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‘The winter surge is here,’ Sununu says

  • COVID-19 Graphic by Ben Conant

Monitor staff
Published: 12/2/2021 8:03:46 AM
Modified: 12/2/2021 8:03:13 AM

New cases of COVID-19 are rising across the Granite State at a near exponential rate.

Nursing homes have closed units as they struggle to staff their facilities with a scaled down and exhausted workforce.

Hospitals are so inundated with COVID-19 patients, Granite Staters are traveling hundreds of miles, sometimes across state lines, to receive routine healthcare.

The winter surge is here, Gov. Chris Sununu said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“This is our reality,” he said, pointing to a graph of COVID hospitalizations that skyrocketed past last winter’s numbers. “What usually follows this is fatalities.”

In the last two weeks, the state has seen a 43% increase in hospitalizations, which Sununu anticipates will continue to rise over the next several weeks and then plateau as cold weather persists. Cases of COVID-19 are worse than they’ve ever been in New Hampshire and are among the worst in the country.

Sununu said he thinks the apparent and tangible strain on New Hampshire’s healthcare has motivated residents to sign up for booster shots or their initial series of doses.

“That reality is hitting home for a lot of folks,” he said.

A new COVID-19 variant, named after the Greek letter Omicron, could make the surge even worse. On Monday, the World Health Organization classified it as a “variant of concern.”

State epidemiologist Ben Chan said it’s too soon to tell whether the Omicron variant is more contagious or causes more serious illness but several mutations are cause for concern.

The variant was first detected in Southern Africa last week and has since been found in several countries including Germany, Australia, Japan, and Canada. Chan said Omicron has not been detected in New Hampshire, despite a thorough 3-step genome sequencing process that tests samples in the state laboratory, contracted national labs, and the Centers for Disease Control’s labs.

He said it’s likely that if it isn’t already in New Hampshire, it will be detected soon and encouraged Granite Staters to sign up for a booster shot to bolster their immune systems.

To this end, New Hampshire will hold a vaccine event that is expected to administer 10,000 booster shots across 15 sites, including one in Concord. Appointments will open Wednesday and will be required in order to receive a dose.

Several local pharmacy chains have their booster appointments booked weeks out, as all adults who have had their primary series are now eligible.

“We’re opening as many sites as we can,” Sununu said. “At the end of the day, there are only so many people available to put shots in arms.”


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