Sununu — Federal Funds for COVID-19 Vaccinations are OK to Accept
Gov. Chris Sununu tried to allay the fears of those concerned about accepting federal funds to help with the state COVID-19 vaccination effort that he's okay with the terms.
The governor held his first COVID-19 briefing in two weeks on Wednesday as the state's COVID-19 cases level off along with the number of vaccinations administered.
"They simply continue to help the state ensure that we can successfully manage though the pandemic crisis," Sununu said as he spelled out specific programs the money goes towards such as funding call centers, vaccine storage, shipment and logistics, and the administering of booster shots.
Most every other state of every political lean has accepted the terms of the two contracts that must be approved making New Hampshire the last.
"From Gov. Gavin Newsome to Gov. Ron DeSantis they all have and manage vaccine registries. There's virtually no citizen in those states that sees this as some sore of infringement on their rights," Sununu said.
The governor noted one specific paragraph that many believe means that by accepting the funds the state will give up its sovereignty. He called it boiler plate language the council has approved in the past.
"That has never been the case. I would never allow that. It's unequivocally not true and the executive counselors have asked for the attorney general to weigh in to ensure that New Hampshire can still manage these funds with minimal federal interference as we always have," Sununu said.
He said that the committee headed by Republican budget chair Rep. Ken Weyler from Kingston has approved the language in other contracts and there's no reason they shouldn't on this one.
One program the federal money will fund is opening four new COVID-19 testing centers, according to Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette who sparred with Weyler over the funds during a budget hearing. The centers will also help ease a shortage of PCR tests as more are used.
Going forward with Biden lawsuit
Calling President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination mandate an "absolute infringement on the rights of these businesses" Sununu said he plans to move forward with a lawsuit with other states to stop it.
"We've always said the vaccine is a choice and we're going to keep saying and promoting that because it absolutely needs to be. There should be no government driven vaccine mandates on adults at this time," Sununu said.
Sununu said that the federal requirement for hospitals that take Medicare and Medicaid funds to fully vaccinate their staff is out of the state's control. It's the state's job to make sure that staffing does not become reach a crisis point and Sununu said his trip to Kentucky helped plan for it at home.
"It is a fact that some nurses are leaving hospitals and healthcare facilities as a result of the vaccine mandate across the country. We need to acknowledge that we need to talk with those organizations and look at what the real effects are," Sununu said.
The trip to California
Sununu said he is still recovering from his bleeding ulcer that led to a blood transfusion but it did not prevent him from flying to California to address Republicans at their state convention. The only remaining side effect of the bleeding ulcer is that he occasionally gets tired easily.
"We wear the mask on the plane as is required and follow all the rules from the FAA. There's no concern getting on a plane," Sununu said.
The governor said he spoke with businesses with an interest in expanding to New Hampshire and spoke to the convention days after the recall election of Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsome.
"I spend time talking about opportunities. If you want to win an election or have a viable message or you really want a change in your state or your community the message was really quite simple. Be genuine. You just have to be real with people," Sununu said. "It has to be about individuals."
He ticked off the ideas and values he believes to be successful in New Hampshire like local control, the one-on-one connection we have with our representatives and how it can successfully be used to win new seats.
Video or transcripts of any of the speeches delivered at the convention at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel in San Diego were not posted by the party on its website or social media.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sununu talked about Republicans creating their own image instead of asking for votes simply because they're not Democrats.
California conservative activist Marc Ang tweeted a picture of Sununu with his dog Pugsley.
"Pugsley had a great time with @ChrisSununu tonight. Thanks Governor for sharing your wisdom end warm personality with us this evening in San Diego," Ang wrote.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH