CONCORD, NH — Hundreds of millions of dollars will soon be accessible to Granite State residents, business, child care facilities, hospitals, nonprofits, and others to help fight the economic collapse due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Chris Sununu announced Friday that $595 million of the $1.25 billion allocated to New Hampshire will be dispersed — including $400 million for small businesses to pay bills, mortgages, and taxes. The governor thanked the Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery members and Jerry Little, its director, for contributing countless hours and being available to bounce off ideas.
“They are a terrific team,” Sununu said, “It’s an absolute honor to work with them.”
During the course of unveiling all of the expenditures, Sununu admitted he tweaked some of the recommendations — including doubling the amount of money to nonprofits, from $30 million to $60 million. He said the tweaks were made because, while he initially thought it would be best to release the money over a period of time, the hurt and harm happening in the state required releasing more money immediately.
“It’s exactly what the state needs,” Sununu said. “The apex of need is now; to be sure, it’s today.”
The $60 million to nonprofits will be distributed by the Community Development Finance Authority, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits and will not going to hospitals, child care, or public higher education; sectors of the economy that are receiving their own funds from the CARES Act.
The largest amount of money, $400 million, is being set aside for the Main Street Relief Fund, which will be available for businesses with under $25 million in business revenues to pay bills, pay mortgages, and property taxes, to keep them from going into bankruptcy.
Sununu said there was an easy pre-grant qualification form online for businesses to receive part of the initial funding. The funds would be distributed in a “fair, open, and transparent way” with a “fair and simple formula,” he said. Businesses have two weeks to fill out the pre-grant form identifying lost business revenue, he said. After that, the Department of Revenue Administration would ensure businesses actually lost the money they were claiming for and then, will disperse the funds. The distribution of funds will not be first-come, first-serve, which has proven to be a problem in other states, Sununu said.
“Anyone that qualifies will receive a check from the state,” the governor said.
After receiving the money, small business owners can make decisions for themselves as to how to spend the money.
Read the full recommendations and if you own a small business, find out how to apply for relief here.
Hospitals, clinics, and others involved in health care will receive another $50 million on top of the previous $50 million in loans set aside for hospitals and clinics as well as $225 million in other CARES Act funds outside of the state’s $1.25 billion initial relief funds. About 40 percent of the that money had already been sent to keep them in business, Sununu said.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education will be working together to spend $25 million for child care in the state, to assist as employees go back to work. The departments will target operational, workforce and health and safety support to the childcare system, and then coordinate the business needs with family needs — which includes summer day camp programs, childcare and Head Start options for the summer and into the fall, and increased need for family support. According to the state, $5 million will be held in reserve in case additional needs arise.
About $15 million will be spent each on public higher education and farm and food programs, including $5 million for the New Hampshire Food Bank, and $30 million will go to the Business Finance Authority Safe Harbor Forgivable Loans program.
Combined with the previous spending by the state, $845 million has been spent fighting COVID-19 and the economic collapse in its wake since April 25 in New Hampshire.
New Updated Infection Information
Lori Shibinette, the commissioner of the health department, announced eight new deaths in the state — seven were living in long-term care facilities — and 88 new positive test results.
The new fatality information brings the count to 159 deaths in New Hampshire.
The total accumulative COVID-19 cases in the state are at 3,464 people. About 335 of those patients required hospitalization.
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Testing, she said, had been increasing exponentially, including more than 3,700 Thursday. The increase, she said, was due to both polymerase chain reaction antibody testing and other tests. As well, another urgent care center, ExpressMED in Manchester and Salem.
Shibinette added the state had another new outbreak at Villa Crest Nursing and Retirement Center in Manchester where 10 residents and one staffer have contracted the virus. One other outbreak, at the Community Resource for Justice in Manchester, which has closed.
Sununu Extends Emergency Order
Also Friday, the governor extended the state’s emergency order for another 21 days.
Question And Answers
Shibinette was asked about personal information concerning COVID-19 cases being shared with police and first responders. She said, early on, she heard stories, “very few,” that the information was not being used how it was intended to be used. Usually, it was a misunderstanding, Shibinette said, and no protected information was released to the public.
