News & Notes 21/05/20

Covid-19 updateAs of May 10As of May 17
Total cases statewide96,80197,774
Total current infections statewide1,4921,169
Total deaths statewide1,3151,333
New cases1,295 (May 4 to May 10)973 (May 11 to May 17)
Current infections: Hillsborough County474349
Current infections: Merrimack County11498
Current infections: Rockingham County304194
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on May 13, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that positive case numbers of Covid-19 in New Hampshire continue to be on the decline, averaging between 150 and 200 new infections per day over the previous week, while the test positivity rate was at roughly 3 percent. As of May 13, there have been 178 confirmed “breakthrough” infections of the virus, meaning those that occurred despite individuals being fully vaccinated. “We are going to see vaccine breakthrough cases, but it’s a very low number when you consider the number of people that have been fully vaccinated,” said Chan, noting that it’s less than 0.1 percent of these cases relative to overall vaccinations.

Later during the press conference, when asked about the CDC’s new guidance released earlier that day saying fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most cases, Chan said he was “a little bit unhappy” with how it was rolled out. “The difficult choices have always been around what the correct timing is,” he said. “Anytime the CDC puts out this type of guidance, we never just simply adopt it because the CDC has put it out. We’ve always, throughout this pandemic, taken the time to review it, understand it, look at our own numbers, look at our own situation [and] make decisions based on our own local context, and we will do that in this situation as well.”

As of last week, children and teens ages 12 to 15 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. “We have already had 6,000 12- to 15-year-olds register out of the 60,000 people in this age group,” Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, said during the press conference. “We have seen even young, otherwise healthy people get hospitalized or have weeks or months of breathing problems that impacted their ability to play sports or exercise, so we do encourage all parents to make that choice to get their child vaccinated.”

Gov. Chris Sununu also announced during the press conference that beginning this week New Hampshire is opening up each of its state-run vaccination sites to walk-ins, with no appointments needed, between 3 and 6 p.m. Both Pfizer and Moderna are available at these sites. Second-dose appointments will still be scheduled at the time of the first vaccination.

Downtown development

Last week, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig submitted proposals to transform two large city-owned downtown parking lots — the Pearl Street Lot and Hartnett Lot — into mixed-use, mixed-income housing developments in an effort to address the city’s housing shortage. According to a press release, Craig’s Requests for Proposals drafts, which were sent to the city’s Lands and Buildings Aldermanic Committee for approval, require that some units be affordable, based on Housing and Urban Development’s definition of affordable housing, and the number of affordable units will be the biggest factor in the evaluation criteria. Further, the proposals must not reduce any existing public parking spaces, and they must be architecturally pleasing and pedestrian-friendly. “Manchester has been named the hottest real estate market in the country for the second year in a row, and in order to keep up with demand, there is a desperate need for not only more affordable housing but more housing in general,” Craig said in the release. The Queen City’s Affordable Housing Taskforce, which was established in March 2020, released its final report last month, with the first recommendation being to “prioritize the development of affordable housing on City-owned parking lots and vacant City-owned land,” the release said. On May 18, Craig also announced a proposal to create a Housing Commission, which was another recommendation made by the Affordable Housing Task Force. “Through this commission, the City of Manchester will continue to engage members of our community in finding innovative solutions to the rising cost of housing,” Craig said in the release. The commission would be responsible for following up on the many recommendations made by the Affordable Housing Task Force. The proposal was scheduled to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Committee on Administration on the evening of May 18.

Free class for grads

All 2021 high school graduates are being offered a free class of their choice at any of New Hampshire’s community colleges in the fall. According to a press release, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Foundation for New Hampshire Community Colleges have committed more than $1 million, plus advising and other services from the community colleges, to help students on their future educational and career paths. Any student graduating from a New Hampshire high school in 2021 can take any three-credit course at any of the seven colleges in the Community College System of NH, including courses that are part of certificate programs for skilled trades. The gift covers tuition and associated fees, and the colleges will work with students to help with course selection. Eligible students can contact the admissions office at their local community college.

Record lottery sales

On May 17, the New Hampshire Lottery announced that it has set an all-time annual sales record, with seven weeks still remaining in the fiscal year. Gross sales have exceeded $434 million, according to a press release, which is more than a 30-percent year-over-year increase. Net profit to date is approximately $107 million and is on pace to reach $130 million. The previous record net profit was $105.5 million, set in Fiscal Year 2019. That profit goes to the state’s public education system, which has received $2.2 billion since the lottery’s inception in 1964. “As we look ahead, the New Hampshire Lottery is well-positioned to continue building on this momentum to benefit the students and teachers of New Hampshire for years and years to come,” Charlie McIntyre, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Lottery, said in the release. Almost all of the state’s lottery games are ahead of last year’s sales pace, including Fast Play, which is up more than 200 percent; NH iLottery, which is up 136 percent; KENO 603, up nearly 52 percent; Gimme 5, up more than 37 percent; and scratch ticket sales, which are up more than 21 percent. Large Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots, which reached a combined $1.58 billion in January, also contributed to the sales record, the release said.

Ed funding lawsuit

Last week the Mascoma Valley Regional and Derry Cooperative school districts announced that they will join nine other school districts as co-plaintiffs in ConVal School District’s lawsuit against the state over equitable education funding. According to a press release, the plaintiffs argue that the state does not meet its constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding for all students, saying that base adequacy — which provided $3,636 per student in all districts in 2019 — is not sufficient. In March, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire rejected the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. The case now goes back to Superior Court Judge David Ruoff, who will hold hearings allowing the plaintiffs to present evidence that the state underfunds education; an evidentiary hearing isn’t expected until the summer of 2022, according to the release. The other school districts involved in the lawsuit so far are Oyster River, Grantham, Claremont, Fall Mountain, Hillsboro-Deering, Mascenic, Monadnock, Newport and Wincheste r. Ruoff has given New Hampshire districts until Friday, May 22, to decide whether to join the lawsuit. “As a regional school district, Mascoma Valley experiences the injustice of New Hampshire’s educational funding mechanism which pits community against community instead of uniting us in the common goal of education,” Tim Josephson, Vice Chair of the Mascoma School Board, said in the release. “The legislature’s lack of action since the Claremont lawsuits has deepened inequities, allowing the state to continue shrinking its constitutionally-mandated responsibility.”

Boscawen has been awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the former Allied Leather site on Commercial Street. According to a press release, the site, which has housed various mill operations and a leather tannery, has been vacant since 1987 and is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum, metals and other contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to conduct community outreach activities. The Town of Jaffrey also received a grant: $300,000 to assess and develop cleanup plans for various sites in town.

