Coronavirus Update: N.H. Sees Another Death, 63 New Cases; Seacoast Beaches To Reopen June 1

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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

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

Positive tests for coronavirus in New Hampshire, as of May 24.
Credit N.H. DHHS

The most recent update from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services on May 24: 

  • One additional death was reported, bringing the state's total deaths to 209. 
  • DHHS reported 63 new cases. The state's total confirmed cases now number 4,149. 

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

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LIVE BLOG - CORONAVIRUS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE:

AG: Quiet weekend for coronavirus enforcement in N.H.

Update: Sunday, May 25, 1:45 p.m.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati says except for unauthorized auto racing with spectators that took place at Riverside Speedway in Northumberland on Saturday – an incident that remains under investigation – Memorial Day weekend has been quiet, at least as far as the AG's involvement in enforcing COVID-19 standards goes.

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“Well I can tell you that I haven’t had any other calls this weekend, with regards to law enforcement calling in to us on the COVID-19 law enforcement line, other that the matter in Northumberland," he told NHPR.

For many summer recreational businesses – including bike and canoe rental shops and mini golf – this weekend marked the first time they could reopen under new guidelines.

- Todd Bookman

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

State's Catholic churches begin offering Communion

Update: Sunday, May 24, 5:30 p.m.

Catholics in New Hampshire were able to receive Communion for the first time in more than two months Sunday.

While churches remain closed for services, the Diocese of Manchester is allowing parishes to offer the Eucharist, as long as social social distancing and other guidelines are in practice.

Click here to read more of this story by NHPR's Todd Bookman

Manchester VA holding a virtual Memorial Day ceremony

Update: Sunday, May 24, 8:32 a.m.

For the first time in its history, the Veterans Affairs Manchester Healthcare System is not celebrating Memorial Day with a public gathering, but rather, a Facebook tribute.

Monday's ceremony will mirror its traditional service and is being prerecorded in alignment with the nation's efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The event will posted on VA Manchester Healthcare System's Facebook page and will include a wreath placed at an American flag, the playing of Taps, and a moment of silence.

N.H. State Veterans Cemetery

The Memorial Day ceremony traditionally held at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery is cancelled due to the state's emergency orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The State Veterans Cemetery remains open to visitors, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and staff will be on site May 23-25.

- NHPR Staff

Memorial Day Weekend at Hampton Beach

4 additional deaths, 77 new COVID-19 cases

Update: Saturday, May 23, 4:41 p.m.

New Hampshire health officials announced four additional deaths and 77 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services says all four were from Hillsborough County. Two men and one woman were 60 and older, while the fourth person to die was a male resident younger than 60.

The state has had 208 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Of the newly announced positive results, 11 residents are in the hospital. New Hampshire now has confirmed 4,089 cases of coronavirus. Of that number, 2,197, or 54 percent, have recovered from the virus.

The state continues to expand testing. Nearly 70,000 residents have been tested to date, with around 9,000 of those being antibody tests.

- NHPR Staff

Sununu seeks N.H. Guard activation extension

Update: Saturday, May 23, 11:50 a.m.

Governor Sununu is asking the Trump Administration to extend the activation of the New Hampshire National Guard.

The president previously approved the activation of 1,000 guard members through June 24.

In a letter to Trump, Sununu writes that the National Guard is helping to staff COVID-19 testing sites and distributing PPE as part of the response to the coronavirus.

The state is requesting 450 Guard members remain active through the end of September.

- NHPR Staff

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Sununu says he, not Trump, makes the call on church reopenings

Update: Friday, May 22, 4:50 p.m.

Governor Chris Sununu says it's up to him -- and not President Trump -- to decide when churches will be allowed to reopen in New Hampshire.

Sununu made the comments Friday  in response to the president's demand that governors across the country reopen churches by this weekend. Trump said he would "override" governors who refused.

“It's the governor's decision. It's the governor's decision of course and that's why I think he said 'look when the CDC guidance comes out, take a look at the guidance and see what might be possible.' That's the approach we're going to take.”

