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Some long-term care centers will allow outdoor visits soon

June 16, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Some long-term care centers in New Hampshire that meet state and federal criteria should be able to allow outdoor visits as soon as this weekend, the state’s health and human services commissioner said Tuesday.

Centers need to submit a plan to health officials that would include designated sites for visits, such as a courtyard or porch, Commissioner Lori Shibinette said at a news conference. Appointments would be limited to two visitors per resident, and both must be over age 12. Visitors and residents need to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and not have physical contact, she said. Visitor logs would be kept.

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Staff would supervise the visits with distance allowed for privacy.

“We acknowledge that it’s been three months since people have been able to visit with their loved ones,” Shibinette said.

The facilities have been closed to visitors. More than a dozen have had coronavirus outbreaks, and their residents make up the majority of those who have died of the virus in the state. Some have since been removed from the list.

Outdoor visits will not be allowed at facilities that are experiencing an outbreak.

Other developments in New Hampshire:

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SMALL BUSINESSES

Over 5,400 small businesses in New Hampshire have qualified to get grants from a fund that comes from the state’s share of federal coronavirus relief money, Gov. Chris Sununu said.

The average grant amount is $62,000, he said.

Over 4,700 applicants didn’t qualify because they are self-employed, Sununu said. He said the state will finalize an aid program soon for that group.

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UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

New Hampshire’s 14.5% unemployment rate for May reflects the impact of the pandemic, officials say.

The rate was a decrease of 2.6% from April, which increased to 17.1% after revision.

The May 2019 seasonally adjusted rate was 2.5%.

The number of employed residents for May was 620,630, an increase of 24,320 from the previous month and a decrease of 132,220 from May 2019.

The number of unemployed residents decreased by 17,540 over the month to 105,590. This was 85,990 more unemployed than in May 2019.

From April to May this year, the total labor force increased by 6,780 to 726,220. This was a decrease of 46,230 from May 2019.

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Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 13.3%, a decrease of 1.4% from the April rate, and an increase of 9.7% from the May 2019 rate.

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UNH COSTS

Coronavirus-related costs at the University of New Hampshire could create a budget deficit of up to $10 million when the fiscal year ends June 30, and a deficit of up to $30 million in the upcoming year, the school’s president said.

Jim Dean, in an email to university employees Monday, attributed the first figure to mostly $27 million in refunds given to students due to the university’s closures, Seacoastonline.com reported. He said projections for the next fiscal year include expenses related to safely reopening and additional losses expected because of a smaller incoming freshman class.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Tuesday, 5,364 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 27. Six deaths were announced, for a total of 326.

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.