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Nashua’s COVID-19 death toll rose for the first time in several weeks at the same time as the number of new cases slowed, officials said.

The number of Nashua deaths associated with the disease rose from eight to 10. More than 370 positive cases have been reported, with 73% of those having recovered and 10% requiring hospitalization.

“It is potentially starting to come down a little bit, which is good news,” Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess said at a media briefing Wednesday.

Among those tested at public clinics statewide, the percentage of positive results ranges from 7.5% to 10%, Donchess said. The city is on the lower end of the spectrum, he said.

Although that figure is not insignificant, the mayor said that in some areas of New York the percentage is close to 27%.

The city’s two hospitals currently have 10 COVID-19 patients, he said. They have had as many as 15 to 20 in recent weeks.

“It is our moral duty to save every person that we can,” said Donchess, stressing the importance of wearing face masks in public.

With outdoor dining and other retail shops now open downtown, Donchess said he walked along Main Street this week to assess the situation and noticed many people not wearing face coverings.

“That is not the approach we should be taking,” he said, acknowledging that no one likes to wear a mask but it’s an inexpensive way to slow the virus’ spread.

Free masks are being distributed outside Nashua City Hall daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until May 31.

The Nashua Board of Public Health has proposed requiring face coverings while citizens are inside local establishments and businesses — a proposal that will soon be considered by the Board of Aldermen.

Bobbie Bagley, director of the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services, said Wednesday that the city is looking forward to reopening venues. She she stressed the importance of preventing COVID-19 from spreading more or creating a second wave of infections.

“We want to do this very intentionally,” she said of the gradual reopening of restaurants, retail establishments and other businesses.

This process also includes additional testing, said Bagley, adding it is crucial for individuals to know their medical status.

A new weekly testing clinic has been scheduled for every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 pm. outside St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish at 50 W. Hollis St. Residents must call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 589-3456 for an appointment.

To be eligible for testing, residents must be over 60, work in health care, show signs or symptoms, been around a large number of people, taken care of others with health conditions or been exposed to people who might have been exposed. Also eligible are people whose primary care provider could not provide a test.

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