MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Friday, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu held a press conference at the Elliot at River’s Edge to announce the activation of a 15-person medical response team from the Department of Defense to support clinical care during the state’s current COVID-19 surge.
The team; which includes one medical doctor, one family health nurse practitioner, seven nurses and an administrator; will allow the Elliot Health System to create a new ten bed acute care unit and also provide respite in other areas during their deployment from Jan. 7 to Feb. 5.
The move comes a day after Sununu announced the deployment of 100 National Guard members to hospitals across the state.
According to Elliot Chief Medical Officer Kevin Desrochers, Elliot’s ICU facilities were at 130 percent of capacity as of today, with 75 percent of patients currently intubated, the majority of which were receiving COVID-19 treatment.
Sununu said he believes there will be a spike in COVID-19 cases over the next three to four weeks and will continue to ask the federal government for assistance in addressing the pandemic in New Hampshire. He added that the current spike may take less or more than three to four weeks, but what is certain is the effort given by New Hampshire’s healthcare professionals since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We really don’t know what’s around the next corner with this pandemic, but what we do know is the effort that has been given caring for our loves ones really has been unprecedented,” said Sununu.
Sununu said that he does not believe in a state-wide mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations or masks, seeing it as a “one-size-fits-all” solution that goes beyond the role of state government, also citing other states such as Michigan, California and New York where mandates have not prevented COVID-19 cases from going up. However, Sununu said he does support municipalities or private organizations instituting their own mandates as they see fit.
He also said he is trying to avoid another State of Emergency in New Hampshire given that it would prevent state government flexibility and that unlike in 2020, vaccinations and other tools are now in place to help curb the spread of the virus without a State of Emergency Declaration.
Despite the opposition to another State of Emergency or statewide COVID-related mandate, Sununu urged New Hampshire residents to get vaccinated and not become complacent when taking safety measures to prevent further COVID-19 infections. While messaging from experts on COVID-19 has been contradictory at times, Sununu said he believes any confusion is not intentional and he hopes to provide information through his weekly press conferences and other information. He declined to comment about COVID-19 messaging from other U.S. governors, saying he was focusing on New Hampshire’s efforts.
“With transparency comes public trust, that’s the foundation of public trust in terms of letting folks we’re on top of it, we’re looking at data, we’re making decisions for the right reasons,” he said.
U.S. Air Force Major Laura Ivey-Glines, one of the members of the team, said that New Hampshire is the second state where team has been deployed, following a recent deployment in Utah.