The Bulletin Board

With Executive Council’s OK, liquor stores will begin selling COVID-19 tests

By: - January 25, 2022 12:52 pm
Exterior long view of Liquor Store in Epsom and parking lot

The Department of Health and Human Services hopes to use $12 million in federal pandemic aid to buy 1 million tests and sell them at cost plus an administrative fee. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

If the Executive Council gives the go-ahead at its meeting Wednesday, the state’s liquor stores will sell not just wine and spirits – but also at-home COVID-19 tests. 

The request comes as more Granite Staters say they have tested positive for COVID-19 than ever before, according to a poll released Tuesday by the UNH Survey Center. 

The Department of Health and Human Services hopes to use $12 million in federal pandemic aid to buy 1 million tests and sell them at cost plus an administrative fee at liquor stores. Selling the tests there will provide the state easy access to storage and maximize distribution, Commissioner Lori Shibinette wrote in her request.

The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee approved the request Friday, but the department also needs approval from the Executive Council.

The money collected from sales would be returned to the department’s American Rescue Plan funds and used for another eligible expense. 

“National antigen supply chains are limited, which prevent New Hampshire residents from easily purchasing these tests through traditional access points (e.g. pharmacies, large retailers),” Shibinette wrote. “With the continued increase in community spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, rapid and early detection is important to reduce the spread of disease throughout New Hampshire, limit the strain on our medical care system, and keep schools and businesses open.”

Almost 30 percent of respondents to the UNH Survey Center’s most recent poll said they have tested positive for COVID-19 at least once since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 13 percent said they did so in the last month and 8 percent in the last three months. That coincides with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant.

It’s a much higher test positivity rate than what Vermonters have reported, according to the poll. There, only 13 percent of residents say they have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. About half said they did so in the last month. 

The increase in cases has not deterred most people from going out, the poll found. 

Eighty-two percent of respondents said they were comfortable going to a hair salon, 73 percent were OK eating inside at a restaurant, and 55 percent are comfortable going to a movie theater. Fewer were ready to go to a large concert (36 percent) or a college or professional athletic stadium (41 percent.)

UNH poll
The most recent Granite State Poll from the UNH Survey Center found that of the 29 percent of respondents who said they tested positive for COVID-19 at least once since the start of the pandemic, 21 percent had done so in the last three months. That coincides with the arrival of the more-contagious omicron variant. (UNH Survey Center screenshot)

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.

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