CONCORD, NH — Part of the reason for the increase in new positive test results of COVID-19 in New Hampshire is due to youth hockey and indoor skating, according to health officials.
At the state's weekly news conference Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu announced a pause in all hockey and skating activities for two weeks, in an effort to work with rink owners, hockey orgs, and officials, to put additional safeguards in place, and have all of those participants tested.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state's epidemiologist, called hockey "high-risk" and said officials had seen "an expansion" in positive cases connected to the players being exposed.
During the past two months, Chan said 158 positive COVID-19 test results were connected to 23 different ice hockey teams and orgs in New Hampshire — including 117 people associated with eight different outbreaks, according to contact tracing. The other 41 people were connected to outbreaks but were connected to youth hockey and indoor skating, Chan said. He added some were connected to out-of-state players and coaches who were infected, too.
All the infected players led to exposure in other places — like long-term care facilities, schools, businesses, and social gatherings around the state, Chan said. Twenty-four different schools in New Hampshire have school cases directly connected to hockey teams or orgs, he said.
There has not been COVID-19 spread in other sports though, Chan added.
Another reason for the increase in cases around the state, officials believe, is a loosening of personal behavior, specifically, not social distancing or wearing face coverings as well as expanded testing which is finding more asymptomatic people. Officials are not seeing a connection between the increasing positive test results and students physically attending school.
5 More Deaths
State health officials announced that five more people — three women and two men have died due to or related to COVID-19.
Four were connected to long-term care facilities. Two women and two men lived in Hillsborough County while one woman lived in Rockingham County.
Four were 80 years of age or older and one was between 70 and 79 years old.
According to the updated data dashboard, 81.2 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state were connected to long-term care settings with 87.9 percent of deaths being 70 years of age or older. Only eight people under the age of 50 have died from the virus.
Their deaths bring the fatality count to 463 in New Hampshire.
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82 New Positive Test Results
Another 82 people contracted COVID-19 during the past 24 hours including 13 children.
More than two-thirds of the cases were discovered via polymerase chain reaction tests and the others were antigen tests after 6,526 specimens were collected Wednesday. Tuesday's test numbers were increased to 9,027. About 441 tests are pending for a 1.1 percent positivity rate.
About 60 percent of the new cases were male. Of the new cases, 26 reside in Rockingham County, 12 lives in Hillsborough County outside of Manchester and Nashua, 10 live in Merrimack County, and eight live in Nashua.
Nashua still has the most active cases in the state — 110.
The increases in cases in Rockingham County have led Derry, Londonderry, and Salem to report more than 20 active cases in each of their communities.
Eighteen people are hospitalized while three of the new cases had no identified risk factors. The other 79 cases had traveled, had close contact with an infected person, or were associated with an outbreak.
Nearly 9,500 people have contracted COVID-19 since March with more than 8,100 recovering from the virus. More than 303,000 people have been tested for the virus via PCR — or 20.2 percent of the state's population.
About 3,800 Granite Staters are under public health monitoring.
4 Institutions Have Outbreaks
There are currently four long-term care institutions with outbreaks in the state.
Pine Rock Manor in Warner has reported 35 positive residents and eight staffers. The town of Warner, which has a little less than 3,000 residents, has 39 active cases. St. Teresa Rehab in Manchester has reported seven residents and two staffers that have tested positive. The Warde Health Center in Windham has three residents and two staffers who have tested positive. And Bedford Hills Center has 58 residents and 21 staffers who have tested positive. There have also been 13 deaths at the facility. According to the data dashboard, 88 residents are currently sick in Bedford.
New School Cases
A number of K-12 schools reported new positive test results.
The Allenstown Elementary School, which has two recovered cases, reported a new case; Bow Memorial School reported its first case; the Epping Elementary School reported two more new cases to its other active case and two recovered cases making it officially a cluster at the school; Franklin High School reported its second active case; The James Mastricola Elementary School in Merrimack reported its second active case.
New Hampshire currently has 79 active cases connected to students or teachers inside schools or involved in school activities.
Stop The Spread Of COVID-19
The COVID-19 virus is spread through respiratory droplets, usually through coughing and sneezing, and exposure to others who are sick or might be showing symptoms.
Health officials emphasize residents should follow these recommendations:
Avoid any domestic and international travel, especially on public transportation such as buses, trains, and airplanes.
Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet from other people, including distancing while in waiting areas or lines.
When you can't practice 6 feet of social distancing, wear a face covering.
Anyone who is told to self-quarantine and stay at home due to exposure to a person with confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 needs to stay home and not go out into public places.
If you are 60 years or older or have chronic and underlying health conditions, you need to stay home and not go out.
Avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
Employers should work from home as much as possible.
There is increasing evidence that the virus can survive for hours or possibly days on surfaces. People should clean frequently touched surfaces, including door handles, grocery carts and grocery basket handles, etc.
Take the same precautions as you would if you were sick:
Stay home and avoid public places.
Wear a face covering.
Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
Wash hands frequently.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Guidance to schools can be found can be found here.
Instructions for returning travelers to self-observe for symptoms of COVID-19 are available are available here.
For more information on COVID-19 in NH, visit its site here.
For the latest information from the CDC, visit its site here.
To access the state's COVID-19 data dashboard, click on this link here.
To access the state's COVID-19 Interactive Map Dashboard, click on this link here.
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