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New funds for businesses, public universities, foster care

July 16, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New funds to help businesses, higher education, and foster care children during the coronavirus pandemic were announced by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday.

A Business Finance Authority fund would provide $30 million for businesses that have “fallen through the cracks” and didn’t qualify for other funds established through the state’s share of federal coronavirus relief aid. The application process will start next week and run through Aug. 4.

Also, $19 million is planned for the University System of New Hampshire to assist with testing, personal protective equipment and other needs as the public schools prepare to reopen this fall. Another $6 million is going to tuition support for the community college system.

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A program providing up to $500 per child over the summer will allow caregivers of foster children to help pay for camps, in-home childcare, in-state trips, and recreational programs. The program will be administered by the New Hampshire Foster & Adoptive Parent Association.

Other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:

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MOUNT WASHINGTON

The Mount Washington State Park Visitor Center is opening to visitors by reservation only, starting Saturday.

Phil Bryce, the director of the state Division of Parks and Recreation, told the governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force on Thursday that 75 people per hour will be allowed at the center, regardless of whether they arrive by the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the auto road, or hiking roads.

Visitors can still access the summit grounds and observation deck without a reservation.

Bryce said the Mount Washington Observatory remains closed.

Wayne Presby, owner of the cog railway, asked the task force if the percentage of riders allowed on the trains could be raised from 50% to 75%.

“Our tourist trains operate just during the summer, and that’s when we derive all of our revenue for the season,” he said.

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MOTORCYCLE WEEK

Laconia Motorcycle Week, one of a few big events in New Hampshire that hasn’t been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, is taking on a different look this year.

The event, traditionally held in June, was postponed until Aug. 22-30.

The City Council this week voted to ban vendor booths, with the exception of ones for the Motorcycle Week Association and some nonprofits, the Laconia Daily Sun reported.

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“We’re moving ahead,” Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Motorcycle Week Association said after the vote. “Thinks will look different,” he conceded. “But people (who rely on the event) will be thrilled they will be able to move on.”

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UNEMPLOYMENT

More than 2,500 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, down by more than 3,000 from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The latest number covers new claims through July 11. The number of new claims in a week peaked at 39,000 in early April and has since been declining.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Thursday, 6,139 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 27 from the previous day. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 395. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.