoms at the start of every shift. Below are links to read the full guidance documents Sununu discussed Friday:

Sununu says Seacoast beaches and parks will remain closed. Restaurants will continue under the state's ban on indoor dining. Sununu says take-out and delivery only service will continue until May 18, at which time the order will transition to allow for outdoor food service.

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The governor said steps to reopen parts of the economy are supported by data and state health officials. Sununu encouraged residents to continue with social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings when in public.

"We're not taking giant leaps forward. We're just not at that point yet," Sununu said.

Nine new deaths; 164 new cases

The announcement comes as state epidemiologist Ben Chan reported nine additional deaths from COVID-19, and 164 new positive test results on Friday.

There have now been 81 deaths and a total of 2,310 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Hampshire. Chan said the nine additional deaths were associated with long-term care centers or nursing homes.

Chan provided the update at a news conference in Concord with Sununu. See a high-resolution map of town-by-town coronavirus cases here.

Chan said the state's health care system remains stable, and the state is not near requiring the use of "surge" capacity centers that have been established to handle a potential major increase in patients.

DHHS reports 980 people have recovered from coronavirus. The current coronavirus cases, as of May 1, was 1,249. Current hospitalizations numbered 103. To date, 12 percent of the total confirmed cases have required hospital care at some point.

The state says more than 22,000 residents have tested negative for COVID-19.

- NHPR Staff

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Lonza making potential vaccine

Update: Friday, May 1, 1:56 p.m.

A Portsmouth company will help make a potential new vaccine for COVID-19 beginning this summer.

The Lonza Biologics manufacturing facility at Pease International Tradeport is teaming up with Massachusetts-based Moderna on the project.

Moderna is one of many companies worldwide working on vaccines and other treatments for the new coronavirus. The Moderna vaccine is currently undergoing government-led clinical trials.

Lonza has agreed to make up to a billion doses a year of the medication.

The Swiss company has around a thousand workers in Portsmouth, making it one of the city's top employers.

- Annie Ropeik

Food Bank mobile pantry coming to Berlin

  Update: Friday, May 1, 1:30 p.m.

The New Hampshire Food Bank is bringing its mobile food pantry to Berlin on Saturday, for only the second time since the coronavirus pandemic.

Christy Langlois, the pantry's food system coordinator, says demand for food was nearly double what they expected the last time they visited Berlin over a month ago.

"We kind of did a rough intake of how many we were short and we estimated approximately 250 households had showed up that we weren't able to service," she says.

This time, they are prepared to distribute dry goods, produce, meat, and dairy products to around a thousand families. The following weekend, the mobile food pantry plans to travel to the racetrack in Loudon.

- Alex McOwen

Mobile testing sites in Laconia, Sunapee and Keene

  Update: Friday, May 1, 12:02 p.m.

The state is launching three temporary mobile COVID-19 testing sites this weekend. 

The one-day locations will be in Laconia on Friday, Sunapee on Saturday, and Keene on Sunday. These sites are in addition to the five fixed drive-through locations announced earlier this week, as part of the state's community-based testing program for coronavirus.

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to contact their health care provider to discuss testing. Residents without a doctor or provider can call the state's hotline at 2-1-1.

- NHPR Staff

Related story: Tracking COVID-19 Cases and Testing in New Hampshire

Task force forwarding ideas to Governor Sununu

Update: Friday, May 1, 11:31 a.m.

A task force on reopening New Hampshire's economy has made its first set of recommendations without waiting for the public to weigh in.

The Governor's Economic Reopening Task Force hosted a public input session Thursday, and it has another Friday morning. Meanwhile, it approved draft plans for restaurants, retail stores, hair salons, campgrounds and drive-in movies.

The plans will be reviewed by state health officials and Gov. Chris Sununu. The governor plans to announce steps to reopen parts of the economy during a news conference in Concord on Friday at 3 p.m.

Listen live to the conference on NHPR and streaming online at NHPR.org

"We do want to try ways to phase in and flex open parts of our economy," Sununu said earlier this week about his presentation about modifying his stay-at-home order, which is currently due to expire May 4.

- NHPR Staff

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Prescott Park cancels summer season

  Update: Friday, May 1, 8:50 a.m.

The Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth will not have its summer season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The safety of our audience is our primary concern, and unfortunately there is simply no safe way to gather a crowd of people in a summer setting without risk of infection," John Tabor, chair of the festival's board of directors, says in a statement. "So, we will be dark this summer but look forward to a rejuvenated 2021 season."

The festival is one of several traditional summer events in New Hampshire that have been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Others include the Cheshire Fair, Lancaster Fair, Sandwich Fair, and the Stratham Fair.

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