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Shaheen, others call for more tracing funds

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., arrives for a meeting to discuss the coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/3/2020 9:01:00 PM
Modified: 5/4/2020 1:51:53 PM

WEST LEBANON — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined 13 Democratic senators on Saturday calling for Congress to increase funding for contact tracing.

The lawmakers asked for an additional $8 billion for contact tracing initiatives, which would help states and municipalities recruit, hire and train new tracers.

The money also could be used for new digital tools, such as apps that can alert people who may have interacted with a COVID-19 patient, Shaheen said in a news release.

Contact tracing involves public health officials working with patients to help them recall everyone that they may have come into close contact with while infectious. Tracers then warn those people of the potential exposure and provide them with educational tools and access to aid.

More money is needed “to enable states to quickly diagnose patients and get them into appropriate care, as well as help us better understand the spread of the disease, and provide a path forward towards eventually reopening the economy,” wrote the senators, who were lead by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The funding would be in addition to $25 billion allocated for testing in recently passed legislation. Of that money, New Hampshire is slated to receive $17 million.

The Granite State last week announced its National Guard is helping the state’s contact tracing efforts. Vermont also rolled out a new coronavirus testing and contact tracing protocol last week that involves conducting 1,000 tests a day and increasing testing at prisons, nursing homes and of essential health care workers.

NH, VT report new cases

New Hampshire announced two new deaths and an additional 90 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.

The Department of Health and Human Services identified those who died as a woman over 60 years old from Hillsborough County, and one man over 60 in Rockingham County.

Most of the new coronavirus cases continue to come from the southern part of the state, with 32 more people from Rockingham County said to have the virus Saturday.

Manchester saw 18 new cases while Nashua saw 12. The rest of Hillsborough County reported 13 new cases.

There were six new cases in Strafford County, three in Merrimack and one in Belknap. The county of residence is being determined for five new cases, according to an HHS news release.

Overall, 2,518 people in New Hampshire are known to have contracted the virus, with 1,017 having recovered.

Meanwhile, Vermont reported 11 new cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 897.

None of the new cases were in Orange or Windsor County, and there were no additional deaths reported this weekend.

MassachusettsNursing homes reportdismal numbers

Long-term care facilities in Massachusetts accounted for nearly 60% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the state, one of the highest publicly reported rates in the country.

Citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Boston Globe reports Rhode Island appears to have the highest rate in the nation, at about 71%, followed by Massachusetts.

About 41,000 people are living in nursing and rest homes in Massachusetts.

“If you have someone in the nursing home, you are just holding your breath,” said Elizabeth Dugan, associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

State data shows that at least 67% of the state’s 476 long-term care facilities have reported infections.

Walmart closed

A Walmart in Worcester was closed after 81 employees tested positive for the coronavirus. On Saturday the store remained temporarily closed as city officials completed tests of the store’s nearly 400 employees.

The store was shut on Wednesday.

A Walmart spokesperson said the store was slated for a one-day closure Thursday as part of a company-initiated program of cleaning and restocking.

Initial plans called for reopening the store Friday, but the company is working with Worcester officials to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken before reopening.

NAACP conventionpostponed

A July convention of the NAACP planned for Boston has been postponed because of the coronavirus. Boston chapter president Tanisha M. Sullivan said she expects the convention will be held eventually, but worries about the virus meant it could not take place as originally planned.

On Sunday, Massachusetts reported 158 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to more than 4,000.


CONNECTICUTStates work together to secure supplies

Connecticut is banding together with six nearby states to purchase equipment and supplies that sometimes have been hard to come by during the coronavirus pandemic.

Farmers grapple withsocial distancing rules

Meanwhile, Connecticut farmers are shifting how they get products to consumers, faced with new challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Heading into one of their busiest times of year, farmers, growers and operators of open-air markets are grappling with new social distancing rules, fluctuations in demand and smaller crowds at markets.

Some farm stores are installing protective shields at cash registers and many are pushing online sales. Pick-your-own farms may try “one-way rules,” as grocery stories have done with aisles to curb the flow of traffic, Nichols said.

Gov. Ned Lamont has deemed farmers markets an essential service. They’re allowed to operate with new rules including requiring staff and sellers to wear gloves and masks, limiting the number of customers and putting more space between vendor tables.

State public health officials said Sunday that 59 more people who tested positive for COVID-19 died, for a statewide total of 2,495 deaths. Connecticut has had more than 29,280 positive cases overall, including an additional 523 announced Saturday.


MAINEPresident tweetsabout feud

President Donald Trump says there are many complaints coming in about the state of Maine.

In retweeting a message about a dispute between the state and a restaurant owner who lost his state licenses after defying an order to remain closed, Trump wrote, “Don’t make the cure worse than the problem itself. That can happen, you know!”

Legislators want to end state of emergency

A group of Republicans in the Maine House of Representatives are asking Democratic leaders of the Legislature to call the body back into session to end the state of civil emergency declared by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The GOP lawmakers say they have been denied information about the progress of the disease in Maine and about how the state’s businesses can reopen.

On Sunday, Senate President Troy Jackson, a Democrat, said stripping Mills of emergency powers would jeopardize the state’s COVID-19 funding, limit the state’s ability to procure medical supplies, and leave essential workers without the support they need.

“So far, the Legislature has worked together to put Maine people ahead of partisanship,” Jackson said in a letter distributed on Sunday. “As we begin to reopen the state, we must do the same.”

As of Sunday, Maine had 1,185 confirmed cases, with 706 people recovered, and 57 deaths from COVID-19.


RHODE ISLAND Deaths see jump

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo reported Sunday the state saw 24 additional deaths from COVID-19, the state’s highest single-day toll, increasing the state’s fatalities to 320.

The new deaths were in addition to 188 new positive tests for people carrying the virus, increasing the statewide total to just below 9,500.

Raimondo used her Sunday news conference to remind people not to congregate outside in the good weather.

“It is so tempting to have some friends over, get together in a big group, go play ball in the park, let your kids hang out with a bunch of friends in the park, I’m just asking you to please not do that,” she said. “Hang in there for just a little bit longer and it will keep all of us safe.”

She said it appears that people failed to abide by the no-congregation request over the Easter and Seder religious holidays of last month.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this story.


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