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COVID tracker: The number of fully vaccinated people is growing, finally, but has a long way to go

  • NH DHHS—Courtesy

  • Judy Burgess, of Royalton, Vt., who works as a pharmacy technician in West Lebanon, N.H., laughs before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine from Staff Sgt. Megan McMahon, a medic in the New Hampshire Air National Guard, at the Heater Road armory in Lebanon on Thursday, Jan 21, 2021. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Monitor staff
Published: 2/9/2021 7:53:47 AM

Would you like to hear a little good COVID-19 news, even if it’s more psychological than epidemiological? Of course you would.

Then consider this: In a week or two the number of people in the state who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be greater than the number who have gotten the disease.

About 16,000 people were added last week to the list of folks who have gotten both doses, a big step up from previous weeks, while about 4,000 were added to the list of folks who currently have or previously had COVID-19. If that keeps up, well before the month is over we’ll have about 75,000 people who are safely vaccinated compared to about 70,000 who have been infected.

Considering that last summer nobody thought we’d have any vaccines at all this early in the year, that’s remarkable.

Alas, it doesn’t mean we can relax our guard. We will still have a very long way to go.

Production and rollout of vaccines is still proceeding in fits and starts. As of last Thursday, the state says we have been given enough vaccine to cover a mere 13% of Phase 1B – the over-65 crowd – with no set schedule for the other three-quarters of the population.

More vaccines are coming, including one that only requires a single dose, which will simplify distribution enormously. But at the same time, variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus are appearing that are more contagious or even more dangerous, which could undo some vaccine benefits.

So even though the state’s COVID numbers are looking good, with the puzzling exception of deaths, which remain stubbornly high, nobody can predict what’s going to happen.

It’s best to keep up with mask wearing and social distancing for a while longer, just as if no vaccines existed. Patience will pay off in the long run. 

Number of new cases – what’s the trend? Falling fast.

The average number of new cases reported each day has fallen from almost 800 to less than 500 in the past two weeks.

Number of hospitalizations – what’s the trend? Falling.

The number of people in New Hampshire hospitals with COVID-19 hit 335 at the start of this year. As of Sunday it was down to 183 and declining steadily.

Number of deaths – what’s the trend? Not good.

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in the state has doubled in two months – from 559 on Dec. 5 to 1,100 on Feb. 5 – and shows no sign of slowing down. About eight people a day have died from this disease all year. It’s not clear why the decline in cases and hospitalizations hasn’t brought down the number yet.

PCR test positivity rate – what’s the trend? Very good.

The percentage of PCR tests given to people that find COVID-19 has been falling for weeks and now averages about 3.5%, well below the 5% threshold that’s a sign of concern.

Vaccination update.

As of last week, the state says it has distributed enough doses to inoculate everybody in Phase 1A, mostly first responders and people with certain medical conditions, but only 13% of the number needed to inoculate the much larger Phase 1B, which includes everybody aged 65 and over.

The number of people who have received two doses is continuing to increase: About 16,000 were added to the tally last week, compared to 14,000 the week before and 7,000 the week before that. The best news is that after early problems the number of vaccinations is now going up at all three of the major distribution points: at hospitals, at the state-run fixed sites, and in the pharmacy-run programs at long-term care facilities.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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