Concord’s Giant Indoor Yard Sale returns on Saturday, May 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Everett Arena. There will be thousands of items, according to a press release, and admission is $5 for adults; kids 12 and under get in free.

High school students at Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies in Manchester helped Manchester Community College’s student senate for the second year with its Sleep In Heavenly Peace Build a Bed event, which brings together volunteers to build beds for local kids who are sleeping on the floor, according to a press release. Students from both schools built 15 bunk beds for local under-resourced families.

A team from Nashua Community College is one of 12 national finalists that has been selected to move on to the next phase in the 2021 Community College Innovation Challenge. According to a press release from the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation, the team will attend a Virtual Boot Camp in June to interact with entrepreneurs and business experts, culminating in a Student Innovation Showcase with a pitch presentation to determine the winner. The Nashua group will present its EnviroMask project to develop an environmentally friendly, fully biodegradable face mask using cotton with bioplastic and non-woven bamboo fiber, the release said.

News & Notes 21/05/13

Covid-19 updateAs of May 3As of May 10
Total cases statewide95,50696,801
Total current infections statewide1,9791,492
Total deaths statewide1,3051,315
New cases1,571 (April 27 to May 3)1,295 (May 4 to May 10)
Current infections: Hillsborough County558474
Current infections: Merrimack County168114
Current infections: Rockingham County386304
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on May 6, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that New Hampshire has averaged between 200 and 250 new infections of Covid-19 per day in the last week, a decrease from the week prior. The number of active infections has also been on a slight decline, while the number of hospitalizations has been steady.

According to Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, more than 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been administered in the state, including to 725,000 people who have received their first dose. Of those, 505,000 people (just over a third of the state’s population) have now been fully vaccinated.

The state’s “Safer at Home” advisory, in place since June 2020, expired at midnight on May 7. In its place as of that date are now “universal best practices” guidance documents for state businesses. They can be viewed online at covidguidance.nh.gov. “There are no further requirements that we are going to be instituting for large gatherings,” Sununu said later during the press conference when asked about the new guidance documents. “[The best practices guidelines are] all-encompassing and just reminding folks of how they can keep themselves, their employees and their customers safe without the actual statewide-driven mandate.”

Also on May 7, Sununu issued Executive Order 2021-8, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least May 28. It’s the 20th extension he has issued since declaring a state of emergency in March 2020.

Queen City ARP funds

Last week Mayor Joyce Craig released the results of a survey that asked Manchester residents how they want the city’s American Rescue Plan funds — about $44 million — to be spent. According to a press release, of the 159 residents who responded, nearly 32 percent want to spend the money on improving roads, connecting the rail trail, and promoting a more walkable and livable city. Approximately 28 percent said their top priority was affordable housing and assisting those in Manchester experiencing homelessness. Ten percent want to see education improvements, 10 percent want the money spent on downtown improvements and local businesses, and 7 percent want the funds to go to public health. As part of the survey, most respondents noted the social isolation, anxiety and financial impacts brought on by the pandemic, but nearly 24 percent also talked about the positive impact that the past year has brought: “It has slowed us down in a way where we value our local community and realize the dependencies we have on each other. We’ve learned to love our neighbors more and to support ALL the businesses and people that are working hard each day,” one resident wrote, according to the press release.

“The results of our community feedback survey show that our residents are ready to bounce back from this Covid-19 pandemic and address important issues like infrastructure, housing and education,” Craig said in the release.

Property tax relief

The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration is once again offering low- and moderate-income homeowners the opportunity to apply for property tax relief, according to a press release. The Low and Moderate Income Homeowners Property Tax Relief program is now accepting applications through June 30. Eligible applicants are either single with adjusted gross income less than or equal to $20,000 or married or head of New Hampshire household with adjusted gross income less than or equal to $40,000, and have owned and resided in a home that is subject to the State Education Property Tax and resided in as of April 1, 2020. The application is available at revenue.nh.gov or by calling 230-5001. Individual income tax returns must be submitted with the application.

Tax exemptions

On May 5, Mayor Joyce Craig and the Board of Assessors announced a change to tax exemptions that expands the eligibility requirements for elderly and disabled Manchester residents. According to a press release, income limits for this population are increasing from $37,000 to $41,000 for single individuals, and from $50,000 to $55,000 for married individuals. Asset limits are increasing from $90,000 to $100,000 for single individuals and $115,000 to $130,000 for married individuals. Elderly residents must be 65 or older as of April 1, must have been a resident of New Hampshire for three consecutive years on or before April 1, and must be the owner of record of the property in question. Disabled residents must be eligible for payments under Title II or Title XVI of the federal Social Security Act, must have been a New Hampshire resident for at least five years as of April 1, and must be the owner of record as of April 1. Residents who now qualify based on the expanded exemption have until Friday, June 18, to file an application and can call 624-6520 or visit manchesternh.gov.

Education funding

Last week the Oyster River Cooperative and the Grantham school districts announced that they will join the school districts of Claremont, Fall Mountain, Hillsboro-Deering, Mascenic, Monadnock, Newport and Winchester as co-plaintiffs in ConVal School District’s lawsuit against the state over equitable education funding. According to a press release, the plaintiffs argue that the state does not meet its constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding for all students, saying that base adequacy — which provided $3,636 per student in all districts in 2019 — is not sufficient. In March, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire rejected the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. The case now goes back to Superior Court Judge David Ruoff, who will hold hearings allowing the plaintiffs to present evidence that the state underfunds education; an evidentiary hearing isn’t expected until the summer of 2022, according to the release.

The Centennial Hotel in Concord has been nominated for the annual Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, according to a press release, along with 30 other hotels and ski resorts in the state, most of which are in the White Mountains. The cities of Manchester and Concord were also nominated and will go up against the best in class for special recognition in the magazine’s November issue, the release said.

The historical Stone House in Hooksett will stay standing, the Hooksett Heritage Commission announced in a press release. RCA Holdings is not moving forward with plans to demolish the building and replace it with a storage facility, and the property is on the market again, for $675,000, the release said.

UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Goffstown is hosting a Community Horse Drive Thru on Saturday, May 15, from 10 to 11 a.m., according to a press release. Meet the nonprofit’s horses and horse handlers, whom you’ll be able to visit with right at your car window. To RSVP visit upreachtec.org or call 497-2343.

Several properties have been added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places, including the Morrison House, circa 1760, in Londonderry, one of the oldest standing capes in town and the only surviving building from one of its earliest settled areas, according to a press release. Other properties include the Association Hall in Derry, Andover Town Hall and the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church.

