PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s reported death toll from COVID-19 increased to 1,233, according to new data released Monday by the R.I. Department of Health.
Another nine people in the state have died after contracting the virus since data was last released on Friday.
The data also shows 1,521 new infections in the state since Friday.
In addition to the 1,521 new cases reported since Friday, the Health Department also added 107 newly disclosed cases to prior-day totals over the past two weeks.
The revised data shows daily cases exceeded 600 three times last week.
The daily positivity rate for Monday was 6.7% — its highest level since May 12.
As of early Monday afternoon, 212 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Rhode Island, of which 27 were in intensive care and 17 were on ventilators, according to health officials. That’s the highest number of hospitalizations in the state since May 28 when there were 214.
New restrictions enacted by Gov. Gina Raimondo last week in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus went into effect Sunday night. Those include a stay-at-home advisory from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. (10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), along with coinciding business closures, increased mask-wearing, and reduced capacity at big box stores, catered events, and indoor and outdoor venues.
Dr. James McDonald, the Health Department’s chief medical director, warned that if Rhode Islanders don’t buckle down and follow their guidance, the situation could get worse in the coming weeks.
“When we go indoors even more, we are going to turn our heating systems on. When we turn our heating system on, the relative humidify in our homes will drop and the virus goes further and faster,” he explained.
“There is still time to get ahead of this,” Dr. McDonald added. “We don’t have to have a really bad Thanksgiving and Christmas. We really can get this under control before then.”
Due to the sheer volume of cases, contact tracing can sometimes taking days to complete, according to Dr. McDonald. He also reiterated that people should keep their social circles small and stable.
“People have more contacts and that doesn’t makes sense to me because as the pandemic has gone along, we really need to hanging around less people,” he said.
Dr. Jeremiah Schuur, Lifespan’s chief of emergency medicine, told 12 News that if the trend continues, local hospitals could reach capacity. However, the state has a 300-bed field hospital at the ready in Cranston should it be necessary.
“It’s alarming because we know that by the time we are seeing a lot of cases in the hospital, it means there are many-fold more cases in the community,” Dr. Schuur said. “As we see things rise, we really hope that as few patients as possible get sick with this so we don’t have to see the suffering that we saw in the spring.”
“The only thing we can do to safely get through this winter is to wear a mask, keep groups small and socially distanced.” he added.
Across the border, Gillette Stadium officials announced Monday that no fans will be allowed at Patriots or Revolution games for the remainder of the 2020 season.