New Hampshire is establishing a $50 million fund to give the state's health care providers, including hospitals, no-interest, short-term loans as the coronavirus outbreak strains the system.
Many hospitals have had to cancel elective procedures, which is one way they make money, as they prepare for an increase in cases as the virus spreads. Public health officials said it's infected 44 people as of Thursday.
"This could be a long road ahead. We have to support the entire system from the top down," Gov. Chris Sununu said.
He was joined by Department of Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell and state health officials to discuss the Granite State's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
State Epidemiologist Benjamin Chan said that the state has seen 44 coronavirus cases, up five from the day before. While most cases have been traced back to travel from outside the state, he said there is some concern about the virus spreading in communities in some counties.
Not everyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, will be able to be tested at this point, Chan said. Anyone who does have symptoms and doesn't need hospitalization should follow the "seven days, 72 hours rule" to prevent others from getting sick, he said, meaning staying home for at least seven days while sick and at least three more days after the symptoms have subsided.
The social distancing measures that have been ordered to stem the tide of the outbreak, like canceling schools and banning eating at restaurants, have hit businesses hard across the country, and Sununu said that the traffic on New Hampshire's unemployment website is three times its record level.
The state is trying to increase the capacity of the website, but for now visitors are being asked to return to file claims between certain times depending on their last names, according to Sununu.
Recently signed federal legislation addressing the coronavirus crisis will help New Hampshire pay out unemployment claims, Sununu said.