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Hunter's closure spotlights challenges posed by COVID

November 18, 2021
WOLFEBORO — It was a shock to many to see a sign posted at Hunter's Shop n Save on Monday, Nov. 8 that read "Customers, as a precautionary measure due to staff shortage and illness, we will be closed Monday thru Thursday. Reopening Friday."

A call to the manager verified that cases of Covid-19 and the prevailing staff shortage drove him to take the precautionary measure (a "gutsy move"), even in the face of economic loss. "The community is what makes us survive. I want to protect both my staff and my customers" he said.

The store reopened on Friday, Nov. 12, as planned, but in the meantime, two lines at Harvest Market stretched as many as fifteen customers long on Veteran's Day as it responded to increased demand while short staffed.

Covid has been putting businesses to the test. Coupled with related staff shortages, some have reduced hours, cycled in managers to help give employees a day or two off a week, or faced temporary closures in "an abundance of caution" when illness strikes, to the disgruntlement of customers.

Notably, As of Nov. 9, Wolfeboro had 30 active cases. A week later (Nov. 16), the number had moved up to 46. Ossipee showed a sharp increase from 14 to 41 and Tuftonboro's count went from 5 to 16. According to data from cdc.gov, Carroll County had a percent positivity rating of 10.63 on Nov. 16 and recommends that masks be worn indoors, even if vaccinated.

The Governor Wentworth Regional School District (GWRSD) board, likewise, has earned the wrath of some parents for its mask mandate established in accordance with the Center for Disease Control health and safety recommendations and acknowledgement of the county's high transmissibility rate. Even so, as of Nov. 15 (according to the GWRSD.org Web site), 70 positive cases have been reported so far this month – compared to 38 in all of October. September recorded 50. The repercussions are an increase in absentees in quarantine, and pressure to fill the absences of staff members.

While a number of parents have expressed gratitude for the district's mask mandate, the hostility of the opposition can be intense. At the Nov. 1 meeting, a parent said she was "appalled at the mandates – they are abuse...It's a diabolical plan. You are not going to be exempt from the wrath that comes down. This is about submission!"

And on Tuesday, Nov. 16, a flyer posted on the front door of Carpenter School stated, "Don't Let Them Vaccinate Your Child," and claimed that the risk of dying from a Covid vaccine is "171.8 times greater than the traditional flu vaccine" – a claim that can be found on numerous libertarian political forums, and for which no evidence has been presented that the legitimate scientific community has yet recognized.

At the Nov. 1 School District meeting, Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert said of the numbers, which appeared to moving downward at the end of October, "It's going to take some time." The numbers are bearing that out. Business people, after an intense summer with a shortage of help, are entering a holiday season accompanied with supply chain shortages and the persistent Covid-19 Delta Variant. Families are having to manage quarantines. Schools are working to cover for absent staff and to keep students learning.

Controlling the spread of Covid-19 remains a persistent challenge to the return of life as normal.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Littleon Food Coop
Littleon Food Coop
Town of Barnsted
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