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New Hampshire up to 44 COVID-19 cases

State epidemiologist Dr. Chan gives coronavirus update; Sununu announces plan

By Andrea Hanley | Mar 20, 2020

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announces a series of emergency orders on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Concord, N.H., in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The orders create immediate access to unemployment benefits for residents unable to work or facing reduced hours due to the new coronavirus pandemic. He also took steps to protect people from being evicted or having utilities shut off in the next few weeks. (AP photo/Holly Ramer)

CONCORD – Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said 44 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Granite State, with more than 800 tests pending.

Chan, participating in a press conference late Thursday afternoon, said more than 1,400 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 thus far.

According to Chan, most individuals who have been diagnosed have domestically or internationally traveled.

However, “… There are several communities throughout New Hampshire where we have identified COVID-19 in individuals who do not have any identified risk factors, that is,” they have no identified travel and are not in known contact with someone with COVID-19,” said Chan, meaning that “raises the concern that there is some amount of community based transmission that is currently occurring … in a number of counties throughout the state.”

As limitations on accessibility to tests raise concern among national and state communities, Chan assured the public that “… We certainly attempted to ramp up testing to identify … infections in New Hampshire and to identify risk factors associated with these infections.”

Expecting community transmission he said, “We can expect additional detections of COVID-19 within the state.”

Repetitively stressing the importance of staying home if an individual is feeling mildly symptomatic in ways that could present as a common cold such as fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle aches and coughing and regardless of if an individual has been tested or not, Chan emphasized, “Not everybody will have severe respiratory illness. … Many people that we have seen in New Hampshire have started their illness with mild symptoms … without documented fever.”

“Namely, I would ask you to remember the numbers of seven days and 72 hours,” he said. “Someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, or someone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but perhaps hasn’t been tested, we ask these individuals to stay home for at least seven days from the time their symptoms began and at least 72 hours after their symptoms have resolved or improved, that is at least 72 hours after a fever has gone away off fever-reducing medications in a person who had a fever or other symptoms, respiratory symptoms have improved.”

During the press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced a $50 million fund dedicated to hospitals and others requiring resources.

The fund will offer zero interest, short term loans that, “help ensure that individuals can definitely get the health care they need and (that) all doors will remain open.”

In addition, Sununu has plans to open up a, “Longer-term loan guarantee opportunity through the business finance authority to help health care facilities across the state ensure the continuation of services for our citizens throughout the remainder of the crisis knowing that this … could be a long road ahead.”

Sununu expressed that health care systems and hospitals are taking a massive hit by, “foregoing … surgeries and other procedures which are usually used to help cover their bottom line … “ but are “so to help the state respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

“We support the entire system, top down, so that individuals can receive the best care possible from the ground up,” he said. “We must ensure our system has solvency and cash flow and will not let the doors of help be shut to anyone.”


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