By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The state Department of Health and Human Services says 32 people who were fully vaccinated have died from COVID-19 accounting for 7 percent of such deaths since since late January, but provided few details to put the numbers in context.
There have been 458 total COVID-19 deaths, including 32 involving breakthrough cases or 7 percent as of Oct. 6, said Jake Leon, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services. He didn’t specify a starting date but in the past Leon has counted breakthrough cases starting Jan. 20.
Leon did not provide a breakdown of ages, gender or race of those with breakthrough cases or say whether they live in long-term care facilities as requested.
Leon did say in an email that there have been 63,907 total COVID-19 cases during that time, including 2,191 vaccine breakthrough cases or 3.4 percent of all cases.
There have been 605 total hospitalizations reported, including 39 involving breakthrough cases or 6.4 percent, Leon said.
Leon wouldn’t say how many children have been hospitalized since school started.
Leon did respond to a suggestion by state Rep. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, that parents need more information from the state on a regular basis to keep their kids safe at school. Leon said there is already a great deal of information made public.
Sherman, a physician, said since Gov. Chris Sununu is no longer holding weekly press conferences where Commissioner of Health and Human Services Lori Shibinette and state epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan answer reporters’ questions, he would like to see the state experts provide weekly updates directly to the public, especially about schools and school-aged children.
Gov. Chris Sununu’s spokesman Ben Vihstadt, didn’t respond when asked if Sununu would allow a weekly update by state experts without him.
“Every week, DHHS officials speak with the public and various groups related to COVID-19,” Leon said. “The Commissioner and public health leadership participate in a press conference with the Governor every other week.”
Leon said state experts hold calls with healthcare providers the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, calls with schools and child care programs the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, and calls with long-term care facilities on an ad hoc basis.
“This is in addition to daily calls with facilities experiencing outbreaks and daily interactions with parents who contact DPHS with questions. DPHS also has a staff member dedicating their time to liaising with schools, which includes daily communication with officials and parents associated with multiple schools,” Leon said.
Sherman said DHHS has done a great job updating providers, administrators and institutions.
“My suggestion is that perhaps a weekly DHHS press conference focused on the concerns of parents would both keep them informed and dispel the misinformation that is driving some to push back against appropriate measures being instituted by their local school boards,” Sherman said. “They could take questions from reporters in attendance as well as those submitted by parents over the week prior to to press conference. I think parents would really benefit from this information.”