Updated August 17, 2022
DAILY LIFE DURING COVID-19 FAQs (August 11, 2022)
CDC updated their guidelines on August 11, 2022 --and NH DHHS agrees -- with the following recommendations:
CDC advises that people should continue to consider their individual risk in a particular setting, including local COVID-19 Community Levels and the important role of ventilation, when choosing to mask or keep physical distance from others. Source: CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
Physical distancing is just one component protecting yourself and others. These basic precautions are still effective in preventing COVID-19 infection -- vaccination, testing, masking, hand hygiene, good ventilation – and individual decisions should factor in the Community Risk levels tracked by CDC: COVID-19 by County | CDC
Additional CDC guidelines:
• Stress the importance of being up to date with vaccination to protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death.
• Recommend against quarantine for anyone exposed to COVID-19. Instead: wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.
• Recommend those who have, or suspect they have, COVID-19: stay home for at least 5 days, isolate in your household and wear a mask when around others (through day 10 if you tested positive). You may end isolation when:
o If tested, you receive a negative test result and
o If after 5 days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms,
o If you have contact with people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 that you isolate from them until at least day 11.
• Recommend those who experience moderate illness (shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing) should isolate through day 10.
• Recommend those who had severe illness or have a weakened immune system should consult a doctor before ending isolation.
• Recommend that if your COVID-19 symptoms worsen after ending isolation, you should start another 5 days of isolation.
• Discontinue screening tests for asymptomatic people without known exposures
Q. Do I still need to wear a mask in indoor public places?
tate epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan advised that the decision to wear a mask or not wear a mask is now a personal choice, noting that NH DHHS has advised layers of protection since September 2021. Dr. Chan stressed that masks work and that the relaxation of mask requirements is being made because severe illness and hospitalization rates are trending downward. A change in course might still be needed if new variants emerge or infectiousness changes.
Portsmouth schools dropped the mask wearing requirement, effective March 7, 2022.
Face masks are still required:
- In health care settings, per CMS guidelines
- To follow NH DHHS guidance on shortening isolation and quarantine to 5 days
- Recommended for those immunocompromised in public spaces
- Encouraged as a layer of protection for anyone who chooses to wear a mask
Individuals should consider the risk to themselves and to others. The layers of preventative measures (masking, distancing, etc.) should still be taken if they will be associating in indoor spaces with immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable populations, including those under age 5 who are not able to be vaccinated.
Q. I’ve been following the NH DHHS and City of Portsmouth COVID-19 dashboards to make decisions on what is risky and what is safer. But I understand that those metrics have changed?
- Throughout the pandemic, NH DPHS has based its guidance on community transmission. Metrics had included the number of cases and test positivity, by town, county and state. But DHHS no longer thinks that data accurately reflects the risk because in-home test results are not included in the tracking. Instead, DHHS guidance is now focused on:
- Local disease severity
- Awareness that different populations have different levels of risk (high risk among the immunocompromised, children under 5, and their family members and caregivers)
- Acceptability and sustainability of prevention strategies
DHHS assessment of current situation:
- NH has now come down from the winter 2021-22 Omicron surge, but COVID-19 is still circulating and new variants continue to emerge as of this update. A BA2 Omicron variant is being tracked (low occurrence in NH) but existing vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization from this variant.
- COVID-19 severity is declining as population-immunity increases thanks to vaccination and recoveries
- Vaccines are now available for everyone over age 5 and are being studied from 6 months to 5 years old
- Effective therapeutics (pills and infusions) are increasingly available
- Although COVID-19 is expected to continue to circulate the risk in NH is decreasing
Q. What is the NH DHHS guidance for assessing my risk from COVID-19?
A. NH DHHS recommends that NH citizens inform their decisions with CDC metrics -- COVID-19 Community Levels -- to help communities and residents decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.
(CDC map, above, as of August 12, 2022)
To determine the COVID-19 community level, CDC looks at the combination of three metrics:
- new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days
- the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients
- total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days
Q. Is the advice for “living with COVID-19” different for schools?
A. NH DHHS recommends continued prevention strategies for schools
- Increased indoor ventilation
- Hand hygiene
- Exclude and test students and staff who develop new and unexplained symptoms that could be COVID-19
- Cohorting where possible. This means creating small groups of individuals, keeping those individuals consistently together in one group, and preventing interaction between people of different groups.
- Isolation and quarantine under NH DHHS guidance.
