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One year ago, New Hampshire had about 40 people in the hospital with COVID-19. As I write this, there are 144 people in the hospital with the disease, including 19 at Concord Hospital.
Not only is our current statewide hospitalization number much higher than last fall, it’s higher than it was during the surge in April. We’re still well below the January peak of 334 but hospitalizations are continuing to increase and it’s not obvious when that will stop.
(By the way, I wrote “almost” because a year ago the state was reporting a large number of suspected but not confirmed cases. That category has largely disappeared as we have ramped up testing.)
Despite this trend, New Hampshire’s health care system remains in good shape compared to the disasters of Florida and Texas, where people have died because ICUs are full of COVID patients and can’t take them. You can thank our relatively high vaccination rate for keeping the Delta variant somewhat at bay.
Statewide data shows 11% of our ICU beds and 16% of all hospital beds are still available, and more than three-quarters of ventilators are also available.
The bed numbers are a little tight – a year ago we had 17% of ICU beds and 24% of all hospital beds available – and some hospitals are close to running up against shortages, partly because health care workers are leaving due to burnout. And who can blame them?
As for Concord Hospital, it had reported 19 COVID-19 patients on Friday. Four of them are in its 20-bed ICU and, in case you’re wondering, 15 of the 19 are unvaccinated, according to the hospital.
Overall, 18 of Concord Hospital’s 20 ICU beds are filled at the moment, which is right at the state average.
For the moment, then, our health care situation seems quite manageable.
A worrying point is that more than a fifth of new cases reported this month have been among children under the age of 18.
That’s presumably a reflection of the return to college and school, as well as the fact that just 36% of the 12-to-19 age group is fully vaccinated. That’s the lowest vaccine percentage of any age group – all groups above age 30 are at least 50% vaccinated and people in their 70s are at 86%.
The lack of a vaccine for children under 12 remains a serious problem, although Pfizer says that it could have a vaccine for 5-to-12-year-olds available very soon.
What does all this mean? Oh, you know already: the pandemic is still here and as adults we need to act appropriately.
Get vaccinated, of course, and if you’re around strangers make sure you meet two of the three variables: At least six feet away; outdoors; masked.
Indoors with people nearby? Wear a mask. Outdoors and strangers aren’t close? Be Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and tear off that mask! Outdoors but standing in a mob trying to get tickets to The Best of Science Cafe? Keep the mask on.
For coronavirus-related information and updates throughout the week, visit concordmonitor.com/coronavirus.
(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or email@example.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)