- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire has seen a slight increase in coronavirus infections over the past two weeks, and that’s mainly due to more testing in colleges, universities and school districts, the state epidemiologist said Thursday.

The test positivity rate remains stable and low, at 1% or less statewide, as are hospitalizations, Dr. Ben Chan said.

New Hampshire is not seeing a surge. However, “now is not the time to relax our social distancing and other community mitigation measures that we’ve put in place, Chan said at a news conference.

“This is a virus that likes to take advantage of crowds and close contact between people in confined spaces,” he said.

Gov. Chris Sununu said the state has been testing an average of well over 3,000 people a day, and at the University of New Hampshire, testing is averaging between 7,000 and 8,000 people per day.



As of Thursday, 7,814 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 35 from the previous day. The number of deaths remained at 438. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire increased over the past two weeks, going from 20 new cases per day on Sept. 2 to 41 new cases per day on Sept. 16.

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.

In other coronavirus-related news:

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LEGISLATIVE BEHAVIOR

House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff offered thanks - and an apology - to the University of New Hampshire for use of its arena during a socially-distanced legislative session.

“It came to my attention that some of the members were drinking beer in the hall and that some members were outside of the Whittemore Center, without masks, against both UNH and Durham protocol and ordinances,” Shurtleff wrote in a letter to university officials. “Please know that the House takes decorum very seriously and the actions of a few do not represent the New Hampshire House of Representatives as a whole.”

Legislators on Wednesday held their final gathering of the year to attempt to override a number of bills vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu.

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FEMA BILL

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas said Thursday he’s co-sponsored legislation to reverse a decision by Federal Emergency Management Agency to halt reimbursements for personal protective equipment and other coronavirus-related expenses incurred by local governments for public schools, transit and courthouses.

The FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020 would help ease financial burdens on states, as well as local and tribal communities that have been granted disaster declarations this year.

The legislation clarifies that under the COVID-19 declarations, Congress expects FEMA to cover certain expenses for reimbursement, including personal protective equipment.

Sununu said at a news conference Thursday that “we share a lot of disappointment” in FEMA’s announcement, but that state officials have made many appeals to cities and towns and schools to apply for federal relief funds for reimbursement.

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