Shaheen, North Country Health Care & Education Leaders Address Surge of COVID Cases

November 10, 2021

**EARLIER: Shaheen Visits American Performance Polymers in Colebrook for a Tour of New Equipment Purchased to Meet the Demand for PPE during the Pandemic***

(Berlin, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hosted a press conference at Coos County Family Health Services with North Country health care providers and school district leaders this afternoon to discuss the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Shaheen addressed the impact of the Executive Council’s repeated rejection of $27 million in federal funds to bolster vaccination efforts across the state, which caused delays in rolling out vaccines for children.  

“I’m glad most of the federal funding the congressional delegation secured is finally moving forward and will soon be out the door, but this never should have been held up in the first place. It’s dangerous that the vaccine – the only tool we have to put an end to the pandemic – has become a political football,” said Shaheen. “This week, New Hampshire recorded the highest number of COVID cases since January – since before the vaccine was widely available. COVID cases are surging and there are delays rolling out the vaccine for our kids. This is precisely what health experts warned would happen without swift approval of these critical dollars. I’m deeply appreciative of our health care providers for their service on the frontlines and their continued advocacy to keep Granite Staters safe and healthy. I joined North Country representatives from our health care and education sectors today to echo their calls for leaders to put the health and well-being of our families first. The only way to protect Granite Staters and get our economy back on track is to end this pandemic once and for all, and to do that, we need to get shots in arms now.”  

Shaheen was joined by Ken Gordon (CEO of Coos County Family Health Services), as well as Brian O’Hearn (Chief Nursing Officer and VP of Patient Services at Androscoggin Valley Hospital) and David Backler (Superindendent of SAU 20). 

This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said O’Hearn, who also added that all of the COVID patients at AVH are not vaccinated.  

Backler raised serious concerns about children’s mental and emotional health throughout the pandemic, and the urgent need to provide a safe environment for kids to stay in the classrooms, stating, “We saw an end to the pandemic and then they took that away. We know that vaccinations are a critical component in maintaining kids in school and we need to do anything we can to achieve that.” 

Gordon underscored the urgent need for COVID support to get to the frontlines, saying, “There will be other opportunities before the Executive Council on this and it is important that they support actions that will increase access to vaccinations throughout the state.” 

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to secure critical funds to address the COVID crisis in New Hampshire, including joining an effort to fix discrepancies that caused small and rural states to receive significantly less funding for vaccines and testing than originally estimated. Last month, Shaheen and New Hampshire’s congressional delegation held a virtual press conference with health care stakeholders to discuss how the Executive Council’s repeated votes to decline federal vaccine funding that the delegation secured is hurting New Hampshire’s ability to turn the page on the COVID crisis, particularly as cases and hospitalizations surge. 

Earlier in the day, Senator Shaheen visited the American Performance Polymers (APP) facility in Colebrook for a plant tour and a briefing around new equipment that was acquired to meet the high demand for personal protective gear during the pandemic.  

“The pandemic exposed how urgently the United States needs to bolster the domestic supply chain and that starts with investing in our local manufacturers. American Performance Polymers is playing an important role in our effort to do just that, which is why my office was excited to assist APP in securing a DoD contract that will enhance their ability to ramp up production of critical personal protective equipment for medical staff and frontline workers. This in turn will strengthen our supply chain and create jobs in the North Country,” said Shaheen. “It was great to meet with APP leadership today for an update on their manufacturing lines and to see production up close. I’ll continue to work across the aisle in the Senate to invest in our domestic supply chain and ensure the United States is always prepared, should crisis strike.” 

APP is a Renco company that produces?nitrile?gloves, which are?medical?personal protective equipment that’s been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last July, with assistance from Senator?Shaheen’s?office, the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded APP’s parent company Renco a nearly $23 million contract to increase manufacturing of gloves for those on the frontlines. In May of this year, APP received a $13.1 million contract with DoD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to add two high-speed and six regular glove manufacturing equipment lines, which will increase glove production by 45.8 million gloves per month by July 2022.