The chief medical officer at Portsmouth Regional Hospital says they are increasing the precautions they take at the facility because they are starting to see a mix of patients coming in who present COVID symptoms.

Thomas Wold said on Friday afternoon that they currently have three patients hospitalized. None are in the critical care unit and none are on a significant level of oxygen.

Wold said they are starting to see people ranging in ages, similar to the last wave of the pandemic. That means younger and middle-aged adults presenting serious symptoms.

Wold said they saw the highest numbers of COVID hospitalizations in January when there were between 22 and 30 people hospitalized a day. That includes patients who were transported to the hospital from more rural parts of the state.

Wold said many of the hospitals in the southern part of the state take on patients who rely on smaller community hospitals for routine procedures.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital is part of HCA Healthcare, which includes Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester and Parkland Medical Center in Derry.

Parkland had three hospitalizations, while Frisbie was showing none on Friday.

Wold said that Frisbie never had as many COVID cases as some other hospitals.

"Rochester, as a whole, was a lot less impacted in January," Wold said.

Wold said over 99 percent of the people who are dying now of COVID are unvaccinated.

Wold said that now that they are understanding more about the Delta variant and how it spreads, health care providers at the hospital in Portsmouth are taking every precaution to make sure their facility is not an environment where COVID can be spread.

Over 95 percent of the providers are vaccinated, Wold said.

The Delta variant, which is surging in many parts of the country, is causing more illness and can spread as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal report from officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That document argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky confirmed the authenticity of the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The director of infection prevention at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover also says they are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.

Martha Wassell is on vacation this week, but she said in an interview on Wednesday that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

"This is tricky and effective and honestly quite frightening," Wassell said of the Delta variant.

Wassell explained that with each mutation, COVID gains strength. She hopes people who have not been vaccinated get their shots.

"This is not political at this point. It's public health," Wassell said.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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