New Hampshire sells thousands of rapid tests at liquor stores

Concord Monitor
Published: 2/10/2022 10:03:11 PM
Modified: 2/10/2022 10:01:28 PM

New Hampshire has sold 5,000 rapid COVID-19 tests at liquor stores across the state, Gov. Chris Sununu said at a news conference Wednesday.

Rapid tests became available at more than 70 New Hampshire liquor stores last week as the state’s third effort at making tests widely available to the public. Sununu said the state bought a million of these tests using federal dollars.

This effort comes shortly after the federal government announced that all Americans could order free rapid tests.

“The gap we’re trying to fill is the lack of availability in the private sector,” Sununu said.

The latest wave of COVID-19 seems to be on the decline in New Hampshire — hospitalizations are the lowest they’ve been since early November. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19, a key indicator of the severity of COVID-19, declined by almost one-third in a week and many of those remaining are long-term cases rather than newly arrived patients, the Monitor reported on Monday.

Sununu said as of Wednesday, New Hampshire and Vermont had the lowest hospitalization rates in the country.

“This is not a victory by any means, but we’re definitely trending in the right direction,” he said. “If omicron keeps showing itself to be not nearly as severe as some of the previous variants, there’s no reason to think that we get we can’t keep building on these results.”

Still, the state is keeping in place many of the resources it employed to fight the pandemic, like vaccination and testing sites.

“I don’t think it’s a single date or data point that we want to see before we make massive changes in our recommendations,” he said.

He said more antiviral medications are still on their way into the state.

Newly approved antiviral pills have been shown to reduce COVID-related hospitalizations. However, many hospitals have had difficulty accessing the medications because of the short supply.

State epidemiologist Ben Chan said the state recently notified school and childcare programs that they could stop reporting at-home test results to the state. Going forward the state’s COVID numbers will be solely based on lab tests, he said.

He said the state is shifting its focus to track cases at a population level.

“There have been multiple peaks and surges, the numbers, have gone up, gone up and gone done,” he said. “I think what you’re asking is what’s the steady-state gonna look like? I don’t think we really know.”

There are still questions about the validity of vaccine data in the state after it came to light that state officials included booster shots into the count of initial doses. Sununu said he still can’t determine when or how the data will be made accurate. He said once the state’s vaccine registry is up and running, providers can manually input their patients’ vaccination status.

“The booster data is all messed up— on a state level, at a federal level,” he said.

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