The process allows police and EMTs to have proper equipment before responding to an address of a person who is positive instead of later, having them quarantined because they were exposed to a positive patient, she said.
When asked about other states, from Delaware to Maine, preparing to open beaches and under what conditions he would be willing to open New Hampshire beaches, Sununu said he was still looking at what Massachusetts and Maine planned on doing and would look at the Hampton Beach recommendations and requests.
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“But, we’re not there yet,” Sununu said. “We haven’t even opened up open-air seating at restaurants yet.”
Sununu added there was too much concern about out-of-staters, including Massachusetts residents, ignoring their own stay-at-home orders and coming here, possibly infecting Granite Staters.
When asked how many of the seven people under age 60 who had died without comorbidity as a result of being infected by COVID-19, both Shibinette and Sununu said it was zero — meaning all had underlying or chronic health conditions before contracting the coronavirus.
When asked about what plans the state had to connect farms, the agriculture commission, the New Hampshire Food Bank, and local stores to get farmers’ products to consumers, Sununu said part of the farm and food funds would be used for coordination and the state was doing everything to maximize the “great connections” local farmers already had with stores.
When asked about discourse in the public sphere concerning there not being enough testing, requests to force people to where masks, or modeling by IHME — which has previously been shown to be wildly wrong on daily and accumulative hospital rates, and projected fatalities — all of which appear to be used as political weapons, and potentially, needlessly scaring a lot of Granite Staters, the governor said testing had been increasing.
“The lack of testing is not a valid concern,” he said. “We’ve ramped it up.”
Concerning requiring masks and cloth coverings, Sununu said the state was not at the point to need to approve of a statewide order to wear them like the one in Massachusetts — although, if local cities and towns want to do that, it would be their choice. The governor questioned enforcement issues that would come with a statewide order.
Sununu said he did not see how anything else was political, did not comment on the incorrect modeling health officials were following, but said he was “blessed to be surrounded by a great team.”
Democrats Offer Praise, Criticism
After the news conference, House and Senate leaders offered both praise and criticism of the governor’s plans.
House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff, D-Penacook, praised Sununu for using “our bipartisan, unanimous proposal as a foundation,” as well as emergency the $25 million for emergency child care funding, “there are some stark differences that raise concern.” Shurtleff did not get into specifics but said Democrats would work with the Legislative Advisory Board and the Legislature to “provide oversight on the expenditure of these funds to ensure efficacy and consider the potential for additional aid in the future, including for housing and homelessness, expanded broadband, and public education.”
Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, claimed the proposal “guts support for hospitals and health care providers” adding that the advisory board said they would need at least $140 million more in this first phase of spending.
“It is dangerous for the continued delivery of health care that Governor Sununu has allocated just $20 million, $120 million less than GOFERR recommended, in funds to support health facilities on the frontlines of this pandemic that have suffered tens of millions in losses since March, have furloughed or laid off hundreds of workers, and stand a real risk of having to close their doors,” she said. “Moving forward, it is our hope that Governor Sununu will listen to legislative leadership and the people of New Hampshire.”
Learn More About The Spread Of COVID-19
The COVID-19 virus is spread through respiratory droplets, usually through coughing and sneezing, and exposure to others who are sick or might be showing symptoms.
Health officials emphasize residents should follow these recommendations:
Avoid any domestic and international travel, especially on public transportation such as buses, trains, and airplanes.
Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet from other people, including distancing while in waiting areas or lines.
Anybody who is told to self-quarantine and stay at home due to exposure to a person with confirmed or suspect COVID-19 needs to stay home and not go out into public places.
If you are 60 years or older or have chronic medical conditions, you need to stay home and not go out.
Avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
Employers need to move to telework as much as possible.
There is increasing evidence that this virus can survive for hours or possibly even a few days on surfaces, so people should clean frequently touched surfaces, including door handles, grocery carts and grocery basket handles, etc.
Take the same precautions as you would if you were sick:
Stay home and avoid public places when sick (i.e., social distancing).
Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
Wash hands frequently.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
More information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services about coronavirus can be found here on the department’s website.
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This article originally appeared on the Concord Patch