COVID-19 update for Sunday: NH deaths continue to climb; Vt. Foodbank to take over food distribution

Published: 12/27/2020 9:47:35 PM
Modified: 12/27/2020 9:47:33 PM
The numbers

More than 100 Granite Staters died of COVID-19 over the last two weeks, with an additional seven deaths announced Sunday bringing the state’s total to 708.

So far, 150 people have died of virus-related illness this month, the second-most deadly since the start of the pandemic in March, according to figures from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Two weeks ago, the state topped 603 virus-related deaths.

DHHS also announced that an additional 891 new coronavirus cases Sunday, with six coming from Saturday and 83 from Friday. The remainder were from last week.

There are currently 6,994 cases of coronavirus reported in New Hampshire, while 270 people are hospitalized with the virus, according to DHHS.

Neighboring Vermont reported 63 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday morning, bringing its total of active cases to 2,235. The Green Mountain State has seen 127 virus-related deaths this year.

Vermont Foodbank takes over meal distribution

A federal food box program set to end with the year is being taken over by Vermont Foodbank, which plans to fund it through February.

Foodbank spokeswoman Nicole Whalen told the Rutland Herald the organization has allocated $1.4 million to continue the Farmers to Families Food Box program for the first two months of 2021.

“The experience will be very much the same for customers, the people participating in the program,” she said. “The only difference they’ll see is probably higher quality food and local food.”

The program started in May as an initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address both farmers losing their markets to the coronavirus pandemic and food insecurity.

The USDA purchased the food from farmers to be distributed to those in need.

The program is giving out 500 boxes of food per day at distribution sites around the state. Whalen said community support has left the Foodbank feeling like it can manage this for January and February.

Maine schools report dipsin academic achievement

Schools across Maine are reporting dips in academic performance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Standardized test scores in Gorham dropped by 10 percentage points or more in some subjects, and Biddeford High School reported a 9 point increase in course failure rate in year’s first quarter, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The lower scores in Maine schools reflect broader trends around the country. Maine educators are looking for strategies to help get students back on track during a difficult time for learning.

“It doesn’t come as a shock,” Biddeford  High School Principal Martha Jacques said. “Obviously we’re disappointed and we want all kids to succeed, but we’ve also had a group of students that have been out of traditional education for six-plus months by the time they came back to school this fall and the nature of a hybrid model is very different than what they’re used to with an in-classroom model.”

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