Variants of concern spread as vaccine rollout continues


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While Rhode Island and Massachusetts were previously set to make all adults eligible for a COVID vaccine by April 19, now every state is being directed by President Joe Biden to do the same.

R.I. Department of Health (RIDOH) spokesperson Joseph Wendelken tells 12 News the new directive will not affect planning in Rhode Island.

“The State has the capacity to administer 160,000 doses each week and we have every indication that the state will reach our targets as supply increases,” Wendelken wrote in an email.

As of Tuesday’s data released by RIDOH, 262,243 people have been fully vaccinated.

Even as about a third of Americans have gotten at least one dose, more contagious COVID variants are still spreading.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country is on the brink of another surge, and states should slow down on lifting restrictions.

“They’re pulling back on mask mandates, they’re pulling back on restrictions on capacity for restaurants and bars,” Fauci said. “It is premature to declare a victory.”

The latest data on variants from the Health Department indicates Rhode Island COVID cases have involved at least four “variants of concern,” including two strains from California, plus Brazil and the United Kingdom.

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