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NH makes stockpile of surgical masks available to buy at liquor stores

  • New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet in West Lebanon, N.H. opens on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Published: 5/24/2020 7:26:37 PM
Modified: 5/24/2020 7:26:35 PM

CONCORD — Residents of New Hampshire may now buy disposable surgical masks from the state’s stockpile, Gov. Chris Sununu announced Friday — as long as they go to a liquor store.

State officials started distributing the masks in its stockpile to 80 liquor stores across the state Saturday, Sununu said. Those stores, which are state-run, will charge for masks “at cost,” meaning at the same price they were bought for.

Previously, the surgical masks were only available to health care providers, front line workers and businesses that applied to the state as they re-opened. But the new system overrides that process and opens the masks to anyone who wants to buy them.

Businesses, meanwhile, will no longer receive the masks for free. Stores and restaurants must now buy the masks from liquor stores along with consumers, Sununu said.

The masks being offered are disposable surgical masks – not N95 masks that filter air particles. Epidemiologists rank them at the same level as cloth masks. They are recommended for use in public to stop saliva and other particles to spread to others, but they do not on their own prevent the mask-wearer from contracting COVID-19.

Nashua masks

People are required to wear face coverings when entering any business under an ordinance passed in Nashua.

The Telegraph of Nashua reports the Board of Aldermen adopted the ordinance Thursday.

It applies to any business, including outdoor areas where business is conducted, work sites and government buildings. Face coverings also must be worn when picking up food for takeout, and in the common areas of residential or commercial buildings that contain more than two units.

Face coverings can be removed outdoors at a restaurant.

The ordinance does not apply to children younger than 10. Violators could be fined.

Caution with cleaning

People were accidentally poisoning themselves at a higher rate than normal during the pandemic even before President Donald Trump’s comments about disinfectants combating COVID-19 on April 23 led to a spike in calls to poison centers.

The Northern New England Poison Center reported that accidental adult poisonings in New Hampshire increased 59 percent from March 16 to April 14. One of the main reasons is greater exposure to the cleaning products needed to increase health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Inhaling their fumes for an extended period of time, ingesting them and, to a lesser degree, too much skin contact with cleaning products can all lead to accidental poisoning. Spraying food and food packaging with cleaning products, and then accidentally ingesting those products, also has been a contributing factor to the increase in poisonings.

The NNEPC recommends you take the following precautions when it comes to cleaners: read and follow the directions (it may include information on how long to leave it on a surface, if you need to ventilate the room while using, is it harmful to children or pets, etc.); do not mix cleaning products unless instructed to do so (mixing chemicals can be toxic — bleach and vinegar make chlorine gas, for example); keep potential poisons out of reach children, including hand sanitizers and cosmetics as well as cleaning products; put away items as soon as you are done using them; do not use disinfectant wipes designed for hard surfaces to clean your hands.

Numbers update

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced 63 new positive test results for COVID-19 on Sunday bringing the total in the state to 4,194. Four of the new cases have no identified risk factors and community-based transmission continues to occur in the state and has been identified in all counties. Most of the remaining cases have either traveled out of state or had close contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

DHHS also announced one additional death related to COVID-19, bringing that total to 209. There are currently 419 people hospitalized in New Hampshire due to the virus, about 10% of the total cases.

The Vermont Department of Health announced two new cases on Sunday, one in Bennington County and one in Caledonia County. That brings the total number of cases in Vermont to 956. Of those, four are currently hospitalized, 54 have died, 32 are being monitored and 876 are done being monitored.

Church changes

Church leaders in Vermont are taking steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as in-person services resume in the state.

Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday that services at houses of worship could resume starting this weekend but only at 25% capacity.

Pastor Glen Russell of Faith Baptist Church in Winooski told WCAX-TV that they have removed hymnals from pews and are putting lyrics to songs on a big screen.

“My main focus is to keep folks safe because I don’t want to have any of our church members be sick, so we’re going to screen folks at the door and ask some of those questions that we need to ask and do all of those things and do our part to be good citizens,” he said.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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