PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine appointments were available Tuesday for anyone 16 years and older that lives, works, or goes to school in Rhode Island.
The state’s vaccine appointment website, VaccinateRI.org, had about 26,000 open appointments Tuesday morning before adding another 9,000 at 9 a.m.
Roughly a quarter of the state’s population became newly eligible this week, when the state expanded eligibility to anyone between the ages of 16 and 39.
More than 482,000 Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, according to new data released Tuesday by the R.I. Department of Health, and of those, 333,000 are considered fully vaccinated.
Three more Rhode Islanders have died after contracting COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 2,654.
Health officials also reported 318 new cases on Tuesday and a 2.5% daily positivity rate, with around 12,650 tests administered on Monday.
The most recent weekly data provided by the Health Department shows positive cases are increasing among all age groups except 19-29 and people over 70.
According to the weekly data, Rhode Island has seen declines in percent positive by week (from 2.5% last week to 2.3% this week) and new cases per 100,000 people by week (from 279 to 255), while new hospital admissions by week increased from 143 to 159.
Currently, 153 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the state, with 30 in the intensive care unit and 23 on ventilators.
According to Gov. Dan McKee’s office, recent CDC data shows Rhode Island leads the nation in percentage of people 65 and older who are fully vaccinated at 79.8%. The national average in this age group is 65.9%.
Rhode Island is also in the top five states for the percentage of the total population with at least one dose of vaccine at 44.9%, whereas the national average is 39.5%.
Rhode Islanders previously eligible in Phase 2 or Phase 1 remain eligible to make an appointment at a state-run or regional site or associated independent pharmacy, in addition to retail pharmacies, local clinics, and hospitals.
Right now, appointments are only being booked for Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines while the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine remains paused. Last week, the CDC and FDA announced six of 7 million U.S. recipients reported experiencing severe and unusual blood clots.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said Monday the CDC and FDA were looking into “a handful of cases” reported after the pause took effect.
Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said Tuesday the state has not received any reports of the rare blood clots to date.