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COVID tracker: Delta variant on rise in NH

  • FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2021 file photo, Sarah Gonzalez of New York, a Nurse Practitioner, displays a COVID-19 vaccine card at a New York Health and Hospitals vaccine clinic in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Workers in New York City-run hospitals and health clinics will have to get vaccinated or get tested weekly under a policy announced Wednesday, July 21, to battle a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File) Craig Ruttle

Monitor staff
Published: 7/25/2021 3:52:40 PM

Rising cases of COVID-19 are creeping into New Hampshire’s “normal” summer.

On Tuesday, 61 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the state, the single highest one-day count of new cases in six weeks.

The likely culprit responsible for the rising cases is the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 that has also been known to cause more serious illness than previously dominant variants. New Hampshire hospitals are already seeing more COVID-19 patients than they have in over a month.

The Delta variant now comprises more than 40% of cases in New England – a startling figure when you consider that a little more than a month ago, it made up only 3% of cases.

At the first COVID-19 press conference in more than a month, Dr. Ben Chan, the State Epidemiologist, said other parts of the country are already seeing significant outbreaks due to the variant.

“To prevent some of the surges that are being seen in other parts of the country due to the Delta variant, we still need to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

He said even though COVID-19 cases are still relatively low now, he predicts Delta will be responsible for a more significant peak soon.

“We do expect that rates of community transmission will increase again in the future, whether that’s in the coming weeks or months,” he said. “We believe certainly by fall and winter we may see increasing levels of COVID-19.”

The best way to protect yourself against Delta is getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The existing vaccines are still more than 90% effective at preventing more severe disease from the variant.

But even for the vaccinated, the rise of the Delta variant has many reconsidering whether it’s time to don masks again, especially as some health agencies have urged inoculated people to continue to wearing masks in public.

If you’re unvaccinated, most experts agree you should be masked. If you’re vaccinated, there is no one answer.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal circumstances – the prevalence of COVID-19 in your area, whether you are immunocompromised or live with someone who has not been vaccinated.

“Everybody has a different acceptable level of risk,” Chan said.

Chan said, as a medical doctor and epidemiologist, he tends to be more risk-averse. He still feels comfortable going maskless outside but since he’s used to wearing face coverings during long hospital shifts, he defaults to wearing a mask in higher-risk settings.

“If I’m walking into a store indoors and I don’t know who’s around me, I’m fully vaccinated but I want that maximum level of protection for myself,” he said. “Also for family. I have a child at home, who’s not able to be fully vaccinated.”

Dr. Michael Calderwood, an infectious disease expert and chief quality officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said he feels comfortable going maskless in most situations.

“I would not feel that way of I were not vaccinated,” he said. “In fact, I’d be very fearful.”

What’s the trend on the spread and impact of the disease? Okay but trending in the wrong direction.

As of Thursday, 25 Granite Staters were hospitalized with COVID-19, a number we haven’t seen since early June. The accumulated number of COVID cases also surpassed 100,000 last week, a painful reminder that the pandemic is not yet a problem of the past.


Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.



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