PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hospitals in Rhode Island are starting to feel the effects of the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases.
New data from the R.I. Department of Health shows there are 203 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, with 29 in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 15 on ventilators. That marks the first time there have been more than 200 hospitalizations in the state since mid-February.
The data also shows that the staffed ICU beds at six hospitals were at or above capacity as of Monday: Roger Williams Medical Center and Kent, Fatima, Newport and South County hospitals were at 100%, while Landmark Medical Center was at 138%.
“I was talking with one of the hospitals this morning, about how much is being driven by actually lack of workforce in terms of their capacity issues,” Gov. Dan McKee said Tuesday.
As for staffed inpatient beds, the state’s hospitals were at 86% capacity, according to the data, with six facilities at 83% of their beds filled or higher.
While the 203 COVID-19 patients represent less than 13% of of the state’s overall hospitalizations, the size of that group has doubled since the end of October.
On Tuesday, the Health Department disclosed that one more Rhode Islander had died after contracting COVID-19.
Health officials also reported 875 new infections and a 6.2% daily positivity rate, with more than 14,100 tests administered the previous day.
When asked if he’s considering reinstating the indoor mask mandate, given the rise in cases and hospitalizations, McKee indicated he’s taking a wait-and-see approach.
“Well, I think everything is on the table,” he replied. “We’ve done very well in the state without a great deal of mandates, and I think that’s the preference.”
McKee encouraged Rhode Islanders who are not yet vaccinated to do so, and for those that are — especially members of high-risk populations — to get a booster dose to maximize protection.
Health officials said the vaccine is the best way to prevent severe illness caused by the coronavirus, and early data shows it’s effective against the emerging omicron variant.
Meanwhile, the laboratory that processes the majority of the state’s PCR tests has been working around the clock to provide Rhode Islanders with their results.
The delays were initially caused by an equipment issue, according to health officials, and while that has since been resolved, the laboratory is working its way through the backlog of tests that have piled up.
On top of that, health officials said some long-term care facilities are seeing case increases.
The Health Department said since those situations require a lot of testing, processing those tests are typically prioritized by the state.