PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Rhode Island is up to 103 as the state continues to see a surge in new cases.
The state hasn’t had more than 100 hospitalizations since May 11, according to data from the R.I. Department of Health.
Since reaching a low of 19 on July 22, the number of hospitalizations has been gradually increasing. However, it’s still a far cry from the height of the second surge in mid-December, when the state had more than 500 hospitalizations.
On Wednesday, the Health Department reported 301 new infections and a daily positivity rate of 2.9%, with nearly 10,300 tests administered the previous day.
One additional COVID-19-related death was disclosed.
The Health Department also released new information Wednesday about the requirement for all staff at state-licensed health care facilities and providers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.
Health care workers who fail to meet the deadline will not be allowed to enter a medical facility unless they provide proof of a medical exemption, health officials said. Violations may also result in financial penalties and a suspension or revocation of a facility’s license, along with any disciplinary action issued by the individual employer.
The mandate includes staffers who have direct contact with patients and those who don’t, as well as volunteers and interns.
“The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the delta variant, is vaccination,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said in a statement. “For the safety of our health care workers, patients, and for our health care system overall, today’s announcement is a very important step.”
Lynn Blais, president of United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP), released a statement Wednesday saying that while the union supports the mandatory vaccinations, they took issue with how the state issued the requirement.
“No one understands the devastating toll that COVID-19 has taken on our communities more than nurses and health professionals, and we will do our part to help end the suffering,” she said.
“There are issues surrounding the implementation of the mandate that we believe should be bargained, including the scope of medical exemptions and flexibility around the October 1 deadline for our members who have yet to get their first vaccine shot,” Blais continued. “We believe the UNAP, the state of Rhode Island, and hospital employers must keep an open dialogue on these issues, especially in light of the ongoing nursing shortage.”
Prior to the October deadline, unvaccinated health care employees must wear a mask and get tested at least twice per week, according to the Health Department.
Visit the Health Department’s website for more information on the new vaccine mandate.
A 12 News analysis of Health Department and CDC data shows 66.5% of Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated, while 60.5% are considered fully vaccinated.
Gov. Dan McKee and other state leaders plan to hold their next COVID-19 briefing at 2 p.m. Thursday. 12 News plans to broadcast it live on WPRI 12 and WPRI.com.