Catching Up with Annie
We will overcome this virus together
Washington, April 17, 2020
As we settle into week five of working and studying from home, our thoughts were summed up best by a caller on our weekly tele town hall, who asked simply, “I miss seeing my co-workers. When can I go back to work?” That was the question on everyone’s mind this week, as I checked in with the NH Food Bank and the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, town and county administrators, restaurant owners and North Country Chambers of Commerce and tourism business owners. And that was the focus of discussion on many hours of conference calls and video meetings with my colleagues in Congress.
My staff and I have spent many hours reviewing the advice of public health officials, physicians, researchers and even countries in Europe that are a few weeks ahead of us in recovering from COVID-19 and re-opening their society and economy. Here’s the common thread: our collective efforts to “flatten the curve” are working as we stay at home, practice physical distancing (while staying socially connected by phone and video) and wearing a mask for essential work or trips to the grocery store or doctor. However, we cannot just turn a switch and ALL go about our normal routine at once or the COVID-19 virus will spike again. Medical experts agree that stay-at-home orders should remain in place until we reach a 14-day period in which case numbers fall steadily and hospitals are not overwhelmed.
So, what’s the answer? First, we must dramatically increase testing and isolate ALL positive individuals, while reaching out to anyone whom that person may have contacted to monitor their health. Second, open schools and businesses slowly, with a plan for physical distancing, masks, hand washing and sanitizer to mitigate the spread of the virus. Third, monitor the situation very closely and make adjustments as necessary to protect our communities, especially those who are older and more vulnerable, such as nursing homes and retirement communities. Finally, continue to follow public guidelines by limiting the size of groups and providing a safe environment for work, school and recreation. Read more about the plan by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FEMA for reopening the country here.
I will continue to work on planning for re-entry in Congress and here at home with the Governor, our mayors and local elected officials. In the meantime, settle in and make the most of our collective “time out.” Our frontline workers - health care providers, first responders, grocery workers - are serving us every day and we can serve them by staying home to “flatten the curve.”
A recreational therapist friend of mine suggested “4 M’s” to stay engaged:
Mindfulness - yoga, meditation or quiet time
Motion - walking, biking, getting outside
Mastery - cooking, carpentry, puzzles
Meaningful connection - phone or video with friends and family
As I reach out, I am asking, “how are you feeling? And how are you feeling about how you are feeling?” Those are the questions we need to answer before anyone will want to go back out into the world - to work, shop, play and gather in public again.
Stay safe. Keep your distance. Wear your mask. And together, we shall overcome the virus, and leave no one behind. This is the New Hampshire way.
Tune in to WMUR on Sunday Morning for CloseUp!
I joined Adam Sexton on WMUR’s CloseUp to talk COVID-19 in New Hampshire and what Congress is doing to help families, small businesses, and frontline workers get to the other side of this crisis. Tune in to WMUR this Sunday at 10AM to watch!
Addressing Rising Unemployment
Over the past several weeks, Granite Staters have filed for unemployment assistance in record numbers. With over 114,000 claims submitted, it is critical that the Department of Labor provide assistance to our state Employment Security. That’s why this week I led our Congressional Delegation in writing to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia underscoring the need for urgency to expedite the processing of claims. With passage of the CARES Act, eligible Granite Staters who are furloughed or unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic can receive an additional $600 per week in assistance to make ends meet. It is imperative that this funding gets into the hands of those who need it the most, and I will continue my efforts to support Granite Staters who are out of work.
Supporting Airports During COVID-19
The New Hampshire delegation also announced this week that our state’s airports will receive $15.2 million through the CARES Act to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Hampshire’s airports are critically important to our state’s economy. Like so many other industries, airports are struggling at this time, and this funding will help support their continued operation. I will continue working to ensure community resources and businesses in New Hampshire have the aid they need to get through this health and economic emergency.
