COVID-19: Ongoing outbreak reported among DHMC patients, staff

  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., on March 6, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Will Parson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2022 5:52:41 PM
Modified: 1/27/2022 5:55:45 PM

LEBANON — There is an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, state health officials said Thursday.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is working to determine the number of cases involved in the outbreak, said Jake Leon, a department spokesman.

“Due to the highly contagious omicron variant and the significant amount of community transmission occurring statewide, the state is experiencing outbreaks in many types of settings,” Leon said.

Dr. Michael Calderwood, DHMC’s chief quality officer, acknowledged that the hospital is seeing an “increased number” of COVID-19 cases among patients and employees on two floors of the 396-bed hospital in Lebanon.

Like Leon, Calderwood, in an emailed statement on Thursday, attributed the increase to the “extreme transmissibility of the omicron variant.”

He said hospital officials have conducted a comprehensive review of all patients and staff providing care for those patients, including setting up a dedicated testing clinic for them.

None of the affected patients “have required escalation of their care” and “appropriate” quarantine and isolation have been required for those who have been exposed or who have tested positive, he said.

In light of the presence of the highly transmissible omicron variant in the region, Calderwood urged people “to protect themselves, our patients, and our health care workforce by getting vaccinated, boosted and wearing masks in public settings.”

This is not the first time an Upper Valley hospital has seen transmission of the virus. Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor had a cluster of patients and staff test positive on one unit in December 2020.

Norwich extends mask mandate

NORWICH — The Norwich Selectboard extended the town’s temporary mask mandate, which requires that people wear masks inside public spaces, at its meeting on Wednesday.

In a 4-0 vote with one abstention, the board extended the mandate for 30 days, board chairman Roger Arnold said in a Thursday email. Board member Marcia Calloway abstained.

This was the same vote tally by which the board initially enacted the requirement last month.

Norwich is one of several Upper Valley communities that have such requirements in place.

One elementary school closes; another reopens

RANDOLPH — Randolph Elementary School was closed Thursday and will remain so on Friday, according to the superintendent.

The closure was necessary due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the school, Orange Southwest School District Superintendent Layne Millington said in a Wednesday evening message to families.

“The school will not have enough staff to operate safely,” he said.

The Randolph-area district’s other schools were able to remain open, he said. The district closed all schools for a few days earlier this month.

Elsewhere, Woodsville Elementary School was able to reopen on Thursday after being closed the first three days of this week, according to SAU 23 Superintendent Laurie Melanson.

“While our positive case count remains high, many of the positive cases have not been in school for seven or more days and are not a risk of spreading the virus,” Melanson wrote in a Tuesday message to families.

According to the SAU’s dashboard Woodsville Elementary had 26 active cases as of Thursday.

Shots available in Bradford, Vt.

BRADFORD, Vt. — The Brattleboro, Vt.-based nonprofit Rescue Inc. is set to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the Ely Commission Sales parking lot in Bradford.

The clinics are slated to take place at 799 Lower Plain on the upcoming three Wednesdays:

■Feb. 2 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

■Feb. 9 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

■Feb. 16 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Appointments can be made in advance through the Vermont Department of Health’s website,, but walk-ins also are welcome. Pfizer (for ages 12 and up), Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available for first, second and booster doses.

Transportation available

CLAREMONT — Sullivan County Transportation can provide free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination sites during normal operating hours, according to a Claremont city newsletter.

To arrange such assistance, people can call 603-542-9609 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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