CONCORD — New Hampshire officials expect to see cases of the coronavirus peak in late April or early May, but are likely know more in the next week or so. In the meantime, state officials are looking to secure more ventilators, and Gov. Chris Sununu has decided it isn't yet necessary to order people to mostly stay at home.
A look at developments in New Hampshire:
EXPECTING THE SURGE
Coronavirus cases are expected to peak in New Hampshire sometime between the end of April and early May, the state’s health commissioner told the Executive Council on Wednesday.
“We’ll know and have more accurate numbers in the coming week or two on how much and when we expect that peak to be,” Commissioner Lori Shibinette said during the meeting, held by audio conference. “We’re watching numbers every day for that.”
Regarding personal protective equipment supplies, Shibinette said the state has a total of 1,000 ventilators or machines that can be converted to them and has ordered 45 more ventilators. She said the state also is going through its warehouse for equipment that could be resurrected.
Under normal circumstances, New Hampshire would rely on the Strategic National Stockpile for such supplies, she said.
"Tapping into the strategic national stockpile for everything we need has been challenging and we have not been able to get ventilators from them, so we have ordered some on the commercial market," Shibinette said.
Nearly 140 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Hampshire, with 19 of those people hospitalized. Nearly 30 new cases were announced Wednesday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.
New Hampshire Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli asked Sununu to issue an emergency order for residents to stay home as the state deals with the coronavirus, noting many of her constituents have called for that.
Pignatelli, a Democrat, said to her, such an order “closes nonessential businesses, and prohibits their employees from leaving their homes to work,” yet is not a complete lockdown. “You shouldn’t go to the hair or nail salon, you shouldn’t do things like leave town,” she said.
Separately, 200 Democratic House lawmakers in the state sent Sununu a letter Wednesday imploring him to issue an order requiring citizens to stay home and nonessential businesses to close.
Sununu, a Republican, said the majority of those types of businesses in the state have closed voluntarily and that other major steps taken — remote learning, a ban on gatherings of over 10 people, and restaurants only offering takeout — puts New Hampshire on the right path and in line with the region.
He noted that Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, ordered in-person operations of non-essential businesses to close and Vermonters to stay home to help prevent the spreads of the coronavirus.
“They have about half our population and the same number of identified cases, and we’ve tested a lot more than they have, so they have quite an issue,” Sununu said. He said the state could potentially take more steps, as necessary.
LIQUOR CURBSIDE PICKUP?
Sununu said Wednesday that state officials are exploring the option of offering curbside pickup at New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said the details were still being worked out.
Restaurants and other businesses are offering drive-by services and curbside pickup services.
SCHOOL BUS WI-FI
At least one New Hampshire community has helped people needing to access the internet by using school buses as Wi-Fi hot spots.
Seacoastonline.com reports nine buses have been parked around Rochester to help with remote learning in the school district and accessing information. Signs taped on the inside of the buses’ windows provide the name of the secure network and password to access the hot spot. The signs also indicate the hot spots have a maximum range of about 300 feet.
Cable providers are providing free Wi-Fi hot spots across the country.