Trump also said allowing state liquor stores to remain open, but not churches, was an injustice. Sununu disagreed, saying the two are completely different situations.

- Jason Moon

Manchester liquor store closes after worker tests positive

Update: Friday, May 22, 4:39 p.m.

A state liquor store in Manchester has been closed for deep cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Governor Chris Sununu confirmed the closure during a press conference on Friday. Sununu has faced criticism from some for keeping the state-run stores open throughout the pandemic while other retailers were forced to close.

Unlike when a state DMV employee tested positive, state health officials did not publicly announce the case at the liquor store until asked by reporters.

Sununu said the employee is self-isolating and that a contact tracing investigation is underway.

- Jason Moon

Seacoast beaches, personal care businesses reopen June 1

Update: Friday, May 22, 3:43 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday announced additional economic sectors to reopen on June 1, including personal care services and the state's seacoast beaches.

The governor highlighted the following areas:

  • Small group fitness classes and personal fitness training, such as yoga, zumba, and karate, where social distancing can be maintained. Guidance does not allow for general use of gym equipment at this time.
  • Small group youth and amateur sports practices are authorized under the guidance, effective immediately. Group sizes must be limited to 10 or less, and no competition or contact sports are allowed. Training and practice must occur outdoors.
  • Businesses in the personal care industry may reopen - acupuncture, massage therapists, and tattoo, tanning, and nail salon shops may open with requirements on social distancing and thorough sanitation.

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State beaches will reopen to active recreation only, such as walking, running, swimming and surfing. State parking lots will be limited to 50 percent capacity.

“Parking will be limited, to be sure,” Sununu said.

The state will also be closing down a section of Ocean Boulevard, from A Street to O Street, from June 1 to Labor Day. The northbound--and-southbound traffic will be redirected on Ashworth Avenue.

“We’re effectively making Ocean Boulevard a giant sidewalk, if you will,” Sununu said.

The governor also provided updated guidance for child care providers. Effective immediately, providers must, whenever possible, reduce group size to no more than 10 people, and keep the same groups of staff and children together.

The stay-at-home order remains in place, where gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

- NHPR Staff

N.H. Sees Its First Case of Rare Childhood Syndrome Linked to COVID-19

Nashua requiring face masks worn in public

Update: Friday, May 22, 12:11 p.m.

The city of Nashua is now requiring residents to wear face masks in many public settings.

An ordinance passed Thursday night by the Nashua board of aldermen and backed by Mayor Jim Donchess requires employees and customers at all businesses to wear face masks.

The rule also applies to government buildings and even common areas at residential buildings with more than two apartment units.

Violations of the ordinance could be punished with a fine.

Nashua is believed to be the first city in the state to enact such an order.

- Jason Moon

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Child Care Workers Push Back On State's New Opening Guidelines

Update: Friday May 22, 8:30 a.m.

Many New Hampshire’s child care workers say the state’s new guidelines for reopening are impractical, citing concerns about wearing masks and maintaining social distance with young children.

UNH professor Kim Nesbitt, who studies early childhood development, said some of these concerns are valid, as hands-on learning is a critical part of childhood development.

“If we are doing a lot of independent interactions and not being able to engage with other people collaboratively, that is a potential that could have potential negative impacts on how well children are able to learn and develop in those environments,” Nesbitt said.

Gov. Chris Sununu said earlier this week that he’s considering revising the standards for child care centers set.

-Alex McOwen

N.H. announces 9 additional deaths

Update: Thursday, May 21, 7:45 p.m.

The state announced an additional nine deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 199.

Sixty-seven new cases were also confirmed, upping New Hampshire’s total to 3,935.

Of the deaths, all were residents of either Hillsborough or Rockingham County and over the age of 60, according to public health officials.

Six of the new cases had no identified risk factors, suggesting community transmission.

Eight of the new cases required hospitalization. To date, there have been 393 hospitalizations, or 10 percent of the total known cases. As of May 21, there were 97 hospitalizations. The state says 1,767 residents have recovered from COVID-19; the current cases are now 1,969. 

More than 62,000 tests have been conducted in the Granite State. Of that number, around 7,800 are antibody tests, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

- NHPR Staff

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Franklin Pierce University will reopen campus in fall

Update: Thursday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.

Franklin Pierce University will open its campus in August for in-person classes.

The Rindge-based college says it'll set up health and safety procedures to protect against COVID-19. Other new protocols for classes will ensure social distancing for the school's nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Franklin Pierce says those guidelines will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The University of New Hampshire has also said it will reopen its campus this fall, while maintaining some virtual learning.

- Daniela Allee

Reopening task force considers how to reopen hotels

Update: Thursday, May 21, 5:56 p.m.

New Hampshire is considering a different approach than its neighbors when it comes to allowing out-of-state residents back in its hotels and other lodging establishments.

Under a proposal submitted to a reopening task force Thursday, out-of-staters would have to attest to having quarantined at home for 14 days before coming to New Hampshire.

Maine and Vermont also have quarantine rules, but they will require such quarantines to happen within their borders.

- NHPR Staff

New Hampshire courts update on restrictions

State courts say the earliest they will reopen for in-person proceedings is now June 15, though that date could be pushed back.

Judges are still conducting hearings via telephone and video, but public access to courthouses is restricted.

- Todd Bookman

4 in 10 residents delayed medical care in the past month

Update: Thursday, May 21, 3 p.m.

The U.S. Census Bureau says 40 percent of surveyed adults in New Hampshire delayed getting medical care in the last four weeks.

The Bureau released the numbers this week in an effort to share data with lawmakers planning for coronavirus recovery.

The Bureau also says 44 percent of New Hampshire adults are in a household that saw a loss of income in the last two months.

That rate of income loss puts New Hampshire on par with the rest of New England.

- Sarah Gibson

Emergency order makes it easier for nurses to practice in N.H.

Update: Thursday, May 21, 11:10 a.m.

A new emergency order would make it easier for nurses who trained out of state to practice in New Hampshire.

The order by Governor Chris Sununu allows students in accredited nursing programs in other states to apply for a New Hampshire license.

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Lindsey Courtney is the interim director of the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification. She says there is a shortage of licensed nursing assistants in the state. And while this order doesn’t address that group specifically, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses can still perform those tasks.

“This one is particularly important to the agency and to the board to ensure we meet the workforce requirements in the state," she says

- Daniela Allee

8,000 new jobless claims filed last week in N.H.

Update: Thursday, May 21, 10:21 a.m.

The U.S. Department of Labor says more than 8,000 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, and that's down more than 1,500 from the previous week.

The latest number covers new claims through May 16th.

The number of new claims in a week peaked at 39,000 in early April and has since been declining.

- NHPR Staff

Sununu: No need to make masks mandatory in New Hampshire

Update: Wednesday, May 20, 6:25 p.m.

Governor Chris Sununu says he sees no need to order people to wear masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky asked Sununu on Wednesday to follow the lead of neighboring Massachusetts in requiring people to don masks in public. 

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“We consulted with the department of public health - a very trusted source - looking at all the looking at all the different guidelines, the data, where we are today," Sununu said. "And we are not in a position to determine that a mandatory mask order is appropriate for the state at this time. So that is not going to happen right now.”

Sununu says he’ll be watching how Massachusetts' decision to open up ocean beaches plays out. He says prudence dictates keeping beaches here closed for now but that he expect to open them relatively soon.

- Josh Rogers

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DHMC to participate in COVID-19 clinical trial

Update: Wednesday, May 20, 6:10 p.m. 

Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced Wednesday it is participating in a clinical trial of a new treatment for severe cases of COVID-19. The drug Lenzilumab could help prevent an immune response to the virus called Cytokine Release Syndrome.

The syndrome is defined by an overactive immune response to the virus, which can damage organs and even cause death. The study will test the drug against a placebo on 238 patients nationwide. Results of the study are expected by September.

