New Hampshire

NH Moves Community-Based Testing to Hospitals

As of Thursday, there was one new death and 25 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the Granite State

Community-based coronavirus testing will soon be moved to hospitals around the state, Gov. Chris Sununu and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced Thursday.

The nine testing locations the state currently operates eventually will close as hospitals take on the community-based testing, Shibinette said during a Thursday news conference with the governor.

Nineteen facilities are participating, though the list does not include the state's largest hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which limits its testing to hospitalized patients and health care workers.

The hospitals will use a variety of labs to process the tests, limiting the impact of any one company's backlog, Shibinette said.

The goal will be a turnaround time of about three days for test results, she said, and the state will monitor usage and add a testing site if gaps emerge.

Two dozen urgent care centers and a dozen pharmacies around the state also are offering the tests.

"The access to testing should not be an issue for anybody," Shibinette said.

As of Thursday, there was one new death and 25 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus in New Hampshire, Shibinette announced. The total number of fatalities statewide is now 419 and the number of positive cases is 6,742.

To help Granite State residents have "equitable access to broadband services" amid the coronavirus pandemic, Sununu announced Thursday nearly $6.5 million in grants for the Connecting NH Emergency Broadband Expansion Program which was announced in June.

The funds will go to three grantees, which will deliver broadband to over 31,000 properties in Bristol, Danbury, Deering, Errol, Hillsborough, Mason, Springfield, Stoddard and Washington.

Grant agreements with other vendors are in the process of being secured, Sununu said. The goal is to use $16.1 million in CARES Act funds for broadband service statewide.

On Wednesday, Sununu issued an emergency order that affects camps that pre-date their local zoning ordinances and are allowed to operate as "pre-existing nonconforming uses."

In many towns and cities, however, properties can lose that status if they are closed for 12 months.

Sununu's order prevents municipalities from discontinuing a camp's status if it closed, shortened its season or opened at reduced capacity because of the virus. He said the order would protect camps from uncertainty, expensive litigation and potential closure.

The order comes as another New Hampshire community passed an emergency ordinance requiring residents to wear face coverings or face fines starting at $50.

The ordinance passed Wednesday night by the Town Council in Newmarket applies to employees at businesses and members of the public.

Children under 5 are not required to wear masks, nor are people advised not to wear them for health-related reasons.

A similar ordinance was passed earlier this week in nearby Durham. That measure stands for 60 days and can be renewed.

NBC10 Boston and Associated Press
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