Keeping Granite Staters Informed
On Wednesday, Congressman Chris Pappas and I held our sixth telephone town hall to discuss COVID-19 and take questions from New Hampshire residents. I thank Dr. Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Infectious Disease and International Health at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and Major General David Mikolaities, the New Hampshire Adjutant General, for joining us on this call. As Congress continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and as we work to provide crucial financial support and resources to the American people, I will continue to advocate for the needs of our state.
Supporting Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
Yesterday, I had a call with staff at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) to get an update on how the coalition is responding to COVID-19 and the needs of survivors during this difficult time. Understandably, the coalition is facing many challenges, including their ability to provide safe shelter for survivors. While the coalition has been able to secure hotel rooms for survivors, this can be costly, especially for longer-term stays, and many hotels are not open during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the coalition is concerned about a decrease in much-needed donations with large numbers of people out of work. I take these concerns seriously, and I’ll continue working to support survivors and ensure the coalition has the resources it needs to continue its critical and lifesaving work. You can read my op-ed on looking out for survivors of domestic and sexual violence here. To contact the NHCADSV, call (603) 224-8893.
Ensuring No Granite Stater Goes Hungry
I spoke with leadership at the New Hampshire Food Bank this week to ensure we are doing all we can to keep food on the table for Granite Staters during this time. The Food Bank has doubled its inventory to meet the growing demand and is working with partner agencies across the state to get food to your community. If you are in need of food, you can locate your community agency here: https://www.nhfoodbank.org/
Delivering Health Care in Rural Communities
This week, I had a phone call with North Country Healthcare, with leadership from Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Weeks Medical Center, and North Country Home Health and Hospice about the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our rural communities and health services. The stories I heard echoed what we know all too well, which is a need for more widespread access to testing and Personal Protective Equipment. I was pleased to receive an update on how increased access to telehealth is working to deliver health care services in the North Country to both our seniors and in the field of behavioral health.
Supporting County and Local Leaders
I led a discussion with administrators from the New Hampshire Association of Counties, including administrators leading Belknap, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, and Sullivan Counties, which I represent in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District. I heard from many during the discussion about their county’s needs for increased testing and Personal Protective Equipment, as well as the unprecedented budgetary issues facing the counties as a consequence of the economic downturn from COVID-19.
I also shared with the administrators legislation I’m pushing for to provide resources directly to smaller municipalities. These include the Coronavirus Community Relief Act to provide $250 billion in stabilization funds for local communities, cities, and towns across the United States, and The Small Cities and Towns Investment Act to authorize $10 billion annually to be distributed by USDA Rural Development, with a needs-based formula for communities with populations under 30,000.
I remain committed to supporting our local and county leaders as they manage our community needs at this time and championing their priorities during future funding packages passed by Congress.
Assisting Dining, Hospitality and Tourism Businesses
On Wednesday, I led a call with the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted their members. I also spoke with travel and tourism leaders in the North Country yesterday who are concerned about what the summer tourism season might look like this year. On these calls, we talked about how the outbreak has been particularly difficult for restaurants, hotels and shops, many of whom rely on tourism to stay in business. These businesses are a critical sector in our state’s economy that employs thousands of Granite Staters, and ensuring they have resources to continue to keep their employees on the payroll is a top priority.
With funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) being exhausted this week due to incredible demand, I once again called on Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to advance bipartisan legislation to increase funding for this critical program. PPP has been a lifeline for thousands of small businesses across the state, and we must ensure that no business is left behind during this economic and public health crisis. It is imperative for Congress to consider this legislation without delay and provide $250 billion in additional funds for PPP. You can read my statement HERE.
During this stressful and uncertain time, I’ve found joy and relaxation in cooking. Below are some recipes I’ve made recently - I welcome you to give them a try!
Resources for You
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) are the best resources to turn to during this public health emergency.
In addition, Anthony Fauci’s interview on the Daily Show is another good resource for dispelling common misconceptions about COVID-19 and providing insight on how we can protect ourselves. Watch here.