The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is expanding in 39 states — from the dangerous South and West hotspots to those surfacing in the Midwest — according to The New York Times. Virus cases reached record levels over the weekend, with deaths trending up sharply in many states.
Twenty states and Puerto Rico reported a record-high average of new infections over the past week. Five states — Florida, Texas, California, Arizona and Mississippi — also broke records for average daily fatalities in that period. At least 3.4 million cases and more than 136,000 deaths have been reported in the United States as of Tuesday morning.
In Houston, for example, officials have reinstated a stay-at-home order with hopes it will rein in the city’s outbreak — one of the worst in the country.
“Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens,” Lina Hidalgo, the Harris County judge and chief executive for Texas’ most populous county, wrote on Twitter.
But despite a nationwide surge, in New Hampshire, the numbers are steady — and with no mask mandate.
When President Trump announced plans to hold a rally in Portsmouth, many Granite State Democrats turned their fire on Gov. Chris Sununu, criticizing him for not instituting a mask mandate on the Trump event. When Trump pulled out of the Portsmouth rally (reportedly due to likely low attendance), Democrats kept up their attacks, demanding Sununu implement a statewide mask mandate with or without a Trump visit.
Executive Councilor (and Democratic candidate for New Hampshire governor) Andru Volinsky has repeatedly denounced Gov. Chris Sununu for not issuing a statewide mask order. Nearly 200 Democratic representatives have written to Sununu urging the adoption of such an order.
And the chairman of the state Democratic Party is so aggressive on the issue, he called a group of GOP women candidates “not smart enough” to serve because they took a photo without masks.
So, how is New Hampshire faring in the fight against COVID-19 without a mandatory mask order?
Turns out — pretty well.
Data analysis from the left-leaning Pro Publica shows New Hampshire is one of the best-performing states in limiting the virus’ impact.
Pro Publica updates their numbers daily, evaluating all 50 states and D.C. on five criteria:
- Positive tests per 100K people;
- Percentage of tests that are positive;
- Tests per 100K people per day;
- ICU bed availability;
- Hospital visits for flu-like illness.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, (DHHS) the rate of positive tests has fallen from around 17 percent on April 30 — when testing was largely limited to people with symptoms or in high-risk groups — to about 3 percent two months later. The rate has remained steady and well below 5 percent for more than a month.
And these downward trends have continued in Sununu’s state despite his phased reopening of the economy that began on May 18. While Massachusetts has lagged behind in reopening, New Hampshire restaurants have been allowing indoor dining for weeks, and in the northern part of the state they can do so without restrictions.
Sununu has also resisted pushes from both sides of the aisle to issue mask orders for political events like Trump’s planned rally. He allowed anti-lockdown protesters to gather at the state capitol without masks, and he did the same when the wave of Black Lives Matter protests hit New Hampshire.
“From the outset of this pandemic, the State has not stopped or prevented individuals from peacefully assembling, including marches led by Black Lives Matter and protests from Reopen NH,” according to a statement from Gov. Sununu’s office. And while his Democratic opponents don’t mention it, Sununu supported and encouraged participation in the BLM rallies in New Hampshire at the peak of the state’s lockdown.
And yet, without a mask mandate or a draconian policy of restrictions, New Hampshire is getting better results than most of its neighbors, making it one of the top-performing states in the country.
As good as these numbers are, take out the stats from the state’s nursing homes, whose residents live in their own form of isolation away from the general population — and they get even better. According to the N.H. DHHS, only 70 of the state’s 391 deaths have been outside of long-term care facilities.
And there has yet to be a single Granite State death among people under 60 and without comorbidities.