As COVID-19 cases rise in New Hampshire, health officials say testing key to controlling spread

As COVID-19 cases rise in New Hampshire, health officials say testing key to controlling spread

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in New Hampshire, but some residents say they’re still confused by guidelines for testing.New Hampshire is averaging more than 500 reported new cases each day, the most since Valentine’s Day. But the number of hospital patients with COVID-19 is lower than it was at the end of last week. Still, many health care facilities say workers are experiencing burnout, partly because of staff shortages.”There are a number of folks who have really been working throughout the pandemic and really giving it their all and working through multiple waves of COVID. So, putting in long hours, being at the bedside or regardless of role, I think the burnout can be impacting any position throughout any healthcare organization,” said Kerry Ann Hayon, the Vice President for the integrated medical group at St. Joseph Hospital.Rapid COVID-19 tests are now widely available, including at New Hampshire state liquor stores. But at this point of the pandemic, many say they’re still confused about when to test and have concerns about the tests’ accuracy. “Testing resources and testing recommendations have always been a source of confusion for people in general,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist.Even doctors say it’s hard to keep track of testing recommendations as strategies continue to change. While PCR tests remain the gold standard for accuracy, Chan said rapid tests are also quite accurate as long as they’re taken at the right time.”We recommend that somebody seek out testing maybe around day five or so after a known exposure to identify that infection early,” Chan said.He said anyone showing symptoms should take a rapid test immediately. Case numbers are surging across the state, but hospitalizations remain relatively low compared to previous spikes, such as in January when a record high of 433 patients tested positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, some are still concerned about the ongoing threat.”Yes, I am concerned about it, because it’s airborne,” said Lloyd Coleman, of Manchester. “You have to get it done, and people are not going to say, ‘Oh, I have COVID.'”Doctors said this surge is likely to be different than the last one. “From the increase we’ve seen in the last several weeks, this will likely be a more limited increase and of shorter duration, potentially, than what we saw in the past,” Chan said.Trying to control the spread of the virus is still key, doctors said.”We need to stop the transmissions,” said Dr. Jose Mercado, COVID-19 response leader for Dartmouth Health. “That is what will stop more variants from coming out.” Chan said the omicron BA.2 subvariant is still the most prominent strain, and while doctors agree the current surge likely will be less severe, they’re still hoping people take it seriously.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in New Hampshire, but some residents say they’re still confused by guidelines for testing.

New Hampshire is averaging more than 500 reported new cases each day, the most since Valentine’s Day. But the number of hospital patients with COVID-19 is lower than it was at the end of last week. Still, many health care facilities say workers are experiencing burnout, partly because of staff shortages.

“There are a number of folks who have really been working throughout the pandemic and really giving it their all and working through multiple waves of COVID. So, putting in long hours, being at the bedside or regardless of role, I think the burnout can be impacting any position throughout any healthcare organization,” said Kerry Ann Hayon, the Vice President for the integrated medical group at St. Joseph Hospital.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are now widely available, including at New Hampshire state liquor stores. But at this point of the pandemic, many say they’re still confused about when to test and have concerns about the tests’ accuracy.

“Testing resources and testing recommendations have always been a source of confusion for people in general,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist.

Even doctors say it’s hard to keep track of testing recommendations as strategies continue to change. While PCR tests remain the gold standard for accuracy, Chan said rapid tests are also quite accurate as long as they’re taken at the right time.

“We recommend that somebody seek out testing maybe around day five or so after a known exposure to identify that infection early,” Chan said.

He said anyone showing symptoms should take a rapid test immediately.

Case numbers are surging across the state, but hospitalizations remain relatively low compared to previous spikes, such as in January when a record high of 433 patients tested positive for COVID-19.

Nevertheless, some are still concerned about the ongoing threat.

“Yes, I am concerned about it, because it’s airborne,” said Lloyd Coleman, of Manchester. “You have to get it done, and people are not going to say, ‘Oh, I have COVID.'”

Doctors said this surge is likely to be different than the last one.

“From the increase we’ve seen in the last several weeks, this will likely be a more limited increase and of shorter duration, potentially, than what we saw in the past,” Chan said.

Trying to control the spread of the virus is still key, doctors said.

“We need to stop the transmissions,” said Dr. Jose Mercado, COVID-19 response leader for Dartmouth Health. “That is what will stop more variants from coming out.”

Chan said the omicron BA.2 subvariant is still the most prominent strain, and while doctors agree the current surge likely will be less severe, they’re still hoping people take it seriously.

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