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NH reports no virus cases linked to Aug. 28 Trump rally

September 10, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — No cases of the coronavirus have been linked to President Donald Trump’s rally in New Hampshire two weeks ago, the state health commissioner said Thursday, and only one person who attended Motorcycle Week in Laconia has since tested positive.

About 1,400 people attended the president’s rally in an airport hangar in Londonderry on Aug. 28. Many were not wearing masks, despite Gov. Chris Sununu’s order making them mandatory for gatherings of more than 100 people.

Sununu, like Trump a Republican, was asked a few days later “what did it make you feel” to see people ignoring the mandate, and responded that he felt frustrated, just as he does when he sees someone grocery shopping without a mask.

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“I don’t want to single out one event makes me feel better or worse than another,” he said Sept. 1.

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said officials aren’t aware of any attendees testing positive after the rally.

The annual Motorcycle Week, one of the nation’s largest such gatherings, was held in Laconia Aug. 22 to 30, and Shibinette said she knows of one attendee who has tested positive.

In contrast, health officials across 12 states have found more than 300 people with infections who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota in August.

In other coronavirus developments in New Hampshire:

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NURSING HOME RESTRICTIONS

Nursing homes in Sullivan County can now accept more indoor visitors and expand group activities, but those in Grafton County will return to more restrictions, health officials said Thursday.

The state health department has taken a phased approach to allowing visitors back into nursing homes, many of which have experienced virus outbreaks.

Sullivan County has been cleared to join Belknap and Coos counties in allowing indoor visitors, but facilities in Grafton County have been bumped back to a more restrictive phase, with outdoor visits allowed due to an increase in community transmission of the virus, Shibinette said.

The state is monitoring two outbreaks at care homes.

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MAYOR INFECTED

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Donchess was tested last week, and then again over the weekend, he told the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday. Donchess was one of three people at City Hall who tested positive in cases connected to a single group activity, Nashua officials said.

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Donchess said he hasn’t been feeling extremely sick.

“I think the lesson here is that no matter how careful you are, we need to continue to exercise a lot of caution,” Donchess told the board. He took part in outdoor dining only, he said, and group gatherings only at a great distance.

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VOTING LAWSUIT

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee can intervene in a lawsuit by the American Federation of Teachers challenging New Hampshire’s voting procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, a judge ruled.

New Hampshire Public Radio reported a hearing on the case is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24.

Focusing on the November election, the union sued to force New Hampshire to extend its deadline for accepting absentee ballots by mail; to cover absentee ballot postage costs; to allow wider use of absentee ballot dropboxes; and to permit third-party groups to return absentee ballots on voters’ behalf. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states.

The teachers union says the changes are necessary to ensure as many people as possible can safely participate.

State officials are opposed to changing the rules now, saying it would create more problems.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Thursday, 7,573 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 56 from the previous day. One new death was announced, for a total of 434. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire increased over the past two weeks, going from 18 new cases per day on Aug. 26 to 28 new cases per day on Sept. 9.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia or death.