- Jason Moon

8 deaths, 149 new cases, 2 new outbreaks

Update: Wednesday, May 20, 3:30 p.m.

New Hampshire Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette on Wednesday announced eight additional COVID-19 deaths, with six of them at long-term care facilities.

The latest coronavirus update further highlighted the impact on nursing homes. The state has 149 new cases, and 51 of those were from a single testing event at one long-term care facility - Villa Crest Nursing and Retirement Center in Manchester.

Shibinette reported two new outbreaks at residential facilities. At Greenbriar Healthcare in Nashua, 10 residents have tested positive for the virus. At Community Bridges in Belmont, a facility for people with disabilities, two residents and four staff members tested positive.

As of May 20, about 28 percent of nursing homes in the Granite State have at least one COVID-19 case, according to Shibinette. In terms of deaths at long-term care centers, New Hampshire is at about 1 percent, compared to Massachusetts, with 5.6 percent, she said.

“Whether we are the best or the worst, every death is a tragedy," she said. "Every long-term care facility that gets affected is a tragedy not just for the residents, but the families and the staff that take care of those residents.”

Gov. Chris Sununu said the state will launch two more fixed testing sites, which will go live starting this weekend, in Keene and in Londonderry. The state now has nine fixed testing sites.

The state is also expanding testing criteria to include household members of people in high-risk populations, such as anyone older than 60 or a person with an underlying health condition.

Sununu said he will make a Friday announcement about additional areas of the economy to reopen in the weeks ahead. 

He added that more than 5,000 small businesses have applied for grants under a new $400 million Main Street Relief Fund. The prequalification form under that program must be completed by May 29.

- NHPR Staff

State close to having tested all nursing home residents

Update: Wednesday, May 20, 11:09 a.m.

New Hampshire is closing in on its goal to test all nursing home residents and staff for the coronavirus.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said May 6 that all nursing home residents would be tested within two weeks. A department spokesman said that process will be completed early next week, which would be a few days behind schedule.

The testing of all staff is expected to be completed by the end of next week, or early in the following week.

The state also plans to set up a sentinel surveillance system in which ten percent of the facilities will test ten percent of their residents each week.

- NHPR Staff

Seacoast beaches won't be open for Memorial Day weekend

Update: Wednesday, May 20, 11:00 a.m.

Governor Chris Sununu is insisting that New Hampshire beaches are not ready to open for Memorial Day weekend.

Sununu said Tuesday he is considering a task force recommendation to flex open beaches on June 1. He said while he wants to wait and see how nearby states make it work at their beaches, he remains concerned about visitors from those states coming to New Hampshire.

The governor has reopened some parts of the economy based on recommendations from health officials, but he's urging people to not let their guard down yet.

- Mary McIntyre

Some Outdoor Activities Get Green Light

Update: Monday, May 18, 7:45 p.m.

The state is permitting the resumption of more outdoor recreational activities, including bike rentals, mini-golf and paintball, under revised coronavirus guidelines.

The new rules allow outdoor activity in groups of 10 people or fewer, so long as staff members and customers wear face masks and meet other standards. The guidance, as outlined by Gov. Chris Sununu Monday, clears the way for bike, canoe and kayak rental operations to open. The same goes for outdoor driving and shooting ranges, paintball, hiking and fishing guide services, and some charter fishing boats.

Beaches, however, will remain closed, as will larger scale outdoor tourist attractions, like amusement and water parks and racetracks.

-Josh Rogers

Antibody tests indicate very small percentage of residents have been exposed to coronavirus

Update: Monday, May 18, 5:20 p.m.

State officials say new testing suggests a large percentage of New Hampshire residents have not yet been exposed to the novel coronavirus and haven’t developed any protection against it. The state has conducted 4,500 antibody tests over the past week, which detect if a person has had the coronavirus in the past.

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The test results reveal that only about three to four percent of New Hampshire residents have been exposed. But state epidemiologist Benjamin Chan says there’s still a lot that's unknown about this type of test.

