Your FAQs Answered: What You Need To Know About Coronavirus In New Hampshire | New Hampshire Public Radio

Your FAQs Answered: What You Need To Know About Coronavirus In New Hampshire

Apr 16, 2021

Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As NHPR tracks the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hampshire, we’ve been asking you to tell us how your life is changing because of coronavirus - and we’ve welcomed your questions.

Here, we answer some of your questions, and share other important information about the coronavirus and how to stay safe.

Note: Bookmark this page - it will be updated.

To skip ahead to a specific question, click on the item in the list below.

What is the novel coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that are common in both humans and animals. The name comes from the shape of the virus — when looked at under a microscope, the virus resembles the sun and its corona.

Click here for more coronavirus coverage from NPR and NHPR.

This new coronavirus has been officially named “SARS-CoV-2.” The disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019,” abbreviated as “COVID-19.”

How widespread is the coronavirus in New Hampshire? What about new variants?

Community-based transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in all New Hampshire counties, according to state health officials. “Community transmission” or “community spread” means people have been infected with the virus and have no identified risk factors, such as travel to domestic or international locations, or close contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. Currently, the state Department of Health and Human Services rates all New Hampshire counties as having “substantial” community level of transmission.

The CDC says that a COVID-19 variant is now the most common strain circulating in the country, and New Hampshire health officials say they are ramping up variant testing. To view the data on COVID-19 variants in New Hampshire, click here.

What’s the best way to keep up with the spread of COVID in New Hampshire?

You can track how the pandemic is spreading globally and in New Hampshire with this map and list from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. These CDC numbers are updated daily.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services releases case numbers, hospitalizations, recovery numbers and other information daily on its COVID-19 summary dashboard. The information is available in multiple languages, along with videos in American Sign Language.

The state also has a COVID-19 schools dashboard for K-12 schools and colleges.

NHPR has been compiling data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services into a series of interactive graphics, which we update every time new information becomes available.

Click here to see them.

Read more about the current situation in New Hampshire here on our live blog.

How is the coronavirus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from close person-to-person contact (within about 6 feet). It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, or bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately.

There is limited information regarding risk factors. However, based on the information that is currently available, it is thought that adults aged 65 and older and those with serious underlying medical conditions are at highest risk.

How can I avoid getting COVID-19?

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. This means avoiding close contact with people who are sick and putting distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.

The CDC also recommends wearing cloth face coverings in places where it is difficult to maintain 6 feet of social distance. 

On Nov. 20, 2020, Sununu imposed a statewide mask mandate, which requires everyone over the age of five to wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor public spaces when they cannot stay six feet apart from others. 

To avoid getting sick, you should also:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
o If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

What are your questions about coronavirus in New Hampshire? We want to hear from you - click this link to take our brief survey.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are feeling sick and think you have symptoms of COVID-19, the most important thing you can do is stay home. Call your doctor before seeking medical care or testing in person. They will help you determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

If you live in New Hampshire and do not have a primary care physician, you can call 211 for guidance.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

Anyone who is a resident of New Hampshire can be tested, even without a referral from a doctor. Tests are available regardless of a person’s insurance status.  

You can reserve a test through the state’s website, nh.gov/covid19, or by calling the COVID-19 Coordinating Test Office, which is run by DHHS. The phone number is 603-271-5980.

That office can help coordinate transportation and possibly send a visiting nurse if needed for at-home testing.

Both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Rapid Antigen Testing are available to test current COVID-19 cases in the Granite State.PCR, or polymerase chain reaction tests, scan samples for genetic material, while antigen tests are used to detect certain proteins on the surface of the virus. 

Where do I get tested?

The state has a map of PCR testing sites and a map of sites where rapid antigen tests are offered for patients with symptoms of COVID-19. 

How long will it take to receive my results?

The time it takes to receive test results can vary depending on the type of test and which site collects your nasal swab.

While PCR tests can take days for results to come back, antigen tests are generally available within 15 minutes.

Will I need to pay for COVID-19 testing?

Per the New Hampshire Insurance Department, health insurance companies must provide coverage of the initial health care provider visit and FDA-authorized COVID-19 testing for those who meet the CDC criteria for testing, as determined by your health care provider.

There is currently no limit or cap on the number of times an individual can be tested for COVID-19 in New Hampshire. People should check with their insurance company regarding coverage for repeat testing.

How does the coronavirus vaccine work?

COVID-19 vaccines cause the body to develop immunity to the coronavirus without giving you the disease. Receiving the coronavirus vaccine will not give you COVID-19 or make you test positive for the virus. Find the CDC’s answers to some common questions here, and information about possible side effects of the vaccines here

Public health experts are still studying new COVID-19 variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, and whether that will change the effectiveness of existing vaccines. The CDC has more about variants and vaccines here

How can I register to receive the coronavirus vaccine?

All New Hampshire residents aged 16 and older are eligible to register for the vaccine at www.vaccines.nh.gov

If you have any questions, call 211.

