Coronavirus Coverage

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Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 27, 2020

Mar 27, 2020

Governor Sununu issues a stay-at-home order until May 4th, and announced schools will remain closed until that date. The federal government is set to enact a $2 trillion stimulus package to support the economy as the coronavirus continues to have widespread impact on the country. And testing challenges for COVID-19 remain in New Hampshire, as healthcare facilities prepare for even more cases. 

Read all of NHPR's coronavirus coverage. 

Air date: Friday, March 27, 2020

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

Sara Plourde | NHPR

With most people staying at home right now, family dynamics and relationships are shifting in ways we couldn't have expected.

This program aired on Thursday, March 26th.

Listen to the episode:

New Hampshire Calling is NHPR's pop-up call-in show designed to connect you with us - and with each other - in the time of coronavirus. We invite you to call in to talk about how your life and family are being affected right now....and how you're holding up. And yes, feel free to share what's bringing you joy in this unprecedented time.

The latest figures on coronavirus tests run so far in the U.S. were put at about 552,000, according to government officials during the Thursday's briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

"The testing is going very, very well," President Trump said.

NHPR staff

Gov. Chris Sununu issued an expansive stay-at-home order Thursday, requiring all New Hampshire residents except for those employed by “essential” businesses to stay put until at least May 4 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Updated 9:31 p.m. ET Thursday

The U.S. now has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world, surpassing China's total and highlighting how rapidly the virus can move through a population.

The U.S. logged more than 83,000 cases as of 8 p.m. ET Thursday, while China reported more than 81,00 infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Two U.S. officials tell NPR that the Pentagon is expected to send 1,500 troops to the nation's borders with Canada and Mexico to assist Customs and Border Protection operations as the coronavirus death toll tops 1,100 in the United States.

On weekday evenings, sisters Lesley Laine and Lisa Ingle stage online happy hours from the Southern California home they share. It's something they've been enjoying with local and faraway friends during this period of social distancing and self-isolation. And on a recent evening, I shared a toast with them.

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday seeks to help soften the economic damage of the coronavirus. Here’s a summary of how the bill, which the House could take up as early as Friday, would likely impact New Hampshire residents and businesses. 

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Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET

President Trump told governors his administration is working on publishing guidelines for state and local governments to use to determine whether to increase or relax social distancing rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement came ahead of the White House's regular news conference on its response to the pandemic.

Over a thousand people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, and over a third of those deaths have taken place in New York. Nearly half the confirmed cases in the United States are in New York.

Pickpik

Those in recovery from substance use disorder have been forced to isolate themselves and attend meetings online as recovery centers across the state close and transition to telehealth.

While isolation can be dangerous for those in recovery, John Burns, Director of SOS Recovery Community Organization, said "there is a silver lining in all this." 

The coronavirus pandemic has closed schools across the U.S., affecting nearly 2 million public school students in New England alone. What are the educational and social impacts of this sudden shift to remote learning? What about students with special learning needs? And how might the COVID-19 crisis widen the inequities in our K-12 educational system?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, NHPR will bring listeners some special news and children's programming, affecting our broadcast schedule for Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28. 

DHMC

This post gathers NHPR's past updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire with a date range beginning on March 20th, 2020. Click here for updates from March 3-19th.

NOTE: Some of the stories below may contained outdated guidance and stories that have since evolved. Please click the links below for the most up-to-date coverage and guidance. 

NHPR File Photo

Police departments across the state are trying to limit the amount of face-to-face contact between officers and the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Two patrol partners in Laconia are in quarantine after one tested positive. 

Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield says the coronavirus pandemic does put his officers at great risk.

“They can’t always wear personal protective equipment just given the nature of the job and the dangers associated with it -- from an officer safety standpoint,” Canfield said.

Many businesses in New Hampshire’s seasonal tourism industry fill job openings with international workers on a J-1 visa, also known as a work and travel visa.

But, as the ski season winds down, many of those international workers find themselves in a kind of limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to support the journalism NHPR is bringing you every day on this critical story.

biologycorner / Flickr Creative Commons

 

Groups representing public school administrators and teachers are calling for the state to postpone student assessments this spring, in light of emergency school closures.