News & Notes 21/05/06

Covid-19 updateAs of April 26As of May 3
Total cases statewide93,93595,506
Total current infections statewide2,7171,979
Total deaths statewide1,21,28601,305
New cases2,152 (April 20 to April 26)1,571(April 27 to May 3)
Current infections: Hillsborough County806558
Current infections: Merrimack County225168
Current infections: Rockingham County477386
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on April 29, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that New Hampshire has averaged between 250 and 300 new infections per day over the previous week, numbers that continue to trend down. He later added that, as of April 29, New Hampshire has seen a total of 88 confirmed “breakthrough” infections of Covid-19, meaning those that occurred despite individuals being fully vaccinated. “The majority of these are not variants of concern,” Dr. Chan said, adding that only seven of the 88 infections were with the B.1.1.7. variant. “Whether it’s a variant of concern or not, we know that breakthrough infections can and do occur, but the vaccine continues to be important for limiting the burden of disease, preventing hospitalizations, preventing deaths and preventing asymptomatic infection.”

Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, also provided an update on vaccine distributions in the state. As of April 29, roughly 50 percent of New Hampshire’s population (about 687,000 people) has received at least one shot, while a third of the population (about 446,000 people) is now fully vaccinated. An additional 4,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was recently recommended by the CDC and the FDA to resume administration, were allocated across three fixed sites in Concord, Nashua and Newington on May 2.

Later during the press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that the “universal best practices” guidance documents for state businesses would be released that day, with the guidance itself going into effect May 7. “What we’re really trying to do is keep it truly universal,” he said. “We’re just kind of re-emphasizing the most important parts of the guidance and mandates that we previously had in place. … This is a bit of a reminder going into the long-term.” Separate “overnight congregate settings for children” guidance documents have also been released, for businesses like overnight summer camps. Both sets of documents can be viewed online at covidguidance.nh.gov.

Housing markets

New Hampshire has two of the top 10 emerging housing markets in the country, according to a study released last week by the Wall Street Journal and realtor.com. Concord and Manchester-Nashua ranked 8th and 9th, respectively. The new Emerging Housing Markets Index used housing market, economic vitality and quality of life metrics to determine its rankings for 300 of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to realtor.com. “Out of the top emerging 10 housing markets in the country, New Hampshire was the only state in the nation with two markets in the top 10,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement following the study’s release. “With a superior quality of life, thousands of high-paying jobs, and no income or sales tax, it’s no surprise people are looking to move to New Hampshire.” According to realtor.com, the top 10 housing markets have strong demand and somewhat limited supply, and home prices are expected to continue rising; they’ve seen an appreciation of about 27 percent, on average, in the last year, compared to 14 percent across all markets.

Job fairs

The State of New Hampshire is hosting 10 virtual job fairs between the first week in May and the first week that the work search requirement resumes, on May 23. Those collecting unemployment will need to show proof that they are searching for work while collecting benefits. “This return to our traditional, more normalized system is a sign that we are getting back to normal,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a press release. The virtual job fairs are:

May 6 veteran virtual job fair in partnership with NH DMAVS

May 11 student virtual job fair in partnership with Pinkerton Academy

May 11 student and adult education virtual job fair in partnership with Pinkerton Academy

May 13 construction industry virtual job fair in partnership with ABC NH/VT

May 18 Great North Woods region & Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region

May 19 Seacoast region

May 20 White Mountains region

May 25 Lakes region

May 26 Monadnock region

May 27 Capital & Southern region

Employers looking to register their company and job seekers looking for work can register for one of the job fairs by going to virtualjobfairs.nh.gov. All New Hampshire Works Jobs Centers across the state will be open to the public by May 10, the release said.

The New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton recently recognized 29 employees with 460 years of combined service to the State of New Hampshire, according to a press release. The employees who were honored have been working at the home for at least 10 years, and the longest-serving employee has been there for 35 years, according to the release.

Sarah Lenau of Manchester has been named a 2021 Camp Champion by Camp Casco, a nonprofit organization offering free camps and socials for childhood cancer patients, survivors and siblings in New England, according to a press release. She will soon join a crew of athletes to take on the Presidential Traverse to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer survivors.

Bedford residents are invited to a virtual public information meeting Thursday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m., when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services will provide updates on the status of PFAS in the community. According to a press release, the meeting will include information on the current status of PFAS in Bedford, what it means to residents, actions to help mitigate exposure, a question-and-answer session and more. Pre-registration is recommended; visit bedfordnh.org for the link.

Exeter High School graduate Hunter Long has joined the Miami Dolphins, according to an April 30 report from WMUR. Long, who helped earn Exeter a state title in 2015 before playing for Boston College, was the 81st pick in the third round of the NFL draft and is seen as one of the best tight ends in the nation, according to the report.

News & Notes 21/04/29

Covid-19 updateAs of April 19As of April 26
Total cases statewide91,78393,935
Total current infections statewide3,3292,717
Total deaths statewide1,2701,286
New cases2,554 (April 13 to April 19)2,152 (April 20 to April 26)
Current infections: Hillsborough County1,002806
Current infections: Merrimack County270225
Current infections: Rockingham County746477
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on April 22, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that New Hampshire has averaged about 350 new infections of Covid-19 per day, while the test-positivity rate was at 4.5 percent.

Over the last several weeks, the number of active infections in the state has hovered around either side of 3,000, while the total number of positive cases since the start of the pandemic last year is creeping toward 100,000.

According to Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, roughly 47 percent of the state’s population (about 637,000 people) have received at least their first shot as of April 22, while 28 percent of the population (about 387,000 people) has been fully vaccinated. “We continue to receive around 50,000 first doses of vaccine each week, between the doses that are allocated to us at the state, as well as our pharmacy partners,” she said. “We still have thousands of open appointments available … at over 200 different locations where you can get vaccinated.”

Thousands more people received their shot at a mass vaccination site at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on April 24. Unlike previous sites at the Speedway, this one was only held by appointment for people to receive their second shot.

Later during the press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu said that the state would likely resume administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine “in a matter of days.”

The following day, April 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration issued a joint statement lifting the recommended pause of the vaccine, saying that its “known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.” Federal health officials had recommended a pause of states’ usage of the vaccine on April 13 following six reports of a rare blood clot disorder, a condition the CDC is now calling “thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain).”

