CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire’s governor on Thursday announced a series of measures to further tackle the coronavirus outbreak, including requiring nonessential businesses to close and telling residents to stay home. More on developments in the state:
Nonessential businesses to close
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on joined several other New England states in ordering in-person operations of nonessential businesses to close and telling New Hampshire’s residents to stay home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Sununu said all businesses not exempted by the order must suspend all in-person business operations by at midnight on Friday. Grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, liquor stores, health care facilities, restaurants, news media, manufacturers and even breweries are exempt. Construction will also be allowed to continue.
Sununu, who was under pressure from Democrats to take tougher action, was careful to say the order was only an effort to align policies put in place by nearby states like Massachusetts.
“This is not a shelter-in-place,” Sununu said. “We are not closing down transportation. We are not closing our borders and no one will be prevented from leaving their home. … While the spread of COVID-19 has not reached the level of other nearby states, we are putting ourselves in a strong position with these proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus.”
Sununu also announced that all state beaches along the seacoast would be forced to close at midnight Friday and an earlier order requiring schools to provide remote learning would be extended to May 4.
“Beyond the essential necessities, you should not be leaving your home,” Sununu said. “These are tough decisions. They really are. But at the end of the day, we know the worst may be ahead of us.”
Expired medical supplies
New Hampshire’s four-Democrat congressional delegation is criticizing federal health and emergency management agencies for delays in receiving medical supplies — some of which had already expired — to help the state deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas said it is their understanding that one supervisory error at the Federal Emergency Management Agency resulted in a request sitting unprocessed for four days.
When New Hampshire received supplies in response to its March 17 request, some of it was expired, and the 16,000-plus gloves that were sent were latex, “which are unusable in the medical setting due to latex allergies,” according to the letter sent Wednesday to the heads of FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The delegation said between this shipment and a prior one this month, the agencies have provided only 28 percent of respirator masks requested, one-third of nasal swabs needed, about 26 percent of surgical masks and no ventilators.
“Health care providers from across New Hampshire are exasperated by this piecemeal approach, which has not afforded them the supplies they need,” the delegation wrote.
Nearly 160 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Hampshire, with 25 of those hospitalized. One person has died. Nearly 21 new cases were announced Thursday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.
More than 21,000 in initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, reflecting national trends, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
The week before, over 600 claims were filed.
George Copadis, commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Employment Security, said Wednesday that before the coronavirus hit, the department averaged about 500 claims a week.
Those who wish to file a claim can go to www.nhes.nh.gov or call 271-7700.
In Bethlehem, New Hampshire, carloads of teachers put on a parade for students on Wednesday, decorating their vehicle windows with messages like “We Miss You,” “Pre-K Rocks!” and “Hello Friends! Good To See You!”
“It’s just to let the kids know we’re missing them and it’s a way for them to connect with us and a way for us to see their faces,” Bethlehem Elementary School Principal Sue Greenlaw told the Caledonian-Record. “We want them to know that through this whole thing we’re missing them a lot. It’s not the same without them.”
Public school in New Hampshire has been closed through at least April 3.