PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island continued to escalate Thursday as officials consider whether to heed the CDC’s updated mask recommendations.
R.I. Department of Health data shows the state had a rate of more than 76 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, an increase of 10 since Wednesday.
The Health Department reported 167 new cases — the highest single-day total since May — and a daily positivity rate of 2.7%.
On Wednesday, the state disclosed four new cases linked to the highly contagious delta variant, which is said to be fueling the increase in infections locally and nationwide.
While no deaths were reported again on Thursday, hospitalizations increased to 32, with seven patients in the intensive care unit and four on ventilators.
Rhode Island officials announced Wednesday it would be following the CDC’s guidance in strongly recommending that students and teachers wear masks when they go back to school in the fall. There will not be a statewide mandate, they said, and the decision will be left up to the individual districts.
The CDC is also recommending that people in areas with high transmission rates go back to wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
State leaders are expected to decide soon whether to adhere to those guidelines.
Gov. Dan McKee, who’s traditionally followed the CDC’s guidance, seemed hesitant to make that recommendation earlier this week, citing the state’s vaccination rates.
A 12 News analysis of data from the Health Department and CDC shows roughly 64% of the state’s population is at least partially vaccinated, while 59% is considered fully vaccinated.
This story will be updated once McKee’s decision on indoor mask-wearing is announced.