Starting April 19, any person aged 16 and older, regardless of residency, will be eligible to sign up through the state’s registration system to receive a coronavirus vaccine in New Hampshire. This includes out-of-state college students and second home owners.

Studies on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines in children under the age of 16 are ongoing, and new clinical trials show that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be highly effective in adolescents. At this time, the CDC has not authorized children under the age of 16 to receive coronavirus vaccines. 

Learn more about the coronavirus vaccine in New Hampshire here.

Where is the vaccine being administered in New Hampshire?

The state is administering vaccines at more than a dozen sites around the state. Visit our vaccine guide view them.

Regional public health networks across the state have been leading the effort to improve vaccine access for disproportionately impacted communities. 10% of the state’s vaccine supply has been allocated for these communities. The state offers more information about its equity plan here.

State Epidemiologists On New COVID-19 Variants, Vaccines In N.H., And Post-Shot Safety (March 24, 2021)

How fast is New Hampshire vaccinating its residents? Who has been vaccinated so far?

To view the data on vaccine distribution in New Hampshire, visit our coronavirus tracker.

If I tested positive for COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?

If you’ve been infected with COVID-19 in the past, it looks safe to get a vaccine. About 5% to 10% of volunteers in Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials were already infected with the coronavirus. But because there are not many studies looking into this yet, the CDC has not yet released vaccination recommendations for people who have already had COVID-19. 

How much can I change my behavior once I’m fully vaccinated?

Once you are fully vaccinated, the CDC says it is safe to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without a mask. The CDC also says it is safe to gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless one of those people or someone they live with is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection.

If you are exposed to COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated, you do not need to isolate or get tested unless you have symptoms, with the exception of people who live in group settings.

The CDC says we are still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines work at preventing people from spreading the disease, and recommends that people who are fully vaccinated still take steps to protect themselves and others. This includes continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing when in public, gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household, or visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection. 

Vaccinated people should still avoid large gatherings and unnecessary travel outside of the United States.

What restrictions are in place in New Hampshire to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

New Hampshire’s statewide mask mandate expired on April 16, 2021. Cities and towns across the state may choose to enact their own mandates. Private businesses can also continue to require their customers to wear masks.

Check out NHPR’s map to see which communities have local ordinances that require mask wearing.

The governor’s office has been releasing updated guidance specific to different industries, activities and venues in the state, along with universal guidelines for all New Hampshire employers and employees. The state’s Safer At Home guidance will expire on May 7, 2021, but the state says it will continue to provide a benchmark for suggested “universal best practices.”

What are New Hampshire’s travel restrictions?

People coming into New Hampshire from outside of New England are not required to quarantine upon arrival in N.H.  The state recommends that people coming into New Hampshire from outside of the U.S. complete a 10-day quarantine, or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative COVID-19 test result. 

Some other states have different or stricter guidelines, and it’s worth checking those states’ guidelines when planning travel.

The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. Vaccinated people do not need to seek a COVID-19 test before leaving the U.S. unless your destination requires it, and do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the U.S.

What is the situation with New Hampshire’s schools?

On April 2, 2021, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that all New Hampshire schools must return to full time in-person instruction five days a week starting April 19, 2021. Some schools received waivers to start May 3.

For most of the 2020-2021 school year, schools have operated with a mix of in person and hybrid models.

You can follow how the pandemic is affecting teachers, students and families through NHPR’s COVID & The Classroom project.

What about long-term care facilities? Do they allow visitors?

Long-term care facilities have been the sites of multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 in New Hampshire. The state has reopening and visitation guidance, allowing residents at some facilities to interact with visitors, based on the status of outbreaks and county transmission levels. The state offers other resources related to long-term care here.

Where can I turn for help?

• The state of New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services has a hotline for COVID-19  exposure and health advice. Dial 211.
https://www.211nh.org/search/ has a range of resources, from housing to legal help.
• The state’s Community Action Programs can help with housing concerns, along with New Hampshire Legal Aid.
• The Public Health Support for Layoffs will help employees who need health care, medical assistance, childcare, food stamps after layoffs. Also, call (603) 271-9700.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
• You can also get in contact with any mental health resources in the state through the NAMI Hotline by calling 1-800-242-6264.
• For veterans in N.H. looking for information on coronavirus symptoms or vaccines, visit the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs coronavirus FAQ. The VAMC Hotline for Symptoms can also help. Call (603) 624-4366 ext 3199.
The National Veteran Crisis Line can also help at 1-800-273-8255.
• If you are due to appear in court or have questions about court, call 1-855-212-1234.
• For elderly services, visit the NH AARP website.
The Disability Rights Center, for legal resources for disability related concerns, can be reached at (603) 228-0432.
• If you have any questions about your state taxes, go to the NH Department of Revenue Administration website or call (603) 230-5000.

Ask a question:

Sources:

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) How to Protect Yourself and Others

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) What To Do if You Are Sick

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Travel FAQs

CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country

NH DHHS Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

NH DHHS Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Self-Quarantine Guide 

NH DHHS Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Self-Observation Guide 

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu Emergency Orders - 2020