|Covid-19 update||As of August 31||As of September 7|
|Total cases statewide||7,275||7,476|
|Total current infections statewide||228||238|
|Total deaths statewide||432||433|
|New cases||141 (Aug. 25 to Aug. 31)||201 (Sept. 1 to Sept. 7)|
|Current infections: Hillsborough County||78||84|
|Current infections: Merrimack County||16||20|
|Current infections: Rockingham County||77||55|
The number of hospitalizations in New Hampshire due to Covid-19 continues to be low. During an Aug. 25 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that while just under 20 new infections per day were reported in the previous week, there were fewer than 10 people hospitalized with the virus the day before, on Aug. 24 — the lowest number since early March. “We continue to see good trends in our numbers. But we believe this represents low but persistent community transmission in many areas of our state,” Chan said.
During the same press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that FEMA had accepted New Hampshire’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance Program, just days after the state submitted it on Aug. 21. The program, which was issued through an executive order from President Donald Trump on Aug. 8, provides additional federal unemployment relief of $300, retroactive to Aug. 1. Sununu also announced that the minimum amount of unemployment is being raised to $100 for all Granite Staters, making all filers eligible for the federal benefits.
On Aug. 26, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery announced that it is recommending a plan submitted by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner to establish rapid testing sites at community health centers across the state. The following day, during a press conference, Sununu announced that the state will be purchasing 25 rapid Covid-19 test machines to be placed at each community testing center. “The machines are called Quidel Sofia Antigen Rapid Covid test machines,” he said. “We’ve already started looking into buying these machines. … Depending on the backlog, it may be weeks or maybe even a month or so before these devices might be up and running.”
During an Aug. 27 press conference, state Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced that all long-term care facilities in three New Hampshire counties — Belknap, Coos and Grafton — have entered into Phase 3 under reopening guidelines that were outlined on Aug. 13. Phase 3, Shibinette said, begins once all non-outbreak facilities in that county see a continuous drop in coronavirus cases over a 14-day period, criteria that Belknap, Coos and Grafton all met. “What this really means is the lifting of restrictions around visitors, so having up to two visitors, and then also lessening the restrictions around communal dining and activities,” she said.
On Aug. 28, Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-17, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least Sept. 18. It’s the eighth extension he has issued since originally declaring a state of emergency on March 13.
Details of all of Sununu’s Emergency and Executive Orders can be found at governor.nh.gov.
Masks in Concord
The Concord City Council nearly unanimously approved a city-wide mask ordinance during an Aug. 31 meeting via Zoom. After hearing public testimony for nearly two hours, councilors voted 14-1 to require people to wear masks in city buildings and businesses such as retail stores to attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Violators of the ordinance would receive a warning, followed by a fine of $15 for each additional offense. Masks are not required for children under the age of five, nor for those with underlying health issues that would prevent them from wearing one. The ordinance is in effect now through Jan. 2, 2021.
New Hampshire will receive funding for the second phase of the State Opioid Response Program from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will cover the first year of funding as part of a two-year, $56 million award that will help the state continue the success of its first two years of SOR funding, which totaled more than $55 million and helped create a better access and delivery system for residents with an opioid or substance use disorder. The first phase established The Doorways-NH, opening up access to services to ensure that no one in the state has to travel more than 60 minutes to begin the recovery process.
According to the release, a CDC survey estimated that about 13 percent of adults have increased their use of substances during the pandemic. “The Doorways continue to see increasing requests for services, with almost 1,000 residents seeking help last month alone,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said in the release. The new SOR funds will help expand the Doorways program, and other needs like overnight respite, stimulant misuse and expanding recovery support services will be addressed.
The New Hampshire National Guard is delivering personal protective equipment and election materials to towns and cities to use at polling places in the upcoming elections, according to a press release. The PPE includes masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and single-use pens and pencils. Other precautions, such as social distancing and sanitation measures, are being taken for anyone who wants to vote in person on Election Day for both the primary and general elections. According to a press release from the Secretary of State’s office, informational mailers have been sent to every household in the state as part of a public awareness campaign to inform voters about their voting options. There are resources for checking registration status, requirements for absentee voter registration, information about how to obtain an Absentee Voter Registration Packet and more. The mailer can be viewed online at bit.ly/2Fjchhi.
5K civil action
The State of New Hampshire has filed a civil action to prevent the Worldwide Push Foundation based in California from promoting or conducting road races in New Hampshire and to refund race registration fees from races that were canceled in 2019 and 2020, according to a press release from the office of Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. Worldwide Push Foundation promoted the “Margarita Madness 5K,” scheduled to take place in Loudon on Oct. 12, 2019, and the website and social media posts said the race would benefit the “Worldwide Push (Push Until Success Happens) Scholarship Foundation,” according to the release. The organization allegedly collected thousands of dollars in registration fees but did not obtain the necessary permits and licenses and failed or refused to refund registration fees. In late 2019, WWPF began advertising Margarita Madness 5Ks races at Rollins Park in Concord on July 11 and in Northfield on Oct. 24. “The race on July 11 did not take place, and WWPF has failed to obtain the necessary permits and licenses for the October race. To date, WWPF has collected a total of over $30,000 in registration fees,” the press release reads. The lawsuit claims that WWPF has committed nine violations of New Hampshire charitable trust laws and the Consumer Protection Act, each of which carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Anyone who has registered for the Margarita Madness 5K Run/Walk in New Hampshire and has not received a refund can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau online at doj.nh.gov.
Concord Hospital employees who want to work toward an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree can now get a significant tuition discount at Granite State College, according to a press release. The college also offers a Surgical Technologist Training Program at the hospital that can translate to credits toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at Granite State.
The Derry Garden Club recently presented the Community Star award to the Marion Gerrish Community Center, which provides 192 nonprofit organizations rooms for their meetings and is involved with community events such as Derry Fest and Frost Fest, and Derry’s farmers market and annual road race, according to a press release.
NASA has selected proposals from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Dartmouth College in Lebanon to better understand the sun’s interaction with the space around Earth, according to a press release. Each school will receive $1.25 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study, and NASA will implement up to two out of five proposals, the results of which will help protect astronauts, satellites and communications signals, according to the release.
A second full-service retail office of St. Mary’s Bank in Nashua is expected to open in mid-October, according to a press release. Part of the Westside shopping plaza, the office will feature new technology in the form of four interactive teller machines, with representatives at the credit union’s remote center in Manchester offering live assistance before, during and after normal branch hours.