FILE - NH Benjamin Chan, Annie Kuster, Chris Pappas, Chris Sununu 3-2-2020

Dr. Benjamin Chan (left), New Hampshire's state epidemiologist, announces the state's first case of the new COVID-19 virus on March 2, 2020, in Concord, N.H. Looking on are U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (second from left), U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (second from right), and Gov. Chris Sununu.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Chris Sununu announced a $50 million loan fund for New Hampshire's hospitals as they continue to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

"This new initiative will help ensure the doors to our hospitals remain open, and that individuals can still get the health care they need," Sununu said. "We must support the entire system from the top down, so that individuals can receive the best care possible from the ground up."

Hospitals can receive the funds through grants or loans. The governor and attorney general will set the terms and the governor will approve any loans. Applications will be handled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sununu said options with longer terms are under consideration by the state’s Business Finance Authority.

The Small Business Administration approved New Hampshire’s application for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Businesses can apply for up to $2 million to help them recover from losses due to the COVID-19 emergency.

"We have been, and will continue to be, working closely with the federal government and other entities that can offer support to ensure that there are resources available for businesses impacted by the changes in the market as a result of the coronavirus,” said Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs.

Forty-four New Hampshire residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan, an increase of five. So far 1,400 tests have been administered and 800 are pending.

While the state hasn’t released any information on who has recovered, Chan said most people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have only required home isolation and two have required hospitalization and are in stable condition. Two are being released from home isolation because their symptoms have resolved.

“We don’t believe based on those numbers that this is a virus that has been circulating in our community for example, for weeks,” Chan said. “If that was the case we would be seeing much higher numbers with testing, knowing how easily this is spread person to person in our community.”

It’s also difficult to determine how many people will test positive in the future, but social distancing and other measures are helping “flatten the curve,” Chan said.

The testing limitations are not due to a shortage of tests but a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Chan said.

“Many health care systems are running short of the normal supplies of PPE that they have,” Chan said. “There are special nose swabs that are required to collect the specimen. We are hearing [about] national shortages of those.”