Four more New Hampshire residents have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to numbers released Monday by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
The new deaths, which were connected to long-term health care facilities, bring the state's total to 27, said state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan at a Tuesday press conference with Gov. Chris Sununu.
There are now 1,091 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Granite State, an increase of 73 on Monday.
To financially assist front line workers at Medicaid-funded residential facilities and social services organizations across New Hampshire, Sununu announced the formation of the Long-Term Care Stabilization Program. The program will provide a weekly $300 stipend to those workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
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"This additional stipend recognizes the crucial role workers in this sector play as we confront this pandemic," Sununu said.
In addition to the stipend, the state will be partnering with ConvenientMD Urgent Care to make testing available to its 6,600 health care workers in their long-term care facilities in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties.
Mobile testing sites will be established by ConvenientMD Urgent Care near all long-term care facilities with two clinical teams of six members, Sununu said.
Sununu also said he signed an executive order Tuesday to officially establish the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief & Recovery. The office will monitor the disbursement of federal aid during the coronavirus crisis.
Because health officials say the pandemic is likely to last weeks and even months, Sununu said it's critical that people stay home except for essential trips. He said anyone who needs to go out should wear a face mask to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
"I believe that public health trumps everything. I believe that my responsibility as governor is to make sure we don't have a massive viral spread that we've seen across the world and like we've seen in neighbors like New York and Boston that are killing people," Sununu said.
A stay-at-home order has been issued in New Hampshire until May 4 but like many governors, Sununu is looking ahead to how he can re-open the economy. He said he has been talking to neighboring governors, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont and Janet Mills of Maine to start the planning process so that everyone is on the same page.
Sununu said it's possible that May 4 order could be extended.
Some New Hampshire business owners fear that opening the economy early could be harmful to people's health, especially if residents from Maine and Massachusetts travel to the Granite State and bring the coronavirus with them.
"No one state can do this alone and it's going to harm anyone of us if we try to step out ahead," Soldati said.
On Sunday, a cargo plane landed in the Granite State from China with 91,000 pounds of personal protective gear thanks to the help of Segway inventor Dean Kamen.
The shipment was to be purchased by the state for some $5 million and distributed to those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.