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COVID-19 news for Thursday: 36,000 file for unemployment in N.H.

Staff and wire reports
Published: 4/9/2020 9:13:11 PM
Modified: 4/9/2020 9:16:00 PM

More than 36,000 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, up nearly 5,000 from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. The latest number covers new claims through April 4.

The state has seen more unemployment claims in the past three weeks due to the pandemic than in the previous three years, said George Copadis, commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Employment Security.

The department has taken more than 79,000 calls since March 17. Among those pitching in at a call center are members of the New Hampshire National Guard.

Fielding the calls requires a certain mindset, said Senior Airman Connor Martin, 23, a crew chief from the Pease Air National Guard Base.

“You’re going to get yelled at,” he said. “People are upset. People are distraught. But you have to understand that there’s a single mom with two kids on the other end of the line who’s lost her only source of income.”

Vermont processed 16,474 initial unemployment insurance claims last week, compared with 519 at the same time last year, the Vermont Department of Labor said. The state received a total of 22,754 initial unemployment insurance claims last week for a total of 71,667 since March 15.

New Hampshire modeling

New Hampshire reported 31 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, for a total of 819, and said another three people had died from the disease, bringing that death toll to 21.

Nearly all of the deaths in New Hampshire have involved people age 60 or older, and all of those under 60 had chronic health conditions.

There have been 43 identified COVID-19 cases in Grafton County and six found in Sullivan County.

State Epidemiologist Benjamin Chan said modeling projections show New Hampshire’s efforts at social distancing and forced closure of non-essential businesses have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 and cut potential deaths dramatically compared with a model with no interventions.

There are “early signs that we are starting to control the spread of COVID-19,” Chan said at a news conference, though he and Gov. Chris Sununu said the numbers could rise if people no longer follow the guidelines and orders.

Chan said the peak number of cases will occur sometime in the next several weeks.

“Now is the critical time to continue with social distancing,” he said.

Sununu said New Hampshire residents had done well but needed to continue to act prudently and stay home.

“The stay-at-home order is working. It’s very tough to do, I understand, but it is working,” he said.

Sununu also said he had appointed Banking Commissioner Jerry Little to oversee a new Office for Emergency Recovery and Relief to help oversee federal relief funding. Little, who previously represented the Newport area in the state Senate, pledged to be transparent and to provide “metrics” showing how the funding was being disbursed.

Vermont up 23

Vermont reported another 23 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total on Thursday to 628. Thirty-three people are hospitalized in the state, and 23 have died.

Vermont has administered 8,181 tests thus far.

Geisel study

Researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth are working with the University of New Hampshire Survey Center to track the COVID-19 outbreak. An early survey of more than 1,000 New Hampshire households found that just over half of them had been completely symptom-free during the past four weeks.

But fewer than 20% are doing much to substantially reduce their exposure to family members who are coughing or have shortness of breath by isolating them in the shared home, the survey found.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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