By Staff

CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) — The Omicron surge is underway in New Hampshire.

The state reported 20,458 current COVID-19 cases on Wednesday – that’s more than double the 9,341 active cases that were reported on Dec. 30.

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“We’re in the very beginning of the Omicron surge,” New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said at a news conference. “It’s just in the last week or two that we’ve seen infections transition from predominately Delta to now almost solely Omicron.”

While wastewater data from Boston suggests a surge may be falling off there, Chan said it’s “unclear” how long the spike will last in New Hampshire.

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There were 415 COVID hospitalizations in New Hampshire as of Wednesday. Gov. Chris Sununu expects cases and hospitalization numbers to keep rising.

“It’s realistic to think two to three times more people could get the Omicron variant,” Sununu said.

The governor said that with studies showing Omicron may not be as severe as Delta, there’s hope that hospitalizations won’t skyrocket as fast as cases. But he predicts that the health care system will continue to be strained by the numbers.

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“I think they’re going to be up there for quite a while, I really do,” Sununu said. “Hospitalizations will still be at very high capacity at least over the next 4,5,6,7 weeks – if not longer.” Staff