CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The state of New Hampshire is investing up to $100 million in mental health services following a recent state Supreme Court ruling to help psychiatric patients who are being held involuntarily in emergency rooms.
A combination of federal and state funds will support 30 new emergency beds at hospitals, 60 new transitional housing beds, and 20 long-term care community beds, new mobile crisis teams, and other services, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday at a news conference.
The state also will allow new private providers into New Hampshire, and it has been complying with evaluation requirements and has set new rules for licensing, treatment and discharge following the court decision, Sununu said.
Sununu said the ruling “created an opportunity for the state, I think to double-down our efforts" and break barriers to mental health treatment.
The state achieved a major milestone in April 2020 when, for the first time in eight years, no one was waiting in a hospital emergency room for an inpatient psychiatric bed. But the numbers went back up earlier this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and included record numbers of children, health officials said.
In other coronavirus-related news:
Some New Hampshire businesses that did not lose revenue as anticipated during the pandemic and owe grant money back to the federal government will be allowed to deduct COVID-related expenses to offset what they owe, Sununu said.
A COVID businesses expenses fund will assist businesses with such matters as pro-rated rents, mortgage payments, utility and reopening costs, air filtration improvements, Sununu said.
Some federal relief funds will be reallocated into funds created to help live venues, lodging, and infrastructure projects.
New Hampshire currently has a vaccine surplus, and it would consider sharing it with Canada, as part of the effort to reopen the border.
“I understand Canada is way behind the United States in terms of vaccine distribution," Sununu said. “In fact, if we have extra vaccine, I'm more than willing to give it to Canada." He said he has asked President Joe Biden for permission.
Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. will donate 75% of its unused COVID-19 vaccines to the U.N.-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program, acting as more Americans have been vaccinated and global inequities have become more glaring. U.S. allies and partners including Mexico and Canada were on the list.
The New Hampshire House on Thursday rejected an attempt to prohibit businesses from requiring employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or asking employees or customers about their vaccination status.
The proposal was offered as an amendment to a Senate-passed bill that would make permanent several of the emergency orders issued during the pandemic, including the expansion of outdoor dining and the creation of a new job category to assist nurses in long-term care facilities. The amendment failed on a vote of 182-193, and the House then passed the underlying bill.
Under the failed amendment, only hospitals and nursing homes would have been allowed to require employees to get vaccinated. It also would have given the Legislature control over whether schools could require students to receive any future vaccines.
Building on feedback from last year, the New Hampshire Department of Education is once again asking parents, educators, and community members to take a survey on how schools responded to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last spring, a survey of remote instruction and the return to school generated more than 56,000 responses, helping to shape the state’s K-12 Back to School Guidance.
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said the current survey will “provide valuable information for schools that are already crafting plans for fall instructional programs."
People can respond to the survey online through June 30.
Available links are for families in K-12, Preschool, and Private Schools at bit.ly/nhdoefamily; staff in public and private schools at bit.ly/nhdoestaff; and community members at bit.ly/nhdoecommunity.
Nearly 99,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 74 cases announced Thursday. One new death was announced; the total number remained at 1,354.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 126 new cases per day on May 18 to 46 new cases a day Tuesday.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.