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Sen. Sherman: Ending statewide mask mandate ‘potentially devastating’

By Paula Tracy - InDepthNH | Apr 16, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2020, file photo New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu speaks at a Cops for Trump rally in Portsmouth, N.H. Sununu is seeking his party's nomination in the Tuesday, Sept. 8, primary to run for re-election in November. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

CONCORD – Not everyone agrees with Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to allow the statewide mask mandate to expire on Friday.

State Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, a physician, said the move is premature.

“I urge the governor to rethink this unnecessary and potentially devastating deviation in our public health policy,” Sherman said.

Sununu said at his Thursday news conference that he feels confident dropping the state requirement noting that COVID-19 deaths have decreased dramatically from the winter. He said almost 70 percent of eligible state residents have received or will receive the vaccine and hospitals are able to manage with adequate staff, supplies and bed space.

Sherman, however, said the state is averaging more new cases each day and more hospitalizations than when the mask mandate first went into effect.

“As a doctor, I am shocked that in spite of these facts the governor is now lifting this critical protection against the spread of COVID-19. It is clear that the pandemic is far from over,” Sherman said.

Sununu said he feels the state is nearing the finish line on the pandemic and while not out of the woods yet, he was confident the state mandate could be lifted. He also noted that municipal mask mandates can still remain in place and private businesses and schools can still require mask use.

Still, Sherman urged Sununu to reconsider.

“For the sake of our state’s health and our economy, our greatest hope of fully reopening lies in continuing to use every prevention tool at our disposal to control this crisis,” he said.

Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins said, “Sununu is pandering to the most extreme COVID denier members of his party instead of standing up for public health.”

Rice Hawkins said Sununu continually “shows us he cannot be trusted to put the health and safety of his constituents over his own partisan political agenda. From coddling white nationalists to campaigning with secessionists and standing with armed militia members and conspiracy theorists.”

Calling him “Complicit Chris Sununu,” Rice Hawkins said Sununu “continues to choose far-right extremists over Granite Staters. Sununu’s lack of leadership is dangerous and will cost lives.”

On the governor’s Twitter account, Ray Ville wrote, “you know nothing about science.” Ville asked why residents were not hearing directly from Health and Human Services officials.

One posting by Karen said the decision will lead to a summer of customers fighting with business owners over the mask mandate.

“It will be a long summer,” she wrote.

Others on Sununu’s Twitter account praised his decision.

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