Re-election campaign

On April 27, Mayor Joyce Craig announced that she will be running for re-election for mayor of Manchester. She is currently serving in her second term and is the first woman to serve as mayor in the Queen City, according to a press release. “Manchester is a city on the rise. When the pandemic hit, our progress was interrupted, and we focused our efforts at City Hall on keeping our community safe while still providing essential services,” Craig said in the release. “I’m running for Mayor in 2021 to ensure our city fully recovers from this pandemic, builds upon our progress and comes out of this stronger than before.” This announcement comes after Victoria Sullivan announced her run for mayor last week. According to a press release, Sullivan is a former New Hampshire state representative and assistant majority leader who served two terms on the House Education Committee.

Unemployment

The work search requirement for people getting unemployment benefits will be reinstated starting May 23, Gov. Chris Sununu said in a press conference on April 22, so anyone receiving benefits after that date will have to show proof that they are looking for work. The requirement has been waived during the pandemic, but Sununu said that the state now has a 3 percent unemployment rate, one of the lowest in the country. “Our economy is very, very strong,” he said during the conference. “And it also unfortunately means that we’re, if anything, facing a workforce shortage. … There are tens of thousands of high-paying jobs across the state available today.” The state has hosted 15 virtual job fairs since last summer to help employers find employees, he said, but there haven’t been nearly as many potential employees attending these fairs as there are jobs. Several more job fairs are planned, including one on Thursday, May 6, aimed toward veterans, and one Monday, May 10, for students and recent graduates, as well as one on Thursday, May 13, for those in the construction industry. Sununu encouraged anyone seeking employment to get details about those and other upcoming job fairs at unemploymentbenefits.nh.gov. Meanwhile, he said, all NH Works Centers will be back open to the public by May 10.

Virtual urgent care

Instead of traveling to an emergency room or urgent care clinic, people who need non-emergency care can now connect with a provider by phone or by video on their laptops or mobile devices with the new D-HH Virtual Urgent Care. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health’s Connected Care and Center for Telehealth has partnered with MDLIVE to launch the new service, which provides patients with 24/7 access to urgent care by fully licensed providers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock or MDLIVE-affiliated physicians who are board-certified, licensed, telehealth-trained and have an average of 15 years of experience, according to a press release. Once they sign on, patients can wait for an available provider — the wait time is usually less than 15 minutes — or schedule an appointment for later that day for common health concerns like cold, flu, and other upper respiratory illnesses, allergies, bug bites, rashes, gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract infection and more. They can get prescriptions sent to their pharmacy, if necessary, the release said. The cost is $59 per visit, and the service is currently available to those with private insurance or those who can self-pay. In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), patient and visit details are shared only with the patient’s primary care physician, the release said. Visit go.d-h.org/virtualurgentcare.

Stock your backyard ponds with rainbow and brook trout, available in 6- to 8-inch and 10- to 12-inch sizes from the Merrimack County Conservation District in Concord, according to a press release. The order deadline is Tuesday, May 11. Any trout sized 6 to 8 inches can be picked up on Sunday, May 16, from 1 to 1: 30 p.m. at 10 Ferry St. in Concord, while the larger trout will be directly delivered to your pond. Call 223-6023 or order at merrimackccd.org. Anyone from any county can participate.

The Manchester Board of School Committee has been named the 2021 School Board of the Year by the New Hampshire School Boards Association, according to a press release. “In addition to its response to the pandemic, the board has maintained its focus on implementing a long-term strategic plan,” the release said.

The Upper Room and the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry are relaunching the On My Own Series, a virtual way for teens to explore skills such as cooking, painting, drawing and yoga. According to a press release, the program will be offered Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and all classes are free. Visit urteachers.org to register.

The Friends of the Plaistow Public Library are asking gardeners to consider splitting some of their perennial plants and donating them to the library’s upcoming plant sale, proceeds of which will benefit the Friends of the Library. Donations should be in pots and labeled with the plant name; they will be accepted beginning Monday, May 3.

News & Notes 21/04/22

Covid-19 updateAs of April 12As of April 19
Total cases statewide89,22991,783
Total current infections statewide3,3843,329
Total deaths statewide1,2571,270
New cases3,104 (April 6 to April 12)2,554 (April 13 to April 19)
Current infections: Hillsborough County1,0021,002
Current infections: Merrimack County297270
Current infections: Rockingham County846746
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on April 15, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that he would not be renewing the statewide mask mandate, citing a more than 95 percent drop in seven-day average daily deaths from Covid-19 from Nov. 1. The mandate, which required everyone over the age of 5 to wear masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces where social distancing wasn’t possible, was originally issued on Nov. 20 and extended twice before it expired on April 16. Despite the lifting of the statewide mandate, those in several cities and towns remain in effect. Concord’s citywide face covering ordinance, for instance, is still valid through at least June 1, while Nashua’s will remain in place “until further notice,” according to an April 16 press release. Private businesses such as retail stores also reserve the right to continue enforcing masks or face coverings when entering their establishments.

On April 16, Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 90, an order extending Emergency Order No. 52 regarding public health guidance for business operations and advising Granite Staters they are safer at home, through at least May 7. During the press conference, Sununu said that the restrictions outlined in the guidance “will transition from required mandates to universal best practices” beginning May 7. “Whether you’re talking about the restrictions we have in a retail store or a restaurant, or a large venue, all of that stays in place until May 7,” he said.

Also on April 16, Sununu issued Executive Order 2021-6, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least May 7.

According to an April 18 report from WMUR, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said he expects there will be “a resumption in some form” of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Friday. State health officials had announced April 13 that they would pause the use of the vaccine based on a recommendation from the federal government, following six reports nationwide of a blood clot disorder.

School support

Schools, students and families will get a little extra support with two programs launching this summer, both of which are efforts to address the negative effects that the pandemic has had, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Education. The first is ReKINDling Curiosity: Every Kid Goes to Camp, whichwill give children the opportunity to attend approved overnight and day youth recreation camps, with a focus on promoting social, emotional and mental wellness. The program will be run by the state and will pay up to $650 for camp fees at approved recreation facilities for qualifying students. DOE is also offering grants to school districts to create District Learning Pods this fall through a program called Recovering Bright Futures, the release said. The Learning Pods are designed for five to 10 students and follow a trauma-sensitive instructional model, providing students with in-person learning and peer interaction outside of traditional school. DOE will also support the creation of Community Learning Pods, especially for families who do not have a District Learning Pod available to them.

