DOVER — With cases of COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) rising in New Hampshire, local health officials are advising caution, and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital has returned to required masking for staff.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking the rise of the JN.1 variant of COVID nationally. It is now the most widely circulating variant.
Local medical professionals are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, which is part of the Mass General Brigham system, has instituted a new respiratory virus policy, according to hospital spokesperson Adam Bagni.
“We announced this policy back in October, which includes mandatory masking for employees in clinical settings when CDC data reaches a certain range,” said Bagni. “The masking went into effect for staff in clinical settings Tuesday, Jan. 2 at all MGB facilities, including at Wentworth-Douglass. Patients are only ‘strongly encouraged,’ not required, to mask.”
Bagni said hospitals are seeing increases in a number of of respiratory illnesses.
Ellen Miller, spokesperson for Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Frisbie Memorial Hospital, said the hospitals continue to see a high number of patients with respiratory viruses in the emergency departments, which is expected at this time of year. At both hospitals, it is recommended, but not required, that staff wear a mask when performing patient care. As always, patients and visitors may wear a mask if they prefer, and masks are available at the public entrances.
The city of Dover has issued an advisory, stating the city is “actively working with local health authorities and institutions to effectively manage the public health situation.”
Dover Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Michael McShane emphasized the importance of community vigilance.
“We are facing a serious situation with the co-circulation of multiple respiratory viruses,” McShane said. “It is crucial for everyone to follow health guidelines. Stay up to date with vaccinations, avoid crowded places, and seek medical advice early if you experience symptoms. Together, we can navigate through this challenging period by being responsible and caring for each other.”
Dover officials issued the following safety tips:
Get vaccinated: Ensure you are up to date with COVID-19, flu, and eligible for RSV vaccinations.
Stay home if sick: If you exhibit symptoms like fever, sore throat, or cough, stay home and seek medical advice.
Cover coughs and sneezes: Use tissue paper to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Frequent hand washing: Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Consider masking: Wear masks in crowded or high-risk areas to protect yourself and others, especially the vulnerable.
Wentworth-Douglass advised patients to contact their health-care provider if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms, including the following:
- Have a fever or other flu-like symptoms
- Have a known COVID-19 infection and are in your isolation period
- Have a known exposure to COVID-19 within the last 10 days
- If you have the appointment in-person and meet any of the criteria above, you need to wear one of our masks, regardless of the season or level of respiratory virus in our community.