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New Hampshire's Republican governor blasts people not following COVID-19 precautions after state's House speaker dies

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Following the death of New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch from COVID-19, the state's governor issued a plea for people to take safety precautions seriously. During a press conference on Thursday, Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, addressed people who "thwart the rules and the guidance... for the sake of thwarting," saying they are doing a disservice to the people around them.

Obit-New Hampshire Speaker
New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch on Dec. 2, 2020. Elise Amendola / AP

The governor praised Hinch, who died on Wednesday, one week after being sworn in as leader of the state's newly Republican-led Legislature, as "an incredibly close friend" and a "tireless leader."

It is unclear when Hinch contracted the virus. He attended an indoor gathering with Republican colleagues on November 9 where the Concord Monitor reported none wore masks, and many Republican state lawmakers gathered for another indoor conference on November 20, after which at least four tested positive. Many Republican lawmakers also reportedly did not wear masks at an outdoor swearing-in ceremony December 2.

Sununu said Hinch's death is a cautionary tale about not following COVID-19 guidelines. "This virus doesn't care if you are in a long-term care facility or if you are an elect official, no one is immune," he said. "We have to stay vigilant, not only for ourselves but for those who we may come in contact with."

To openly flout guidance intended to keep people safe is horribly irresponsible, and it has horrible consequences. That’s not speculation, that is a fact. Wear your mask.

Posted by Governor Chris Sununu on Thursday, December 10, 2020

"As much as COVID fatigue is setting in for a lot of folks, now more than ever...we really just can't take our foot of the pedal, we need to stay vigilant," he continued. "It really can have drastic effects, as we all saw yesterday." 

Sununu also said people who attended an event with Hinch in the days before his death should get tested. 

When asked about people in position of power who are not wearing masks while around others, Sununu said he had something to say to them: "It's incredibly, incredibly irresponsible." 

He emphasized the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to protect others. 

"And for those who are out there doing just the opposite just to make some bizarre political point, it's horribly irresponsible, it really is," he said. "It has horrible consequences. That's not speculation, that's not supposition, that's fact." 

"Use your heads and don't act like a bunch of children, frankly," he continued, before admitting he "bent away from being governor for a second" with his pointed remarks. 

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