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Senator Hassan Holds Virtual Roundtable Discussion with North Country, Mount Washington Valley Leaders on Impact of COVID-19

WASHINGTON - In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan held a virtual roundtable with North Country and Mount Washington Valley leaders where they discussed the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges ahead with re-opening.


Senator Hassan is working to help New Hampshire residents and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation that is providing billions of dollars in relief to New Hampshire workers, businesses, hospitals, and state and local governments. She is also working to support Mount Washington Valley and North Country residents, including by expanding broadband access to rural and underserved communities, especially as tele-learning and tele-health have become increasingly important as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Hassan recently joined in introducing legislation aimed at ensuring all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during this pandemic. Additionally, as part of the Senator’s work to support rural hospitals, she joined the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in announcing $115.4 million in federal grants for rural hospitals under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


See below for coverage highlights:


WMUR: North Country businesses, schools, city leaders talk about challenges to re-opening

By Jean Mackin


Sen. Maggie Hassan heard from North Country community leaders in a virtual round table discussion on Monday about how they are working to economically recover from the pandemic.


Representatives from the northern part of the state said they have fewer cases but are trying to follow guidelines to keep it safe there as a crucial summer season approaches. Representatives from schools, health care and city leaders all discussed potential challenges.


[…] The White Mountain National Forest reported larger crowds than usual for this time of year. While the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce said lodging will be vital to tourism and said Storyland, for example, needs 500 guests to make it worth opening.


“There are definitely adjustments and difficulties in terms of trying to make that season happen in some kind of modified way,” Hassan said. […]


Caledonian Record: Hassan Hosts North Country Leaders For Roundtable

By Paul Hayes


Beer. Struggling students. Theme parks. Six-figure losses.


North Country leaders and Sen. Maggie Hassan raised various topics during a virtual roundtable discussion on Monday.


The hour-long discussion centered on the coronavirus pandemic and it’s across-the-board impact on business, education, health-care and more.


[…] Hassan underscored two key points during the roundtable.


First, she stressed the importance of government funds in the coronavirus response, pointing to a recent statement from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.


“He said we need more investment during the pandemic rather than less. Even though he shares everyone’s concerns about long term deficits,” she said. “He was very clear that the consensus among economists was that, without doing more now, the long term harm to our economy [will] take us years to recover from and will do lasting damage.”


Second, she emphasized the need to re-open businesses cautiously, coupled with increased testing and contact tracing, to safeguard rural hospitals and provide greater assurances to consumers.


A reckless approach could have dire consequence, she said.


“If the virus does take off again because we haven’t been gradual and careful enough, it will make what we’re going through now look like a picnic.”


Berlin Sun: Hassan holds virtual roundtable with North Country officials

By Barbara Tetreault


WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan heard from North Country officials that while positive COVID-19 cases are few, the financial impact is tough for a region where margins were already tight before the pandemic.


Hassan opened up the roundtable conference call by noting it is the time of year that normally is the start of the busy travel and tourism season. She said businesses and officials are trying to figure out how to make the season happen even in a modified fashion. Hassan also cited challenges to health care providers as hospitals start to reschedule elective procedures and schools try to plan for summer and fall sessions.


Joining Hassan on the roundtable conference call Monday were Corrine Cascadden, Interim Superintendent of Littleton School District; Scott Colby, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital CEO; Jeff Cozzens, Schilling Beer Co. owner and NH Brewers Association President; Tom Mee, North Country Healthcare CEO and Jim Wheeler, Berlin City Manager, Janice Crawford, executive director Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, and White Mountain National Forest Deputy Supervisor Diane Taliaferro.


North Country Healthcare CEO Tom Mee said the three hospitals in Coos County have been largely empty since mid-March when they stopped doing elective surgeries. 


[…] Echoing Mee comments, Scott Colby, said UCV in Colebrook is the smallest hospital in the state. Thanking Hassan for her efforts, he said UCV has received some grant funding but stressed without a grant mechanism, he does not know how the hospital could repay the money. On the bright side, he said they are starting to get patients back through the door.


[…] Wheeler said he is worried about the financial impact over the next one to three years. With one of the highest tax rates in the state, he said he would like to see the city be able to boost its undesignated fund balance to provide some protection.


[…] Hassan said the House has put together a new stimulus bill that includes about $1 trillion for states and local budgets. She said getting the kind of flexibility Wheeler would like will be a challenge in the Senate.


[…] Crawford expressed concern about how the country is going to pay back all the money being spent to combat COVID-19.


“So really, I think it’s a buckle up because we’ve got a long long haul,” she said.


Hassan said she understood the concern about the debt load but quoted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the country would do more harm by not spending now than it will do by spending.