Paula Tracy photo
State epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan is pictured at Thursday’s news conference in Concord.
By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu is calling up an additional 100 members of the National Guard and adopting a new five-day isolation and quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, rather than 10 days.
Sununu made the announcement at a news conference Thursday in Concord where he urged everyone to get fully vaccinated and boosted to help stop or slow the upward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, reported 359 people hospitalized with COVID-19 Thursday, down slightly, and four new deaths in the community, for a total of 2,017 fatalities from COVID-19 in New Hampshire.
He said there are a total of 14,937 active COVID-19 cases Thursday. That’s a record number, up from 9,341 a week ago.
In addition to a large number of new cases, the state has a test positivity rate now over 20 percent for PCR but as more home testing is occurring it will become a less and less reliable metric, Chan noted.
Chan said the majority of deaths are in community settings rather than long-term care facilities. The state is averaging 9 to 10 new deaths a day, he said.
The state has closed five outbreaks in long-term care facilities and now has 29 listed in outbreak status.
Sununu said the National Guard members are in addition to the 70 already called. It will mean about 30 heading to long-term care facilities and about 70 to hospitals.
The new deployment will begin very shortly in the next few weeks, Sununu said.
The new CDC guidance applies to schools and child care centers and other aspects of the work economy, but does not apply to correction facilities, homeless shelters, and health care providers.
It now means people have to quarantine for five days if they have been exposed but not if they are “up to date” on all vaccinations and boosters.
State strike teams are also deploying to Premiere Rehab in Nashua and Ridgewood Center, which will open a few dozen new beds for care, Sununu said.
The National Guard, Sununu said, has been crucial in the pandemic, and “there is no doubt they will continue to do a tremendous job.”
Sununu took a moment to recognize the anniversary of the attack on the United States Capitol a year ago today perpetuated by “domestic terrorists.”
Sununu said it was a day that a lot of Americans will never forget. He asked people to pay tribute to the Capitol police and those who jumped in to defend them.
Sununu called it a “very tragic day.”
He also turned to another tragedy close to home – the disappearance of Harmony Montgomery of Manchester who hasn’t been seen since she was five years old two years ago.
“We want to bring her home safely,” and Sununu added there are “all hands on deck” to find her.
Her father Adam Montgomery has been charged with assault and her stepmother Kayla Montgomery has been charged with welfare fraud.
“But we know Harmony is still out there,” Sununu said.
Those who may have seen the child or who have information about her whereabouts are asked to call 603-203-6060. There is currently a $60,000 reward for information.
Booster Blitz 2.0
For those still looking to be protected from COVID-19, the state is offering appointments at 10 locations Saturday for its second Booster Blitz by appointment only.
Though four locations are now full, residents of New Hampshire can go to https://business.nh.gov/covidvaccineregistration/ to register for the free shot. Or call 271-1000.
Locations are open in Ashland, Berlin, Claremont, Exeter, Keene, Laconia, North Haverhill, Salem, Tamworth, and West Lebanon.
The shots can be administered provided you are over the age of 16, are a resident of the state, and have completed the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shots before 7/8/21 and the Johnson and Johnson single dose before 11/13/21.
Due to the popularity of the appointments, four locations are now full for the shot. They are in Concord, Manchester, Milton, and Rochester.
You can walk into one of the fixed sites without an appointment daily and get your vaccination in Berlin, Plymouth, Claremont and Rochester.
A link to details is here https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-and-media/new-hampshire-opens-fixed-vaccination-sites.
The state tried to put one in Nashua but the city has its own fixed site. The state is looking at a fifth fixed site but no details on a time or location are yet available.
Lori Shibinette, commissioner of Health and Human Services, noted there are also two mobile vans with the schedule on the state’s website and other pop-up sites happening daily, also available on the website.
You can still order a set of four free in-home COVID tests at the state’s website.
Sununu said by and large the schools have remained open and done well this year and it is better to keep them open.
“The kids should not go to school at all” if they are sick, he stressed, urging parents to keep them home when sick.
“It is the number one thing we can do to keep our schools open and safe,” Sununu said.
School districts have a lot of flexibility, Sununu said, and they are able and encouraged to exert local control, including through the CDC guidance.