I KNOW that a major question on the minds of many Granite Staters and Americans right now is how — and when — we can reopen our economy while also keeping people safe and healthy.

Ultimately, governors, local officials, and public health experts will decide how and when to lift stay-at-home orders based on what is happening on the ground. But the federal government must provide the resources and guidance necessary to allow states to begin reopening businesses and schools when appropriate.

Last week, I participated in a call with President Trump and a bipartisan group of Senators to provide counsel to the President on what we need from the administration to help states eventually reopen in the wake of COVID-19.

Public health experts have made clear that in order to safely begin to reopen our economy, our country needs a massive expansion of testing – a point that many Senators emphasized with the President. We are now running about 150,000 diagnostic tests per day, but some experts say that number needs to be well over a million. I am focused on increasing our federal government’s resources and coordination in order to make that happen.

To start, we need to significantly increase our overall capacity for diagnostic testing. This requires a nationwide effort both to increase the supply of tests and also to ensure the availability of supplies needed to administer tests, such as swabs and chemical reagents. As testing increases, it also is vital that we have enough personal protective equipment for medical professionals to safely administer tests, and I will keep pushing the administration to address persistent supply chain issues around this equipment.

We must also target diagnostic testing to particular groups that may be at risk. In Detroit, Mich., for example, local officials were able to provide rapid tests for first responders, bus drivers, and health care workers – all of whom are at a higher risk for infection. Eventually, as we increase testing supplies, we should also engage in random testing of asymptomatic individuals, particularly in hard-hit communities, in order to stop additional spread before it begins.

Next, we need to scale up efforts to conduct antibody tests (which are also known as serology tests). These tests aren’t designed to show who has an active COVID-19 infection, rather, they can help show who has already been exposed, recovered, and therefore has potentially developed immunities against it.

Testing alone, however, is not enough. We also need to expand aggressive contact tracing. Contact tracing involves locating and notifying people who have come into direct contact with those who have been infected and isolating them as well. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, public health officials conducted extensive contact tracing — but as cases have risen, public health departments across the country have been too overwhelmed to effectively carry out this work.

Expanding contact tracing will require additional federal resources and workforce training — and the economic benefits would be significant. If we are able to successfully track down everyone who has been exposed and isolate them for the period when they could be contagious, then governors may be able to institute more narrow restrictions on the rest of society.

Amid this pandemic, private researchers and labs — as well as state and local officials — will continue to play important roles in expanding testing. However, comprehensive federal coordination — particularly in ensuring adequate supplies, but also in data collection and reporting — is essential for any nationwide testing plan to truly work. I will continue pushing the White House to use its existing powers to pursue an effective plan, and I will keep working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress on additional legislation as needed.

There is no doubt that increasing our testing capacity will be a massive effort, but it is essential in order to safely reopen our economy.

We must also acknowledge that even when we begin to reopen the economy, the virus will remain a significant threat until a vaccine can be made affordable and available to all. Without a widely available vaccine, there may be times when we have to reinstate aggressive social distancing guidelines to address new outbreaks and hotspots.

I know this is an unsettling time, but I also know the strength and resolve of Granite Staters and the American people. The road ahead will be difficult, but by working together, we will get through this.

Sen. Maggie Hassan lives in Newfields.

Friday, September 25, 2020

DURING the COVID-19 crisis, charities have been delivering services to vulnerable individuals and families across New Hampshire, but we’ve also been hit particularly hard by the pandemic with facility closures, declines in donations, cuts in program revenue and staff reductions. Without addi…

Thursday, September 24, 2020

IN THE federal government’s anemic effort against COVID-19, nursing homes have effectively been left for dead. Despite deaths that began with the February outbreak in a Kirkland, Wash., nursing home, hospitals were prioritized for personal protective equipment. Hospital workers were publicly…

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

IT WAS ONCE written of Chester Arthur, the 21st president, that “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired...more generally respected, alike by political foe and friend.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
  • Updated

EVERY TIME military officers are promoted, they repeat the oath of office they took when first commissioned: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

AS THE Union Leader and many other papers have reported, all of New Hampshire is experiencing some level of drought and nearly one quarter of the state is experiencing severe drought (despite our recent batch of rain), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Monday, September 21, 2020

THE PANDEMIC grinds on. A fraught new school year begins (sort of). Chilly weather brings ominous thoughts of how much more difficult it will be to keep distanced and stay safe. And hundreds of thousands in the Granite State struggle with maddeningly slow and unreliable internet service — if…

Sunday, September 20, 2020
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IN THE summer of 2010, I started seeing flags everywhere. It was like when you buy a new car and then start seeing the same vehicle on every street you drive. The official name is the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon,” also known as “frequency illusion.” No matter the name, during that summer, fla…

WHEN I ANSWERED the front door one Sunday morning, a chaplain, a U.S. Navy admiral, and a casualty notification officer came bearing news from Londonderry. News I had to share with the primary next of kin — a dedicated Navy wife of 11 years — upstairs in our family’s home on the Naval Air St…

Friday, September 18, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020

IN RESPONSE to the well-written article by Jim Adams, former district manager of the Postal Service, although his opinion piece was accurate, it also omitted some significant changes in recent postal operations that go beyond a mere continuation of former policies. Most of the changes instit…

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

WHILE THE primaries are a fading image in the rear-view mirror and the chosen candidates are fully immersed in their general election stumping, there are still some interesting lessons to be learned from the results of those primary contests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020