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New task force to examine reopening state economy

By George Pelletier - Milford Bureau Chief | Apr 22, 2020

CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu announced the creation of the Governor’s Economic Re-Opening Task Force during a press conference held Tuesday.

The task force is to study the state’s various businesses and industries from a microlevel, ranging. It includes a bipartisan group of legislators, private-sector leaders and state officials, who will develop a plan and oversee its implementation in reopening the state’s economy. It will work with public health experts and industry leaders.

The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting today.

It is generally agreed that reopening the economy will an incremental process. Over the past couple of weeks, officials have been initiating some of those steps, and it will be formalized a little more this week.

“This is not something we’re coming out of tomorrow, or even next week frankly,” Sununu said. “We’re going to have to take a phased approach to this, same with the Stay-at-Home order. We’re looking at the different options for that Stay-at-Home order.”

Boston’s coronavirus cases are “skyrocketing” according to Sununu. Since Hillsborough and Rockingham Counties are effectively greater suburbs of Boston.

“We may allow certain parts of the state to free up and flex open, while other parts of the state, we have to be a little more vigilant on, and that’s just the unfortunate situation that we’re in,” Sununu said.

On Monday, the state paid out over $50 million in unemployment claims, much of which is attributed to the new $600 per week checks that the federal government has been releasing.

The state has paid out over $88 million for about 184,000 claims over the past few weeks. There are now approximately 200 people working in those call centers, and Sununu said the vast majority of claims have been approved for payment.

In regard to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), about 11,500 New Hampshire businesses were able to receive those loans, totaling over $2 billion.

Moreover, since New Hampshire identified the first case of COVID-19 in the state at the beginning of March, The State’s Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said 1,491 residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with no new deaths reported Tuesday, keeping the number of known fatalities to 42.

“I am thankful to say that our numbers remain relatively stable,” Chan said. “We continue to see a plateau in the number of new cases being diagnosed and in the number of hospitalizations in terms of the daily hospital census of people everyday that are hospitalized for COVID-19.”

An estimated 206 patients have required hospitalization at some point in their illness.

Chan said this number has remained relatively stable. Despite that, the state has not yet seen a decline in the overall spread of the virus, which is why continued social distancing efforts remain important.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

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