NH health officials warn against complacency as community spread of COVID-19 grows


Although overall numbers remain low, health officials said Thursday that community transmission of COVID-19 is on the rise in New Hampshire.

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State health officials said there were 79 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state. There have been 8,879 cases over the course of the pandemic.

Two more people have been hospitalized, and officials said one more Granite Stater, a resident of a long-term care facility, has died. There have been 449 deaths linked to the coronavirus in New Hampshire.

The new cases announced Thursday were confirmed with either PCR or antigen tests. Officials said that even though the number of confirmed cases has been rising, the positivity rate of tests is still just about 1%.

But health officials said they’re concerned because contact tracing shows evidence of increasing community transmission in the southern counties of Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford. They said it’s specifically happening at indoor social gatherings.

“Churches are one area, but you can talk about a wedding or a sports team or a variety of other areas where people generally congregate,” said Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

Officials said they believe its evidence people are becoming complacent.

“Any time you get a group of 50 or 100 in an indoor space, in close contact, if there’s singing, if they’re talking loudly, it puts you at risk,” Shibinette said.

Officials said whatever happens in the community can affect schools and long-term care facilities.

“Limit those gatherings,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “There’s not one type, not necessarily churches or parties or weddings. There are multiple situations where people can find themselves in close contact: crowds, large gatherings, indoor confined spaces. So there’s a lot of the guidance, multiple layers of protection to prevent super-spreader events.”

Gov. Chris Sununu said there are cases of COVID-19 in schools, but there are no clusters or outbreaks in any school at this time.

** Town-by-town COVID-19 case data: Interactive map | Text-only list **

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