COVID-19 variant could throw a wrench in summer plans, RIDOH medical director says


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. James McDonald from the R.I. Department of Health is hopeful that Rhode Islanders will be able to enjoy a fun and somewhat normal summer, but cautioned that COVID-19 variants could throw a wrench in people’s plans.

“Plan for fun, I plan on it,” he said. “Everything is heading in the right direction right now.”

But he cautioned, “The variant is the wild card. It could ruin everyone’s summer.”

McDonald said so far the state has reported seven cases of the U.K. variant, 4 cases of the California variant and one of the New York variant.

McDonald said he is hopeful that all adults will be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine by May, a goal that President Joe Biden announced earlier this week.

He hopes the state will distribute all 9,100 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson shot by Sunday.

McDonald said he’s not worried about Rhode Island reaching the goal to have 70-75-percent of people immunized.

“Rhode Island has a rich tradition of being friendly to vaccines,” he said. “We tend to lead the country in vaccines.”

McDonald initially said that vaccine doses would be doubling next week, but a spokesperson later clarified that doses have doubled over the past month.

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