PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Connecticut, New York and New Jersey officials updated their travel advisories on Tuesday to add Rhode Island and four other states to the list of those they consider “high risk” for COVID-19.
The advisory reflects states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
After Rhode Island was first added to the lists, Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state leaders argued that some national rankings had been overstating the positivity rate.
In a statement to 12 News on Tuesday, R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said it was the metric of daily cases per 100,000 people that led to Rhode Island being added to those lists, which he attributed to the state’s high testing rate.
“Rhode Island is doing more testing than any other state in country,” he said. “We are the only state with a dedicated, centralized K-12 testing system, and we have a very high proportion of college students in Rhode Island, almost all of whom are being tested.”
“Our aggressive testing strategy is key to our overall response as it allows us to quickly quarantine exposed individuals and prevent further transmission, but it does also result in comparatively higher incidence rates,” he continued. “When you examine our percent positive rate, we are well below the metric being used by these states.”
On Tuesday, the Health Department reported two more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the state’s total to 1,099, along with 92 new positive cases.
The daily positivity rate was 1.7%, according to health officials.
As of midday Tuesday, 82 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Rhode Island and of those, 10 were in the intensive care unit and seven were on ventilators.
New York and New Jersey also added Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada and Wyoming to its travel advisory lists on Tuesday.
Anyone who fails to follow these rules could face fines of up to $1,000 per violation.
Essential workers in critical infrastructure sectors are exempt from the travel advisory.
Rhode Island also remains on Massachusetts’ travel advisory list.