COVID tracker: New cases keep edging up but things are still pretty good

  • NH DHHS—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 10/2/2020 2:51:26 PM

Last Thursday, 48,459 Americans were told they had tested positive for COVID-19 including, of course, President Trump and the First Lady. Of those, 52 were in New Hampshire.

Here’s the glass half full for New Hampshire: We had one-tenth of one percent of the country’s new cases that day even though we have four-tenths of one percent of the country’s population, so we’re four times better than the country as a whole.

And here’s the glass half empty: Thursday’s figure was the third time the state’s daily count has topped 50 in two weeks, something that hadn’t happened all summer. Worse, combined with high counts on Friday and Saturday, the two-week average rose to 42 over the weekend, highest since June.

If this “on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand” take sounds familiar that’s because it is: Our COVID-19 status has been good but getting slightly less good for several weeks.

I’ve been upbeat about these reports because our schools and colleges have opened, more or less, yet we haven’t seen clusters or the sort of spike in overall cases that have occurred elsewhere in the country. Combined with the success we’ve seen in eliminating COVID’s devastation in long-term care facilities, this is very good.

But as long as the state’s daily case counts keeps increasing, even if it’s only increasing by a small amount, we can’t relax. After all, exponential growth always starts slowly and plenty of other places have shown how quickly you can go from having the virus under control to needing a full lockdown.

As always, you can check three charts about the virus in New Hampshire that I update each weekday, via these links: New cases, new  hospitalizations, and total deaths.

Here’s how we’re doing on the weekly metrics that the Monitor has been tracking all summer.

Goal 1: No sustained increase in number of new hospitalizations related to COVID-19. Have we met this goal? Yes.

The two-week average of new hospitalizations has hovered between one-half and one per day all summer.  

It edged up slightly to 1.1 per day by Oct. 2. That’s the highest since early August, which is a little alarming, but on the other hand it’s still so very low that small fluctuations don’t necessarily indicate a trend.

It bears watching closely, however.

COVID-related deaths also remain very low, less than one every three days.

Goal 2: A two-week drop in new cases. Have we met this goal? No.

As mentioned above, the two-week average in daily new cases has risen slowly but pretty steadily since late August.

Goal 3: Fewer than four new cases per 100,000 people each day, or 54 new cases a day. Have we met this goal? Yes.

The average number of new cases has been below 54, the per-capita level commonly used as a sign of widespread infection, since mid-June.

Goal 4: Conducting at least 150 PCR tests per 100,000 people each day, or 2,000 tests per day. Have we met this goal? Yes, easily.

The average number of test results reported each day was about 3,500 last week, thanks to increased testing at schools and colleges. UNH, in particular, is cranking out tests through its own lab.

Goal 5: A positive rate of PCR tests below 5%, indicating that we’re doing enough testing to get a good handle on how widespread the virus is. Have we met this goal? Yes, easily.

As measured by the Department of Health and Human Services, the positive rate has been below 3% since the first week of June and recently fell under 1%.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of 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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