As COVID surges, long term care facility outbreaks spike

  • Pleasant View center on Pleasant Street in Concord.

Monitor staff
Published: 11/10/2021 4:23:58 PM

Seven new long term care facilities in New Hampshire are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, state officials announced Wednesday, as cases surge across the state.

The affected facilities include two rehabilitation centers, three assisted living facilities, and two nursing homes, including Pleasant View Center in Concord. The total number of facilities with a COVID-19 outbreak is now 23.

New Hampshire has one of most rapidly increasing COVID-19 count in the country. According to the New York Times COVID tracker, cases have increased 62% over the last two weeks, a rate only surpassed by Arizona.

Over the last week, an average of 650 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 every day. More than 30 people have died from the virus during the same time period. A year ago, the state reported about a third of the number of cases now observed.

Gov. Chris Sununu attributed the higher numbers to the Delta variant, which is significantly more contagious.

“This one is much more aggressive,” he said. “The breakthrough cases are really starting to show now.”

State epidemiologist Ben Chan said vaccines are still very effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus. He said though both metrics have recently increased, they are not increasing as quickly as they might if fewer people in New Hampshire were vaccinated.

“The fact that we continue to see hospitalizations, we continue to see deaths at the levels we’re seeing now speaks to the fact that we still need to get more people vaccinated,” he said.

Sununu said booster shots are critical to keep new COVID-19 cases down. Lori Shibinette, the Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health, said the state plans to bring two new mobile vaccine clinics online. The state has also contracted with OnSite Medical Services to open four or five fixed vaccine sites in the next several weeks, the first two will open in Plymouth and Berlin.

“There’s lots of opportunities out there, but there’s still a lot to manage,” Sununu said.

Federal funding approved by the Executive Council on Wednesday will help bolster the state’s vaccination effort. The Council approved $22 million for the effort, along with a non-binding resolution that condemns vaccine mandates.

Last month, the Republican-led council, a five-member panel that approves state contracts, rejected $27 million in federal vaccination funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over concerns that language in the grants would have bound the state to follow federal directives and mandates related to COVID-19.

The language the Republicans opposed has appeared in other contracts they approved, and both Sununu and Attorney General John Formella said it does not in any way impede the state’s sovereignty.

Later in October, the council voted to use $4.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help community health centers and regional public health networks set up school-based and community vaccination clinics.

“The vote by the Council to approve the funds will definitely help speed up that distribution process which is a good thing for all our citizens,” Sununu said.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)

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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