PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island National Guard could soon be providing support to hospitals as the state continues to see more COVID-19 cases than ever before.
New data released Tuesday by the R.I. Department of Health showed there were a total of 15,214 new cases between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3, while 1,014 cases were added to the daily totals prior to that.
The daily case count topped 4,000 for the first time on Thursday, then again on Monday, the data shows. This follows the first three days with more than 3,000 new cases last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thirty more Rhode Islanders have died after contracting COVID-19 since data was last released on Thursday, according to the Health Department’s data.
The data also shows the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital increased to 382, with 48 in the intensive care unit and 33 on ventilators. That’s still well below the hospitalization levels seen in December 2020, however, before the vaccine became widely available.
The most hospitalizations Rhode Island has had at one time was 513 on Dec. 15, 2020, and the most ICU patients was 72 later that same month.
Gov. Dan McKee tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he’s making arrangements to have the R.I. National Guard bolster the staffing at the state’s health care facilities. He said members are currently helping with testing and vaccinations around the state.
McKee paid a visit to Rhode Island Hospital and later told 12 News that while the facility is at 65% of its normal patient capacity, it’s actually at 113% capacity once the staffing issues are factored in.
“What we saw was exactly what’s been described,” he added. “There’s a stress and there’s pressure. They’re very professional, they’re dealing with it, and they’re working their way through those issues.”
McKee also said the state is looking to open urgent care centers in an effort to relieve the pressure on emergency rooms.
The governor estimated that 50-75% of the current COVID-19 hospitalizations are people who are not vaccinated.
“You’ve made your decision to not get vaccinated. I don’t understand it, but I certainly will respect it,” he said. “But you need to take special precautions right now.”
The Health Department announced Tuesday that the state-run testing site at Cranston’s Chapel View shopping center has been moved down the street to 100 Sockanosset Cross Road.
Anyone who had an appointment scheduled at Chapel View should instead go to the new site, which the Health Department says is the same location as the state-run vaccination clinic, just in a different part of the building.
The move was made to accommodate more people, according to the Health Department. Roughly 450 tests per day were being administered at Chapel View, whereas Sockanosset has a capacity of 600, and health officials hope to increase that to 1,000 daily tests by the end of this week.
Currently, the new site offers only rapid tests and accepts both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients by appointment only. To book a slot, visit portal.ri.gov or call (401) 222-8022.
Additionally, McKee’s office said several community-based vaccination clinics will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 5:
- East Providence: 585 Taunton Ave. – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Moderna, Pfizer 5-11, Pfizer 12+)
- Pawtucket: Northern Plaza, 301 Main St. – 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. (Moderna, Pfizer 12+, J&J)
- Little Compton: Brownell Library, 44 Commons – 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pfizer 12+)
- Providence: West End Community Center, 109 Bucklin St. – 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Moderna, Pfizer 12+)
- Providence: Providence Children’s Museum, 100 South St. – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Pfizer 5-11)
- Pawtucket: McCoy Stadium, 1 Columbus Ave. – 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Moderna, Pfizer 12+, J&J)