Gov. Chris Sununu said the nine people arrested after being disruptive at the Executive Council meeting earlier Wednesday showed the line of civility has moved in the state as people debate vaccine mandates and federal funding to help with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The line for appropriate behavior has been crossed,” Sununu said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “From a personal level, it is very discouraging.”
He said there have been times when his kids have been playing in the yard and people were screaming at them about politics.
According to Sununu, the impact of a group of “unruly” protesters is that there will be much more pressure being put on the state’s health care system to respond to COVID-19 now that the Republicans on the Executive Council voted down $27 million in federal funds.
“It’s a domino effect and a chain reaction,” he said, “and it will have a significant impact on the state’s response.”
He noted that it makes New Hampshire the only state to reject those funds, and he said he was disappointed with his fellow Republicans who voted, under public pressure, to reject the funds for the state’s vaccine program.
He noted the state has accepted billions with similar language – which opponents claimed would challenge state sovereignty over future federal mandates – and future contracts will contain similar language, which concerns him.
“Our state (COVID-19) response really depends on this money,” Sununu said, adding that the 4-1 partisan vote “is a disservice of all who we are elected to serve.”
He said those Republican councilors “sent our tax dollars back” due to “conspiracy theories” and “mass false information” by those who opposed the contracts.
Even without the $27 million, anyone can still get vaccinated for free, he said, but it does reduce the avenues and ease of access which he said has been part of the state’s success.
Approximately 71% of New Hampshire’s population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and about 61% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Sununu said he and his staff will look at other funding avenues for this and that “we can usually find a way to get something done.”
While the governor claimed the people in the meeting were those who had this “anti-government shut it down” mentality, he rejected that the state is being run by mob rule.
And he was particular in saying this is not a Republican rejection of these federal funds, as a party, per-se
He said the vaccine registry is the law of the land in this and every other state in the country and he is comfortable with it, but said he remains open to a legislative discussion on changing in the future to an opt-in rather than an opt-out process for the registry.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said there were 510 reported new infections and 4,218 current COVID-19 cases. The state’s positivity rate has increased to 6 percent now and the number of hospitalized is at 140 which is stable but high, he said.
There were two new deaths reported Wednesday with a total of 1,511 cases. Neither deaths Wednesday were related to individuals in long-term care facilities, which is different than last year.
In the past week there have been a total 17 deaths with the vast majority occurring outside of long-term care, Chan said.
He strongly encouraged all to get fully vaccinated at vaccines.nh.gov
Chan also stated that outpatient monoclonal antibody therapy is here and available and the supply is fine but that is not the case in all parts of the country. According to Chan, the therapy is good at reducing hospitalizations and death after infection and preventing after-exposure.
He said a list of locations where intravenous therapy is available on the website. covid19.nh.gov
“These are not sites where people can just walk in,” he said noting that the access is traditionally through a primary care provider.
There are three different products coming into the state based on request and need.
LONG TERM CARE UPDATE
Lori Shibinette, Commissioner of Department of Health and Human Services, reported that there are seven new outbreak closures and nine new outbreaks for a total of 12 current outbreaks.
NEW RAPID TESTING
Clear Choice will provide a new rapid PCR test starting in Manchester and Claremont this week and in Nashua and Newington next week, open seven days a week with a one-day turnaround, which will help allow kids to return to in-person learning.
STATE POLICE ANNOUNCE 8 ARRESTS
On Wednesday, New Hampshire State Police issued a press release detailing the arrests of nine anti-vax mandate protesters at the Executive Council meeting.
The release read, “After several announcements by both Governor Sununu and the Department of Safety Division of State Police that loud noises and disrupting the meeting would not be allowed, the following individuals were arrested:
Schmitt, John R., Age 68, Keene, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Todd, Albert J., Age 32, Nashua, NH, Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest
Staples, Frank N., Age 41, Manchester, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Grinnell, Terese M., Age 48, Loudon, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Holm, Monica A., Age 58, Hudson, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Bussiere-Appleton, Kathleen A., Age 70, Newton, NH, Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest
Todd, Marylyn T., Age 37, Nashua, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Spiller, Emilee K., Age 26, New Ipswich, NH, Disorderly Conduct
Stuart, James E., Age 68, Rochester, NH, Disorderly Conduct
The Department of Safety respects the protected right to peacefully protest in accordance with all State laws. The individuals arrested at today’s Governor and Council meeting failed to comply with a lawful order from the NH State Police and intentionally disrupted the meeting.”