Several new initiatives, including tax relief, to help New Hampshire residents during the coronavirus pandemic were announced Friday by Gov. Chris Sununu.
Speaking at a news conference, the governor said he would be releasing an emergency order later in the day that will empower municipalities to offer a blanket abatement of interest for late property tax payments.
As part of his Emergency Health Care System Relief Fund that he announced last month, Sununu also announced the state's first grant which will be going to Lakes Regional Healthcare in the form of a $5.25 million zero-interest loan. The healthcare system operates Franklin Memorial Hospital and Lakes Region General Hospital.
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The total $50 million fund will provide emergency relief to hospitals and other health care providers that provide crucial services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additional grant allocations will be announced in the coming days, Sununu said.
The governor said as of Friday afternoon, New Hampshire officials have built 14 clinical surge flex facilities and now have 5,300 hospital beds.
In an effort to support Granite State grocery stores during the public health crisis, the governor said an Emergency Operations Center will be opening. As part of that effort, state officials are working with the Grocers Association to develop guidelines to keep employees and customers safe and are implementing things like plexiglass sneeze guards at checkout counters.
The governor said public parks will remain open but he wants residents to practice social distancing guidelines and pick parks that are closer to their homes. In his #HomeHikeChallenge!, Sununu is encouraging people to post pictures of their adventures this weekend.
As of Thursday, New Hampshire had 479 cases of coronavirus, including five deaths.
Health officials Thursday said only 73 people in New Hampshire with the virus have been hospitalized.