U.S. Department of Education told states they could apply for a waiver to defer tests required by federal law until the end of the national emergency. The DOE is streamlining the application process for states applying for the waiver; nearly all have applied, with the exception of New Hampshire.

Commercial fishermen in the U.S. who have already faced challenges in recent years to make it in an increasingly globalized and regulated industry, are now struggling to find customers during the coronavirus crisis.

"This is totally unprecedented. This is the biggest crisis to hit the fishing industry ever, no question about that," Noah Oppenheim, executive director of The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations told NPR in a phone interview. The federation is a trade association representing commercial fishermen along the West Coast.

Toilet tissue isn't the only paper product that Americans are hoarding these days. Paper money is also in high demand.

Banks are seeing more cash withdrawals as nervous customers try to protect themselves from the uncertainty of the coronavirus clampdown.

With the increased stress, confinement, and economic uncertainty that has come with COVID-19, child abuse experts are concerned abuse at home may increase and go unreported. Moira O'Neill is the director of New Hampshire's Office of the Child Advocate. She says that with schools closed, many children have lost their safety net, and that we all should be thinking about that.

O'Neill spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello about her concerns, and about what the public can do to help. 
 

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

Despite urgent pleas from governors and mayors across the country, Defense Secretary Mark Esper cautioned on Wednesday that the U.S. military is not positioned to deploy nearly enough medical resources to address the scale of the coronavirus outbreak. And warning that the pandemic will "inevitably" alter the global strategic balance, he said the virus cannot be allowed to overtake national security as the Pentagon's top priority.

Courtesy photo

Fabrizia Spirits in Salem relies on a key ingredient that you might not think would come in handy during a pandemic: lemons

“We buy and process about 700,000 lemons a year,” said owner Phil Mastroianni.

Normally those lemons go into limoncello, an Italian liqueur. But the coronavirus completely transformed Mastroianni’s business in the course of just one day last week.

As countries close borders and flights are canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department says as many as 50,000 Americans are seeking help to return home.

Peru has been particularly complicated, according to Ian Brownlee, who runs the State Department's repatriation task force. "There were some [COVID-19] infections in the civil aviation authority and on the civilian side of the airport, and they're trying to run it on a bit of a shoestring from the military side of the airport," he said.

Updated 8:31 a.m. ET Thursday

First-time jobless claims hit nearly 3.3 million last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's staggering when you consider that at the height of the Great Recession, initial claims topped out at just shy of 700,000.

The legislation that the Senate passed Wednesday night is set to provide $2 trillion in economic aid as the nation braces for this massive economic blow.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Lawmakers in Washington are moving forward on a $2 trillion coronavirus bill, the largest stimulus package in U.S. history. The bill would provide direct payments to taxpayers, loans to small businesses and create a $500 billion corporate bailout fund.

Senator Maggie Hassan spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello about the bill, and about whether she thinks New Hampshire is ready for a shelter-in-place order.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Sara Plourde | NHPR

We're living in weird times...so, what's bringing you joy right now?

This program aired on Wednesday, March 25th.

Listen to the episode:

New Hampshire Calling is NHPR's pop-up call-in show designed to connect you with us - and with each other - in the time of coronavirus. We invite you to call in to talk about how your life and family are being affected right now....and how you're holding up. And yes, feel free to share what's bringing you joy in this unprecedented time.

During a news conference Wednesday evening, President Trump said: "We don't have to test the entire state in the Middle West or wherever they may be. We don't have to test the entire state. I think it's ridiculous. A lot of those states could go back [to work] right now, and they probably will."

He's correct that the entire population of a state does not need to be tested right now. However, all 50 states do have cases, and those small- and medium-sized outbreaks may be growing exponentially.

apartments.com

Seacoast nonprofits say dozens of families could be in jeopardy if a Dover rental complex decides to stop providing publicly subsidized housing next year.

The owners of the 50-unit Rutland Manor Apartments recently told tenants that they won’t be renewing their federal Section 8 housing contract in April 2021, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat.

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