- Asymptomatic testing
Existing COVID-19 risk:
- It is likely there will be continued risk, but that is can be managed with reasonable and sustainable approaches
- Depends on vaccination and population immunity
- The public health community will continue to closely monitor for new variants and assess the risk
Q. How do I make sure I’m prepared in case there’s another surge?
A. Several precautions are advised.
Keep a supply of masks and home test kits on hand.
Order free at-home test kits including 'how to test' instructions. Free test kits are also available to NH residents from this site.
Read the directions that come with them on how to use the at-home test kit. Using the test inaccurately increases the chance of a false negative – and expose those around you to your infections; or can give a false positive and disrupt your plans.
Keep your proof-of-vaccination card with you and make sure it’s up-to-date. If you need to replace your card: All vaccination records are kept on file in the CDC National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) system. NH DHHS advises that you can replace a lost vaccination card in either of two ways:
- Download and complete the vaccination card replacement request form. Note that the completed form MUST BE NOTARIZED before sending it back to NH DHHS.
- If your healthcare provider has access to the NHIIS, ask him/her to print out the record directly from NHIIS.
- If you need more than your vaccination card, because some travel destinations require the full record: Contact NHIIS (NH Immunization Information System) at 603-271-4028, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for the NH DHHS website for the immunization information system (NHIIS). On this site, you will be guided in selecting the correction forms for your PCP to verify your vaccine card, DOB, etc. You will need to get the form notarized and before sending it back to NHIIS. Once your record is corrected and you can request an official vaccine and immunization record. This record is the one that would be accepted when travelling if the vaccine card is not enough. For more answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here (including US Health Dept/CDC guidance on booster shots).
Keep a supply of food and medications on hand in case you test positive and need to isolate, or someone in your household tests positive and you need to quarantine.
To help you decide who might need to quarantine if someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, NH DHHS has created this chart. NH DHHS suggests quarantine ONLY for unvaccinated members in the same household.
Q. What is the latest advice on vaccinations and booster for different ages?
FDA/CDC have authorized the following vaccination series:
Age 6 mo -4 years 3 dose series
Age 5+ 2 dose series plus booster
Age 5+ Immunocompromised can receive 2nd booster
Age 50+ 2 dose series plus booster plus 2nd booster
Age 6 mo – 17 years 2 dose series
Age 18+ 2 dose series plus booster
Age 50+ 2 dose series plus booster plus 2nd booster
On May 5, 2022, the FDA limited who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to the ongoing risk of rare but serious blood clots. The shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request the J&J.
Those who are severely immunocompromised or have other concerns related to age or medical condition have slightly different vaccination recommendations. Check with your healthcare provider.
To learn more and find vaccination sites go to Vaccines.gov
BOOSTERS FOR HOMEBOUND INDIVIDUALS –Call On-Site Medical Services, the company contracted by NH to provide homebound boosters, at 603-338-9292 or book an appointment online at the On-Site Medical website: https://www.on-sitemedservices.com/
On April 13, 2022 the CDC provided the COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule, above, with the following notes regarding a 2nd booster dose in certain persons:
o Persons 12 years of age or older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may choose to receive a 2nd mRNA booster at least 4 months after their 1st booster
o All persons 50 years of age or older (regardless of immunocompromised status) may choose to receive a 2nd mRNA booster at least 4 months after their 1st booster. The White House COVID-19 advisor Dr. Ashish Jha now recommends the second booster for those age 60 and over.
o Persons 18-49 years of age (regardless of immunocompromised status) who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for both their primary series and 1st booster may receive a 2nd mRNA booster at least 4 months after their Janssen booster.
Q. Are there treatments for COVID-19?
NH DHHS reported the following on the availability in New Hampshire of oral antiviral medications, which require a prescription from an authorized healthcare provider.
- Molnupiravir can be prescribed through certain Walgreens, CVS and RiteAid pharmacies
- Paxlovid will be available at Walgreens pharmacy locations
- The federal COVID-19 “Test to Treat” program is allocating Paxlovid and Molnupiravir to certain CVS “Minute Clinics.”
To find the pharmacies with supplies of antivirals, healthcare providers and advocates can use the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator, an interactive tool that lets you search by medication and location.
Q. What about lingering effects of COVID?
A. An estimated 10 to 50 percent of people infected with COVID-19 will experience post-COVID or long-COVID, defined as symptoms that last more than 12 weeks past the acute illness.
Physical, respiratory, and pulmonary therapy provides some relief, but there is so far no cure and uncertainty about outcomes.