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Former Speaker of the NH House Calls For Answers From Sununu About COVID Outbreak at Veterans Home


Concord, N.H. – Former Speaker of the New Hampshire State House, Steve Shurtleff, is calling for Governor Sununu to provide answers about the failure to prevent and contain a COVID-19 outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. In less than one month, 28 veterans have died from COVID-19 with 46 more veterans and 45 staff members testing positive. This has led to calls of concern from New Hampshire Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy and State Senator Lou D'Allesandro who in a letter last week, pressed Sununu for a plan of action and a review of the state’s actions to date. The Union Leader editorial board this week also called for Sununu to issue a review of the outbreak at the Veterans Home. In July Sununu vetoed House Bill 1246 which would have required an independent assessment to provide a preparedness plan in the event of a second COVID-19 wave at the New Hampshire Veterans Home and other facilities. “Our veterans have sacrificed enormously on behalf of all Americans, and the least we can do is give them the care and support they need after their service,” said Speaker Shurtleff. “Under Governor Sununu’s watch, the New Hampshire Veterans Home is in the midst of a tragic and deadly COVID-19 outbreak, and he even vetoed a bill that his own Department of Health and Human Services supported to help ensure that facilities like the Veterans Home would be prepared for an outbreak. New Hampshire’s veterans deserve better.” Background on how the failure to prevent and maintain COVID-19 has escalated outbreaks at the New Hampshire Veterans Home and nursing home facilities: A Member of the DHHS Testified in Support of HB 1246, which Could Have Helped Prevent the COVID-19 Outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. Abigail Rogers, the legislative liaison for the Department of Public Services at the Department of Health and Human Services testified in support of the bill in June. [New Hampshire Senate, 6/10/20] Chris Sununu Vetoed HB 1246, Calling it “Redundant.” In his veto message, Sununu said, “Although this bill is well intended, it is redundant,” because it would have created more programs to address emergency COVID-19 situations. [Office of the Governor, 7/17/20] New Hampshire Saw Substantial Community Transmission of COVID-19 Prior to the Mask Mandate, Putting Elderly At Risk Again. After the rates of COVID-19 community transmission dramatically increased across New Hampshire, State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said, “if the virus goes unchecked the risks for the elderly and vulnerable populations will be like the first wave of the pandemic.” [WMUR, 11/10/20] Chris Sununu Was the Last Governor in New England to Issue a Mandatory Mask Order Following Spike in Cases. “While the rest of the northeast corner of the country from Minnesota to Kentucky to North Carolina and up to Maine, had mask mandates, New Hampshire alone did not [...] You have to wonder if New Hampshire’s numbers approaching 1,000 new cases every two days, would more resemble Maine’s averaging 200 a day if the mask mandate had happened earlier.” [InDepthNH, 11/22/20] Facilities Like the Coos County Nursing Home Received “Little to No Help From the State.” Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier said, “Other than ‘you are in our thoughts and prayers,’ there has been little to no help from the state,” following a COVID-19 outbreak at the country nursing home. [InDepthNH, 11/18/20] New Hampshire Veterans Nursing Home Issues SOS Over COVID-19 Outbreak. [ABC News, 12/6/20]

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