Sununu Announces $40M in Aid for NH Communities, Hazard Pay for First Responders

On Friday, Sununu extended the state's stay-at-home order through May 31, but made it more flexible for some Granite Staters

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Days after announcing plans for Stay at Home 2.0, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced the allocation of $40 million in aid for communities across the state dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his daily news conference Monday, Sununu said the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery will disperse CARES Act emergency relief funds to communities, organizations and businesses to help cover COVID-19 relates expenses.

Sununu said as businesses move towards reopening, free masks are available from the state for employees and customers. More than 2,100 businesses have already requested masks, the governor said.

Also using the CARES Act funding, a stipend for hazard pay is being made available to police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel and correctional officers. Full-time workers will receive $300 a week, while part-time workers receive $150 a week.

There were no new COVID-19 related deaths reported on Monday, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said. The death toll remains at 72. The number of positive COVID-19 cases is 2,599.

Chan reminded residents to practice good hand hygiene, stay home when possible, and to stay 6 feet away from others if you do go out. He also reiterated the need to wear cloth face coverings when out in public.

As the weather gets warmer and more people head outdoors to exercise, Chan said it's important to keep dogs leashed to protect others in public spaces.

Meanwhile, the reopening of New Hampshire began over the weekend at the state's hospitals where restrictions on non-emergency procedures have been relaxed.

Elective or non-emergency care was temporarily halted so hospitals would have enough capacity to handle the COVID-19 surge. Some procedures are now allowed, especially for people with delayed or urgent health care needs. It's part of the four phases the governor announced Friday to get the Granite State back up and running.

Officials at Catholic Medical Center say they are taking things slowly.

"The standard that we've been living under for the last month is not a forever thing but we have to do it smartly," said Dr. Keith Stahl of Catholic Medical Center.

With hospitals already suffering a huge financial loss during the pandemic, experts say things could still be slow if people don't want to make appointments.

"You may open your doors and be ready to go but how is the public going to respond," asked Michelline Dufort, Director of UNH Center for Family Enterprise.

Sununu announced Stay at Home 2.0 on Friday, extending the state's stay-at-home order through May 31 amid the coronavirus outbreak, but making it more flexible for some Granite Staters.

Businesses like hair salons and golf courses may open with exceptions on May 11. Beginning May 18, restaurants can reopen but must meet strict sanitation guidelines.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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