‘We will do what we need to do’: RI tourism industry watching new COVID variant closely

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While there have been no confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Rhode Island, the state’s tourism industry is worried that all of the progress that’s been made since the start of the pandemic will come undone.

R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said only time will tell whether the new variant will make its way to the Ocean State, which is why she’s urging everyone to remain on high alert.

“The state health laboratories already have the genomic surveillance system in place to detect this omicron variant, if it establishes a presence here in Rhode Island,” Alexander-Scott said.

Kristen Adamo, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, said even though the omicron variant hasn’t made it’s way to Rhode Island yet, the potential impacts of the new variant are top of mind.

“We are waiting to see what happens, the priority is safety above even profit or visitation,” Adamo said. “So, we will do what we need to do to make sure Rhode Islanders are safe.”

Evan Smith, CEO of Discover Newport, is also watching the new variant closely.

“I believe that the vast majority of the American public knows there is an inherent risk with mobility, but they accept that risk as they are so eager to the travel again and enjoy the multitude of experiences that they have missed for almost two years,” Smith said.

Right now, experts believe the current vaccine provides at least some protection against the omicron variant, which is why Alexander-Scott is urging everyone to either get vaccinated or get a booster shot.

“Like everyone in Rhode Island, families with children still need to be vigilant. The best step in terms of the vigilance is getting vaccinated,” Alexander-Scott said.

Adamo said right now, several sporting events are scheduled to take place in Rhode Island.

“We are projecting, if things hold, that we will have a slow, but steady, climb upwards for the rest of our fiscal year which will lead us into the summer,” she said.

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