CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Infrastructure and innovation will be the focus when it comes to spending New Hampshire’s share of the latest federal coronavirus relief act money, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
The first half of the money is expected to arrive next week, Sununu said, though there hasn’t been any federal guidance yet on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. In the meantime, he said he’s been working with lawmakers to be ready to make quick investments in four main areas: clean drinking water, broadband expansion, mental health treatment and state parks.
“A lot of other states will have to use these funds to maybe plug budget holes,” he said. “Here in New Hampshire, we’re going to create opportunity, and we’re going to innovate in a very creative way to make these infrastructure investments across the state so our local taxpayers don’t have to face some of those burdens.”
Sununu also announced plans to use about $50 million from the initial coronavirus relief package to reimburse small businesses for virus-related expenses regardless of whether they lost revenue and to create funds for hotels and performance venues that hadn’t been eligible for federal relief programs.
In other coronavirus developments:
New Hampshire continues to place orders for its full allocation of vaccine doses though demand has dropped a bit, said Elizabeth Daly, chief of the bureau of infectious disease control.
Many states are no longer ordering their full allocations because demand has fallen so much. Daly said the state continues to order and receive about 50,000 first doses each week. For several weeks straight, it was administering about 100,000 doses total, including second shots, but that dropped to about 60,000 in the last week, she said.
About two-thirds of those eligible for the vaccine have been vaccinated, she said.
“That’s really great and it’s one of the highest in the country, so we’re really reaching the point where we’re going to have to push and try to get to people who are maybe hesitant, they’re thinking about it or maybe they have some type of barrier to vaccination that we want to address for them.”
The state-run clinics in Nashua, Salem, Newington and Concord will be offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine this Saturday from 1-6 p.m. and every Saturday for the rest of the month. Appointments are required.
Dartmouth College will allow graduating seniors to bring two guests to next month's commencement ceremony.
The new guidelines reverse the college's earlier decision to prohibit guests at the June 13 ceremony, the Valley News reported Thursday. President Phil Hanlon said the change was made based on declining COVID-19 cases, the availability of vaccines nationwide and “more flexible state and local guidance.”
Two tickets will be available to each student receiving an undergraduate degree. Those receiving graduate and professional degrees will be allowed two guests at events hosted by their individual schools, but not at the larger ceremony.
The ceremony will be held in Memorial Stadium instead of the college green to allow for social distancing.
More than 96,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 269 cases announced Thursday. Three new death were announced, bringing the total to 1,311.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 345 new cases per day on April 20 to 211 new cases per day on Tuesday.