With New Hampshire now seeing its highest levels of COVID-19 of the pandemic, the governor Tuesday predicted "a bumpy road" ahead, with as much as another month of rising cases.
"The next few weeks are going to be very telling," Gov. Chris Sununu said. "I think it's going to be a bumpy road."
"COVID is not gone," he added. "I know we're all tired of it. But we have to stay vigilant on it, we really do. It's when we become lax that we start to see those numbers skyrocket."
State health officials said cases are at the highest point during the entire pandemic, with an average of almost 1,000 new cases a day, a positivity rate of almost 10% and 350 people currently hospitalized.
"Unfortunately, the trends I'm looking at look like at least two, three, four more weeks of increasing rates, especially as it gets colder," Sununu said. "That's going to put a lot of pressure on our hospital system."
"Our healthcare system is resilient, but it is being tested with these increased rates and increased amounts of COVID," the governor said. "This executive order will help meet those challenges."
Sununu also announced a Dec. 11 "booster blitz," where 20 pop-up sites will be opened across the state to administer booster shots ahead of the holidays.
"The demand for boosters is increasing, and we want to make sure we're opening up as much capacity as possible," he said.
In the next week or so, he said the state will have a link where people can go to book appointments for booster shots on that date. Additional dates may be announced if needed.
The state will also be providing up to 1 million at-home COVID tests to residents, which will be able to be ordered at nh.gov/covid19 and will be delivered free of charge to their homes through a partnership with Amazon.
Sununu said at this time he is not considering a mask mandate, which he described as "a blanket approach" that doesn't necessarily suit every community.
"We're not at that point," he said. "The vaccine is the way out of this. That's just the way it is."