NH Now: Chris Sununu 5-18-20

When the Governor Was Asked If the Numbers of COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes Were Being Overreported, He Fired Back, “Anyone Who Says That We Are Not Getting Our Numbers Incredibly Correct Is an Absolute Fool!”

In a lively interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu laid out plans for the reopening of the Granite State this summer, warned of another COVID-19 outbreak in the fall, discussed the Executive Council’s threat to cut off all state spending, and disputed claims of inaccurate reporting of COVID related deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

As the weather improves and more and more people want to head to the beach, Governor Sununu is hopeful that planning and consultation with neighboring states and towns along the New Hampshire seacoast will pay off with a smooth opening for the Memorial Day Weekend and beyond. Fortunately, Maine and Massachusetts will be opening their beaches and New Hampshire won’t be flooded with out of state beachgoers. New Hampshire has put state guidelines in place and towns along the seacoast can impose more restrictive measures if they feel that they are needed.

In the meantime, the Governor is worried that there will be spike in the number of Coronavirus cases, “There will a surge in September or October. We have to be prepared for it.” Governor Sununu discussed the possibility of a vaccine being available, but he is aware that there is no guarantee that a vaccine would be tested, approved, and manufactured in enough quantities by then. A vaccine is a far different matter than when the state scoured the earth for PPE or testing equipment. Any vaccine must first be tested and approved by the FDA-Federal Drug Administration. It could take years, so the Governor is preparing by having enough beds and equipment to continue to fight the pandemic without having to shut down the economy again.

Last week, the state’s Executive Council claimed that they had not been provided with enough information by the Governor and his team about how the $950 million in the state budget was going to spent. As a result, the Council threatened to block all state spending. Governor Sununu maintains that his office has provided the information which was requested and will avert a June 1st deadline by answering all of the Executive Council’s questions.

The final segment of the interview dealt with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on nursing homes and extended care facilities in New Hampshire. It is estimated that three fourths of COVID-19 deaths in the state have occurred in nursing homes. The Governor became irate when he was asked if the number of COVID related deaths in nursing homes was being inflated. Governor Sununu strongly defended the work done by his administration to accurately report the effects of the pandemic. He applauded the work done in New Hampshire in contact tracing Coronavirus cases. Governor Sununu acknowledges that the long-term care facilities are in the forefront in the battle against COVID-19. For that reason, the Governor has set aside $30 million for assisted living and long-term care facilities to keep them going. On a positive note, of the 226 long-term care facilities in New Hampshire, only about 20 are currently experiencing COVID outbreaks.