PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health has now identified a dozen cases of the so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus, an increase of three since last Monday.

The highly contagious strain is causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations in parts of the country and world with lower vaccination rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rhode Island has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, with 60% of the population fully vaccinated and more than 65% at least partially vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Health Department.

On Thursday, health officials reported a total of 24 new positive cases and a daily positivity rate of 0.3%, with more than 6,900 tests administered the previous day.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 persons over a seven-day period, which the CDC uses to track community transmission, has been trending slightly upward this week and now stands at 13.9.

As global COVID-19 deaths topped 4 million on Thursday, the state of Rhode Island reported no additional deaths for the eighth straight day.

Hospitalizations remained at 28, with two people in the intensive care unit and three on ventilators.

Later on Thursday, Gov. Dan McKee signed an executive order extending the state of emergency through Aug. 6, 2021. He previously stated the order is necessary to keep certain opportunities for businesses in place, like allowing takeout beer, wine and cocktails.