Ethical issues

The Center for Ethics in Society, whose mission is to encourage constructive conversations surrounding ethical questions, is the new name for the Manchester organization formerly known as the Center for Ethics in Business and Governance. The Center, which is located at Saint Anselm College, wanted to expand ethical issues pertaining to business and corporate governance. Its advisory board includes 18 leaders from New Hampshire’s business, nonprofit, and public policy communities and is a partnership between Saint Anselm and the people who live and work in New Hampshire. The Center has been involved in the housing crisis, having assembled a task force to provide recommendations for the state’s housing action plan, and its housing research has impacted advocacy in the field, the release said. It is also hosting a new series called Corporations and the Common Good: How Should Businesses Respond to Social Issues? Upcoming programs include an April 22 Ethics Lab on Ethics and Economics of Health Insurance and an April 27 Honorable Business webinar and panel discussion with Notre Dame professor James Otteson.

Humane treatment

The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals has been reestablished after Gov. Chris Sununu issued an executive order April 19, charging the commission with preparing a report that includes the number of animal cruelty-related convictions; the number of animal cruelty-related cases; relevant proposed or enacted legislation; and suggested legislation as necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of domestic animals and New Hampshire citizens, according to a press release.

The Warner Historical Society presents “Social History of the Mink Hills,” a virtual talk about the history of the 15,000+ acres of land in Warner that once encompassed 10 independent school districts, 13 burial grounds and several small mills, according to a press release. The presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, April 28, at 7 p.m.; register for the Zoom link at bit.ly/3rerX7O.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recently issued two registration certificates for new therapeutic cannabis dispensary locations, according to press releases. One allowed Prime Alternative Treatment Centers to begin operations in Chichester, and one allowed Temescal Wellness to begin operations in Keene. At the end of 2020 there were 11,161 qualifying patients and 564 designated caregivers participating in the state’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program, according to the release.

Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to visit New Hampshire on Friday, April 23, according to a report from WMUR. The April 19 report said a source has confirmed that Harris will discuss the American Jobs Plan at the IBEW headquarters in Concord.

National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 24, in towns and cities across the state, coordinated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to allow people to properly dispose of prescription medication. In Manchester, the event will be held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Elliot at River’s Edge at 175 Queen City Ave. The DEA will accept pills and patches and vaping devices and cartridges but no liquids, needles or sharps, the release said. Check with your town for similar events on that day.

News & Notes 21/04/15

Covid-19 updateAs of April 5As of April 12
Total cases statewide86,12589,229
Total current infections statewide3,2873,384
Total deaths statewide1,2491,257
New cases2,785 (March 30 to April 5)3,104 (April 6 to April 12)
Current infections: Hillsborough County1,0831,002
Current infections: Merrimack County320297
Current infections: Rockingham County826846
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on April 8, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that the test-positivity rates and numbers of new infections and hospitalizations statewide have all been on a slow increase over the past weeks. About 450 new infections per day have been reported on average, WMUR reported on April 12, with the increase being more pronounced in younger people, according to Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced during the April 8 press conference that, starting April 19, Covid-19 vaccine eligibility will expand to all individuals ages 16 and older regardless of their state residency. “We’re going to have a lot of vaccine [doses] here … so we want to get it out to anyone who might actually be here in the state,” Sununu said. As of April 8, roughly 20 percent of the state’s population (about 276,000 people) has been fully vaccinated, Daly said during the conference.

Thousands more, including both Sununu and DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette, received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the state’s third mass vaccination site at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, which was held the weekend of April 10 and April 11.

On Tuesday, April 13, the state announced that it has paused the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, based on the recommendation of the federal government after reports that six people in the country have developed a rare blood clot disorder within about two weeks after vaccination. “While the federal government has directed a brief pause in the J&J vaccine, the state is already working with our partners to ensure that they have an alternative supply of Pfizer or Moderna,” Sununu said in a press release.

According to the April 12 report from WMUR, three New Hampshire residents have contracted Covid-19 despite being at least two weeks past their second shots. “We know that these vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective,” Daly said, according to the WMUR report. “We are going to have what we call breakthrough disease, which is when someone acquires Covid-19 even though they’re fully vaccinated. For the most part, though, especially the vaccines that are currently in use right now, they’re very effective at preventing Covid-19.”

Waiver approved

The Manchester School District will resume in-person learning five days a week starting May 3, after state officials approved a request for a waiver to Gov. Chris Sununu’s mandate that all schools must start full-time in-person learning on April 19. According to a press release, the District requested the waiver April 6 due to concerns over staffing levels, and in consideration of the fact that the week of April 26 is school vacation. Several staff members plan to work remotely until they are fully vaccinated, according to the release, leaving the schools understaffed until May 3. According to an April 12 Union Leader report, Manchester Superintendent John Goldhardt said the waiver had been approved by state education officials, who are now requiring the District to eliminate Wednesday remote learning days altogether in order to reach the 180 days of school required by state law.

Affordable housing

Last week, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig released the report from the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Taskforce, the first city housing initiative since the 2008 Affordable Housing Task Force created by then-Mayor Frank Guinta. According to a press release, the task force began its work in the fall of 2020, looking at funding and incentives, zoning, regulations, and land use and support services. There are 14 recommendations in the report, including updating zoning regulations, streamlining the permitting process for developers, compiling a comprehensive audit of all city-owned properties, and creating a housing-resource portal on the city website. The Taskforce also recommends creating a city Housing Commission. Rent prices in Manchester for a two-bedroom apartment increased 25 percent in the past decade, including a nearly 10-percent increase from 2020 to 2021, the release said.

Four New Hampshire schools have each been awarded $50,000 for Career and Technical Education students to build electric vehicles, according to a press release from the state Department of Education. The schools are Dover Regional Career and Technical Center in Dover, Nashua Technology Center in Nashua, Region 14 Applied Technology Center in Peterborough and Mt. Washington Valley Career and Technical Center in Conway.

Victoria Sullivan announced Monday that she will run for mayor of Manchester this year. According to a press release, Sullivan is a former New Hampshire state representative and assistant majority leader who served two terms on the House Education Committee.

Beaver Brook Association in Hollis is participating in a statewide backyard composting bin sale, offering a bin for $62 or a pail for composting kitchen organics for $12, according to a press release. Composters will be available for pickup in mid-May. Call 465-7787 to order.

As of April 12, the Nashua vaccination clinic at the Nashua High School South has relocated to the Pheasant Lane Mall, according to a press release. All appointments that were scheduled for the high school location will be honored at the new location for the same date and time.

News & Notes 21/04/08

Covid-19 updateAs of March 29As of April 5
Total cases statewide83,34086,125
Total current infections statewide2,7853,287
Total deaths statewide1,2371,249
New cases2,590 (March 23 to March 29)2,785 (March 30 to April 5)
Current infections: Hillsborough County9481,083
Current infections: Merrimack County214320
Current infections: Rockingham County727826
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

As of April 2, all New Hampshire residents ages 16 and up can register for their Covid-19 vaccines through the state-run Vaccine & Immunizations Network Interface website, which can be found at vaccines.nh.gov. Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, said during the state’s weekly public health update on April 1 that only one of three vaccines being administered —‌ the Pfizer vaccine —‌ currently has FDA approval for use in children ages 16 and 17. “Not all vaccination locations have Pfizer but many do,” she said. “A parent or legal guardian does need to come to the vaccination site with their child for those 16- and 17-year olds.” For teens that do not have driver’s licenses or non-driver’s IDs, a birth certificate or passport is required to show proof of age. Parents must also bring their own driver’s license or other document that would show proof of New Hampshire residency. By 3 p.m. on April 2, nearly 150,000 new vaccine appointments were scheduled statewide over the course of the week, including more than 42,000 for people ages 16 and up, according to a press release.

Also on April 2, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 89, an order mandating that public K through 12 schools in New Hampshire return to full-time, in-person learning for five days a week starting April 19. “We have said all along, and it has been proven, that schools can reopen safely,” Sununu said during the April 1 press conference announcing the order. “We’re providing plenty of time to allow districts and parents to plan … [and] in a few short weeks, all teachers and school staff who want the vaccine will have received their second dose.”

The state will host its third mass vaccination site at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon the weekend of Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11, according to an April 5 press release. This site will be by appointment only and not open to walk-ins. Only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered —‌ according to the release, the state hopes to vaccinate 12,000 people over the course of the weekend. Appointments can be scheduled online.

On April 5, a member of the Governor’s Office tested positive for Covid-19, according to a press release. The individual is currently quarantining and was determined not to have been in close contact with Sununu.

Tuition freeze

The University System of New Hampshire, which includes the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Granite State College, will freeze tuition for in-state students for the 2021-2022 academic year. According to a press release, this is the third straight year tuition has been frozen for New Hampshire residents. These schools have also committed to providing significant increases in financial aid to students, the release said. “This has been an incredibly challenging year in so many ways, and we continue to work to lessen the financial burden on our students and their families, many of whom have suffered job losses, business closures and other impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Cathy Provencher, USNH Vice Chancellor, said in the release.

Health savings

New Hampshire residents can now enroll in or change their health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and get lower pricing, according to a press release. As of April 1, anyone who is not eligible for insurance through Medicare, Medicaid or employer-based insurance is eligible for Marketplace insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and new rules have expanded coverage options for those who currently have ACA insurance. From now through Aug. 15, consumers can enroll for the first time, or resubmit their application on healthcare.gov, to take advantage of lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim will offer deductible and out-of-pocket maximum expense credits for consumers who want to change plans within the same company, the release said. Anyone who is uninsured and has received unemployment benefits in 2021 will have access to free or reduced-cost plans. NH Navigator, a non-profit enrollment assistance group, is available to assist people with the process; call 931-3858 for free assistance.

VNA merger

Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association and Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice have merged, according to a press release. The organization is now called Granite VNA and will serve the home- and community-based health care needs of residents across 82 communities in the greater Concord area and Lakes Region of New Hampshire. More than 470 clinicians and staff members provide care through home care, hospice care, palliative care, pediatric and maternal child health and personal home services, and the agency offers community clinics and wellness programs, the release said.

State rec director

New Hampshire has its first director of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs. In this new position, Scott Crowder will support the state’s outdoor economy as a primary way to grow the state’s workforce and attract businesses. Crowder is the founder of the North American Pond Hockey Classic, was a founding partner of Ekal Activity Center in Meredith and has served on various tourism, economic development and nonprofit boards around the state. “We have an amazing opportunity in the state to leverage our outdoor assets to enhance the lives of our residents and visitors, our communities and our overall economic position,” Crowder said in the release.

The city of Franklin will soon be home to the only whitewater park in New England, according to a report from WMUR. With construction set to begin in July, downtown Franklin will be home to Mill City Park, as well as a camping area and an amphitheater. Campsite and cabin rentals will help fund the free community adventure park, which will also feature mountain biking and climbing, the report said.

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan will retire on April 30, according to a March 26 report in the Union Leader. He joined the department when he was 21 and has served 36 years there, becoming chief in 2016, the report said.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is offering a free kindergarten readiness series, Make New Friends, to any girl entering kindergarten this fall in Bow and the surrounding area at Bow Elementary School each Wednesday from April 14 to May 19 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., according to a press release. There will also be a Make New Friends group for girls in the Manchester area at the Girl Scout Discovery Zone in the Mall of New Hampshire, each Saturday from April 10 through May 15 at 1:30 p.m. No membership is required for either group. Find the series on eventbrite.com to register.

Seventh- and eighth-graders at World Academy in Nashua are learning about personal finance and banking from real-life bankers through the new “Millyard Bank University” educational series. According to a press release, the 12-week financial literacy program offers practical experience with savings and checking accounts, plus lessons on borrowing, credit scores and the banking industry as a career path. In the future, the program will be open to all students as an elective at World Academy.

News & Notes 21/04/01

Covid-19 updateAs of March 22As of March 29
Total cases statewide80,75083,340
Total current infections statewide2,3342,785
Total deaths statewide1,2171,237
New cases1,937 (March 16 to March 22)2,590 (March 23to March 29)
Current infections: Hillsborough County756948
Current infections: Merrimack County195214
Current infections: Rockingham County633727
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

State residents between the ages of 40 and 49 became eligible to register for the Covid-19 vaccine on March 29, through the state-run Vaccine & Immunizations Network Interface website at vaccines.nh.gov. On March 31, those between the ages of 30 and 39 became eligible. Starting on April 2, everyone between the ages of 16 and 29 will be able to register. “We feel fairly confident that everyone should be able to get their first shot by Memorial Day,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a March 25 press conference.

On March 26, Sununu issued Emergency Orders No. 87 and No. 88. Emergency Order No. 87 extends the statewide mask mandate for another three weeks through at least April 16. Emergency Order No. 88 extends the stay-at-home advisory, also through at least April 16.

Also on March 26, Sununu issued Executive Order 2021-5, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least April 16. It’s the 18th extension he has issued since declaring a state of emergency in March 2020.

New NH AG

John Formella was confirmed on March 24 as New Hampshire’s next Attorney General after a 4-1 Executive Council vote. “John’s work ethic is unmatched, and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional Attorney General and advance the best interests of Granite Staters,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement.

