COVID tracker: It starting to feel like the pandemic is almost over, but we’re nowhere near the end

  • The recent trend in new case numbers if great, but the average is still very high compared to earlier in the pandemic. DHHS

Monitor staff
Published: 5/3/2021 9:24:49 AM

Last week the death toll from COVID-19 in New Hampshire passed the 1,300 mark. That’s more people than live in Hill or in Danbury or in 65 other towns in New Hampshire, and if deaths keep happening at the current rate, the toll will pass the population totals of a dozen more towns by mid-summer.

It’s a sobering reminder that even though we seem to be on the downward slope of our third surge in cases with hopes of a quiet summer ahead, the pandemic remains a tragedy and it remains in our midst.

That is hard to keep in mind if, like me, you’ve hit the magic two-weeks-after-second-vaccine-dose moment.

Suddenly I can think about doing all the things I haven’t thought about for 13 months. Fun things like going to a movie (wearing my mask, of course) and less-fun things like scheduling that doctor’s appointment.

I can’t help feeling like the pandemic is mostly over. But it’s not over, not at all.

The starkest reminder is the horrifying news from India, where COVID variants are part of the reason for the apocalyptic scenes, and almost-as-bad news from parts of South America.

As long as there are billions of unvaccinated people where the SARS-CoV2 virus can exist and mutate, even the fully vaccinated among us remain at risk in this interconnected world.

And don’t forget the many unvaccinated people near us in New England, including everybody under the age of 16.

When you include people who have been infected and received natural immunity, New Hampshire is halfway to the level of protection at which the virus can’t easily circulate. That’s great but not enough, and getting the next half done is going to be harder.

It’s true that life is going to be better this summer than it was this winter and we should enjoy it to the max. I certainly plan to. But we need to stay sensible and alert.

I really don’t ever want to be writing about how well we’re coping with a fourth surge in cases.

Here’s our weekly look at how the pandemic is progressing in New Hampshire. Updated charts and other information can be seen on the Monitor’s COVID-19 page at concordmonitor.com/coronavirus.

How are we doing on vaccinations? Pretty good.

On Thursday the state reported that 440,000 people in New Hampshire were fully vaccinated, which is about 32% of the total population. That’s great, but it’s still a long way from the 70% vaccination rate often cited as the minimum for “herd immunity” – not in the sense of everybody being perfectly safe, but in the sense of minimal virus circulation.

Note that the number of vaccinations given on the state’s vaccine dashboard, which the Monitor uses in our chart, is smaller because it covers only doses distributed by the state. It doesn’t include doses from federal programs such as the Pharmacy Partnership Program, the long term care pharmacy program, or given by the Veteran Administration and military.

Number of new cases – what’s the trend? Getting better but still high.

The two-week average of daily new cases peaked in mid-April at 434 but has been heading down since; it’s at 318 as I write. That’s a great trend but the figure is still higher than it was as recently as mid-March, and is more than 10 times as high as it was back in October.

Number of hospitalizations – what’s the trend? Getting better.

The number of the people in the hospital with COVID-19 is now below 90, when it was 135 just two weeks ago.

Number of deaths – what’s the trend? Low but not getting any lower.

About two people a day have died in New Hampshire from COVID-19 for the last three months. There’ s been some fluctuation up and down but no long-term change.

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

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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