|Covid-19 update||As of Dec 27||As of Jan 3|
|Total cases statewide||194,470||203,749|
|Total current infections statewide||8,026||8,785|
|Total deaths statewide||1,907||1,973|
|New cases||7,792 (Dec. 21 to Dec. 27)||9,279 (Dec. 28 to Jan. 3)|
|Current infections: Hillsborough County||2,408||2,953|
|Current infections: Merrimack County||790||863|
|Current infections: Rockingham County||1,728||1,863|
On Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued a statement updating its recommended isolation period for certain populations that have been infected with or exposed to Covid-19. According to the statement, the recommended time has been cut from 10 days to five days, a change the CDC says was “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of … transmission occurs early in the course of illness.” Additionally, the CDC is now recommending those who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second vaccine dose and not yet boosted to quarantine for five days, followed by strict mask use for another five days.
The New Hampshire Hospital Association is now issuing its own daily Covid-19 update, according to a Dec. 28 report from WMUR. The data shows that about two-thirds of all Covid-related hospitalizations in the state are in unvaccinated patients, but the Association notes that the actual proportion could be higher. According to the report, booster doses are not taken into account, so it is unknown how many patients may have received that extra shot.
A total of 658 licenses were issued to nurses in New Hampshire between Dec. 1 and Dec. 20, according to a Dec. 29 press release from Gov. Chris Sununu’s office, following an executive order that was issued a month before to address surging Covid hospitalizations. “We are breaking down barriers to ensure our health care system has the staffing needed to respond to this winter surge,” Sununu said in a statement announcing the new licensees.
Also on Dec. 29, Sununu and Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced that the state has received confirmation from FEMA to receive three teams dedicated to administering monoclonal antibodies. The teams were scheduled to be deployed on Jan. 3 to Concord Hospital, Elliot Hospital in Manchester and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon. But due to an overwhelming demand across the country, Sununu announced in another statement that day that their arrival has been delayed until next week.
On Dec. 30, Sununu announced that New Hampshire would be receiving a 17-person team of active-duty service members from the federal Department of Defense. On Jan. 3, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, according to a press release. Additionally, the recommended time between the completion of the primary vaccination series and the administration of the booster dose has been shortened to five months for the Pfizer vaccine. In New Hampshire, signups are now available for the state’s second “booster blitz” event on Jan. 8. Go to covid19nh.gov/booster-blitz to make an appointment at a fixed vaccination site.
On Jan. 3, longtime Secretary of State William Gardner announced that he will be retiring in the coming days, after arrangements are made for Deputy David Scanlan to assume the office. In his announcement, Gardner wrote that he took his first oath as a New Hampshire Constitutional officer as a state representative on the same day in 1973 at age 24. “I have worked inside this Statehouse building during each of the past 50 years … [and] have served with 11 governors, 17 Senate presidents, 13 speakers, 14 attorney generals [and] 7 treasurers,” Gardner wrote. He said he is stepping down at a time that allows for the smoothest transition for the office.
A list of the names of police officers throughout the state who have possible credibility issues was released by the attorney general’s office last week. According to a report from WMUR, the “Laurie List” tracks current and former police officers whose credibility might be questioned during trial because of previous conduct, and it was made public because of a new state law that was put in effect after media outlets and the ACLU sued to get access to the list in 2018. “This legislation was a result of a 2020 Supreme Court decision ruling that the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule was not categorically exempt from disclosure under the State’s transparency laws,” the New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs wrote in a press release. The list released last week includes 80 names, the officers’ departments and the reason for the credibility issues, which include truthfulness, criminal conduct and falsifying records. There are more than 20 people not on the list who are contesting the release of their names, and another group of names is expected to be released in the coming months, according to WMUR. “The members of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police will continue to support the highest levels of transparency and accountability for the policing profession,” the association wrote in its press release.
Mental health help
The state’s new Rapid Response Access Point is now operational. As of Jan. 1, anyone having a mental health or substance abuse crisis can call or text 833-710-6477 to access immediate help and will be connected to local mental health crisis teams. According to a report from NHPR, the access point is an effort to reduce the number of people who go to emergency rooms for mental health crises. As of Dec. 30, two children and 23 adults were waiting for emergency room beds for psychiatric treatment, the report said. The unit teams are still looking for more staff, and Jay Couture, president and CEO of Seacoast Mental Health Center, told NHPR that because these mental health centers are launching crisis response units at the same time, they’re often competing for staff. “[I’m] a little daunted about the reality of trying to fill these spots and wanting to make sure that we continue to have the best services possible so that nobody falls through the cracks,” she told NHPR. More information and resources are available at NH988.com.
A provision prohibiting abortion after 24 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for the mother’s life or physical health, that was part of the budget passed in June by Gov. Chris Sununu took effect Jan. 1, and, according to a report from WMUR, Democrats have already drafted legislation that would repeal the new restrictions and establish state-level protection for abortion access. “Effective Jan. 1, the State of New Hampshire will be denying a woman the dignity to make personal, private decisions and instead inserting government into medical choices,” Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said at a December news conference, according to WMUR.
Tyler Shaw’s Law
Also going into effect Jan. 1 was Tyler Shaw’s Law, which will allow judges to hand down longer prison sentences to repeat drunken drivers who kill or cause harm to others. The law was named for a 20-year-old Concord man who died in 2018 after a repeat drunken driver sped off Exit 1 on Interstate 89 South, went through a stop sign and hit Shaw’s truck, according to a report from WMUR. Now someone with one previous drunken driving conviction who kills or seriously injures another person in a car crash can be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, and those with two or more previous convictions can be sentenced to 15 to 30 years, the report said.
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig was scheduled to take her third oath of office at The Palace Theatre on Jan. 4. According to a press release, the ceremony also included the swearing-in of aldermen and members of the Board of School Committee, and following the ceremony Craig was scheduled to preside over meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee.
Toll collection at the Exit 10 northbound and southbound ramp of the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack officially ended at 9 p.m. on Dec. 31. According to a press release, the toll elimination is part of the 2021 budget, and the plazas will be removed at a later date this year. Motorists are being guided to the far right lane and are advised to proceed slowly through the toll plaza area.
Though its fundraising events were canceled this year, the Nashua Garden Club was still able to donate to several local charities during the holiday season. According to a press release, the Humane Society of Greater Nashua, 68 Hours of Hunger, the PLUS Company and the educational association Regenerative Roots each received $125.