By Christian Wade | The Center Square
Gov. Chris Sununu said he expects New Hampshire to be “back to normal” by summer as the state’s public health metrics continue to improve.
On Thursday, Sununu said he expects COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths to “plummet” in the next few months and isn’t worried about a surge of new infections as the summer tourists return.
“We’re getting out of our restrictions, our numbers keep going down, and we’re coming into summer,” Sununu said at a briefing. “It’s all coming together as we planned.”
Sununu said there could be a slight uptick in cases in the fall, which health officials are predicting nationwide, but doesn’t expect the impact on the health care system to be severe.
“The vast majority will be breakthrough cases and those who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” he said. “But I feel very confident about the summer, low numbers, hospitalization rates and an incredibly low fatality rate.”
In recent weeks, Sununu has ordered public schools to resume in-person instruction and lifted a statewide outdoor mask requirement as well as other COVID-19 related restrictions.
Beginning Friday, the state’s “Universal Best Practices” guidance will replace the “Safer at Home” COVID rules. The guidance includes recommendations for businesses and individuals on how to safely reopen and resume activities, such as sports and recreation.
State workers are expected to return to their office jobs from remote positions beginning on May 10, Sununu announced last week.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state’s epidemiologist, said on Thursday that the average daily new cases in New Hampshire has decreased over the past week to about 200 to 250 a day.
The test positivity rate is down to 3.6% and hospitalizations remained at 88 – the same as the previous week, he added.
“Overall the COVID-19 numbers continue to trend down, which is some good news,” Chan said during the briefing. “But COVID-19 still remains high in some of our communities and so the risk still remains throughout the state.”
To date, New Hampshire has reported 95,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,311 deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Chan said higher vaccination rates as well as continued mask use and social distancing will bring the numbers down further and help the state’s residents “get back to a more normal life.”
New Hampshire currently has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday, at least 848,736 first shots had been administered in the state, with 356,368 people – or 26.3% of the eligible population – fully vaccinated.