Get Serious, Governor

Dear Sir:

Last week there was a front page headline in the Portsmouth Herald that read, “Sununu’s COVID plea: ‘You gotta get the vaccine.’” In the body of the article the Governor stated, “We know our fall surge in October, November could be worse than anything we’ve seen. We want to make sure we prepare for that.” I agree totally. Not only do we need to prepare for what the Governor admits is coming, more importantly, we need to do whatever is necessary now to prevent it from happening, or at least minimize the consequences as much as possible.

So how is the Governor and State preparing for the fall surge? What plans and what specific actions and policies are being put in place now to prepare or prevent the coming surge? One policy the State has made is to leave mask mandates policies totally up to the local cities, towns and School Administrative Units. They are telling the communities to use the State data to guide their decisions. This represents nothing less than an abdication of responsibility and leadership. The State is the recognized expert in New Hampshire on matters of public health, epidemiology and disease control. The State employees the scientists to collect, analyze and interpret this very complicated epidemiologic data on what the pandemic is doing, and to make recommendations to the Governor for necessary policy actions. Other than a handful of communities like Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth, most of the States cities and towns do not have full-time public health staff to guide their communities. These communities rely on the State for this guidance and expertise and it is absurd to think that they have the required expertise to substitute for State leadership.

The other action the State has taken to prepare for the coming surge, was to pass a law preventing any city, town, water districts, school districts, school administrative units or quasi public entities from requiring COVID vaccination. The bill allows unvaccinated people free access to any “public facility,” which is not defined in the law. So while the Governor is pleading with New Hampshire residents to get vaccinated, he signed a bill that in effect, rewards and accommodates those who refuse vaccination.

If the above represent the totality of how New Hampshire is preparing for the coming surge, we are in for a long difficult and painful fall and winter. Rather than simply preparing for the worst, the State must act decisively, aggressively and bravely now to prevent the worst from ever happening. As Dr. David Itkin said in the Portsmouth Herald today, it is time to take this completely seriously, if it is not too late already.

Rich DiPentima, RN, MPH

Portsmouth, N.H.


Perhaps the Governor is distracted by his ambition. Maybe he’s tired of abdicating his responsibilities in the corner office, and wants to let Mitch McConnell tell him how to not do his job.

The Editor

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