CONCORD, N.H. — There has been an increase in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Hampshire recent weeks — partly due to more testing statewide — but the test positivity rate remains very low, state Epidemiologist Ben Chan said Thursday.
There’s more testing being done at colleges and universities, and there is now antigen testing for the coronavirus, in addition to the traditional, or PCR tests, Chan said at Gov. Chris Sununu’s weekly news conference on the pandemic.
“However, we believe that there’s also evidence of increasing community transmission, especially in the southern communities” of the state, Chan said. “As we identify people with COVID-19, we continue to conduct public health contact investigations on each and every person to identify close contacts, who are then tested to identify additional infection.” He said public health officials are seeing an increasing number of people who are close contacts.
He said the highest-risk activities for spreading the virus continue to be social gatherings.
As of Thursday, a total of 8,879 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 79 from the previous day. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 449.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 32 new cases per day on Sept. 23 to 76 new cases per day on Oct. 7.
For most people, the coronavirus 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.
Despite the closings of restaurants and hotels because of the coronavirus pandemic, the numbers appear to be happening at a slower pace compared with the past two years, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
He said that looking at businesses that collect the meals and rentals tax, 357 closed this year so far. In 2019, 479 similar businesses closed, and 517 closed in 2017.
Sununu said the federal coronavirus relief funds may have helped the businesses stay open.
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