N.H. COVID-19 cases rise: State nears end of vaccination Phase 1A

Corey Kurylo

New Hampshire, a state with a small population that managed to avoid the abundance of cases rapidly appearing during the first wave of the pandemic during March and April of last year, now finds itself grappling with and facing the real-life consequences of ignoring public safety guidelines preached by the state’s Governor. 

The international coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is on the rise in New Hampshire, with nearly 11,000 positive cases confirmed between Dec. 27 and Jan. 11, according to NH.gov. Strafford County is ranked fourth among the worst infected across New Hampshire counties with over 4,000 total cases, recording 55 new cases on Jan. 11.  

On the first of the year, Gov. Chris Sununu extended his initial executive order dating back to March of 2020, setting New Hampshire into a state of emergency. New Hampshire residents must quarantine for ten days following international or domestic (outside New England) travel under these regulations. A press release from the Governor affirms, “The situation here in New Hampshire remains very serious, the data shows that community transmission is increasing, and we expect cases to rise, we must all remain vigilant in our daily lives. As we enter these winter months, it will be more important than ever to wear your mask, practice social distancing, and maintain proper hand hygiene.”  

As of Jan.11, over 50,000 New Hampshire citizens have tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC says the Granite State ranks as the 26th most infected region with a 54.3 case rate among the last seven days among 100,000 people. Along with the rest of the United States, New Hampshire cases have been on the rise as the country breached 22 million cases on Jan 11. 

New Hampshire is currently in Phase 1A or the “The Jump Start” phase in the State’s vaccine rollout. The first phase administers the vaccine to those most in need, such as the elderly, first responders, and at-risk workers. The state was allocated a combination of 12,675 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech pharmaceutical companies to distribute during the initial phase, and Seacoast hospital staff has been working diligently to administer the medicine as expeditiously as possible. The vaccine is distributed intramuscularly and requires administration twice over two separate instances. All vaccines are given at no cost, with no insurance necessary to receive the medicine. All who qualify for Phase 1A are highly encouraged to obtain the vaccine due to the virus’s deathly risk to oneself and others. Phase 1B is set to begin Jan. 22. 

The University of New Hampshire is currently undergoing “Red” or “Limited” protocol measures as the semester is on break. Under these measures, the campus is limited in operations, masks are required, and only critical research is permitted. During the “close of business” period dating as recent as Jan. 11, the university has recorded 69 active cases of the virus. 

However, the University took special measures this past fall semester, allowing for minimal in-person course work following strict hygiene routines coupled with an extensive Zoom remote learning environment. The University operated under “Yellow” or “Restricted” regulations throughout the fall term allowing for full-scale operations throughout campus. Guidelines consisted of mask requirement in all public areas and mandatory Wildcat Pass checking to fulfill the student signed document requiring twice a week COVID-19 testing. UNH operated sufficiently throughout the semester and has plans to reinstate the “Restricted” measures of operation for the Spring 2021 term, allowing new and returning students to return to the learning environment they had become accustomed to this past fall. 

As the virus hits new peaks throughout the United States, the Seacoast and New Hampshire are undergoing a critical situation. The State of New Hampshire and Governor Sununu continue to preach public safety, and social distancing is highly encouraged as the virus is incredibly active at this time. As the vaccine roll-out nationwide has been tumultuous, practicing proper safety measures has become more critical than ever.