PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The rate of positive coronavirus tests in Rhode Island came out to 4.5% on Wednesday, as the data released by the R.I. Department of Health each weekday continues to show improvement.

That, however, comes as the state approaches another grim milestone in regards to the pandemic.

Another nine people in Rhode Island have died after contracting COVID-19, the Health Department said Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,996.

Health officials also reported 789 new infections and more than 17,500 coronavirus tests administered on Wednesday.

The daily positivity rate has been above the 5% threshold for the vast majority of days over the past two months, but it came out to 5% on Tuesday and 4.5% on Wednesday, even as the state administered more than 34,000 tests between the two days.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations fell to 375 on Thursday, according to the Health Department, which is the lowest since Nov. 21. Of those patients, 53 are currently in intensive care and 34 are on ventilators.

During Gov. Gina Raimondo’s briefing on Wednesday, she attributed the improving numbers to Rhode Islanders following the rules during her statewide pause and “keeping it safe and local over the holiday.”

“Five percent positivity is where we want to be, and it’s significantly better than where we had been two or three weeks ago” she said.

Thursday’s data also showed 39,500 people in Rhode Island have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, while more than 8,600 people have gotten their second and final shot.