State wide hospitalizations, case numbers and percent positives are all continuing to improve significantly. Exeter Hospital’s situation continued to improve over the week. We have been able to maintain a manageable inpatients census all week, we have had no patients holding the Emergency Department, our ICU has capacity and for the last three days we have had an active COVID census of 1. We have shut down our additional inpatient surge capacity and returned staff that have shifted over from other clinical roles to support the increased demand back to their original positions.
Yesterday the State had only 224 new reported cases. There were only 115 active COVID patients inpatients in hospitals across the state and 138 COVID patients in recovery and our 7 day average positivity rate is now below 10% (still need to get it below 5%)
For the moment Exeter continues operating under its Incident Command (IC), crisis response structure but we are also continuing to lower some of the protective precautions we were forced to put into place as this current wave grew. We have partially expanding visitation access to our outpatient departments and practice locations. For an update on our visitation policy visit Exeter Hospital - COVID-19.
We have also updated our masking recommendation based on the current situation and the positive trend we expect to continue over the next several weeks. It is included below.
This will be the last official update on our status for public officials for this third major wave of COVID. We thank all of you who stepped up to help us fight the pandemic and reduce its impact on our patients, our communities, our health systems and our economy.
I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe turn to Spring.
Exeter Health Resources’ Updated Position on Mask Use as of 2/17/2022:
NH’s State wide numbers related to the community spread of COVID 19 have improved significantly over the past two weeks. The seven day average positivity rates are now below 10%; average new cases are in the hundreds not thousands; and hospitalization numbers for active COVID patients have dropped into the low hundreds. These numbers are continuing to fall on a daily basis, and there is good reason to believe that New Hampshire’s positivity rate will fall below the 5% threshold for pandemic control sometime in the next two weeks.
While COVID is far from gone from the NH Seacoast, the risk of community spread has been significantly reduced. Therefore the leadership of Exeter Health Resources is updating its public recommendation on mask utilization, moving away from encouraging indoor masking requirements to focusing instead on encouraging individuals in the community that have not been vaccinated, or who are at heighted risk due to other health issues or who want to have the best chance of avoiding a COVID exposure, to wear masks in situations where they cannot maintain appropriate social distance. We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and boosted and to practice good public health practices, including handwashing and especially staying at home and masked if sick or exposed. Mask use has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of spreading COVID to others (which can happen even if the wearer does not have symptoms), and will help reduce the risk of the wearer contracting the virus as well. With over 40% of New Hampshire residents still not fully vaccinated the risk of significant illness and death is still high for those individuals.
All of us at Exeter Health Resources want to thank everyone in the community who made the serious and impactful efforts to reduce the spread of COVID. The combination of indoor mask requirements, promotion of vaccinations, boosters, appropriate and reasonable social distancing, handwashing and staying home when sick or potentially exposed has played a big part in helping health care providers and public health professionals keep us from reaching some of the more dire projections envisioned at the beginning of this third major wave. Those difficult and uncomfortable choices are responsible for helping to speed the rapid decline in the prevalence and impact of COVID in our community. For all those who took positive actions to help protect our community, our children, our health systems and our economy from the effects of COVID we are deeply grateful.
While public mask utilization requirements will appropriately change over the next several weeks, masking requirements in hospitals and other healthcare settings, including all Exeter Hospital and Core Physician sites, will likely remain strictly in place as we continue to work to maintain the safety of our patients and staff who are at heightened risk. We ask everyone who visits our health care locations to follow all masking and remaining COVID precautions.
It remains important that we stay vigilant and respond quickly and appropriately should we see the numbers climb again in the future to unsafe levels. The lessons of the last few months have confirmed that appropriate interventions, widely applied at the right time can save lives and lessen the time and impact of COVID on all of our lives.
We will continually monitor conditions in our State and our region as well as State and CDC guidelines. We will update our position when appropriate and supported by scientific consensus.
Thanks again to everyone in the community who worked to lessen the impact of this wave of COVID 19.
Mark H. Whitney
Vice President, Strategy, Community Relations and Development
Exeter Health Resources