In today’s Portsmouth Herald [September 7th], there was a guest column from Governor Sununu and Health and Human Services Commissioner (HHS) Shibinette. The column, “New Hampshire Leaders learned a lot about COVID in Kentucky,” highlighted some of the actions Kentucky has taken during their recent COVID surge. While I credit the Governor for trying to learn from others, he should take the time to learn from others right here in New Hampshire. For example, the article states that they learned that the State should “push therapeutics” and that “one of the best tools used in Kentucky was the utilization of monoclonal antibodies.” What a surprise! On March 31, 2021 I sent a letter to the Editor of the Portsmouth Herald stating, “In addition to the overwhelming benefits of Covid-19 vaccines, we also have available treatments that can prevent high risk patients who become infected with the coronavirus from needing hospitalization and preventing death. High risk individuals include; all persons 65 years of age and older, persons 55-64 with high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and persons with obesity, diabetes and immunosuppressed individuals. While all high risk individuals should receive the vaccine as soon as possible, some will delay or refuse immunization. With ongoing Covid-19 community transmission still taking place in New Hampshire, these individuals are at very high risk of severe disease and death if they become infected with Covid-19. However, there are very effective treatments available to these individuals if they do test positive for Covid-19. The critical issue is time. These monoclonal antibody treatments, to be effective, must be given as quickly as possible to those at high risk when they test positive, and are either still without symptoms or have very mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Any high risk individual who tests positive for Covid-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately to determine if they are eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment and where they can receive it.”
The Governor did not need to go to Kentucky to learn this important information, it was publically available five months ago right here in New Hampshire. How many lives could have been saved if the Governor and his HHS Commissioner paid attention to that information? In just the past seven days there have been 11 deaths due to COVID-19 in New Hampshire. How many of these could have been prevented through the early use of monoclonal antibody treatment?
On August 21st I sent the Governor a 12-point plan to help reduce the coming fall surge that he stated “could be worse than anything we have seen.” While I did not expect the Governor to accept all or any of my recommendations, I also offered to provide my 30 years of public health experience to assist the State in any way possible to control COVID. I never received a response or an acknowledgement to my letter. Yet the Governor takes a full staff to Kentucky to learn from them, exposing them to a state with a very high level of COVID-19. Much of what they learned could have been accomplished via a zoom conference, and much of what they learned was already known by folks in New Hampshire. One must consider the political implications of such an unnecessary journey to Kentucky considering it is the home of Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is pushing Governor Sununu to run for the Senate.
Rich DiPentima, RN, MPH
We have long suspected that our Governor may just be a fast-talking, two-bit sack of ambition masquerading as a competent administrator. Sadly, your letter has done little to dispel our fears.