By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Travel is a balance of risks when celebrating Thanksgiving this year and there are some mandatory rules people need to follow, according to Trish Tilley, deputy director for the state Division of Public Health.
“This is not the year to squeeze everyone you know around the same table,” said Tilley, updating the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force Thursday.
Close contact with someone infected in 10 minutes can cause the spread of COVID-19 and or prompt a 14-day quarantine, she said.
The state is not going to mandate how people spend their Thanksgiving, but she urged all to use common sense, keep gatherings small and pay attention to the travel guidance.
Travelers to New Hampshire and residents who travel outside New England have mandatory guidance to follow from the state.
What has not changed since the start of the pandemic is that anyone involved in non-essential travel outside the six states must self-quarantine for 14 days after travel, regardless of the mode of transportation.
“What has changed is the opportunity to test-out after seven days,” of quarantine, Tilley said.
Travelers should check the restrictions of places they are traveling to and keep abreast of any changes.
Check New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services Business Travel Guidance here: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/covid19/documents/employee-travel-guidance.pdf
On Friday, Massachusetts removed New Hampshire and Maine from list of exempt states.
Tilley has given the task force weekly reports on the health situation and noted this one, using data as of Nov. 19 was “a little more somber than in the past,” weekly briefing.
Globally, she said 56 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have resulted in 1,345,639 global deaths, and in NH 504 deaths, 3,767 current active cases, and 91 now hospitalized.
She noted there have been one million more cases than this time last week in the nation, which has seen 250,000 deaths.
“We, in New Hampshire, are in a substantial risk of community-based transmission,” Tilley said, and testing sites are working at “full tilt” with result turnaround time is 48 hours on average.
The largest age cohort infected by the virus are those in their early 20s, she said. “This is the age cohort which is out in the workforce and in public-facing roles,” she said.
Because of the exponentially increasing number of cases, she said the state can no longer contact trace every new case. However, contact tracing will be prioritized to children 18 and younger, people 65 and older, racial and ethnic groups who are more likely impacted by the virus, and those connected with congregate settings including long-term care facilities.
Tilley said employers will likely have to play a more active role in keeping their employees safe. If they have an employee sick, they need to call 271-4496. it could result in a cluster or outbreak investigation.
Household transmission is the highest area where people are getting sick, the data shows.
Tilley said that not all cluster cases are being publicly reported noting that they continue to try to “release data that is protective but I can tell you we continue to see (cases) in workplace settings.” she said.