RI reports 1 more dead, 296 new COVID-19 cases


(AP File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Health reported Friday one more person has died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 2,752 people.

The state’s newly released data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations increased slightly to 98 people, but new daily infections fell slightly to 296. The daily positivity rate totaled 3%, according to health officials.

COVID-19 has been making a steady comeback since infections started increasing again in July, causing some concern among state officials ahead of the 2021-22 school year that’s expected to begin next month. Rhode Islanders 11 years and younger are currently ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

As a result, Gov. Dan McKee this week signed an executive order mandating that masks be worn in schools. The order comes after weeks of him saying he wanted local school districts to decide for themselves.

The new data Friday shows Rhode Island has reported about 195 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week. The rate is used by federal health officials to determine how quickly the virus is spreading, and anything above 100 new cases per 100,000 people is considered “high transmission” — the highest level.

The new infections are largely being fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, according to health officials.

Hospitalizations continue to trend upward, following a pattern that started in late July. At least 21 new people were admitted to the hospital two days ago, and state officials have said they are preparing the Cranston field hospital to be ready in the event it’s needed for overflow purposes in the coming weeks.

The makeshift hospital outfitted in a former office building was closed earlier this year when hospitalizations were plummeting.

A 12 News analysis of Health Department data shows Rhode Island is currently vaccinating about 978 new people per day, with nearly 61% of the state’s total population fully vaccinated. State officials estimate there are about 179,000 Rhode Islanders currently eligible for the vaccines who have not yet received a first dose, which has been widely available for months.

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