“We still do not fully understand what a positive antibody test means for someone’s protection against infection or reinfection," Chan says. "Specifically, we don’t understand how long a person’s protection lasts for after they have been infected.”

Chan says even if someone tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies, they still need to take appropriate social distancing precautions. If not, state officials warn New Hampshire could be at risk for a second surge of the virus.

- Alex McOwen

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Recommendations could help summer camps reopen

Update: Monday, May 18, 5:15 p.m.

As summer nears, a group working to recommend plans for reopening the state's economy is weighing proposals for summer camps.

Chris Emond, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Central New Hampshire, represents camps on the Governor's Re-opening Task Force. He says under his plan, camps would follow the state's standard social distancing guidelines, but would still need some flexibility, like on mask wearing.

“Staff wearing masks all day in a summer day camp environment, in an overnight environment, is not really going to be practical. So it’s really where possible,” he says.

The plan also includes screening campers for symptoms upon arrival, and limiting staff members coming and going from overnight camps. The task force will vote tomorrow (Tuesday) on whether or not to approve these guidelines for camp reopenings.

- Alex McOwen

State moves to reopen some outdoor attractions; issues new guidance for childcare facilities

Updated Monday, May 18, 3:45 p.m.

Gov. Chris Sununu has announced that some outdoor attractions are now permitted to reopen in New Hampshire, including miniature golf courses, driving ranges, canoe and kayak rentals, outdoor shooting ranges, paintball, and equestrian facilities, among others. 

Sununu says these businesses are primarily  in outdoor settings at which ten or fewer people gather to engage in activities. The state has issued new guidance for these facilities to operate in a manner which aims to protects public health.

Sununu also announced new guidelines for childcare facilities to reopen in the state. The guidance includes the wearing of masks by all staff and parents dropping off kids, frequent supervised handwashing, and limiting of group and childcare room capacity. 

- NHPR Staff

Note: We will continue to update this developing story

Restaurants allowed to resume serving, though outdoor dining only

Updated: Monday, May 18, 1:00 p.m.

Penuche's in Manchester has picnic tables on the sidewalk spaced six feet apart, in preparation for outdoor dining allowed starting this week under the state's new stay-at-home order.
Credit Casey McDermott / NHPR

Starting today, restaurants across New Hampshire can start hosting customers for outdoor dining for the first time in nearly two months.

Restaurants have been limited to takeout, delivery and curbside pickup since mid-March, when Gov. Chris Sununu first issued his stay-at-home order.

Establishments wanting to open for diners need to practice social distancing measures by spacing out tables, and wait staff are required to wear face coverings or masks.

Indoor seating is still prohibited. In many cities, preparations have been underway, with seating and picnic tables on the sidewalk, all spaced six feet apart.

- NHPR Staff

Week in Review: N.H. scenes amid the pandemic

Update: Sunday, 10:11 a.m.

NHPR photos by Casey McDermott, Sean Hurley, Josh Rogers, and Dan Tuohy.

In the midst of a pandemic, a new Market Basket opens in Plymouth

12 additional deaths, 98 new cases

Update: Saturday, May 16, 5:37 p.m.

State health officials announced another 12 deaths due to COVID-19 on Saturday, increasing the number of residents who have died from coronavirus to 171.

Of the 12, only one resident, a male patient from Strafford County, was younger than 60 years old, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

It was unclear if any of the deaths were connected to outbreaks at long-term care facilities. Those outbreaks have so far accounted for more than three-quarters of the state's recorded coronavirus deaths.

Ten of the deceased were from Hillsborough County, six men and four women. The other death was a woman from Rockingham County. Click here for a high-resolution map of cumulative town-by-town cases in N.H.

The update from New Hampshire's public health agency also reports 98 new cases, bringing the total to 3,556. Three of the new cases are residents under the age of 18. 

There were 12 new hospitalizations. To date, 347 people have required hospital care related to coronavirus since the pandemic began, which is 10 percent of the overall confirmed cases.

