Coronavirus Update: Sununu Says Lack Of More Federal COVID Relief Is 'Unacceptable' | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Update: Sununu Says Lack Of More Federal COVID Relief Is 'Unacceptable'

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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.

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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 Aug. 10: 

  • No new deaths reported. 
  • 13 new cases were reported, including three patients under the age of 18.
  • The state's total case number stands at 6,840.

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

Other important links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Alex McOwen

14 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

40 new cases reported Saturday

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

State of Emergency extended

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

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

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

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

- Dan Tuohy

State investigating possible exposure at Windham church events

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

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

39 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

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

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

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

The state says there are currently 365 active cases.

- NHPR Staff

Emergency order directed at summer camps

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

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

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

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

Pressed on bike week safety, Sununu creates task force

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

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

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

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

- Annie Ropeik

Inmate in Berlin tests positive

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

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

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

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

- Mary McIntyre

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1 more death, 25 new COVID-19 cases

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

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

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

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

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

-- NHPR Staff

Traffic volume picks up on N.H. turnpikes

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

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

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

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

- Todd Bookman

State reports 27 new cases

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

3 major bus companies announce return of service this month

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

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

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

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

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

- Dan Tuohy

More towns are adopting face mask requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Alex McOwen

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NH GAP fund deadline extended until Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

Durham adopts a mask requirement

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

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

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

- Mary McIntyre

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

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

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

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

State temporarily closes testing sites due to Tropical Storm Isaias

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

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

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

Credit DHHS

26 new cases, 1 new hospitalization

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

Bus lines aim to resume service soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jalbert hopes to make an announcement later this week.

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

- Dan Tuohy

Mask ordinances on the agenda in Durham, Portsmouth Monday

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

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

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

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

The Durham proposal also exempts children under 10.

Delegation pushes for extension of deadline

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

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

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

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

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

1 additional death, 21 new cases reported Sunday

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

- NHPR Staff

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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