Gov. Chris Sununu said the COVID-19 winter surge of cases will get worse over the next few weeks as he announced the creation of "strike teams" to help rehab facilities and nursing home take patients as New Hampshire hospitalizations surge 43% over the past two weeks.

The state hospitalization rate is at a pandemic high of 392 hospitalizations out of 6,898 current cases.

"It's very severe. It's very serious not just in terms of the number of cases but the number of hospitalizations, the number of fatalities, the number of families this is affecting mostly within the unvaccinated community but we're seeing an increase in the number of breakthrough cases as well," Sununu said.

The strike teams created by Sununu's executive order issued before Thanksgiving that will help alleviate the shortage of healthcare workers by sharing resources and creating temporary acute care centers within hospitals. Nursing staff will also be brought in from out of state.

Sununu said American Rescue Plan funds can be used to pay for these initiatives.

The governor announced the locations of Operation Booster Blitz on Saturday, Dec. 11 to get encourage those who are eligible to get the COVID-19 booster shot. There will be two Seacoast locations: the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham and the Rochester Armory. Sign-ups will begin on the state COVID-19 website Wednesday.

The governor said he would be receiving his booster during the event.

The Manchester VA will offer appointments for veterans, their spouses and caregivers.

Test Kits All Gone

Sununu said the initial supply of 900,000 free at-home COVID-19 tests made available to New Hampshire residents via the "Say Yes! COVID Test" partnership was exhausted in less than 24 hours after becoming available.

"We're trying to figure out how to keep the program going because it was so successful,"  Sununu said, adding that each person who successfully ordered the free tests will get between 4 and 8 actual tests.

Locations for the Dec. 11 COVID-19 booster blitz
Locations for the Dec. 11 COVID-19 booster blitz (NH DHHS)

No Nursing Staff vs. Unvaccinated Staff

Sununu touted the success of an injunction being granted against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccine mandate and how it helps with the state healthcare worker shortage.

"We don't want anyone to not be vaccinated. Don't misunderstand me. But if the choice is having an unvaccinated nurse treat a vaccinated patient or no nurse treat a vaccinated patient I want someone there with their loved one," Sununu said.

When asked about the delays being encountered by people trying to make an appointment for a booster shot Sununu blamed the demand by the up to 700,000 vaccinated individual.

"I won't call them delays. The demand is incredibly high. We have the supply," Sununu said, adding that people waited to get the booster.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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