- NHPR Staff

UNH holds virtual commencement celebration

Update: Saturday, May 16, 4:30 p.m.

Credit UNH

With traditional graduations upended by the coronavirus, the University of New Hampshire opted for a virtual commencement on UNH's Facebook page on Saturday.

The school invited alumni, faculty and graduating seniors themselves to tune in and share well wishes for the class of 2020.

UNH will also hold separate online commencements for individual academic programs.

The state's public colleges have said they intend to resume in-person instruction in the fall.

They're also planning what they call "blended" learning options, with some virtual components. This could make classes more accessible to students who have concerns about returning to campus.

- Casey McDermott

Liquor commission has curbside pickup options at two busy outlets

Update: Saturday, May 16, 2:01 p.m.

The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission quietly rolled out curbside pickup options at two heavily trafficked retail stores this week.

Right now, the service is offered only on a limited basis at the liquor outlets on I-95 north in Hampton and I-93 north in Hooksett. Customers who want to use the curbside service must place an order online and schedule pickup at least a day in advance.

An agency spokesman said same-day pickup is not available. They say these two stores are doing curbside pickup as a pilot program to inform future decisions about whether to offer the service more widely. 

Governor Chris Sununu said in March that the state was considering curbside service at its liquor outlets. The stores have remained open throughout the stay-at-home order, despite safety concerns from some employees.  

- Casey McDermott 

UNH gives half of relief funds back to students

  Update: Saturday, May 16, 11:41 a.m.

The University of New Hampshire has doled out half of its federal coronavirus aid to students. The state's flagship university received $11.6 million from the federal stimulus, and was required to give half of it to students for expenses related to campus closures. 

A UNH spokeswoman says about 11,000 students were eligible for grants of between $250 and $700 apiece. It leaves the school with $5.8 million in unallocated federal funds. 

On Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu announced UNH and other public state and community colleges would get $15 million in COVID-19 relief money. The news arrived on the eve of UNH's virtual graduation ceremony today, Saturday, via Facebook.

-Annie Ropeik

N.H. expands testing capacity

Update: Saturday, May 16, 11:01 a.m.

New Hampshire is greatly expanding its testing capacity as the state seeks to reach another milestone in phased-in economic reopening with the start of outdoor dining Monday, May 18. Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette says the state is reaching a daily average of 2,000 tests.

The effort received a boost from the state's seventh fixed testing site, on Stickney Avenue in Concord, this past week. The state's other six fixed testing sites: Claremont, Lancaster, Milford, Plymouth, Tamworth, and Rochester.

The state also launched an online registration for individuals to request and schedule a test. The portal is for those who are showing COVID-19 symptoms and for people in at-risk groups, including those 60 and older, those with underlying health conditions, a person caring for an at-risk individual, and health care workers. The state's number for scheduling is 603-271-5980, and residents with coronavirus questions can call 2-1-1.

Find a location near you - Zoom in/out on our map to find a collection site:

- NHPR Staff

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State Reevaluating Use of Rapid Testing Machines

Update: Friday, May 15, 8:50 p.m.

The state's top health official said New Hampshire is reevaluating how it will use rapid testing machines produced by Abbott Laboratories in light of FDA findings that up to 15 percent of negative test results from the machines may be false.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said she couldn't say how many COVID-19 tests in New Hampshire had been carried out on the Abbot machines. But she said protocols for using the Abbott machines would be changing.

“Abbott can certainly be used to test for an easy positive,” Shibinette said, “but right now we have to develop our guidance around what’s the next step after you get a negative, because based on the FDA guidance there’s going to be a next step.”

Gov. Chris Sununu had hailed the arrival of New Hampshire’s 15 Abbot machines last month, but their use was hobbled from the start by a lack of supplies. Shibinette said the state had hoped the machines, which can turn around a COVID test in as little as 15 minutes, might be deployed in nursing homes, but said technical requirements made that infeasible.

-Josh Rogers

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