‘We need to keep going’: McKee continues push for vaccinations as case numbers rise


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Rhode Island continues to remain in good shape in terms of vaccination, but we need to keep going.”

That was Gov. Dan McKee’s message during his weekly briefing on Tuesday. He continue to tout how well the state is doing, saying almost 80% of adults are at least partially vaccinated and more than 72% are fully vaccinated, but also stressed the importance of getting more people immunized.

“The number-one thing that you and your loved ones can continue to do to protect yourself from COVID-19 and the delta variant is to get vaccinated,” he said.

McKee said when it comes to the RI Gives Vax Challenge, which awards $10,000 grants to local nonprofits that aided in the pandemic recovery efforts for every 5,000 doses administered, Rhode Islanders have exceeded expectations so far.

Earlier on Tuesday, he announced the 15 recipients of the third round of grants (for 15,000 doses administered), but also revealed the state has now passed 20,000 doses administered since the program launched in early June. The next round of grant recipients will be announced in the coming days, according to McKee.

The governor said the state is now performing outreach in “cold spots” — areas with the lowest vaccination rates — to encourage people to get vaccinated. The efforts started in Woonsocket back in June, shifted to Newport last week, and will continue Tuesday evening in West Warwick. McKee said they will be offering walk-up and drive-thru vaccinations at Thundermist Health Center on Providence Street from 4 to 7 p.m.

The vaccinations are free of charge and no health insurance is required.

The push for more vaccinations comes as Rhode Island sees an increase in new cases, fueled at least in part by the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. McKee said he and the R.I. Department of Health are closely monitoring the progression of the variant, which health officials believe is now the dominant strain in the state.

At a rate of nearly 111 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, Rhode Island is now squarely in the “high transmission” category as set by the CDC.

On Tuesday, the Health Department reported 154 new infections and a 3.5% positivity rate, with just over 4,400 tests administered the previous day.

While the state’s hospitalization and deaths rates have remained low as of late, as McKee noted during the briefing, the data shows Rhode Island is up to 37 hospitalizations, which is the most since mid-June.

Over the past two weeks, the Health Department has reported only two COVID-19-related deaths.

The agency also updated its weekly data on Tuesday, which showed increases in new hospital admissions by week (from 22 last week to 34 this week) and percent positive by week (from 1.8% to 3%).

Video Now: McKee takes questions at Tuesday’s briefing

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