As the number of positive COVID-19 cases spikes on the Seacoast Wentworth-Douglass Hospital says they are at an all-time high for inpatients.

The winter surge that Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials have been warning about has apparently arrived early especially in Strafford County with 1,040 new COVID-19 cases over the past 14 days as of Tuesday, according to the state dashboard.

175 Rochester residents and 141 Dover residents are currently positive. Rockingham County has 766 new cases. Maine's COVID-19 dashboard reports 734 current positive cases in York County.

Essex County, Massachusetts reports just 21 current cases.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover said it had 34 COVID+ inpatients Tuesday, an all time pandemic high for the hospital. 30 of those patients had not taken the COVID-19 vaccine. Eight employees were also positive.

Their medicine and surgery area was above 100% capacity with the emergency room about 130% forcing the hospital to go on divert for only the second time during the pandemic since March 2020.

The hospital asked potential patients to come to the ER only for acute care and instead go to an urgent and primary care location.

Following social distancing protocols like masking, hand washing, social distancing and avoiding crowds will help to slow the spike as will receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, according to the hospital.

"The hospital remains a safe place to come. It's all thanks to our incredible teams who are navigating these unprecedented challenges," the hospital said in a statement.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital and sister hospital Frisbie Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Lynn Robbins told Seacoast Current they have seen increased traffic in their emergency rooms as well and said it's not just a Seacoast issue.

"These volume increases can be attributed to higher numbers of COVID illness, people arriving at the ER after delaying care during the pandemic, seasonal increases and lack of access to other avenues of care," Robbins told Seacoast Current in a statement.

"Our wait times to be triaged have not changed even with the influx of demand but patients may find longer lengths of stay. We encourage anyone who feels they are experiencing a true emergency to go to the ER for treatment and assessment and we continue to encourage our community to get their COVID-19 vaccinations," Robbins said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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