RI up to 42 confirmed cases of delta variant as infection rate increases


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the delta variant in Rhode Island jumped to 42 on Wednesday, according to new data from the R.I. Department of Health.

That’s an increase of 28 cases since the last update provided on July 12.

The confirmed cases are only a sample size, however, with the Health Department sequencing only a portion of new cases each week to screen for the highly contagious variant.

Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director with the Health Department, tells 12 News the delta variant is likely the dominant strain in the state currently.

“It’s really a reason why people need to get vaccinated and be a little more careful,” Chan said. “We are really, really not out of the woods yet.”

While Rhode Island on Wednesday surpassed 650,000 people fully vaccinated, demand for the vaccine has waned greatly. Data shows only about 650 doses are being administered each day, compared to roughly 8,000 per day during the peak in April.

The Health Department on Wednesday reported 91 new positive cases, which is the state’s largest single-day total since May 20.

For the second straight day, the daily positivity rate came out to 1.8%, which is the highest since May 16.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 persons over a 7-day period, which is used to track community transmission of the virus, jumped to 37.5, an increase of more than five cases since Tuesday and 27 since the beginning of the month.

Rhode Island is still considered “moderate transmission” under the CDC’s guidelines. If the rate rises to 50 or more new cases per 100,000 persons over seven days, the state will move into the “substantial transmission” category.

The Health Department also reported no additional deaths on Wednesday while the number of hospitalizations dipped to 20, with three patients in the intensive care unit and two on ventilators.

On Tuesday, Gov. Dan McKee noted how the most recent data shows roughly 92% who died or were hospitalized over the past two months were unvaccinated at the time.

While the vaccine protects against serious illness and death and reduces the spread of the virus, according to health officials, a person who is vaccinated can still test positive. These so-called “breakthrough cases” often involve less severe symptoms of COVID-19.

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