PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has reported more coronavirus cases per capita than any other state in the country during the last week, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker shows Rhode Island averaged about 110 daily cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
Minnesota and South Dakota are the only other two states in the country with 100 or more, averaging about 105 and 100 cases, respectively.
Connecticut is ranked 30th in the country with 60 new cases per 100,000 people, while Massachusetts ranked 32nd with 58 new cases per 100,000.
Data released Monday by the R.I. Department of Health showed 3,324 new infections in the state since data was last provided on Friday. In addition to the new infections, the Health Department also added 359 newly disclosed cases to prior-day totals over the past two weeks.
Another 35 people in Rhode Island have died after contracting the virus, bringing the total to 1,448.
As of midday Monday, 422 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital, of which 45 were in intensive care and 30 were on ventilators.
Monday marks the halfway point of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s latest round of restrictions on business and social activity. The shutdowns, which the governor is calling a “two-week pause,” are supposed to run through Dec. 13. and are intended to reduce community transmission of the coronavirus.
The governor has said the decision to implement the new restrictions stems in part from the recent increase in cases and hospitalizations.
On Friday, the Health Department reported 1,326 new coronavirus infections and a daily positivity rate of 9.2%, with 14,478 tests administered on Thursday.
The latest surge of new infections and hospitalizations has already topped the highest levels seen during Rhode Island’s first wave of the pandemic in the spring, according to 12 News’ COVID-19 Tracking page.
Asked Friday why Rhode Island appears to be doing worse relative to its neighbors, White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx defended the state and its response strategy.
“Rhode Island is really no different than any other place in the country where people have moved indoors, brought the virus with them — many people are asymptomatic, so the virus is being spread to others,” Birx said in an exclusive interview with 12 News.
She also pointed to the state’s high level of testing per capita, suggesting health officials are capturing a greater share of the infections that exist throughout the community.
Rhode Island is administering the most tests per capita compared to any other state, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks coronavirus data across the country.
Yet robust testing alone doesn’t explain the high rate of infections, as other New England states — namely Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont — are also testing a high number of people per capita, but rank far lower than Rhode Island when it comes to infections.
ALL STATE COMPARISON OF TESTING EFFORTS
While Raimondo’s latest shutdown orders are supposed to end after this week, the governor hasn’t discounted the possibility that they will continue beyond the two-week period.
Raimondo last week said she was encouraged by early signs of compliance — such as high rates of businesses following health and safety guidelines, along with traffic volume declining more than in previous years — but she highlighted that two weeks might not be enough.
“Early data suggests Rhode Islanders are listening,” Raimondo said during her weekly coronavirus news conference last Thursday. “Am I going to lift the pause? I don’t know. … We have to see if people keep following the rules.”
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