State budget

The NH Fiscal Policy Institute is hosting a free webinar on Monday, April 5, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to provide a closer look at the House Finance Committee’s budget proposal for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, according to a press release. Examining the State Budget: The House Finance Committee’s Proposal will be held virtually via Zoom and will include a discussion of key changes from the governor’s budget proposal and the current operating budget, and the potential impact of federal aid that’s expected from the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as a question and answer session. Pre-registration is required. Visit NHFPI’s online at nhfpi.org,

At 57, Barb Higgins of Concord is the oldest woman to give birth in New Hampshire, according to a report from the Concord Monitor. Higgins gave birth March 27 to a healthy boy, whom she and her husband, Ken Banzhoff, named Jack Kearsley Banzhoff, according to the report.

A new resale shop has opened in Contoocook, according to a press release. On March 26, the Contoocook Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Granny Chic Boutique, which offers clothing and home items from a variety of eras and genres. Owner Elizabeth Catalena said in the release that she has spent many hours looking for unique items that express individualism.

Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies in Manchester is sending four two-member robotics teams to compete in the NH SKILLS USA Mobile Robotics Competition on April 2, according to a press release. The Spark Robotics teams will have their robots perform tasks both under driver control and autonomously, based on their programming. The winner will compete at the national level in June, according to the release.

News & Notes 21/03/25

Covid-19 updateAs of March 15As of March 22
Total cases statewide78,81380,750
Total current infections statewide2,0642,334
Total deaths statewide1,1991,217
New cases1,753 (March 9 to March 15)1,937 (March 16 to March 22)
Current infections: Hillsborough County640756
Current infections: Merrimack County211195
Current infections: Rockingham County509633
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On March 15, the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services issued a notice of potential community exposures connected to positive Covid-19 cases associated with the King of the Mat wrestling tournament, which was held on March 6 at The Rim Sports Complex in Hampton. Anyone who attended the tournament between 5 and 10 p.m. that day, according to health officials, should be monitoring symptoms and should seek testing.

The state launched its new Vaccine & Immunizations Network Interface website on March 17, at 8 a.m., according to a press release, just in time for Phases 2A and 2B vaccine appointment scheduling to begin. The new VINI platform is a state-run site, transitioning New Hampshire away from the federally run VAMS portal. During the state’s public health update in a March 18 press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu said the system was loaded with about 200,000 first-dose appointments through the month of April. He said the state is on pace to expand vaccine access to all adults over the age of 16 in New Hampshire within weeks. “We don’t have a firm date on that yet,” he said, “but it really is just weeks away that any adult citizen in the state of New Hampshire will be able to go to VINI and sign up for their vaccine as well.” As of March 18, about 12 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services. “To date, 31 regional clinics have been held with 6,500 people in Phase 2A vaccinated,” Daly said later during the press conference. “An additional 36 regional clinics are scheduled through the end of March, with plans to vaccinate another 20,000 people.”

Registration for Phase 2B, which includes people between the ages of 50 and 64, opened on March 22, with the first appointments beginning on March 25. Hundreds of thousands of newly eligible registrants encountered problems on the site as soon as they were able to log in at 8 a.m., according to a report from WMUR, with many others who called 211 not being able to get through on the phone. “An unprecedented volume of web traffic was experienced this morning, a good sign that Granite Staters are ready and eager to receive their vaccine,” Sununu said in the March 22 report. “Registrations have been accepted and continue to be processed at an increasing pace, with over 35,000 having scheduled an appointment within the first three hours.”

Funding input

The office of Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig issued a press release last week asking Queen City residents to share ideas on how to spend the federal funds that the city will be getting from the American Rescue Plan Act. According to the press release, Manchester will receive approximately $44 million over two years. Though it’s waiting for more guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how exactly the funds can be used, the idea is to help with local economic recovery, which includes things like assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, assistance to hard-hit industries like tourism, travel, and hospitality, premium pay for essential workers and infrastructure investment. Craig is asking residents to share their Covid-19 stories, specifically how it’s impacted them and how they’d like to see the funds used. “For over a year, our community has felt the widespread negative impacts of Covid-19. This is the first time the City of Manchester is receiving direct funding, and we want to ensure it’s used to best meet the needs of our community,” Craig said in the release. Contact the mayor’s office or fill out a form at bit.ly/ARP4MHT.

Homeless Assessment

Last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 and, according to a press release, the report found that 1,675 people experienced homelessness in New Hampshire on a single night in 2020, which is an increase of 20 percent from 2019. HUD releases its report in two parts; Part 1 is a snapshot of homelessness on a single night, conducted during the last 10 days of January each year, so these numbers are pre-Covid. Other key findings in New Hampshire: Unsheltered homelessness increased 133 percent, with 199 people counted in 2019 compared to 348 in 2020. Also seeing increases were family homelessness, veteran homelessness and chronic homelessness. Youth homelessness is down 22.6 percent, according to the press release.

Rachel Budd from Bow High School has been selected as the alternate winner of the 2021 New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud High School Championship, according to a press release from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Budd will fill in for winner Lilla Bozek from Newmarket High School if Bozek can’t participate in the national finals. Bozek received $200 and Newmarket High School got a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books, while Budd received $100, plus a $200 stipend for Bow High School’s poetry book collection.

Detective Justin Breton has been named 2020 Officer of the Year for the Manchester Police Department, where he’s served since 2010, according to a press release. He has been a patrol officer, a juvenile detective, a detective with the Investigative Division and a SWAT negotiator, he is the director of the Manchester Police Critical Incident Stress Management Team, and he’s the primary handler of Manchester’s comfort dog, Patch.

Beth Greenwood of Amherst is the first American-born female catcher of an NCAA baseball team. According to a report from WMUR, Greenwood is a junior at the University of Rochester in New York, and she has earned a spot on the roster of her school’s baseball team. She has never played softball; she was on the baseball team at Souhegan High School, according to the report.

The CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, which will feature more than 80 of New Hampshire’s best football players taking the field to raise money for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, will also be a tribute to Londonderry High School football captain Jacob Naar, who was killed in a car accident on March 12. According to a press release, his family has chosen to fulfill his wishes of fundraising for the game, and his team will not replace Naar on the roster; instead his teammates will honor his memory at the game, which is scheduled for July.

