Sununu creates office to oversee virus-related relief funds
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is creating a new office to oversee New Hampshire’s share of the federal relief and stimulus funds related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Developments from New Hampshire:
SPENDING THE MONEY
Sununu said Tuesday the new Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery will be similar to the office of economic stimulus Democratic Gov. John Lynch created in 2009.
That process used the state budget to ensure legislative input, but the urgency of the coronavirus crisis requires a different approach, Sununu said in a letter to Democratic Senate President Donna Soucy and Democratic House Speaker Steve Shurtleff. He said the new office will include a bipartisan legislative advisory board to ensure input and transparency.
The state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation said Tuesday that state’s community health centers have been awarded an additional $6.8 million to support their response to the virus.
All patients and visitors to Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center and the health system’s clinics around the state are required to wear cloth masks to reduce transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 by people who aren’t showing symptoms.
Masks will be handed out at entrances, Dr. Antonia Altomare said Monday. The decision follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday he worries that Manchester-Boston Regional Airport could be harmed by provisions of the federal coronavirus relief bill.
In a letter to transportation officials, the Republican governor said the act allows airlines to request permission to consolidate operations to a single airport within a 150-mile area. That might make sense in cities with multiple airports, he said, but it doesn’t not make sense in New England.
Sununu said he worries that any even a temporary shifting of capacity will result in federal money flowing out of New Hampshire and into Massachusetts.
“The combined loss of access to the national airspace system and the lost federal and local dollars that would not be reinvested into local communities will result in further erosion of economic activity across the Granite State and delay our return to economic prosperity,” he wrote.
Four police officers in New Hampshire’s largest city have tested positive for the coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for the Manchester Police Department said other officers also are out of work while they await test results.
In Portsmouth, Police Chief Robert Merner told the Portsmouth Herald that an officer is recovering at home after testing positive but had no contact with the public before or after his diagnosis.
As of Monday, nearly 750 people have tested positive for the virus, and about a quarter of them are health care workers. Thirteen people have died and 108 have been hospitalized.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., is co-sponsoring legislation aimed at protecting the public from scams related to the pandemic.
The bill would require numerous federal agencies to inform the public about such scams. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Earl Carter, R-Georgia; Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina; and Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware.