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Coronavirus Update: N.H. reports 1 more death, 4527 current cases – New Hampshire Public Radio

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The most recent update from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services on May 13.

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LIVE BLOG – CORONAVIRUS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE


1 death, 622 new cases
Update: Friday, May 13, 4:28 p.m.
State health officials announced 622 new COVID-19 infections today, and one additional death — a man from Rockingham County, who was 60 or older.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 2,500 coronavirus deaths and 316,691 positive test results for the virus.
There are 4,527 active infections and 31 current hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff
6 deaths, 729 new infections
Update: Thursday, May 12, 3:17 p.m.
The state announced six additional COVID-19 deaths today, along with 729 new infections.
The number of active infections continues to see an uptick. There are currenlty 4,615 cases, an increase of about 400 from a day earlier.
The state Department of Health and Human Services also announced it would transition to reporting coronavirus updates on a weekly basis, starting next week.
The state’s COVID-19 dashboard will continue to be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
In a press release, DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said the move to a weekly update reflects a transition from “pandemic to endemic.”
The weekly update will include the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the previous week. DHHS will also be reporting ony test results reported by health care providers.
Demographic and geographic information will not be included in the weekly update — but will be updated via the COVID-19 dashboards.
— NHPR Staff

DHHS reports 28 outbreaks
Update: Wednesday, May 11, 4:17 p.m.
There are 28 institutions and long-term care facilities monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak, as of this morning, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
They include the Belknap County Department of Corrections and the Hillsborough County Nursing Home.
The state reported 608 new cases, 4,212 active infections, and 24 current hospitalizations.
One additional Granite Stater has died from the virus.
— NHPR Staff
4 deaths, 384 new cases
Update: Tuesday, May 10, 4:23 p.m.
Four additional COVID-19 deaths were announced today in New Hampshire, with only one of them recent.
Two occurred in late 2021, and another in April 2020, and were just confirmed related to the virus, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
There are 386 new cases, 3,902 active cases, and 21 current hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff
WHO calls on Pfizer to make its COVID pill more available
Update: Tuesday, May 10
GENEVA (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization has called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing on Tuesday that Pfizer’s pill was still too expensiv despite ethe pharmaceutical company allowing generic producers to make the drug.
He noted that most countries in Latin America had no access to Pfizer’s drug, Paxlovid, which has been shown to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by up to 90%. The WHO chief warned that the unequal distribution of COVID-19 drugs could ultimately mirror the grossly disproportionate distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
— Associated Press
1 death, 1,287 new cases
Update: Monday, May 9, 4:45 p.m.
State health officials today announced one additional COVID-19 death and 1,287 new infections over the past three days.
The death was a male resident of Merrimack County who was over 60.
There are 3,902 active infections and 20 current hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff

Wall Street’s losses worsen as markets tumble worldwide
Update: Monday, May 9, 2:43 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is tumbling toward its lowest point in more than a year on Monday. The S&P 500 is down 2.7% in afternoon trading.
Renewed worries about China’s economy on Monday are piling on top of markets already battered by rising interest rates.
Not only did stocks fall across Europe and much of Asia, but so did everything from old-economy crude oil to new-economy bitcoin.
Most of this year’s damage has been the result of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive flip away from doing everything it can to prop up financial markets and the economy to fighting inflation.
— Associated Press
FDA restricts J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine due to blood clot risk
Update: Thursday, May 5, 6:01 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators are strictly limiting who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday the shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request J&J’s vaccine.
The decision is the latest restriction to hit the company’s vaccine, which has long been overshadowed by the more effective shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended prioritizing the Moderna and Pfizer shots over J&J’s because of its safety issues.
— Associated Press
WHO: Nearly 15 million deaths associated with COVID-19
Update: Thursday, May 5, 5:40 p.m.
(AP) The World Health Organization is estimating that nearly 15 million people were killed either by the coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems in the first two years of the pandemic.
That is more than double the current official death toll.
The U.N. health agency said in a report released Thursday that most of the fatalities were in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas. It says missed deaths in India alone ranged between 3.3 million to 6.5 million. India, however, disputed the U.N. agency’s methodology.
Accurately counting COVID-19 deaths has been hard to do, as confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the devastation wrought by the virus. That’s largely due to limited testing and the differences in how countries count COVID-19 deaths.
— Associated Press
1 death, 583 new cases
Update: Thursday, May 5, 9:10 a.m.
State health officials announced one additional COVID-19 death on Wednesday.
There are 583 new cases, 3,483 active infections, and 21 current hospitalizations.
As of May 3, New Hampshire is monitoring 19 outbreaks at long-term care and institutional facilities.
— NHPR Staff
Pfizer hopes to submit little-kid vaccine data by early June
Update: Wednesday, May 4, 2:23 p.m.
(AP) Pfizer now hopes to tell U.S. regulators how well its COVID-19 vaccine works in the littlest kids by early June.
Currently only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S., using Pfizer’s vaccine. Rival Moderna hopes to be the first to offer vaccinations to the youngest children, and began filing its own data with the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The FDA has set tentative meetings in June to review data from one or both companies.
— Associated Press
CDC restates recommendation for masks on planes, trains
Update: Tuesday, May 3, 3:42 p.m.
(AP) U.S. health officials are restating their recommendation that Americans wear masks on planes, trains and buses, despite a court ruling last month that struck down a national mask mandate on public transportation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a statement saying Americans age 2 and older should wear a well-fitting masks on public transportation, as well as in airports and train stations.
Last month, a federal judge in Florida struck down a government requirement for masking in public transportation. The Justice Department is appealing the decision.
— Associated Press
Racial split on COVID-19 endures as restrictions ease in US
Update: Friday, April 29, 1:08 p.m.
(AP) Black and Hispanic Americans remain far more cautious in their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic than white Americans.
That’s according to recent polls that reflect diverging preferences on how to deal with the pandemic as federal, state and local restrictions decline.
Sixty-three percent of Black Americans and 68% of Hispanic Americans say they are at least somewhat worried about themselves or a family member being infected with the virus compared with 45% of white Americans, according to an April poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Experts say divided opinions among racial groups reflect not only the unequal impact of the pandemic on people of color but also apathy among some white Americans.
— Annie Ma and Hannah Fingerhut, Associated Press
Moderna seeks to be 1st with COVID shots for littlest kids
Update: Thursday, April 28, 4:24 p.m.
Moderna is asking U.S. regulators to open its COVID-19 vaccine to the nation’s youngest children.
Kids under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for vaccination. Frustrated parents are waiting impatiently for a chance to protect them.
Moderna submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration Thursday. The company hopes the FDA will rule in time for tots to start getting vaccinated by summer.
It’s a complex decision partly because while other countries give Moderna shots to older children, the U.S. so far has restricted them to adults. Rival Pfizer also is studying its vaccine in the littlest kids.
— Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer
1 additional COVID death
Update: Wednesday, April 27, 4:32 p.m.
One additional Granite Stater has died from COVID-19, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced.
The death was a resident of Cheshire County, a woman 60 or older.
The state reports 514 new cases, 2,654 active infections, and 20 current hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff
CDC estimates 3 in 4 kids have had coronavirus infections
Update: Wednesday, April 27, 11:30 a.m.
(AP) — Government researchers say three out of every four U.S. children have been infected with the coronavirus.
Among Americans of all ages, more than half had signs of previous infection. The figures come from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Tuesday.
It looked in the blood of more than 200,000 Americans for virus-fighting antibodies made from infections, not vaccines. They found that signs of past infection rose dramatically between December and February, when the omicron variant surged.
CDC officials stress that the previously infected should still get COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC report came out the same day one vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer, sought permission to offer a booster dose to kids ages 5 to 11 — just like people 12 and older can get.
— Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer
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2 deaths, 206 new cases
Update: Tuesday, April 26, 4:06 p.m.
State health officials announced two additional COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. While only just confirmed related to the virus, the deaths occurred in late 2021.
The deaths were a woman from Belknap County, who was in her 30s, and a woman from Carroll County, who was in her 70s, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
There are 206 new cases, 2,364 active infections, and 18 current hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff
Administration expands availability of COVID antiviral pill
Update: Tuesday, April 26, 10:09 am
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is taking steps to expand availability of the life-saving COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid.
The administration is trying to reassure doctors that there is ample supply for people at high risk of severe illness or death from the coronavirus.
Paxlovid is produced by Pfizer and was first approved in December. Supply of the regimen was initially very limited. But as COVID-19 cases across the country have fallen and manufacturing has increased, it is now far more abundant.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha says the administration wants to make the treatment available to anyone who needs it.
— Zeke Miller, Associated Press
920 new cases, 0 deaths
Update: Monday, April 25, 4:54 p.m.
New Hampshire recorded 920 new infections from Friday through Sunday.
There are currently 22 patients hospitalized with the virus, and 2,444 active infections statewide.
Since the pandemic began, the Granite State has recorded 2,475 COVID-19 deaths and confirmed 308,446 cases.
— NHPR Staff
Canada eases virus travel measures for kids aged 5 to 11
Update: Monday, April 25, 10:20 a.m.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Canada says unvaccinated children aged five to 11 traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will no longer need a COVID-19 test to enter Canada beginning Monday.
Pre-entry tests will still be needed for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 who are eligible to travel to Canada. Children under five years of age don’t currently require a COVID-19 test to enter Canada.
Government officials announced several other small changes to ease restrictions for international travelers taking effect on Monday. Fully vaccinated travelers, and children under 12 accompanying them, will no longer need to provide their quarantine plans when they enter the country.
— Associated Press
3 more deaths, 425 new cases
Update: Friday, April 22, 4:51 p.m.
The state announced three additional COVID-19 deaths tonight, and an uptick in new infections.
There were 425 new cases and 2,523 active infections. The new cases this week represents nearly a 20% increase from the previous seven-day period.
Health officials said the new deaths Friday were two residents of Hillsborough County and a resident of Rockingham county.
— NHPR Staff
Boston urges masks as battle brews over transit rule
Update: Friday, April 22, 10:26 a.m.
(AP) Boston has urged people to start wearing masks, and the Biden administration is weighing its next legal step in a court fight over the abrupt end of the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit.
In early April, Boston followed New York, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities in relaxing pandemic restrictions as officials pushed for more normalcy after two grueling years of the pandemic.
Philadelphia last week became the first big city to bring back a mask mandate, responding to a rise and infections and hospitalizations. The Boston Public Health Commission cited a 65% increase in cases in its decision Thursday.
— Associated Press
WHO says global COVID cases, deaths declined again last week
Update: Thursday, April 21, 3:30 p.m.
BERLIN (AP) — The World Health Organization says that the number of reported new COVID-19 cases worldwide decreased by nearly a quarter last week. That means there’s been a decline in reported infections since the end of March.
The Geneva-based U.N. health agency said in a weekly report that nearly 5.59 million cases were reported between April 11 and 17. That’s 24% fewer than in the previous week. The number of newly reported deaths dropped 21% to 18,215.
WHO said new cases declined in every region though only by 2% in the Americas. The agency said that “these trends should be interpreted with caution as several countries are progressively changing their COVID-19 testing strategies, resulting in lower overall numbers of tests performed and consequently lower numbers of cases detected.”
— Associated Press
Moderna announces step toward updating COVID shots for fall
Update: Wednesday, April 20, 4:06 p.m
(AP) Moderna hopes to offer updated COVID-19 boosters in the fall that combine the original vaccine with protection against the latest variant.
Now it’s reporting a hint that such an approach might work. Before omicron struck, Moderna began testing a shot combining the original vaccine with protection against an earlier variant named beta.
The company says people given that test combo shot developed more antibodies capable of fighting newer variants — including omicron — than today’s regular booster. Studies are underway to see if a combination shot that adds omicron-specific protection works better.
— Associated Press
UPDATED: Manchester-Boston Airport and other transit agencies in N.H. drop mask requirements following a federal court ruling
Posted: April 19, 5:31 p.m.
Less than a day after a federal judge ruled that the Centers for Disease Control overstepped its authority by imposing a mask mandate on all public transportation nationwide, New Hampshire transit agencies, including Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, are going mask-optional for travelers and employees.
“The federal mask mandate has been lifted for transportation hubs, including airports and airlines. Effective immediately, masks are now optional at MHT for all passengers, guests, and employees,” the state’s busiest airport announced Tuesday.
Lebanon Municipal Airport is also no longer requiring masking.
“Everyone traveling should continue to check the websites for their respective airlines,” said airport manager Carl Gross.
The major airlines servicing Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, including Spirit, Southwest, American and United, all announced masks for employees and travelers are now optional following the federal court ruling, except on certain international flights or if local ordinances require masking.
COAST, which operates bus routes in the Seacoast, also dropped their mask requirement, following the Federal Transit Administration’s guidance.
C&J Bus Lines announced Tuesday it is also going mask-optional for riders and employees, though the company noted it will maintain its other COVID-19 safety protocols, including enhanced cleaning.
Concord Coach Lines will also now be mask-optional, though the company noted it “will continue to supply complimentary masks for those travelers that choose to wear one.”
Amtrak’s Downeaster, which makes three stops in New Hampshire and the Vermonter, which makes one stop in Claremont, will also no longer require masks while on board or in train stations. “Masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so,” Amtrak wrote in a statement. 
Ridesharing company Uber announced Tuesday morning that it is no longer requiring masks for drivers and passengers in the U.S.
—Alli Fam and Todd Bookman, NHPR

1 death, 749 new cases
Update: Monday, April 18, 4:41 p.m.
State health officials reported one additional COVID-19 death today — a male resident of Hillsborough County, who was younger than 60.
There are 749 new cases and 2,102 active infections.
— NHPR Staff

It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in US
Update: Saturday, April 16, 8:19 a.m.
(AP) The U.S. may be heading into another COVID-19 surge, with cases rising nationally and in most states after a two-month decline.
Experts don’t know how high the mountain will grow, but they don’t expect a peak nearly as high as the last one, when the contagious omicron version of the coronavirus ripped through the population.
Still, experts warn the coming wave will wash across the nation and push up hospitalizations in a growing number of states, especially those with low vaccination rates, in the coming weeks. Most cases are now being caused by a subvariant known as BA.2 that is thought to be 30% more contagious.
— Laura Ungar, AP Science Writer
FDA authorizes 1st breath test for COVID-19 infection
Update: Friday, April 15, 11 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for what it says is the first device that can detect COVID-19 in breath samples.
The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, the FDA said Thursday, and can be used in doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites.
The test, which can provide results in less than three minutes, must be carried out under the supervision of a licensed health care provider. The FDA says the device is 91.2% accurate at identifying positive test samples and 99.3% accurate at identifying negative test samples.
— Associated Press
CDC extends travel mask requirement to May 3 as COVID rises
Update: Wednesday, April 13, 2:09 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has announced it will extend through May 3rd the nationwide mask requirement for public transit as it monitors an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The order was set to expire April 18, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday extended it by two weeks. The administration had been hoping to roll out a more flexible masking strategy this week to replace the nationwide requirement.
In a statement Wednesday, the CDC said it will take the time to “asses the impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity.”
— Zeke Miller, Associated Press
Four more COVID deaths
Update: Tuesday, April 12, 4:06 p.m.
The state tonight is reporting four additional COVID-19 deaths; three of them occurred more than two weeks ago and were just confirmed as related to the virus.
There are 158 new cases, 1,542 active infections, and 13 current hospitalizations.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 2,463 COVID deaths and confirmed 304,503 cases.
— NHPR Staff
What do we know about “stealth omicron” so far?
Update: Tuesday, April 12
(AP) Scientists say an extra-contagious version of the omicron variant is spreading globally, but it doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease.
Since the “stealth omicron” was first identified in November, it has been driving new surges in parts of Asia and Europe. BA.2 is now the dominant variant in the U.S. and more than five dozen other countries.
COVID-19 vaccines appear just as effective against both kinds of omicron, offering strong protection against severe illness and death. Health officials are tracking other variants including XE — a combination of BA.2 and the original omicron. It’s not yet a variant of concern or interest.
— Victoria Milko, AP Science Writer
1 death, 266 cases
Update: Friday, April 8, 5:01 p.m.
State health officials announced one additional COVID-19 death today — a female from Merrimack County who was younger than 60.
There are 266 new cases, 1,405 active infections, and 10 patients hospitalized with the virus.
— NHPR Staff

Flu cases behind the COVID testing ramp-up in the North Country
Updated: 1:11 p.m., April 8, 2022
Coos County Family Health Services, which sees thousands of regional patients, is experiencing a spike in demand for their COVID vaccine services.
Some North Country residents are newly eligible for a second booster, and over 100 have already signed up for a clinic this weekend.
Valerie Hart, the chief operating officer and a nurse with the health center, said demand for COVID-19 tests has also shot up in the past few weeks.
But the increase in COVID testing isn’t because more people have COVID, according to Hart. It’s because people in the region are coming down with the flu.
“Unfortunately, oftentimes the only way you can tell between COVID and influenza is to test and determine if somebody has it,” she said.
Coos County Family Health Services has conducted around 120 Covid tests in the last two weeks, yielding only a few positive tests. In the same time period, the health center has seen over 75 positive influenza results, higher than they typically see during flu season.
The nearby hospital is treating some flu patients. Earlier this week, while Androscoggin Valley Hospital had no COVID patients, they had 40 influenza patients.
—Alli Fam, NHPR
COVID spending bill stalls in Senate as GOP, Dems stalemate
Update: Thursday, April 7
WASHINGTON (AP) — A compromise $10 billion measure buttressing the government’s COVID-19 defenses has stalled in the Senate. It seems all but certainly sidetracked in that chamber for weeks, victim of a campaign-season fight over the incendiary issue of immigration.
There was abundant finger-pointing Wednesday but no signs that the two parties were near resolving their stalemate over a bipartisan pandemic bill that President Joe Biden and top Democrats wanted Congress to approve this week.
And with Senate Democrats’ top goal this week being the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, the COVID-19 bill seemed sure to slip at least until Congress returns after a two-week recess.
— Associated Press
Experts say US suspension of COVID aid will prolong pandemic
Update: Thursday, April 7
LONDON (AP) — In the latest Senate package targeted at stopping the coronavirus, U.S. lawmakers dropped nearly all funding for curbing the virus beyond American borders, a move many health experts describe as dangerously short-sighted.
They warn the suspension of COVID-19 aid for poorer countries could ultimately spur the kind of unchecked transmission needed for the next worrisome variant to emerge.
Although the U.S. has been among the biggest contributors to funding the global response to the pandemic, that will soon change. The new budget means many American-funded vaccination campaigns in dozens of countries, including Zambia, Ivory Coast and Mali, will come to a grinding halt.
— Maria Cheng and Chris Megerian, Associated Press
2 deaths, 149 new infections
Update: Wednesday, April 6, 4:11 p.m.
Two additional residents have died from COVID-19, state health officials announced tonight.
They were residents of Cheshire and Sullivan counties. To date, the state has recorded 2,457 virus-related deaths.
There are 1,122 active infections and 7 current hospitalizations.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services reports the number of outbreaks at institutional settings is down to seven: Applewood Rehabilitation Center, Arbor View Inn, Bedford Hills Center, Jaffrey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Pheasantwood Center, Rochester Manor, and St. Vincent de Paul Rehab and Nursing.
— Dan Tuohy, NHPR
124 new cases, 4 hospitalizations
Update: Tuesday, April 5, 4:19 p.m.
The state has confirmed three deaths from January were related to COVID-19. No new deaths were announced for the second day in a row Tuesday.
There are 124 new cases, 1,036 active infections statewide, and four hospitalizations.
— NHPR Staff
White House to extend student loan pause through August
Tuesday, April 5
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration plans to freeze federal student loan payments through Aug. 31, extending a moratorium that has allowed millions of Americans to postpone payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was confirmed by an administration official familiar with the White House’s decision-making.
Student loan payments were scheduled to resume May 1 after being halted since early in the pandemic. But following calls from Democrats in Congress, the White House plans to give borrowers additional time to prepare for payments.
The decision was first reported by Bloomberg. The action applies to more than 43 million Americans who owe a combined $1.6 trillion in student debt held by the federal government.
— Associated Press
394 new cases
Update: Monday, April 4, 5:11 p.m.
State health officials today announced 394 new coronavirus cases from over the weekend.
No new deaths were reported. Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 303,010 infections and 2,452 COVID-19 deaths.
There are 1,033 current cases.
— NHPR Staff
5 cited under Boston’s new protest ordinance
Update: Monday, April 4, 12:20 p.m.
BOSTON (AP) — Police say five people were issued fines for protesting outside of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s home on the first day a new city ordinance that limits when protesters can gather in residential neighborhoods took effect.
The protesters were issued fines on Friday, the day after Wu signed the ordinance into law, and two days after it was approved by the City Council. People have gathered outside Wu’s home as early as 7 a.m. to protest her city worker vaccine mandate.
The new measure allows protesters to demonstrate outside a home only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. It protects any home, not just those of elected officials.
— Associated Press
Bargainers: Bipartisan deal near on trimmed $10B COVID bill
Update: Sunday, April 3
(AP) — Lawmakers have moved to the brink of clinching a scaled-back bipartisan compromise to provide a fresh $10 billion to combat COVID-19. That could set up final congressional approval next week.
The price tag was a reduction from an earlier $15.6 billion compromise that fell apart weeks ago after House Democrats rejected cuts in pandemic aid to states to help pay for it. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is a lead negotiator and he says bargainers have reached an agreement in principle on a package that would be completely paid for.
The new money would be to purchase vaccines, treatments and tests, which the administration says are running low, even as the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2 spreads.
— Associated Press
Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray tests positive for COVID-19
Update: Sunday, April 3
(AP) Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray has tested positive for COVID-19. Gray made the announcement on Thursday, saying she is fully vaccinated and boosted, and quarantining at home.
The Democrat, who is also running for Vermont’s lone seat in U.S. House of Representatives, met with Vice President Kamala Harris along with other lieutenant governors from around the country in Washington on Tuesday.
— Associated Press
Number of COVID patients in US hospitals reaches record low
Update: Friday, April 1, 4:45 p.m.
(AP) — COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have plunged to their lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, offering a much needed break to health care workers and patients alike following the omicron surge.
The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has fallen more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in the ICU for the first time since early 2020.
The freed up beds are expected to help U.S. hospitals retain exhausted staff, treat non-COVID-19 patients more quickly and cut down on inflated costs. More family members can visit loved ones.
And doctors hope to see a correction to the slide in pediatric visits, yearly checkups and cancer screenings.
— Associated Press
US opens second COVID boosters to 50 and up, others at risk
Update: Thursday, March 31, 3:50 p.m.
(AP) Americans age 50 and older can get a second COVID-19 booster if it’s been at least four months since their last vaccination.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for that age group and for certain younger people with severely weakened immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later recommended the extra shot as an option but stopped short of urging that those eligible rush out and get it right away.
The move comes at a time of great uncertainty. COVID-19 cases have dropped to low levels after the winter surge of the super-contagious omicron variant.
— Associated Press
11 state-run vax sites to close
Update: Wednesday, March 30, 6:01 p.m.
Eleven state-managed COVID-19 vaccination sites will be closing Thursday evening, as demand for the vaccine has fallen across New Hampshire in recent months.
In January, state-managed sites administered nearly 6,000 shots. In March, that dropped to around 930. That’s an about three shots per day per site, on average.
Demand could increase now that some Granite Staters are eligible for a second booster shot, but the vaccine remains available at hundreds of locations in the state, including pharmacies and some doctors offices.
The state will also be decommissioning over half of its mobile vaccination van teams Thursday.
Local health networks and city departments are also slowing down in their efforts to vaccinate residents. Jane Goodman, with Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services, said the division is holding fewer clinics, although community health workers will continue weekly outreach efforts.
“They go to kind of try to find some hard-to-reach populations, whether it’s the library or housing complexes or barbershops” she said.
The slowdown of public vaccination efforts is a part of New Hampshire’s plan to shift the COVID infrastructure away from the public sector and into the traditional health system, like pharmacies and doctors offices.
— Alli Fam, NHPR News
1 more death, 131 new cases
Update: Wednesday, March 30, 5:50 p.m.
The state announced one additional COVID-19 death and 131 new cases today.
The death was a woman from Rockingham County.
There are 1,039 active infections and six current hospitalizations.
The number of institutions and long-term care facilities with an outbreak is down to just eight, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
— NHPR Staff
Current hospitalizations drop to 7
Update: Tuesday, March 29, 6:20 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized in New Hampshire for COVID-19 is down to seven, a notable drop from 26 reported just a day earlier.
The state announced 62 new cases from Monday, and 988 active infections.
Two additional COVID deaths were reported, bringing the overall virus-related death count in state to 2,451.
— NHPR Staff
2 deaths, 399 new infections
Update: Monday, March 28, 4:19 p.m.
State health officials announced two additional COVID-19 deaths today. They were residents of Cheshire and Hillsborough counties.
The state reported 399 new cases, with 340 of those from Friday through Sunday.
Twenty-six residents are currently hospitalized with the virus.
— NHPR Staff
Sununu asks for extension of school COVID-19 testing program
Update: Friday, March 25, 10:15 a.m.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend a program that provides funding for COVID-19 screenings at schools.
The Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Reopening Schools program is scheduled to end in July.
Sununu is asking for a one-year extension. He said in a letter Thursday that the program has helped New Hampshire schools keep their doors open while fostering a safer, healthier return to in-person learning for students and educators alike.
He said Hampshire schools are already looking ahead to the next calendar year and preparing for future variants that could arise.
— NHPR Staff
2 deaths, 143 new cases
Update: Friday, March 25, 9:59 a.m.
State health officials announced two additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday night, and 143 new cases.
There are 1,070 active infections and 24 patients hospitalized with the virus.
— NHPR Staff
1 new death; hospitalizations down to 20
Update: Wednesday, March 23, 3:53 p.m.
Coronavirus hospitalizations are down to 20, which is the lowest number of COVID patients in New Hampshire since July.
The highest number of current hospitalizations was 335 back on Jan. 2, 2021.
State health officials announced one additional COVID death on March 23 — a woman, 60 or older, from Belknap County.
There are 140 new cases for Tuesday, and 986 current infections.
— NHPR Staff
EXPLAINER: What to know about COVID vaccines for little kids
Update: Wednesday, March 23, 3:30 p.m.
(AP) Moderna says it will ask regulators to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 6 but several hurdles need to be cleared before the shots could become available.
The company announced early findings from a study of children younger than 6 on Wednesday.
Once Moderna submits its data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide if the kid-size doses are safe and effective enough to authorize.
Then the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to recommend their use. If the shots are cleared, the littlest kids could start getting vaccinated by summer.
— Lauren Neergaard, AP Medical Writer
6 deaths, 89 new cases
Update: 4:29 p.m, Tuesday, March 22
State health officials have announced six additional COVID-19 deaths. Three of them occurred around the start of the year, and were only recently confirmed to be due to the virus.
Community transmission continues to drop. There are 89 new cases, 881 active infections, and 27 patients hospitalized.
— NHPR Staff
Scientists worry virus variant may push up COVID cases in US
Update: Tuesday, March 22
(AP) Scientists worry that a contagious coronavirus variant may soon push cases up in the United States just as it has in Europe and Asia. One reason? After about two months of falling cases in the U.S., COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted across the nation.
People are taking off their masks and returning to indoor spaces.
At the same time, immunity from vaccines is waning and the amount of the variant called BA.2 is rising in the U.S. Experts are also monitoring another variant: a rare delta-omicron hybrid that they say is not posing much of a threat at this point.
— Laura Ungar, AP Science Writer
Hospitalizations drop to 30
Update: 4:26 p.m., Monday, March 21
The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus is down to 30.
The latest public health update Monday shows 356 new cases from over the weekend, along with 911 current infections.
Two additional deaths were announced: residents of Grafton and Rockingham counties, both 60 or older, according to New Hampshire health officials.
Since the start of the pandemic, the state has recorded 2,436 COVID deaths and 301,308 people diagnosed with the virus at some point.
— NHPR Staff
The AP Interview: Health chief warns of COVID funds shortage
Update: 4 p.m. Monday, March 21
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the nation yearning for a new normal after its long struggle with the coronavirus, U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra is warning that vaccines, tests and treatments will be “stuck on the ground” unless Congress provides additional funds the White House has demanded.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Becerra also expressed concerns about cases rising among children as schools lift mask requirements.
He said his Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prepare so millions of people do not lose health insurance once their eligibility for Medicaid lapses when the government ends the official COVID public health emergency.
— Associated Press
Pop-up COVID testing sites close around the state
Updated: 5:29 p.m., March 15, 2022
Seven pop-up COVID-19 testing sites closed for the final time this afternoon, as demand for testing continues to diminish across New Hampshire.
All tests conducted at these sites, even if people had no symptoms or exposure to the virus, were free.
Amanda Katsaros has helped staff the Manchester location, which has been in operation since the fall. She says ever since the start of the new year, fewer and fewer people have come in for tests.
Ahead of the holidays, Katsaros recalled around 400 patients coming for a test. She said the labs processing the tests were so overwhelmed, results in some cases took around a week.
These days, result time is back to its normal 48 hours and her colleague Diane Dow said when “some days, we don’t even hit a dozen [people coming in for a test].”
The two think the precipitous decline is a result of the end of the omicron surge and the increased availability of home tests across the state.
Right now, major state labs are processing around 4,000 tests per day, down from over 15,000 earlier this winter.
Home tests are now stocked more consistently at pharmacies, liquor stores and health centers.
The two women were sentimental as they worked their last morning, and boxed up supplies. Working at the testing site has been interesting, the two said. They’ve enjoyed the work.
For Dow, the closure of the site means she needs to find a new job. Unlike Katsaros, she wasn’t a full-time employee of ClearChoice MD, the company helping run the sites.
Dow said she has been applying for new, similar jobs.
“I’m looking for laboratory work, specimen collection, data entry, registration, that kind of thing,” she said.
—Alli Fam, NHPR
1 death, 86 new cases
Update: Friday, March 11, 5:36 p.m.
The state reported only 86 new cases of coronavirus tonight, a notable drop in new daily infections.
COVID hospitalizations also continued to decrease, and are now at 44.
One additional death was reported.
— NHPR Staff
New COVID-19 treatment pill coming to N.H. pharmacies
Updated: 5:13 p.m. March 10, 2022
Paxlovid, an effective COVID-19 treatment pill, is coming to commercial pharmacies in New Hampshire.
The pill is a simpler way to treat COVID-19 than monoclonal antibodies, which often require a lengthy and intensive infusion process.
Paxlovid is also more effective than the other antiviral Molnupiravir at reducing hospitalization from the virus.
Almost two dozen Walgreens pharmacy locations across New Hampshire were slated to each receive 20 courses of Paxlovid Wednesday.
While some locations have received the pill, other pharmacies NHPR spoke with Wednesday morning said they were still waiting. An additional 14 Walgreens locations will get courses of the treatment next week.
Granite Staters looking to access the pill through Walgreens must have a prescription from their health provider.
The treatment is also coming to six CVS Minute Clinic locations this week, through the federal “Test to Treat” program. At these locations, a provider on-site can prescribe COVID-positive patients the treatment if they are at high risk of developing a severe case of the virus.
COVID antivirals continue to be administered by hospitals and some health centers.
-Alli Fam
COVID vaccination bill for 16, 17-year-olds without parental consent voted down
Updated: 5:13 p.m. March `10, 2022
A bill that would have allowed 16 and 17-year-olds in New Hampshire to get a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission was voted down by the House Thursday morning.
The vast majority of states require parental consent for vaccination in most cases, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But some states give minors broad authority to make these decisions for themselves. In Oregon, teens 15 and up can consent to their own medical care, including vaccinations.
Rhode Island and South Carolina allow 16 and 17-year-olds to get COVID-19 vaccinations on their own.
COVID vaccination rates in teens lag behind that of the general population both nationally, and in New Hampshire.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
6 additional COVID-19 deaths
Update: Thursday, March 10, 4:45 p.m.
The state announced six additional COVID-19 deaths tonight.
The latest COVID case numbers remain low:

The deaths were residents of Carroll, Grafton, Hillsborough, Rockingham (2), and Strafford counties.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 299,999 coronavirus cases, and 2,414 deaths.
— NHPR Staff
US extends mask rule for travel while weighing new approach
Update: Thursday, March 10, 4 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials are extending the requirement for masks on planes and public transportation through mid-April while taking steps that could lead to lifting the rule.
The mask mandate was scheduled to expire March 18, but the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that it will extend the requirement through April 18.
TSA said the extra month will give the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention time to develop new, more targeted policies that will consider the number of cases of COVID-19 nationally and in local communities, and the risk of new variants.
The TSA enforces the mask rule, which extends to planes, buses, trains and transit hubs.
— Associated Press
Hospitalizations fall below 50
Update: Wednesday, March 9, 4:18 p.m.
Current hospitalizations have fallen below 50, another significant data point for public health officials. There are now 47 patients hospitalized with the virus.
Health officials did not report any additional COVID-19 deaths Wednesday.
There were 126 new cases and 1,007 active infections.
The state is monitoring 19 outbreaks at long-term care and institutional settings.
— NHPR Staff
5 more deaths, as new cases drop
Update: Tuesday, March 8, 4:11 p.m.
State health officials reported just 73 new coronavirus cases today, another significant decrease in community transmission in New Hampshire.
There are 984 active infections and 52 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.
Five additional deaths were announced — three occurred over two weeks ago, but were just recently confirmed to be due to the virus.
— NHPR Staff
State’s fixed testing sites to close
Update: Tuesday, March 8, 3:58 p.m.
New Hampshire will be permanently closing its state-run COVID-19 testing sites on March 15.
The state testing sites will cease operations at 3 p.m. next Tuesday. The sites are in Belmont, Claremont, Keene, Lincoln, Manchester, Nashua and Newington.
The decision was made amid a notable drop in community transmission rates and decreased need for testing.
Gov. Chris Sununu called it a significant milestone.
In the announcement today, the state noted testing will remain available at 90 locations, including hospitals, pharmacies, urgent care centers – and test kits are being sold for $11.29 at New Hampshire state liquor stores.
Find testing sites in New Hampshire.
— Dan Tuohy, NHPR News
WHO says COVID boosters needed, reversing previous call
Update: Tuesday, March 8, 12:33 p.m.
GENEVA (AP) — An expert group convened by the World Health Organization said it “strongly supports urgent and broad access” to coronavirus vaccines, including booster doses.
The call caps a reversal from the U.N. health agency’s previous insistence that booster doses weren’t necessary and contributing to vaccine inequity. In a statement on Tuesday, WHO said its expert group concluded that immunization with authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide high levels of protection against severe disease and death amid the global circulation of the hugely contagious omicron variant.
Last year, WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on booster doses, pleading with rich countries to donate their vaccines instead.
— Associated Press
Hospitalizations drop to 56
Update: Monday, March 7, 4:06 p.m.
Current hospitalizations in New Hampshire have dropped to 56.
State health officials continue to report decreases in community transmission of COVID-19 — there were only 42 cases from Sunday, and 146 from Friday and 158 from Saturday.
One additional COVID death was announced — a resident of Hillsborough County.
— NHPR Staff
Concord school board to vote on mask req
Update: Monday, March 7, 12:10 p.m.
The Concord School Board will vote on the schools’ mask requirement Monday evening.
At the end of February, the state lifted its masking recommendation for universal indoor masking. Gov. Chris Sununu and the Department of Education said schools that have mandates in place must transition away from them as soon as possible.
Before the announcement from the state, the instructional committee of the Concord School Board had already recommended that the district move to an optional mask policy starting March 14.
The committee also recommended that schools return to required masking if positive cases exceed 3% of the school’s population.
— Alli Fam, NHPR News
UNH no longer requiring face masks
Update: Sunday, March 6, 8:20 a.m.
The University of New Hampshire no longer requires face masks in indoor spaces.
President James Dean announced the updated COVID-19 protocol March 4, effective immediately. It includes all UNH campuses: Durham, Manchester, and Concord.
There are a few exceptions.
“Masks are still required in health care facilities, including Health & Wellness, as part of regular PPE in labs, on public transportation including Wildcat Transit, and for individuals who were recently in isolation or quarantine and need to mask for 10 days,” Dean writes in his announcement.
— NHPR Staff
Boston’s indoor mask mandate for businesses is lifted
Update: Sunday, March 6, 8:15 a.m.
BOSTON (AP) — A city order that required people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces in Boston, including restaurants, shops, museums and entertainment venues, has been lifted.
The decision to lift the mask mandate Saturday was made earlier this week by city public health Commissioner Dr. Bisola Ojikutu in conjunction with the city health board.
They cited a decline in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, as well as high vaccination rates. The city still recommends masking for people at high risk of becoming sick. Individual businesses and other venues can continue to require masks for their customers.
— Michael Casey, Associated Press
4 deaths, 201 new cases
Update: Friday, March 4, 4:27 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped again, and is now at 71.
The latest public health update from the state includes 201 new cases and 1,429 active infections.
Four additional residents have died from the coronavirus. They are from Hillsborough (2), Merrimack, and Rockingham counties.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 2,402 COVID deaths and confirmed 299,213 positive cases.
— NHPR Staff
Fewer Americans apply for jobless benefits last week
Update: Friday, March 4, 11:41 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week reflecting a low level of layoffs across the economy.
Jobless claimes fell by 18,000 to 215,000 for the week ending February 26, from 233,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell by 6,000 to 230,500. In total, 1,476,000 Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Feb. 12, a small uptick of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised number.
First-time applications for jobless aid generally track the pace of layoffs, which are back down to fairly healthy pre-pandemic levels.
— Associated Press
Hospitalizations down to 77
Update: Thursday, March 3, 4:45 p.m.
The state is reporting three additional COVID-19 deaths and 171 new infections tonight.
There are 77 current hospitalizations and 1,488 active infections statewide.
The deaths are residents from Cheshire, Hillsborough, and Strafford counties.
— NHPR Staff
As vaccine demand falls, states are left with huge stockpile
(AP) As demand to get COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. collapses in many areas, states are scrambling to use stockpiles of doses before they expire and have to be added to the millions that have already gone to waste.
From some of the least vaccinated states, like Indiana and North Dakota, to some of the most vaccinated states, like New Jersey and Vermont, public health departments are shuffling doses around the state in the hopes of finding providers that can use them. State health departments told The Associated Press they have tracked millions of doses that went to waste.
Vermont going mask-optional as of March 14
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is going mask-optional as of March 14, based on its low COVID-19 hospitalization rates and the majority of its population is vaccinated.
State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said at Gov. Phil Scott’s news conference Thursday the decision to wear a mask will be up to each person based on their own circumstances and health needs.
Education Secretary Dan French said the mask-optional policy also will include schools, “regardless of vaccination status.” He said it also will apply to school buses, since masks are no longer required on school buses as a result of a recent change in federal regulation.
— Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is going mask-optional as of March 14, based on its low COVID-19 hospitalization rates and the majority of its population being vaccinated.
“The decision to wear a mask will be up to each person based on their own circumstances and health needs,” Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist, said at Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly news conference on Thursday.
Kelso said the state will also simplify its isolation and quarantine guidance as of March 14. “If you test positive, you’ll need to stay home and isolate for five days. If you’re a close contact and not up to date on your vaccines, you do not need to quarantine, but should get tested.”
She added that while the state has learned much about the virus, “it does continue to surprise us, and we need to be prepared to adjust, if necessary.”
The mask-optional policy also will include schools, “regardless of vaccination status,” Education Secretary Dan French said. “And this will apply to school buses, as well, since masks are no longer required on school buses as a result of a recent change in federal regulation.”
Earlier this week, the state said Vermont schools with a student vaccination rate of 80% or higher can lift their masking requirements.
8 additional COVID deaths
Update: Wednesday, March 2, 4:21 p.m.
Eight more Granite Staters have died from COVID-19.
State health officials announced the deaths while reporting another notable drop in new infections and current hospitalizations.
There were 148 new cases and 73 patients hospitalized, as of Wednesday morning. There are 1,431 active infections statewide.
The state is also monitoring outbreaks at 33 institutional facilities. They include the federal prison in Berlin with 326 resident and 50 staff cases and Strafford County jail, with 91 resident and 33 staff cases.
— NHPR Staff
Hospitalizations drop to 82
Update: Tuesday, March 1, 4:11 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized in New Hampshire due to COVID-19 is the lowest it’s been since mid-August. The patient headcount was down to 82 today.
New Hampshire also continues to see a decrease in new cases. State health officials reported 191 new cases from Feb. 28, with another 61 from over the past week.
The state did announce 10 additional COVID-19 deaths — with five occurring more than two weeks ago, but were just confirmed to be due to the virus.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 2,387 deaths.
— NHPR Staff
Most people in New Hampshire can stop wearing masks, according to the CDC
Update: Monday, Feb. 28, 5:35 p.m.
Most Granite Staters no longer need to wear masks indoors, based on new guidelines from the CDC.
The new guidance uses metrics that focus on the impact the virus has on the local hospital system and how significant the strain is.
Prior to the updated guidance, the CDC calculated COVID-19 at the community level using case counts and test positivity rates.
In New Hampshire, COVID-19 related hospitalizations have been declining for the past month.
Right now, the state is averaging around 93 Granite Staters officially hospitalized with the virus, down from nearly 400, this time last month.
Currently, most counties in New Hampshire are at a medium level of COVID-19 in the community. According to the CDC, that’s a level where those at high risk for severe illness, may want to consider taking extra precautions.
Only Strafford, Sullivan and Grafton counties have high levels of COVID-19, where the CDC still recommends universal indoor masking.
The state of New Hampshire has taken a different approach to its masking guidance, and no longer recommends universal indoor masking in any region.
Last week, all schools in the state were told by Governor Chris Sununu and the Department of Education that they will need to transition away from mask requirements as soon as possible.
Some school districts, which previously had a mask requirement, like Manchester, dropped them immediately, while others like Concord, are waiting a little longer.    
—Alli Fam, NHPR
Nearly half of Biden’s 500M free COVID tests still unclaimed
Update: Sunday, Feb. 27, 10:01 a.m.
(AP) — Nearly half of the 500 million free COVID-19 tests that the Biden administration recently made available to Americans still haven’t been claimed as virus cases plummet and people feel less urgency to test.
That’s according to administration officials who say the program still represents a step toward a deeper and more responsive testing program that will accommodate demand surges and remain on standby when cases wane.
On the first day of the White House test giveaway in January, the government website COVIDtests.gov received 45 million orders.
Now officials say fewer than 100,000 orders a day are coming in for the packages of four free rapid tests per household.
— Associated Press
CDC: Many healthy Americans can take a break from masks
Update: Friday, Feb. 25, 4:30 p.m.
(AP) U.S. officials say most Americans live in places where healthy people can safely take a break from wearing masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday outlined a new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip. They focus less on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.
More than 70% of the U.S. population lives in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the people who can stop wearing masks for now. The agency is still advising that people, including schoolchildren, wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high.
The new recommendations don’t change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation.
— Associated Press
3 more COVID deaths
Update: Friday, Feb. 25, 4:20 p.m.
The state announced three more COVID-19 deaths on Friday.
There are 92 patients hospitalized with the virus, and active infections statewide total 2,130.
— NHPR Staff
2 deaths, 929 new cases
Update: Thursday, Feb. 24, 4:40 p.m.
Two additional COVID-19 deaths were announced today in New Hampshire, bringing the overall virus-related deaths to 2,370.
Health officials reported nearly a thousand new cases, with 691 of them from Wednesday.
There are 2,063 active infections and 95 patients hospitalized with the virus, as of 9 a.m. Thursday.
— NHPR Staff
Amid declining cases, NH no longer recommends indoor masks
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 23, 3:49 p.m.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, announced today that New Hampshire is no longer recommending face mask use indoors, with some exceptions.
This comes as New Hampshire sees a notable drop in new cases — and hospitalizations fell below 100.
“At this point in the pandemic, we are no longer recommending universal face masks for people in indoor public locations, unless a person is required to wear a face mask for their specific situation,” Chan said.
Chan said some situations, under federal guidance or regulations, face masks will still be required, such as public transportation and entry into health care facilities.
Chan said the omicron surge is decreasing statewide, as it is nationwide, and there’s a notable decline in the severity of COVID-19.
Gov. Chris Sununu noted the updated mask guidance, which includes schools, is based on a number of factors beyond cases plummeting in the state, including availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
“What’s important moving forward is, I think, is that we look at this from a position of understanding. it’s not about mask shaming or anything like that,” Sununu said. “Private businesses, as always, can still choose to mandate masks or have other protections of their own in place.”
Watch the news conference where Sununu, Chan spoke Wednesday.
The state did announce 21 additional COVID-19 deaths, in the first public health update since Feb. 17.
The deaths were residents of Belknap (4), Cheshire (2), Coos (4), Grafton, Hillsborough (4), Merrimack (3), Rockingham (2), and Strafford counties.
— NHPR Staff
US virus cases, hospitalizations continue steady decline
Update: Monday, Feb. 21, 7:30 a.m.
(AP) Average daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are continuing to fall in the U.S., an indicator that the omicron variant’s hold is weakening across the country.
Total confirmed cases reported Saturday barely exceeded 100,000, a sharp downturn from around 800,850 on Jan. 16, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
In New York, the number of cases went down by more than 50% over the last two weeks. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Thomas Russo said what’s influencing the decline in Omicron cases is that it has built up some population immunity.
Public health experts say they are feeling hopeful. However, many expressed concern that vaccine uptick in the U.S. has still been below expectations.
— Associated Press
Pope hails health care workers as heroes for COVID service
Update: Sunday, Feb. 20
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has hailed health care workers as heroes for their service every day, not just during the pandemic.
The pontiff clapped his hands and invited the public in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to do the same in a a sign of “a great thank you” for doctors, nurses and volunteers who care for the sick.
Italy was marking Sunday as a national day to pay tribute to health care workers. The national professional association of doctors counts 370 physicians who died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. The pope said the coronavirus pandemic has made plain the “heroism” that characterizes health care personnel all the time.
— Associated Press
Keene hospital restarts emergency surgeries
Update: 5:30 p.m., Feb. 18
As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to fall across the state, this week, Cheshire Medical Center in Keene lifted a pause on non-emergency surgeries.
The stoppage began in early December, when Cheshire was overwhelmed with high volumes of COVID-19 patients, and other non-COVID patients in need of emergency care.
Pausing “elective surgeries” freed up staff and space to help elsewhere in the hospital. But while a surgery might be considered elective, like a hernia repair, it doesn’t mean it’s not necessary, staff say.
Now, Cheshire is trying to reschedule around 600 patients, said Dr. Paul Sanders, a general surgeon at the hospital who also chairs the surgical department.
“We’re constantly adding patients on top of that,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be a little while before we’re back to, as you might call it, ‘business as usual.’”
Sanders said patients who had a procedure postponed can expect a call from Cheshire staff.
Other hospitals like Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Elliot are also working through a backlog of surgeries postponed during the winter surge.
But some New Hampshire hospitals say they were able to keep pace with elective surgeries during the winter surge, and are not reporting a significant backlog.
There are currently 108 Granite Staters hospitalized with the virus, down from nearly 500 in December.
—Alli Fam, NHPR
Canadian police start arresting protesters in Ottawa
Update: Friday, Feb. 18, 12:32 p.m.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Authorities in Canada are pushing back and arresting protesters who have paralyzed traffic in Ottawa for three weeks in a demonstration against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Scuffles are breaking out in front of a downtown hotel where police made multiple arrests. Hundreds of officers descended on the heart of the protest hours after police ked demonstrators away in handcuffs.
Police have sealed off much of the downtown area to outsiders. The protesters in the capital make up the movement’s last stronghold after weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shutdown border crossings into the U.S. and caused immense economic harm.
— Associated Press
House OKs weaker COVID vaccine mandates at state health care facilities
Update: 4:56 p.m., Feb. 17
House lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that would weaken COVID-19 vaccine mandates at state health care facilities Thursday.
The bill requires state medical facilities with a COVID vaccination mandate to allow employees to easily optout through an objection of conscience, which would effectively render the mandate toothless.
But facilities the bill applies to, like county nursing homes across the state, are already under federal vaccination requirements. Those federal rules only offer religious and medical exemptions.
Employees in New Hampshire must be fully vaccinated by March 15 per the regulations, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The potential conflict between state and federal rules has Heather Moquin, the Administrator of Merrimack County Nursing Home on edge. Her facility has had a mandate in place for months.
Moquin worries if her facility was unable to maintain compliance with the federal mandate because of a state law, they might “receive citations for not following infection control processes that could lead to financial penalties.”
In an FAQ about its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, CMS says federal regulation would supersede any state laws in conflict.
The bill goes now for review before a second House committee.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
10 deaths, 377 new cases
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 5:50 p.m.
State health officials today announced 10 additional COVID-19 deaths.
The number of patients hospitalized with the virus fell by nearly 20, to 134 hospitalizations. It’s the lowest number of COVID patients since early October.
Active infections number 3,273.
— NHPR Staff
Portsmouth ends mask directive
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 9:20 a.m.
The city of Portsmouth on Tuesday rescinded its face mask directive, effective immediately.
The announcement from the city’s Public Health officer noted “a precipitous and sustained drop in test positivity rates” in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth city manager still urges mask wearing indoors for city facilities.
— NHPR Staff
Ontario drops vaccine proof, protests persist
Update: Monday, Feb. 14, 12:03 p.m.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Ontario’s premier announced Monday that Canada’s most populous province will lift its COVID-19 proof of vaccination requirements in two weeks– not because of the protests that have blocked the border and paralyzed Ottawa, but because “it is safe to do so.”
The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing, meanwhile, was open Monday after protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 measures blocked it for nearly a week, but a larger protest in the capital, Ottawa, persisted as city residents seethed over authorities’ inability to reclaim the streets.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his government will lift its COVID-19 proof of vaccination requirements on March 1. Ford also says he would support Trudeau’s government if it proposes further measures to quell the protests.
— Associated Press
Key US-Canada bridge reopens after police clear protesters
Update: Monday, Feb. 14, 11:30 a.m.
WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) — The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing has reopened after protests against COVID-19 restrictions closed it for almost a week, while Canadian officials are holding back from a crackdown on a larger protest in the capital, Ottawa.
Detroit International Bridge Co. said in a statement late Sunday that “the Ambassador Bridge is now fully open allowing the free flow of commerce between the Canada and US economies once again.”
The crossing normally carries 25% of all trade between the two countries, and the blockade on the Canadian side had disrupted business in both countries. The protest in Ottawa, meanwhile, has paralyzed downtown, infuriated residents who are fed up with police inaction and turned up pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
— Associated Press
Canada police arrive to remove protesters at US border
Update: Saturday, Feb. 12, 9:56 a.m.
WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) — Canadian police have moved in to remove protesters who have disrupted Canada-US trade at a major bridge border crossing, though several trucks remained blocking traffic.
Many protesters began driving away as police approached shortly after dawn. They had spent the night at the busiest crossing between the United States and Canada despite new warnings to end the blockade that has disrupted the flow of goods between the two countries and forced the auto industry on both sides to roll back production.
Bur three large trucks and about 20 protesters remained blocking traffic early Saturday and they began singing Canada’s national anthem.
— Associated Press
6 additional COVID deaths
Update: Friday, Feb. 11, 4:30 p.m.
The state announced six additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday.
There are 1,113 new cases, 174 current hospitalizations, and 5,343 active infections statewide.
New Hampshire averaged 635 new cases per day over the past week, which is a 36% decrease from the previous seven-day period, according to the state’s COVID dashboard.
— NHPR Staff
The FDA postpones a highly anticipated meeting on the Pfizer vaccine for young kids
Update: Friday, Feb 11, 3:48 p.m.
A highly anticipated meeting of expert advisers to discuss whether to recommend the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for young children has been postponed.
The Food and Drug Administration said Pfizer told the agency that new data have recently emerged regarding its emergency use authorization request for the Pfizer vaccine in children 6 months through 4 years of age.
The agency said its preliminary assessment and need to allow more time to evaluate additional data led it to postpone the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 15.
“We believe additional information regarding the ongoing evaluation of a third dose should be considered as part of our decision-making for potential authorization,” FDA officials said in a statement.
Read more from NPR
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?
Update: Friday, Feb. 11, 6:40 a.m.
(AP) — Experts say how often you can safely wear an N95 or KN95 mask will vary depending on how it’s used.
Using a mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different than wearing it all day at work. Richard Flagan, who studies masks and aerosols at the California Institute of Technology, says the amount of time a mask is worn is more important than how frequently it’s worn.
But in general, he recommends limiting the use of an N95 mask to about two or three days. N95 masks can’t be washed and should be thrown away once you can no longer use them.
— Associated Press
Hospitalizations fall again
Update: Thursday, Feb. 10, 4:06 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus continues to decrease. The state reported 175 current hospitalizations today.
There are 1,150 new cases, with 747 of them from Wednesday, and active infections are at 6,064.
Another four Granite Staters have died from COVID-19, according to state health officials. They were residents of Hillsborough (2), Rockingham, and Strafford counties.
The state has recorded 2,288 virus-related deaths.
— NHPR Staff
Jobless claims fall again for third straight week
Update: Thursday, Feb. 10, 10:54 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits for the third straight week. Jobless claims fell by 16,000 to 223,000 last week, from 239,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell slightly after rising for five straight weeks as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread, disrupting business in many parts of the U.S.
Last week, the Labor Department reported a surprising burst of hiring in January, with employers adding 467,000 jobs.
— Associated Press
Free N95 masks begin to arrive in N.H.
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 9, 6:27 pm.
Late last month, the Biden administration announced it would send N95 masks to pharmacies and health centers across the country to distribute for free.
The program is still rolling out here in New Hampshire, with some participating pharmacies awaiting their shipments.
The free masks are coming to many of the same pharmacies that offer COVID-19 vaccines, like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens.
Only two Walgreens in the state have received the masks, both of which are in Manchester. That’s according to a company list, which a Walgreens spokesperson says is frequently updated.
Pharmacies that do have the free masks in stock are giving out three per customer. The N95 masks provide more protection against COVID-19 than cloth masks do.
Only two health centers in the state were selected to participate in the first round of the program. One of them is Coos County Family Health Services.
CEO Ken Gordon says they haven’t gotten the 20,000 masks they ordered.
When the masks arrive, Gordon plans to distribute them throughout the community.
“We hope to distribute them to senior apartment complexes, at the library, and to schools,” Gordon said.
Other health centers have ordered the masks too, but are still not sure when they will arrive.
—Alli Fam, NHPR
14 deaths, 786 new cases
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 9, 3:15 p.m.
Gov. Chris Sununu says New Hampshire, along with Vermont, has the lowest COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the country.
“This is not a victory by any means, but we are definitely trending in the right direction,” Sununu said at a news conference today in Concord.
The number of patients hospitalized with the virus is down to 181.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, reported 786 new cases and 5,818 active infections — and 14 new deaths. Only one of the deaths was connected to a long-term care facility or institutional setting, he said.
— NHPR Staff
Hospitalizations drop below 200
Update: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 4:19 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped below 200, and is now at 185.
The promising trend lines in Tuesday’s public health update continue with a notable drop in new cases: there were 307 new cases for Monday.
Active cases are down to 5,284 — though officials have noted, with the greater availability of at-home test kits, this number is less reliable.
The state did announce 10 additional COVID-19 deaths, with three of them occurring over two weeks ago, but were only just confirmed.
The deaths were residents of Carroll, Hillsborough (4), Merrimack (2), and Rockingham (3) counties.
Over the course of the pandemic, New Hampshire has now recorded 2,270 deaths and 284,567 coronavirus cases.
— Dan Tuohy, NHPR
14 deaths, 2,790 new cases
Update: Monday, Feb. 7, 4:06 p.m.
State health officials announced 14 additional COVID-19 deaths tonight, along with 2,790 new infections.
Of the new cases, 2,044 are from Feb. 4-6, and 994 of the overall new infections are residents under age 18.
There are 206 patients hospitalized with the virus, which is almost 40 fewer hospitalizations than on Feb. 4.
Current case numbers are also down notably, to 6,277.
The latest COVID deaths were residents of Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Coos, Hillsborough (6), Merrimack (2), Rockingham, and Strafford counties.
— NHPR Staff
Bubble life: China takes COVID sports routine to new extreme
Update: Monday, Feb. 7
BEIJING (AP) — Officially, the Beijing Olympics are taking place inside what organizers are calling “the enclosed compound activity area.”
That’s a fancy way of saying “a closed loop.” You probably know it better as “the bubble.” And bubbles are now part of the norm at major sporting events. The premise of this bubble is simple: Keep those who passed multiple tests just to get access to the Olympics in, keep the rest of the world and, hopefully, COVID-19 out.
It has worked for the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Grand Slam tennis events, college sports, the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics that took place last summer and so much more.
— Associated Press
Hospitalizations drop below 250
Update: Friday, Feb. 4, 3:34 p.m.
New Hampshire continues to record fewer patients hospitalized with the coronavirus. The latest tally shows 244 hospitalizations, a drop of 13 from a day earlier.
The state announced seven more COVID-19 deaths, 1,497 new infections, and 8,464 active infections.
The deaths are residents of Cheshire, Merrimack, Rockingham (3), and Strafford (2) counties.
— NHPR Staff
COVID falling in 49 of 50 states as deaths near 900,000
Update: Friday, Feb. 4, 1:01 p.m.
(AP) With the brutal omicron wave rapidly easing its grip, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in 49 of the 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000.
The number of lives lost to the pandemic in the U.S. stood at over 897,000 as of midday Friday, with deaths running at an average of more than 2,400 a day, back up to where they were last winter, when the vaccine drive was still getting started.
But new cases per day have tanked by almost a half-million nationwide since mid-January, the curve trending downward in every state but Maine.
— Associated Press
COVID tests now in stock at liquor stores
Update: Friday, Feb. 4, 8:59 a.m.
COVID-19 tests are now available at all N.H. state liquor stores.
Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Liquor Commission chairman Joseph Mollica announced that an initial round of 500,000 test kits are available at all 67 state Liquor & Wine outlet locations.
The state Executive Council approved spending $12 million last month to procure 1 million tests, which will be sold at cost at the state-run liquor stores.
The test kits are $11.29. Customers can purchase as many kits as they wish.
— NHPR Staff
New England College, Concord Hospital partner to address nursing shortage
Update: Thursday, Feb. 3, 4:30 p.m.
New England College is launching a new nursing program with Concord Hospital to help address the state’s long-standing nursing shortage.
The need for new staff has grown during the pandemic, said Robert Steigmeyer, president and CEO at Concord Hospital.
“We’re experiencing an unprecedented number of professionals that are leaving bedside nursing,” he said.
Some nurses are retiring early, while others are leaving the profession altogether, due to high levels of stress brought on by the pandemic.
Around 40 nursing students will enter the new program at New England College in the fall of 2022.
Once students begin their second year, they will work as licensed nursing assistants for Concord Hospital. The program will run three years, and students will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
The model is intended to help the hospital not only boost its staffing with student workers, but ideally, add new, experienced hires once students graduate the program. Still, there are no grantees students will stay in New Hampshire to work.
Students will be paid for their work at Concord Hospital, though they will still have to pay tuition costs.
— Alli Fam
7 deaths, 1,243 new cases
Update: Thursday, Feb. 3, 3:40 p.m.
Seven additional residents have died from COVID-19, the state announced Thursday.
The latest public health numbers offer some promising news: the number of patients hospitalized with the virus has dropped again, by 21 people, to 257.
There were 1,243 new coronavirus cases and 9,312 active infections statewide.
The deaths announced Thursday are residents of Carroll, Hillsborough (5), and Strafford counties.
— NHPR Staff

Hospitalizations drop again
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 2, 4:45 p.m.
The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus dropped again, now down to 278, as of Wednesday morning.
State health officials reported 1,394 new infections and 9,204 active infections.Nine additional residents have died from COVID-19. They are residents of Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough (2), Rockingham, Strafford (3), and Sullivan counties.
— NHPR Staff
EXPLAINER: COVID vaccines for kids under 5: What’s next?
Update: Wednesday, Feb. 2, 1:20 p.m.
(AP) COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 may be available in the U.S. as early as March, but there are several hurdles still to clear.
Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years.
The FDA will review the application and convene a panel of outside advisers in mid-February to debate the data.
The FDA will use that advice in deciding whether the new doses are safe and effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will then gather its own expert panel to help decide if the shots should be recommended for this age group.
— Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer
10 deaths, hospitalizations drop below 300
Update: Tuesday, Feb. 1
The state announced 10 additional COVID-19 deaths, along with four deaths from over the past two months that were recently confirmed to be linked to the coronavirus.
Hospitalizations dropped again to 292 patients.
There are 9,104 active infections statewide. Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 277,355 coronavirus cases.
— NHPR Staff
4 additional COVID-19 deaths
Update: Monday, Jan. 31, 5:01 p.m.
State health officials today announced four additional coronavirus deaths and another 4,410 cases — 3,271 of the new cases come from Friday to Sunday.
Of the new cases, 1,223 are individuals under 18 years old.
There are 10,436 active cases and 303 hospitalizations — there are 60 fewer patients from Jan. 27.
New Hampshire has confirmed 276,856 positive results since the pandemic began.
— NHPR Staff
Moderna lands full OK for COVID-19 vaccine
Update: Monday, Jan. 31, 12:06 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Moderna says U.S. health regulators have given full approval to its COVID-19 vaccine after reviewing additional data on its safety and effectiveness.
The decision Monday by the Food and Drug Administration comes after many tens of millions of Americans have already received the shot under its original emergency authorization.
Full approval means FDA has completed the same rigorous, time-consuming review for Moderna’s shot as dozens of other long-established vaccines.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine received full approval last summer. Public health advocates initially hoped the distinction would boost public confidence in the shots.
But there was no discernable bump in vaccinations after the Pfizer decision.
— Associated Press
Impending blizzard prompts closures
Update: Friday, Jan. 28, 1:50 p.m.
The winter storm and blizzard warnings for New Hampshire has prompted the state to close its fixed vaccination and testing sites on Saturday.
They will reopen Sunday.
See COVID19.nh.gov for more information

FDA stops ineffective antibody treatment amid omicron
Update: Jan. 27, 5:08 p.m.
This week, the FDA curbed the use of two monoclonal antibody treatments that are not effective against the omicron strain of COVID-19, which now accounts for 99 percent of cases in New England.
“It doesn’t affect our operations,” said Dr. Mark Pundt the Chief Medical Officer at ConvenientMD Urgent Care. “We made that change a number of weeks ago.”
Earlier this month, the state told all facilities to stop using therapies that are not effective against omicron. But the medications that are effective against omicron are in limited supply, and state officials expect that could continue until the summer. Pundt said so far, supply constraints have not had a significant impact on Convenient MD’s ability to meet scheduled appointments and demand.
The same has been true for Memorial Hospital in North Conway, said emergency preparedness coordinator Will Owen. Owen said in the past few weeks, demand for COVID treatments at Memorial Hospital has actually dropped.
But demand isn’t consistent across the state, Brian O’Hearn with Androscoggin Valley Hospital said. He expects that limited supply could soon mean his staff have to be more frugal with medications to ensure they are going to those most at risk for progression of a severe case of the virus.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
20 deaths, 2,274 new cases
Update: Thursday, Jan. 27, 4:21 p.m.
Twenty additional residents have died from COVID-19, state health officials report tonight.
Of the 20, three were younger than 60, with the remainder 60 or older.
There are 2,274 new cases, 14,542 active infections, and 387 hospitalizations.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Hampshire has recorded 270,063 positive cases of coronavirus, and 2,193 related deaths.
The deaths announced Thursday are residents of Belknap (1), Carroll (2), Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough (8), Merrimack (2), Rockingham (4), and Sullivan counties.
— NHPR Staff
FEMA OKs deployment of paramedics
Update: Thursday, Jan. 27, 11:19 a.m.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved New Hampshire’s request to extend deployment of 30 paramedics as part of the state’s response to COVID-19, Gov. Chris Sununu says.
The deployment is extended another two weeks, from Feb. 2 to Feb. 16. According to the governor, the paramedics are assigned based on current hospital staffing:

— Dan Tuohy, NHPR
NH opening more vaccination sites
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 26, 3:21 p.m.
The state will be opening additional vaccination sites, including new fixed locations in Keene and Manchester.
There are now about a dozen vaccination sites, where no appointment is needed, and they’re staffed by ConvenientMD or On-Site Medical Services.
3 deaths, 1,023 new cases
Dr. Benjamin Chan on Wednesday announced three additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,023 new cases. Other numbers reported include:

— NHPR Staff
Alongside Vermouth and Hennessy, COVID-19 rapid tests to be sold at N.H. liquor stores
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 2:05 p.m.
Maybe you’ve found yourself asking: Can I get that Covid test, can I get that Henny?
At New Hampshire state-owned liquor stores, you’ll be able to do both. The Executive Council voted unanimously Wednesday to use $12 million dollars in federal money to buy one million at-home COVID-19 rapid tests, which will be sold to the public at government-owned liquor stores.
The antigen tests will be ordered later this week, and are expected to hit shelves usually populated with bottles of Sancerre and single malts by the middle of February.
“You may pick one up when you go to get a bottle of wine, to have it in your medicine cabinet,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette told the council, which voted unanimously to approve the purchase.
The money comes from American Rescue Plan Funds.
According to documents associated with the purchase, the state-run liquor stores will sell the rapid tests at cost, plus a $1.50 fee per case to cover the cost of storage and the addition of bar codes.
-Todd Bookman, NHPR
COVID-19 vaccine booster drive is faltering in the US
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 26, 11:22 a.m.
(AP) — The COVID-19 booster drive in the U.S. is losing steam, worrying health experts who have pleaded with Americans to get an extra shot to shore up their protection against the highly contagious omicron variant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 40% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.
And the average number of booster shots dispensed per day in the U.S. has plummeted from a peak of 1 million in early December to about 490,000 as of last week.
— Associated Press
25 additional COVID deaths
Update: Tuesday, Jan. 25, 5:54 p.m.
The state has announced 25 additional COVID-19 deaths.
There are 724 new cases to report from Monday, and another 136 new cases from over the past week. Other numbers released tonight include:

Five of the 25 deaths reported today occurred more than two weeks ago, but were newly confirmed to be related to the coronavirus. The latest deaths are residents of Belknap (2), Carroll (3), Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough (3), Merrimack (6), Rockingham (6), Strafford (2), and Sullivan counties.
— NHPR Staff
COVID cases up dramatically among children in state custody
Update: Tuesday, Jan. 26, 11:30 a.m.
The number of New Hampshire children in state custody testing positive for COVID-19 increased dramatically this month.
Approximately 300 kids in New Hampshire are in the state’s custody in residential facilities or at the Sununu Youth Services Center.
In January 2022, the state received reports of positive COVID cases for about a third of these children. That’s exponentially higher than in most of 2021, when positive cases were hovering between zero and 20. It’s also significantly higher than the rate of community transmission in New Hampshire, even during the omicron surge.
The state’s Office of the Child Advocate says some of the positive cases are among youth in facilities outside of New Hampshire. In some cases, children who test positive are quarantining in their rooms, unable to attend classes or activities. The office says the high transmission is likely due in part to staff coming to and from the facilities on a daily basis.
—Sarah Gibson, NHPR
Note: The number of children in the state’s custody has been corrected. 
Survey: At least 29% of Granite Staters have tested positive
Update: Tuesday, Jan. 25, 12:01 p.m.
A new poll finds 29% of New Hampshire residents say they tested positive for coronavirus at least once since the start of the pandemic.
And 13% responded that they tested positive in the past month, according to the Granite State Poll from the UNH Survey Center. The findings were released today.
— Dan Tuohy, NHPR
10 more deaths, new cases spike over weekend
Update: Monday, Jan. 24, 4:57 p.m.
The state today reported 6,196 new coronavirus infections over the past three days, along with another 1,075 cases from the previous week.
Of the new cases, 1,924 are individuals under 18 years old, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The estimated number of known active infections dropped to 15,641. There are 411 patients hospitalized with the virus.
An additional 10 Granite Staters have died as a result of COVID-19. The state said the residents who died were from Carroll, Coos, Hillsborough (2), Merrimack (2), Rockingham (2), and Strafford (2) counties.
To date, New Hampshire has recorded 2,145 COVID deaths.
— NHPR Staff
12 deaths, 3,045 new cases
Update: Friday, Jan. 21, 3:45 p.m.
State health officials announced 12 additional COVID-19 deaths and 3,045 new coronavirus cases today.
There are 18,462 active infections and 393 patients hospitalized with the virus.
Of the new cases, 906 are individuals under age 18.
The deaths Jan. 21 are residents of Carroll (2), Cheshire, Hillsborough (3), Merrimack (2), Rockingham (3), and Strafford counties.
— NHPR Staff
Booster shots needed against omicron, CDC studies show
(AP) — Three new U.S. studies offer more evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are standing up to the omicron variant, at least among people who have gotten booster shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the studies Friday. The results echo previous research — including studies in Germany, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
They found available vaccines are less effective against omicron than they were against earlier versions of the coronavirus. One of the papers found that two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offered no significant protection against omicron. Several studies have concluded a booster can significantly improve protection.
— Associated Press
14 deaths, 3,190 new cases
Update: Thursday, Jan. 20, 4:06 p.m.
More than a quarter of a million residents of New Hampshire have now had the coronavirus, according to the latest public health numbers.
The state continues to report high daily new infections. Another 3,190 were announced Thursday, with 2,461 of those from Wednesday alone.
Fourteen additional Granite Staters have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of virus-related deaths to 2,123.
There are 20,026 active infections and 411 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.
— Dan Tuohy, NHPR
State adds fixed vaccination sites
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 19, 4:52 pm.
As the omicron surge continues in New Hampshire, the state is adding more walk-in fixed COVID vaccination sites.
A new location opened Wednesday in Stratham, next door to the Tailgate Tavern. New sites are also coming in Keene, Concord, Nashua, Manchester and Salem. They will be open for boosters as well as first doses.
The vaccine is also available at hundreds of other locations across the state, like pharmacies and community clinics. Governor Chris Sununu stressed the importance of getting booster shots, as the latest strain of the virus spreads quickly across the state, even in vaccinated people.
“It really makes all the difference in the world of getting back to school or work quickly or being laid up for weeks and weeks on end,” Sununu said.
Around 68 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated according to CDC data. Roughly half of those who have been vaccinated are also boosted, according to NHPR estimates.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
24 deaths, 595 new cases
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 19, 3:44 pm.
Dr. Benjamin Chan announced 24 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday. The state epidemiologist says New Hampshire is averaging three deaths a day; the overall deaths since the start of the pandemic is now 2,109.
Other COVID numbers Jan. 19 include:

The deaths reported are residents from: Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire (4), Hillsborough (4), Merrimack (5), Rockingham (6), and Strafford (3) counties.
— NHPR Staff
US begins offering 1B free COVID tests, but many more needed
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2:01 p.m.
(AP) For the first time, people across the U.S. can log on to a government website and order free, at-home COVID-19 tests.
But the White House push may do little to ease the omicron surge, and experts say Washington will have to do a lot more to fix the country’s long-troubled testing system.
The website, COVIDTests.gov, allows people to order four at-home tests per household and have them delivered by mail. But the tests won’t arrive for seven to 12 days, after omicron is expected to peak in many parts of the country.
— Associated Press
6 deaths, surge in new cases
Update: Jan. 18
Six additional residents have died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total virus-related deaths to 2,085.
State health officials announced 12,997 new cases from Friday through Monday, with another 1,413 cases reported from last week.
There are 20,045 active infections and 409 current hospitalizations. three of the six deaths reported Tuesday were from two weeks ago, and only just reported.
— NHPR Staff

