COVID-19 variant now dominant strain, RIDOH medical director says


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. James McDonald from the R.I. Department of Health emphasized the importance of masks again Thursday, especially as the variant originally found in the United Kingdom continues to spread across the state.

The B117 variant is now the dominant strain in Rhode Island, according to McDonald.

“If you got COVID today, more than half the folks, it’s the B117 variant,” he explained during his weekly interview on 12 News Now at 4. “It’s just a lot more contagious, and because it’s more contagious more people get it more easily.”

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said youth sports can be somewhat blamed for an increase in cases across the country, McDonald said that is not the case in Rhode Island.

“I don’t want to blame anybody,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to blame youth sports because youth sports have not been a big problem in Rhode Island.”

McDonald added they are seeing an uptick of cases and hospitalizations in younger people.

Watch the full interview with Dr. McDonald in the video below.

R.I. Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott gave a timeline for events to happen this summer in the state at the weekly coronavirus briefing Thursday, but said mask wearing will still be required.

“We have great vaccines, but they are not 100% effective and there will still be a large unvaccinated population,” McDonald said.

He said he estimates more than 85% of Rhode Islanders will need to be fully vaccinated before we can ditch face masks.

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