|As of March 28
|As of April 4
|Total cases statewide
|Total current infections statewide
|Total deaths statewide
|873 (March 22 to March 28)
|829 (March 29 to April 4)
|Current infections: Hillsborough County
|281 (as of Thurs., March 31)
|Current infections: Merrimack County
|87 (as of Thurs., March 31)
|Current infections: Rockingham County
|218 (as of Thurs., March 31)
On March 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for older and certain immunocompromised populations. According to a press release, these include people ages 50 and older at least four months after receiving their first booster dose, as well as people ages 12 and older (for Pfizer) and 18 and older (for Moderna) who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are living with conditions considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. “Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose … could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time.”
In New Hampshire, state health officials reported 102 new cases of Covid-19 on April 4. Last week, Covid-related hospitalizations fell to the single digits for the first time in more than a year — as of April 4 there were just six statewide.
The state is looking for a commercial insurance carrier to fully insure and administer the Granite State Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan. According to a press release, last week Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Departments of Administrative Services and Employment Security, with assistance from the Insurance Department, released a Request for Proposal to administer the plan, which provides participating employees in New Hampshire with 60 percent of their average weekly wage for up to six weeks per year for specified leaves of absence. “A statewide, private-market, truly voluntary paid leave plan does not exist in any other state, and New Hampshire is leading the way,” Sununu said in the release. “After years of talk, we are finally moving forward with a viable paid leave product that is available to anyone who wants it and forced upon no one who does not.” The state is required to implement a voluntary paid family and medical leave plan as a provision of the 2022/2023 State Budget Trailer Bill, the release said. Any employer can choose to participate, and a business enterprise tax credit equal to 50 percent of the premium paid by those employers is available. “This is a critical program providing current and future workers here in the Granite State with the choice to take paid time away from work to care for family or care for themselves,” Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers of Employment Security said in the release.
Queen City budget
Last week, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig delivered her FY23 tax-cap budget address. According to a press release, the budget proposal includes a 3.57 percent property tax increase (resulting in a tax rate change of $0.63, from $17.68 to $18.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value), which equates to an increase in property tax revenues of $8.2 million. Approximately $4.3 million of that is allocated to the City and $3.9 million the Manchester School District. A significant increase in health insurance claims in the second half of FY22 prompted an increase of $1.5 million to health insurance in FY23, the release said, and an additional $1.4 million was allocated to merits, longevity and associated benefits — meaning 65 percent of all city employees will receive at least a 3 percent increase in pay. The budget also includes bonding renovations to Derryfield Park, and replacing the Livingston Park track and the playgrounds at Wolfe Park and Sheridan Emmett Park, as well as $4.1 million that will go toward improving 32.9 miles of streets and sidewalks. The budget also establishes a green streets tree canopy program that will cover half of a resident’s cost for a new tree if it’s adjacent to the street. It leverages private funds for upgrades to fields at Livingston, Precourt, Sheehan Basquil and Stevens parks. For Manchester’s schools, the budget covers current programming and staff, and costs associated with collective bargaining agreements, retirement and health insurance, the release said, and it supports the school district’s strategic plan to grow its learners, educators and systems. Approximately $4.4 million in bonding will be used for Capital Improvement Projects, including the purchase of five school buses, playground replacements at Bakersville and Webster Elementary and Cullerot Park access to green space for Northwest students.
Sixty-eight percent of New Hampshire registered voters think the country is on the wrong track, according to a recent poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. That number is down from 74 percent in January, and according to a press release, the current political environment has led to slightly improved job approval for incumbents, though President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy is the same as January, with 58 percent of voters disapproving. His job approval has increased slightly: 43 percent approval, compared to 41 percent in January. Locally, Gov. Chris Sununu is up from his career low and is now at 62 percent approval, 36 percent disapproval, and, according to the release, he leads in a hypothetical matchup against his only announced challenger, State Sen. Tom Sherman, 51 to 24 percent. The approval rating for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is at 48 percent; Sen. Maggie Hassan is at 46 percent; Congressman Chris Pappas is at 43 percent; and Congresswoman Annie Kuster is at 42 percent, the release said. Results from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll are based on online surveys of 1,265 New Hampshire registered voters collected on March 23 and March 24.
The state has a new partnership with TeachUNITED to provide five rural schools with individualized professional development. According to a press release, the schools were selected based on need and instructional improvement goals. The chosen schools are Northwood Elementary School in Northwood, Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, Barnard Elementary School in South Hampton, Stevens High School in Claremont and Cornish Elementary School in Cornish. The program highlights strategies for growth mindset, data-driven instruction and personalized and blended learning. “This new partnership will support teachers and rural school leaders with strategies necessary to set and reach ambitious student goals,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, said in the release.
Help clean up any public area in Concord with the city’s Blue Bag Program. According to Concord’s monthly newsletter, residents can participate in the free program by filling out a release form, picking up free blue bags at the Concord General Services office at 311 N. State St., do the clean-up, leave the bags on the side of the road, and then notify General Services, which will come out and pick up the trash.
The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center will travel to the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner on Saturday, April 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. for “Spemki Nib8iwi: The Heavens in the Nighttime.” According to a press release, the free outdoor program will feature stargazing with an Indigenous focus, a bonfire, hot drinks and telescopes set up in the field for sky viewing. Bring your own chairs; restrooms will be available.
Street sweeping is underway in Manchester. The Department of Public Works started sweeping on April 6, according to a press release, and sweeping will take place in various neighborhoods around the city on the first Wednesday and Thursday of the month. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days, vehicles will need to be parked on one side of the street on Wednesday and on the opposite side the following day. Signs will be posted, and the city has tried to inform all residents in these areas, the release said.
Hillsborough County Superior Court-South’s Adult Drug Court in Nashua has been named one of 10 national mentor treatment courts by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the U.S. Department of Justice. According to a press release, the drug court will serve a two-year term as a model program to assist new or growing courts around the country.