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COVID-19: Dartmouth-Hitchcock to take over testing at NH long-term care facilities

The Associated Press
Published: 7/23/2020 9:53:01 PM
Modified: 7/23/2020 9:52:59 PM

CONCORD — New Hampshire is entering into a partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for it to take over surveillance testing for the coronavirus at long-term care facilities to help increase the state’s testing capacity and control costs, Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said Thursday.

The transition will begin next week, Shibinette said.

“What we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is as the national picture of COVID changes, it impacts our turnaround times at our national labs,” she said. “They are great partners. ... but right now, their resources are going into different areas of the country. We will continue to use our commercial lab partners, but as much as we can, we will continue to try to build capacity within New Hampshire,” she said.

Shibinette also said that patients going into the hospital for non-coronavirus reasons can now have a designated person at their bedside.

“If you are going to the hospital or have a family member going to the hospital, either the emergency room or inpatient, you will be asked now to designate a ‘support person’ — that’s a person that can advocate for you, or just be there for emotional support, be a caregiver,” she said.

Hospitals will have the flexibility on visitations, she said.

Remaining stranded Vermont ski workers head home to Peru

JAY, Vt. — The last of the remaining foreign ski workers who have been stranded at Vermont’s Jay Peak resort during the coronavirus pandemic were on their way home to Peru on Thursday, officials said.

“We are all very grateful that they will all be with their families soon,” said Melissa Sheffer, the resort’s director of rooms and community engagement, of the college students who work seasonally at the resort.

Jay Peak has been providing them food, free accommodations, trips to the store, health checks, hiking trips, and a canoe outing, she said. The resort took the five employees to Boston on Wednesday and they flew to Miami and got on a plan to Lima on Thursday morning, Sheffer said. A sixth extended her visa and moved in with friends in the area, she said.

U.S. ski areas employ about 7,500 J1 visa holders each year, according to the U.S. Ski Areas Association. Many had planned to fly home in March, but when the pandemic closed Peru’s borders, some were stranded.

NH panel outlines ways to address inequity in coronavirus infection, treatment

Providing more coronavirus-related data on race and ethnicity and promoting testing awareness among high-risk populations, especially people of color, are among the recommendations of a group working on strategies to address disproportionate impacts of the pandemic in New Hampshire.

The Governor’s COVID-19 Equity Response Team, established in May, released its first report Wednesday. It recommended that data should be included that can be used by service providers and community members to understand the impact to their specific communities. The report also recommended that data should include indicators of quality and spread of contact tracing in affected communities; testing ability in those communities; and data arranged by race in ethnicity in those categories.

It also recommends mandating mask use in “high-infection rate areas and high-risk situations or environments.”

Other recommendations are grouped under categories such as organizational cultural effectiveness; equitable data practices; and increasing knowledge about communities at risk for experiencing disparities.

New Hampshire unemployment numbersMore than 3,000 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, up by several hundred from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.The latest number covers new claims through July 18. The number of new claims in a week peaked at 39,000 in early April and has since been declining.New Hampshire case numbers

As of Thursday, 6,318 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 25 cases. Three new deaths were announced, for a total of 405.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Vermont case numbers

The Vermont Health Department Thursday reported 11 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. Ten of the cases were in Chittenden County. The eleventh case was in Windsor County.

There are two people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

The number of deaths remains at 56, where it has been for more than a month.

Vermont reopens highway rest areas

Many of Vermont’s highway rest areas and welcome centers are once again open to the public.

The state’s highest-volume rest areas and welcome centers reopened Wednesday after being closed because of the pandemic, reported.

The reopened rest areas have a number of modifications reflecting Department of Health guidelines to mitigate risks from COVID-19. Face masks are required and are available at the door.

Orange cones and floor tape help ensure social distancing. Coffee machines and water fountains are not in use and vending machines are taped off.

Each facility will be disinfected twice a day.

State Buildings Commissioner Chris Cole said he believes they’re safe.

“It’s about reducing time in the facility,” Cole said. “We want the facilities to be open, we want people to use them, but we want people to get in and get out after they’ve taken care of business.”

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