PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Health on Monday announced 165 more Rhode Islanders have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, as the number of patients who’ve died or been hospitalized with the virus rose.
In its first data update since Friday, the Health Department said 48 people tested positive for the first time on Friday, followed by 78 on Saturday and 39 on Sunday. The seven-day average for new cases rose to 55, the highest total since June 19.
The department also said as of Friday, the prior two weeks of surveillance testing in elder-care facilities found fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and fewer than five new cases in assisted-living facilities. (See the full list here.)
Rhode Island’s coronavirus death toll rose to 984, up from 976 on Friday, with six of those deaths occurring in the last three days, according to the Health Department.
The number of Rhode Islanders reported hospitalized with COVID-19 rose to 67, up from 61 reported Friday, with three of those patients under intensive care and four on ventilators. (Some hospitals now have the ability to vent patients outside the ICU, according to the Health Department.)
The seven-day average for hospitalizations increased for the first time since May 2.
The uptick in hospitalizations comes after Gov. Gina Raimondo warned at a briefing Friday about the potential for Rhode Island to see that number rise in the coming weeks, sharing a chart showing two scenarios depending on how much people continue to follow health directives.
“We keep our eye firmly on hospitalizations, because that’s a fact,” Raimondo said. “Number of cases, that can vary; it depends on how many people you test. Testing metrics vary. Hospitalizations, it’s a fact, it’s known and it’s undisputed, and so the fact that our hospitalizations have been in steady decline is a good thing.”
If the hospitalizations trend goes too far in the wrong direction, she said, “then I have to go back and impose restrictions.”
Monday marks two weeks since Rhode Island entered Phase 3 of Raimondo’s reopening plan.
“I have followed these numbers daily since early March. This is the first negative sign since early May,” Dr. Jay Schuur, a Rhode Island Hospital doctor and chair of emergency medicine at Brown University’s medical school, wrote on Twitter. “Hope not a trend. We have to be super careful if we want to preserve the ‘reopening.'”
As part of Phase 3, Raimondo is scaling back her regularly scheduled coronavirus briefings to once a week, on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.