News & Notes 21/03/18

Covid-19 updateAs of March 8As of March 15
Total cases statewide77,06078,813
Total current infections statewide2,0362,064
Total deaths statewide1,1841,199
New cases1,472 (March 2 to March 8)1,753 (March 9 to March 15)
Current infections: Hillsborough County581640
Current infections: Merrimack County163211
Current infections: Rockingham County470509
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

During the state’s weekly public health update on March 11, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that there continue to be about 200 to 250 new infections of Covid-19 on average per day in New Hampshire, numbers that have been “relatively stable over the last couple of weeks.” Hospitalizations and deaths from the virus, meanwhile, are still trending downward. “We’re seeing the number of people dying from Covid-19 in long-term care facilities continue to decrease, as we roll out vaccines to those settings, and as we have a higher proportion of our long-term care facility residents vaccinated,” Chan said.

Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, said later during the same March 11 press conference that 10 percent of the state’s population (about 132,000 people) have now been fully vaccinated. Phase 2A of the state’s vaccine administration plan, which includes K through 12 teachers, school staff and child care workers, began March 12. “Our regional public health networks have scheduled 39 regional clinics through the end of the month, with plans to vaccine 17,000 school, child care and youth camp staff,” Daly said. “Phase 2A people who are not invited to one of these regional clinics will be able to register to get vaccinated at a state- or hospital-run site beginning March 17 on vaccines.nh.gov.” She went on to say that registration for Phase 2B, which includes people between the ages of 50 and 64, will open on March 22.

Gov. Chris Sununu also announced that, effective immediately, restrictions and guidelines for several sectors in New Hampshire are being relaxed, including quarantining requirements for all out-of-state travel. “We still recommend folks to quarantine … but it is no longer a requirement going forward,” he said. “Likewise, residents from outside of New England no longer have to quarantine prior to arrival in New Hampshire. … This change applies only to domestic travel, not to international travel.” Capacity at retail stores has also returned to 100 percent, and barbershops and salons are now allowed to have walk-in customers without reservations. Restaurants and bars are also now allowed to resume karaoke, pool, darts and other games, as well as small live bands of three members or less.

Applications for the state’s emergency rental assistance program opened on March 15, according to a press release. The program, which was established through the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, is providing financial aid to Granite Staters who have experienced difficulty paying their rent, utilities and heating costs due to the pandemic. To be eligible, at least one person per household must qualify for unemployment benefits, have had their income reduced or have had some other financial hardship due to the pandemic. The household must be at risk for homelessness, be paying more than 30 percent of its income for rent and utilities, or be in an unsafe or unhealthy environment. Payments are processed through the state’s five regional Community Action Partnership agencies. Visit capnh.com to submit an application.

Details of Sununu’s emergency and executive orders, as well as the state’s reopening guidance documents, can be found at governor.nh.gov.

Political climate

According to a March poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, President Joe Biden’s job approval among registered New Hampshire voters has narrowed since February. In the February poll, 53 percent of respondents said they “approve” and 45 percent said “disapprove.” In March that narrowed to 50 percent and 49 percent, respectively. The poll also showed that Democrats hold a 48-40 percent advantage on the generic congressional ballot. New Hampshire’s senators’ job approval numbers have slipped in the last month: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s approval-disapproval margin is now 51-43 percent, down from 54-38 percent, and Sen. Maggie Hassan has gone down to 47-44 percent from February’s 49-40 percent. Meanwhile, Congressman Chris Pappas and Congresswoman Annie Kuster both saw slight improvements in their approval ratings. “While Democrats still enjoy a numerical advantage among voters, the independent nature of our state tends to be suspicious of a unified federal government, and this may be contributing to the relatively short duration of President Biden’s honeymoon period,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque said in a press release. The survey also looked at a hypothetical matchup between Hassan and Gov. Chris Sununu, with Sununu being the preferred candidate by a margin of 47 to 41 percent. Sununu’s job approval has fallen somewhat since the last poll but still sits at 67-31 percent, with approval from virtually every demographic group, but Hassan would benefit from her party’s strength, according to the press release. “This sets the stage for what may become one of the most closely watched races in the nation this cycle as Gov. Chris Sununu has signaled the possibility of challenging incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan,” Levesque said in the release.

Access to CTE

The New Hampshire Department of Education has released a report called “Increasing Equitable Access to Career and Technical Education,” a comprehensive review of the state’s career and tech ed programs, as part of an ongoing effort to make those programs more accessible to students, according to a press release. The programs give students hands-on learning experience in high-demand employment fields and can be used to earn college credit, and the report outlines some of the current barriers that might be preventing students from taking advantage of CTE programs. For example, 71 percent of students enrolled in programs have a CTE center co-located in their high school, while 29 percent but must be provided transportation to participate. According to the press release, the report suggests ideas to help overcome this accessibility concern, including better coordination of scheduling and transportation, as well as calendars, between districts. “This research confirmed many of the important issues CTE leaders and other educators have been aware of for many years,” Eric Frauwirth, director of the Bureau of Career Development, said in the release. “Now we have a set of strategies to explore, and will continue to engage with stakeholders and local communities to determine the best options for the students and families they serve.”

Wildlife funding

The New Hampshire delegation announced last week that the Granite State will get more than $8.75 million through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the state’s wildlife and sport fish restoration and vulnerable species conservation. According to the announcement from U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, the funding will help state wildlife agencies pursue conservation projects and programs like hunting and fishing education, fish and wildlife management, scientific research, and habitat restoration and protection. “New Hampshire is home to some of the most beautiful land in the country, and we have a responsibility to protect it,” Kuster said in the release.

On March 15, work began on Route 13 at Exit 2 off Interstate 89 in Concord, part of a project that includes painting structural steel on six bridges on and above I-89 between Exit 2 and Exit 5 in Concord and Hopkinton. According to a press release, the work will be done during the day and evening, and once the Concord bridge is complete, painting on the next bridge will begin, with work progressing north until the final bridge in Hopkinton is completed. The project is expected to be completed in December, the release said.

The Manchester Police Department has announced that it has a new training program for all sworn officers, stemming from Gov. John Sununu’s recent executive order calling for law enforcement reforms. According to a press release, the 40-hour week of training includes topics like use of force, implicit bias, cultural responsiveness and ethics.

On March 12, crews removed sections of the three waterslides at Cascade Waterslide at Hampton Beach, according to a report from NHPR. The landmark has been there for more than 35 years, the report said, and there is no word on what might take its place.

Boston Billiard Club & Casino in Nashua announced in a press release that it is the exclusive spot in the region where people can play 21STUD, a new two-card blackjack game that was created and recently patented by New Hampshire-based game designer Brandon Zyxnfryx of ZFX Gaming, also in Nashua.

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