COVID-19 hospitalizations top 400 in RI as 2nd field hospital opens


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Both of Rhode Island’s field hospitals have begun accepting patients as the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations continues to climb.

The state currently has 410 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, according to data released Tuesday by the R.I. Department of Health, which is the most in Rhode Island since the start of the pandemic. The previous high of 377 was set back in late April.

The state is averaging more than 50 new hospital admissions per day, the data shows.

Of those 410 patients, 41 are in intensive care and 23 are on ventilators.

Another seven people have died after contracting the virus, bringing the reported total to 1,380.

The Health Department also announced 1,043 new infections and a daily positivity rate of 9.5%, with 10,960 tests administered on Monday.

In addition, health officials added 145 newly disclosed cases to prior-day totals over the past two weeks.

Just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, the first patient arrived at the field hospital set up inside the Rhode Island Convention Center in downtown Providence, which is run by Lifespan.

Patients transferred from Lifespan facilities will be brought in through the loading dock in the back of the building. The facility has 600 beds and Lifespan officials say they expect more than two dozen of them will be filled by the end of Tuesday.

On Monday, Care New England started sending positive patients to its field hospital at the former Citizens Bank call center in Cranston. Doctors there say they could have 20 patients by the end of the week.

Dr. Laura Forman, Kent Hospital’s director of emergency medicine, said they have an overflow of both COVID-related and non-COVID-related illnesses.

“We have reached both the total number of beds and the number of staff we have to take care of patients there, which is why we have to move them to the field hospital,” she said.

Even though the designated COVID beds are full and the staff assigned to serve them are already spread thin, there are other non-COVID issues doctors are addressing as well.

12 News cameras got an inside look at the Convention Center before patients started being admitted. The beds were on standby, each with its own oxygen supply.

Lifespan said the field hospital was designed with COVID-19 patients nearing the end of their care in mind.

Doctors anticipate that hospitalizations will increase in the coming weeks.

“We’re expecting it will be a couple of weeks until we know just how much damage was done by people over Thanksgiving,” Forman added.

Currently, doctors say they have enough medical staff to work these centers, but there is still a call for anyone with experience who is able to help to consider doing so.

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