By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu said New Hampshire will be ready once a COVID-19 vaccine is available in response to questions about a letter from the CDC to governors telling them to be prepared to distribute vaccines as soon as Nov. 1.
Sununu also announced at his regular press conference Thursday that he signed a new emergency order requiring learning center verification.
As to the vaccine, Sununu said: “The federal government is saying a vaccine is likely on its way and wants to make sure we’re ready on our end for whenever that may come.”
He said he doesn’t think a vaccine will be ready by then, but the state will be ready in case. No vaccine has been approved, although there are trials underway.
Sununu said the bigger question will be the quantity of the vaccine doses and the timing of when they could arrive in New Hampshire, although the state will definitely be ready Nov. 1. There is also the question of prioritizing who will be among the first to be vaccinated, Sununu said.
“They just want to make sure the states have crossed all their T’s and dotted their I’s so when a vaccine is available, we’re ready to distribute it as fast as we possibly can,” Sununu said.
The state won’t get 1.3 million doses right away which would be enough for everyone, Sununu said.
“We’re assuming we might have to prioritize,” Sununu said, adding that could include people in high-risk groups.
Remote Learning Centers
Sununu also said he just signed a new emergency order requiring remote learning center verification.
This will ensure that parents or legal guardians who may be in a situation where the school district has gone to remote or hybrid learning models have safe options for their kids should they choose to use a learning center or learning pod as they are sometimes called.
Sign up for those begin on Tuesday.
The Department of Health and Human Services will administer this program within the Child Care Licensing Unit.
The order states: A remote learning center shall be defined as any person, corporation, partnership, voluntary association or other organization, either established for profit or otherwise, which provides a space for children in kindergarten through grade 12 to participate in remote instruction through a public or private elementary or secondary school system or institution of higher learning.
The Department of Health and Human Services will develop a standard form for verification of a remote learning center. At a minimum, this form will include certification from the remote learning center that no individual working with any child:
a. Has a criminal conviction for an offense involving causing or threatening direct physical injury to any individual;
b. Has a criminal conviction for an offense involving causing or threatening harm of any nature to any child or children;
c. Has a felony conviction in the previous ten years;
d. Is listed on the New Hampshire Registration of Criminal Offenders Website (hltp ://business.nh.gov/NSOR/);
e. Is listed on the National Sex Offender Public Website (https://www.nsopw.gov/); and
f. Is ineligible for employment pursuant to RSA 189:13-a, V. 4.
The following are not considered remote centers: a. Daytime programs operated by a public or private elementary or secondary school system or institution of higher learning; b. Private homes in which the only children in care are the provider’s own children, children related to the provider or others. See the full list in Emergency Order #67 here.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette provided more details on the state’s preparedness for delivering COVID-19 vaccinations.
The state has been preparing for delivering COVID-19 vaccinations since June, Shibinette said. And beyond that the state has for a long time had plans in place and continuing drills on prioritizing and delivering vaccines for other illnesses.
“We’re in a good place for mass vaccination,” Shibinette said.
Shibinette also announced 41 new positive COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 7,347 cases. She said there were no new hospitalizations and no new deaths to report. The state has had a total of 432 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
The state is closing the outbreak at Evergreen Place in Manchester leaving only one outbreak open – the one at Mountain View in Ossipee, Shibinette said. An outbreak means there are three or more cases.
Sununu said hundreds of businesses have thousands of jobs available. He focused Thursday on job openings at schools. Check out those listings at http://nhjobs.nh.gov, Sununu said.