COVID deaths and cases are rising again at U.S. nursing homes
Update: Jan. 17
(AP) COVID-19 infections are soaring again at U.S. nursing homes because of the omicron wave, and deaths are climbing too.
That’s leading to new restrictions on family visits and a renewed push to get more residents and staff members vaccinated and boosted. Nursing homes were the lethal epicenter of the pandemic early on, before the advent of the vaccines allowed many of them to reopen and welcome visitors again.
Now the highly contagious variant has dealt them a setback. Nursing homes reported about 32,000 COVID-19 cases among residents in the week ending Jan. 9, a nearly sevenfold increase from about a month ago. A total of 645 COVID-19-related deaths were reported during the same week, a 47% increase from a month earlier.
— Associated Press
28 additional deaths reported
Update: Friday, Jan. 14, 3:28 p.m.
There were 28 additional COVID-19 deaths announced Friday, bringing New Hampshire’s pandemic-related death toll to 2,079.
State health officials reported 2,374 new cases, with 2,177 of those from Thursday, Jan. 13. Of the new cases, 502 were individuals under 18 years old.
There are 426 patients hospitalized with the virus, and 21,291 active infections.
The deaths reported were residents of Belknap (3), Cheshire (2), Grafton (2), Hillsborough (7), Merrimack (5), and Rockingham (9) counties.
— NHPR Staff
4 fixed testing sites to close due to cold
NH health officials say the state’s four fixed testing sites will close Saturday, Jan. 15, due to extreme cold weather. They are expected to reopen Sunday at 9 a.m.
The sites are in Claremont at the River Valley Community College, Manchester at the JFK Coliseum, in Nashua at 25 Crown St., and in Newington at the Fox Run Mall.
Find a PCR test near you
Find Rapid antigen testing locations
— NHPR Staff
19 more COVID deaths as new cases surge
Update: Thursday, Jan. 13, 4:46 pm.
The state reported more than 3,800 new coronavirus cases today, as health officials track the winter surge.
Nineteen additional COVID-19 deaths were also announced.
There are currently 432 patients hospitalized with the virus, and 22,750 active cases statewide.
The new deaths are residents from Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Hillsborough (7), Merrimack, Rockingham (4), Strafford (3), and Sullivan counties.
– NHPR Staff
Health officials update guidance
Update: Thursday, Jan. 13, 9:51 a.m.
The rise in omicron cases has led state health officials to update their guidance for facilities that give COVID-19 treatments, like monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills.
The new guidance tells facilities to prioritize treatments that are more effective against omicron, and not to use the less effective ones.
But, the treatments effective against omicron, some of which are new, are in short supply. That means health care facilities may have to place more limits on who gets the treatment to those who are at the highest risk of developing a severe COVID case.
Dr. Michael McLeod, associate chief clinical officer at Concord Hospital, says the hospital is sorting through a set of criteria to help determine eligibility.
“You do have to put, you know, maybe a 35-year-old person who’s overweight and that’s their only risk factor up against perhaps the 75 year old who’s immunocompromised with diabetes and hypertension. So, you know, you really do need to look at that clinically.”
McLeod says race and ethnicity is not a factor the hospital plans to use to determine eligibility.
READ MORE
— Alli Fam, NHPR
Increase in COVID patients, active cases
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 12, 3:46 p.m.
Current hospitalizations are up again as New Hampshire deals with the omicron coronavirus surge.
There are now 415 patients hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 26 from a day earlier.
State health officials report 2,438 new cases, and New Hampshire is averaging about 2,500 new cases a day over the past week, said Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist.
Active infections are also up to 20,458.
Chan says the state is averaging nine to 10 deaths a day over the past week.
— NHPR Staff
Hospitals strategize on how to use limited supply of best treatments for omicron
Updated: 2:20 p.m. Jan. 12
The rise in omicron cases has led state health officials to update their guidance for facilities that give COVID-19 treatments, like monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills.
The new guidance tells facilities to prioritize treatments that are more effective against omicron, and not to use the less effective ones.
But, the treatments effective against omicron, some of which are new, are in short supply. That means health care facilities may have to place more limits on who gets the treatment to those who are at the highest risk of developing a severe COVID case.
Dr. Michael McLeod, associate chief clinical officer at Concord Hospital says the hospital is sorting through a set of criteria to help determine eligibility.
“You do have to put, you know, maybe a 35-year-old person who’s overweight and that’s their only risk factor up against perhaps the 75-year-old who’s immunocompromised with diabetes and hypertension. So, you know, you really do need to look at that clinically,” he said.
McLeod says race and ethnicity is not a factor the hospital plans to use to determine eligibility.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
“Strike teams” arrive at state nursing homes
Updated: 5:52 p.m. Jan. 11
The first of the state’s so-called “strike teams” have arrived at several New Hampshire nursing homes.
The “strike teams” are effectively short-term healthcare workers paid for with American Rescue plan money.
Funding approved for the out-of-state staff by lawmakers last month totaled $6,000,000, with staff estimated to cost $200-300 per hour. The figure does include administrative costs and expenses like housing. Traveling staff typically make much higher wages than their local coworkers.
The state’s turn to traveling staff comes as nursing homes across New Hampshire face staffing shortages that have pushed them to reduce the number of patients they care for. The drop in patient admissions have meant hospitals are struggling to discharge patients who are ready to leave.
Premier Rehab and Healthcare in Nashua received several traveling staff last week, according to Carolyn Moran, a nurse and director of clinical services at the facility. With the addition of the new staff, Moran said the facility has been able to admit “more patients from the hospitals that we normally admit from.”
Moran said she is working with New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services, which is helping bring in the traveling staff to her facility. While this staffing partnership with the state is new, Moran says the facility has used traveling staff in the past.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
Number of daily new COVID cases goes up
Updated: 5:35 p.m. January 10
New Hampshire is averaging over 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s more than double the number the state was seeing two weeks ago.
All of the state is experiencing high levels of community transmission, which means indoor masking is recommended by the CDC.
The four state run outdoor COVID testing sites, at River Valley Community College in Claremont, the JFK Colosseum in Manchester, St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, and the Fox Run Mall in Newington will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan 11, due to the extreme cold.
Alli Fam, NHPR
The second round of COVID antiviral pills is on the way
Updated: 4:45 p.m. January 10
New Hampshire is imminently awaiting its second round of COVID-19 antiviral treatment pills, says a spokesperson for the state health department.
The first round of the pills, which treat COVID-19 and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from the virus, came at the end of December. In that round, Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, went to eight New Hampshire Hospitals. No hospital received more than 40 doses.
The pill, which is in very limited supply, is only for those at high risk for a severe case of COVID-19. Another antiviral pill, Molnupiravir, made by Merck, is at a few pharmacies that work with skilled nursing facilities.
-Alli Fam, NHPR
House members notified about potential exposure
Updated: Monday, Jan. 10, 6:00 a.m.
Members of the New Hampshire House were notified this weekend that two people at last week’s House session tested positive for COVID-19.
In a Sunday email to legislators obtained by NHPR, officials said close contacts to the two people were notified separately.
The meeting took place in person at a Manchester hotel’s expo center. All House members received at-home COVID tests ahead of the session but were under no obligation to take them, or report results.
Members were asked to stay home in case of a positive test or any symptoms of illness.
-NHPR Staff
Record high active cases
Update: Friday, Jan. 7, 5:20 p.m.
New Hampshire reported a record high number of active coronavirus cases on Friday, Jan. 7. Amid the omicron surge, there are 15,340 current cases of COVID-19.
The state announced two additional deaths; residents of Cheshire and Rockingham counties.
There are 2,633 new cases, with 651 of them individuals under 18 years old, and 366 current hospitalizations.
– NHPR Staff
N.H. adopts new CDC guidelines on COVID quarantine. What does that look like?
Under the updated New Hampshire guidance, people who test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to a person in their household who tests positive should quarantine or isolate for five days, rather than the previously recommended 10-day period.
No quarantine is required for those who are exposed to COVID but who are up to date on all their COVID-19 shots. That includes people over the age of 18 who have received a full round of COVID vaccines as well as a booster shot, if eligible. Testing on day five is still recommended for all exposed people regardless of vaccination status.
READ MORE from NHPR’s Alli Fam
New cases surging
Update: Jan. 6, 3:21 p.m.
State epidemiologist Benjamin Chan announced four additional COVID-19 deaths and 2,184 new coronavirus cases today.
Over the past week, New Hampshire has averaged 1,500 new cases per day. The test positivity rate is now 20%.
Hospitalizations dropped 10 to 359.
With the greater use of at-home COVID tests, the number of active cases is rising notably. There are nearly 15,000 active infections, as of 9 a.m. Jan. 6.
Gov. Chris Sununu is activating another 100 members of the N.H. National Guard to help local and state health care facilities deal with the pandemic.
— NHPR Staff

NH adopting CDC guidance
Update: Jan. 5, 6:10 p.m.
New Hampshire health officials say they are adopting the CDC’s new guidance on shortened quarantine requirements for people who have tested positive for or been exposed to COVID-19.
In December, the CDC shortened its isolation and quarantine times from 10 days to five. It says people who develop symptoms after exposure should get tested immediately and those without symptoms should get tested five days after exposure.
State epidemiologist Benjamin Chan says the state will incorporate this into its guidance for the general public and K-12 schools. The final decision on quarantine protocols, however, will remain up to individual school districts.
The update does not apply to health care facilities and congregant living facilities like nursing homes and jails. The CDC is expected to clarify guidance for those settings and for colleges and universities later this month.
— Sarah Gibson, NHPR
Active infections swell
Update: Jan. 5, 4:22 p.m.
State health officials report 12,149 active coronavirus infections tonight, which is around 3,000 more than a day earlier.
The latest public health update shows 3,149 new cases, with 1,854 of them from Tuesday, and 369 patients hospitalized with the virus.
Nine additional COVID-19 deaths were announced. They are residents of Rockingham (7), Cheshire, and Coos counties.
— NHPR Staff
Things seem grim now. But America’s COVID situation could get better in 6-8 weeks
Explore the Data: Tracking COVID-19 in New Hampshire
31 more COVID-19 deaths
Update: Jan. 4, 4:11 p.m.
Thirty-one additional residents have died from COVID-19, as New Hampshire crossed 2,000 deaths since the pandemic began
Dr. Thomas Lydon works at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, where two deaths from the virus happened overnight.
“There are eight patients in the ICU who are on ventilators which, when I called this morning, was great because we had 10 yesterday … but I learned two people died overnight, so that is just horrible,” Lydon said.
Lydon says at Wentworth-Douglass, COVID-19 hospitalizations have started rising again after falling before holidays.
State health officials on Tuesday reported 1,147 new coronavirus cases, 9,177 active infections, and 381 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.
The deaths are residents from Belknap (3), Carroll (2), Cheshire (3), Grafton, Hillsborough (13), Merrimack (2), Rockingham (4), Strafford (2), and Sullivan counties. Four of the deaths occurred more than two weeks ago, but were just confirmed
Eleven of the deaths were residents under 60 years old.
To date, New Hampshire has recorded 2,004 COVID-19 deaths.
— Alli Fam, NHPR
FDA authorizes a Pfizer booster shot for kids ages 12 to 15
Update: Jan. 3 6:07 p.m.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of a Pfizer-BioNTech booster in adolescents 12 to 15 years old.
The agency on Monday also shortened the time between the completion of primary vaccination of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose to five months from six.
Finally, the FDA allowed for a third dose of vaccine in immunocompromised children 5 to 11 years of age.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, must still weigh in with a recommendation on the FDA’s announcement before the changes can take effect.
READ MORE from NPR

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