CDC: 4 of 5 Rhode Island counties now at ‘high’ community level for COVID-19

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now designated four of the five Rhode Island counties as “high” community level for COVID-19. 

Bristol, Kent, Providence, and Washington counties are now labeled as high, with Newport County remaining at medium. 

The CDC uses case rates, hospital admissions and occupied hospital beds as factors in designating a community level. 

For communities in the “high” category, the CDC strongly recommends masking in indoor settings. 

Rhode Island hospitalizations have ticked up a bit over the past few weeks from 67 for the week of April 23 to 120 for the week of May 14. 

To note, for the week of May 14 COVID was the primary cause for 37% of those 120 hospitalizations. 

“When the hospitalizations start to creep up because of COVID-19, that’s when the new CDC guidance starts to push things to a higher level,” said Dr. Philip Chan, an infectious disease specialist with the Rhode Island Department of Health. 

Cases have increased more dramatically, with 665 cases reported May 18 compared to 347 April 18. Although they are expected to continue to climb for the near future, Chan adding he does expect hospitalizations to start to trend down again in the next few weeks. 

“It’s not a reason to panic. We have been expecting this for some time,” Dr. Chan said. “It’s been a slow, upward climb for some time. The good news is, we don’t expect it to continue to go up much longer, we do expect it to go down in the next couple of weeks.” 

The peak for cases was Jan. 5 of this year, which saw 6,841 cases, hospitalizations also peaked in January with more than 600 people in the hospital at one time. 

Department of Health Interim Director Dr. James McDonald said that COVID-19 is in the endemic stage, which will make the increases and decreases in COVID levels more moderate but is urging Rhode Islander to still be mindful. 

“Serious illness from COVID-19 is now largely a preventable, treatable disease because of the tools and resources we have,” said McDonald. 

“Taking a few simple prevention steps when more COVID-19 is circulating, such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings and getting a booster dose, can help keep you and your loved ones safe,” he concluded.

*Note: All data points came from the Rhode Island Department of Health COVID 19 Data Tracker.

Categories: Regional News, Rhode Island, Your Health