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Second wave may hit NH hard

  • Commissioner Lori Shibinette Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services speaks at the twice-weekly COVID-19 update with Dr. Benjamin Chan and Governor Chris Sununu on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

Concord Monitor
Published: 7/6/2020 9:22:34 PM
Modified: 7/6/2020 9:22:49 PM

New Hampshire may be particularly susceptible to a second wave of COVID-19.

The United States reported more than 250,000 new cases of coronavirus in the first couple days of July, leaving state officials anxious about what a second wave might look like for New Hampshire.

Lori Shibinette, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, said New Hampshire should expect a second wave that is just as severe, if not more severe, than what the state has already experienced.

“Yes, you should have anxiety,” she said during a news conference.

Compared to other states, New Hampshire has been successful in preventing widespread infection — the state has had one of the lowest rates of new cases in the country. But this success may come at a cost.

Lisa Adams, a professor of epidemiology at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, said no state in the U.S is anywhere near the infection level that would achieve herd immunity, a resistance that develops when a certain percentage of the population is immune to a disease.

In New York City, one of the epicenters of the pandemic, about 20% of residents tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Many epidemiologists estimate that between 50 and 60% of a population would need to be infected with COVID-19 in order to achieve herd immunity.

Still, the rates of infection in New York City may offer residents a certain advantage when it comes to a surge of cases. It seems that contracting COVID-19 may provide some level of protection from future infection, although it still isn’t clear how long the immunity lasts and to what extent it protects the body.

This is to say about 20% of New Yorkers have some level of protection against the virus whereas only about 4% of Granite Staters have that same protection should there be another uptick in coronavirus cases.

Given the choice between coronavirus ravaging a state and low immunity, Adams said she would gladly take the situation New Hampshire is in now.

In the last month, state officials opened restaurants, beaches, shops, and amusement parks as cases steadily declined in New Hampshire.

Adams said that while the state has done a good job flattening the curve, now is not the time to relax its coronavirus precautions.

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