PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — States have been starting to see a moderate increase in COVID-19 cases due to the more contagious BA.2 Omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The COVID-19 community levels for four Rhode Island counties have risen to the “medium” tier as a result of the rise in cases: Bristol, Kent, Newport and Washington.

The levels set by the CDC are based on hospital beds occupied, hospital admissions, and case rates. The R.I. Department of Health said these four counties are “medium” because they have a rate of more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

Hospital capacity and hospitalization numbers are still considered low throughout the state, the Health Department noted.

On Friday, the agency reported 302 new positive cases and 56 hospitalizations from COVID-19. There were no additional deaths.

The state as a whole has a rate of 220 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the data shows. That’s roughly double what it was a month ago.

For people in counties in the “medium” tier, the CDC recommends:

  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk
    • Talk to your health care provider about whether you should wear a mask
    • Have a plan for testing if needed
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatment
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease
    • consider self-testing before contact
    • consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
  • Get vaccinated

The Health Department said Rhode Island’s high vaccination rate and the availability of treatment has helped keep hospitalizations relatively low. As of Thursday, more than 80% of Rhode Islanders have completed the primary vaccine series and nearly 40% have gotten a booster shot.