By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – A man from Rockingham County who traveled recently to Europe is the state’s sixth presumptive positive case of COVID-19.
State officials announced the new case Thursday while lawmakers worked to address issues of compensation related to the global pandemic and cancelation of more events were announced, including all criminal and civil jury trials in Superior Courts for 30 days.
That brings the total to three in Rockingham County and three in Grafton County.
According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, this person self-isolated upon return from Europe and notified his healthcare provider after developing symptoms. Household contacts have self-quarantined, the officials said in a statement.
“DHHS conducted an investigation into this person’s activities and has determined the person has been isolated at home since returning to New Hampshire except to seek healthcare. NH DHHS has not identified any person other than household contacts in New Hampshire who may have been in close contact with this person while infectious,” it read.
The state also announced Thursday that 211NH has been mobilized to handle all COVID-19 related calls from New Hampshire residents.
All residents with questions or concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak can call 2-1-1.
Effective immediately, all criminal and civil jury trials scheduled in New Hampshire Superior Courts for the next 30 days, beginning Friday, March 13, will be cancelled and rescheduled to later dates, according to a court spokesman.
The court asks that people do not appear at the courthouse for jury duty service. All report dates between Friday, March 13, and Monday April 13, are cancelled. For report dates on Tuesday April 14, or after check the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website for any updates prior to reporting.
Any person who develops a fever or respiratory symptoms, like a cough or shortness of breath, should stay home away from others and seek health advice by phone from a healthcare provider.
For more information on COVID-19 in NH, please visit https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/2019-ncov.htm. For the latest information from the CDC, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
“It is important during an outbreak that residents get the information they need to protect their health and the health of their community,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette. “2-1-1 provides that resource for our residents to get the most up to date and accurate information about the presence of Coronavirus in New Hampshire.”
Gov. Chris Sununu also sent letters to both the House Speaker and Senate President to address unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Essentially, the governor is looking to expand access to unemployment benefits for those who have had to leave work due to quarantine to care for themselves if they become sick, care for an ill family member or a dependent.
It would also allow those who are self-employed to seek benefits and those whose work has been closed or have reduced hours to be covered as well. Also, a one-week waiting period for benefits would be suspended.
“We face a unique challenge,” Sununu said calling these steps “reasonable.”
Senate Democrats also announced a package of legislative reforms and initiatives on Thursday to help New Hampshire respond to the Coronavirus threat. The package comes after a joint Senate committee briefing was held with state agencies and public health organizations.
The Senate Democrats’ Coronavirus response package of reforms will be heard as an amendment to Senate Bill 507—introduced by Sen. Dan Feltes, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, Rep. Doug Ley, and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner — on Tuesday, March 17.
The preliminary package includes the following measures: unemployment insurance benefits for quarantined workers and small business owners; job protection for quarantined workers; required waiver of insurance cost-sharing requirements imposed for state employees needing tests and treatment; and the requirement of Gov. Sununu and the Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a waiver to cover testing and treatment costs for uninsured Granite Staters.
After the announcement, Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said, “We want to thank our federal delegation for their work to secure at least $4.9 million for New Hampshire to deal with the Coronavirus. We look forward to working with Gov. Sununu and state agencies to ensure the wise and appropriate use of taxpayer money, including enhancing and advancing the Coronavirus testing capacity here in New Hampshire.”