Healthcare Workers In N.H. Make Up A Quarter Of All COVID-19 Cases | New Hampshire Public Radio

Healthcare Workers In N.H. Make Up A Quarter Of All COVID-19 Cases

Apr 6, 2020

Department of Health and Human Services Lori Shibinette at a press conference in Concord, April 6, 2020.
Credit Josh Rogers

Gov. Chris Sununu announced new measures Monday to slow the spread of the coronavirus in New Hampshire, as newly-released testing results reveal the toll the disease is taking on the state's healthcare workers.

At a press conference in Concord, state epidemiologist Ben Chan announced an additional 46 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hampshire to 715. 192 of those cases, or about 27 percent, are healthcare workers, according to the state, highlighting the risk to front-line medical providers. 

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Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette told reporters that the cases aren’t focused in a single specialty.

“You have everything from dentists to people who work in acute care hospitals, home health aides, and primary care physicians," she said. "It’s all across the board.”

Shibinette also announced the state will soon receive 15 rapid coronavirus testing units that can process results in a matter of minutes. No exact timeline was provided.

Hotels closed to most guests

Meanwhile, Sununu announced a handful of stricter regulations aimed at stemming the rise of COVID-19 in New Hampshire. In a new emergency order, Sununu ordered all hotels and short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, to no longer accept most guests.

Sununu cited concerns that people from other states are coming to New Hampshire, potentially spreading the coronavirus. But he also outlined a range of exceptions to the order.

“Hotels and other lodging establishments will still be able to provide accommodations to provide housing for essential healthcare workers, first responders, state-approved quarantine accommodations for individuals, and the victims of domestic and sexual violence," Sununu said.

The order also does not apply to campgrounds, which can remain open.

Surge in cases expected for late April

Sununu said he remains confident New Hampshire is ready to work its way through the coronavirus epidemic, but he said the future remains unknowable and it's hard to convey the scope of the harm caused by COVID-19.

"The president made the comment that the next couple of weeks are going to be rough," Sununu said. "I think that’s an understatement, if anything. Again, we’ve been only in this for one month. We’ve just started to see at least here in New Hampshire, just to speak for New Hampshire, we’ve just started to hit this real inflection point; we are going to start accelerating our numbers over the next couple of weeks.”

Sununu said he expects the number of cases of the virus to peak here in late April or early May and said he will soon release more precise modeling of the virus’ likely spread here. Sununu also suggested the state's public schools will likely remain closed past May 4, but said a final decision on that will come later this month.