Northern New Hampshire COVID-19 cases spiking
BERLIN, N.H. (WCAX) - Since the pandemic first began, north country communities like Berlin, New Hampshire, were mostly spared from the COVID-19. But as the virus spreads into rural America, that is no longer the case.
“We knew it was going to come eventually, it was just the matter of when,” said Keith Duguay, manager of the Aubuchon hardware store on Main Street in Berlin. He never closed during the pandemic, but as local cases here are increasing, he says concern is also on the rise. “The main thing is just try to stay diligent -- wear your mask. try to keep yourself clean.”
Down the street, a brand new children’s clothing store, Precious Little Ones, recently opened. “There is always that fear that something could happen and I would have to shut down,” said Kevin Fawcett, the store’s owner.
There are currently 106 active cases of COVID-19 in Coos County. Roughly a quarter of them are in Berlin. Because of that, the city is planning to enact an indoor mask ordinance.
“This is serious, this is real stuff, and as a community leader it is incumbent upon me to do whatever it takes to protect the vast majority of the public,” said Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier.
City officials fear the virus is not being taken seriously enough, resulting in more community spread. Despite the statewide weekly positive test rate more than doubling over the past month, some community members say the pandemic is being blown out of proportion. “I believe it is a lot of hype. I believe it is a lot of scare tactics. I believe in letting the germs get out there like we do with everything,” said Debbie Page.
Health experts say that’s a mistaken comparison because COVID-19 is far more infectious and deadly than other sicknesses like the flu. That’s because we have no immunity to COVID and no vaccine to reduce its spread. Luckily, unlike other parts of the country, hospitals in this region have not been inundated with cases, which was a fear early on.
“In our earliest days, we practiced for surge, we prepared for surge, and those plans are still in place. We are fortunate we are not seeing it and we hope we never will,” said Brain O’Hearn at the Androscoggin Valley Hospital.
The new mask ordinance in Berlin is expected to go into effect early next week.
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