A Cheshire County resident has died due to COVID-19, the state announced Tuesday, the fourth since the pandemic began. The person was a woman and at least 60 years old.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, Cheshire County had gone months without a confirmed COVID-19 death. State officials announced the county’s first two deaths within days of each other in April. The third was announced in early August.
To date, 528 New Hampshire residents have died due to complications of COVID-19, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. That includes a second death announced Tuesday, that of a Rockingham County man who was at least 60.
Though the department does not release the identities of COVID-19 patients, an obituary published in The Sentinel Monday said Elizabeth "Betty Ann" Shook, 93, of Keene, died Nov. 24 from complications of the disease.
Her son, Woody Shook of Westmoreland, expressed his gratitude to the nurses and doctors at Cheshire Medical Center.
“They were just incredibly caring,” he said. “They took care of her in her last moments.”
The staff even apologized they couldn’t do more, he said. “They just didn’t realize how much they did do.”
DHHS also said that another 772 people have tested positive for the viral disease, at least 27 of them residents of Cheshire County.
The new case totals include 150 results previously unannounced from Sunday and 622 from Monday — already a new one-day record, even though the state says it continues to process results, and Monday’s total is not yet complete. (The state has been working through a backlog due to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
New Hampshire is now averaging almost 500 new cases per day, with 20 or so coming from Cheshire County on a daily basis.
Other numbers announced Tuesday were another reminder that New Hampshire remains in the midst of a late-fall surge.
As of Tuesday morning, New Hampshire’s hospitals held 160 COVID-19 patients, the same as a day earlier, which set a new record. That number topped out at 126 patients during the spring, before falling dramatically. For much of August and September, fewer than 10 people were hospitalized at a time.
The positivity rate for tests also ticked up again, to 6.2 percent. That represents the share of people tested using the method known as PCR who are positive in a given day.
An important measure of both testing capacity and the viral spread, the positivity rate has risen from around 1 percent in August and September to more than 5 percent in recent days.
Most Monadnock Region communities are known to have at least one active case, and many have five or more. The state counts 185 current cases in Cheshire County, 98 of them in Keene.
This article has been updated with information about Elizabeth Shook.