Delta variant ‘spreading like wildfire’ as cases climb in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – As the Delta variant continues to spread throughout the United States, the effects are being felt here in Rhode Island.

According to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the percent positivity rate in the state is climbing, and new case numbers are rising. The hospitalization rate remains stable.

“We are seeing numbers go up here in the state of Rhode Island,” said Dr. Philip Chan, infectious disease expert for RIDOH. “So we’re seeing our percent positivity almost double, double from last week to now…1%, which is the highest it’s been in over a month. We’re also seeing the number of cases and new cases per 100,000 people have almost doubled in the last week. So most of the markers are headed in the wrong direction, unfortunately.”

Nationwide, average new daily cases are up 66% from last week and hospitalizations are up 26%, according to CDC data. The Delta variant is now the most prevalent strain of coronavirus, making up 83% of U.S. cases.

“The Delta variant is concerning. It’s one of these newer variants of COVID-19, something that first was identified in India. Essentially, it’s more infectious even than previous variants,” Dr. Chan explained. “Previous variants were about 50% more infectious than the previous strand of COVID-19 and this Delta variant is actually 50% more infectious than even these other variants. So that’s why it’s really spreading like wildfire throughout the world frankly, including the United States and Rhode Island.”

Dr. Chan said the increase and identification of new cases are mostly among those who are unvaccinated.

“I think it really speaks to the fact that people just need to get vaccinated. We have the answer to end this pandemic here in Rhode Island, here in the U.S., and it’s vaccines. The vaccines are effective against the variants, against the Delta variant.”

According to the CDC, less than half of the population nationwide is fully vaccinated. Dr. Chan said people should consider getting the shot not only to protect themselves but others around them, especially as students not yet eligible for a vaccine head back to school this fall.

“Certainly as the father of a ten-year-old who can’t get vaccinated yet, one of the reasons to get vaccinated is so we can protect our kids and certainly other vulnerable community members, and especially heading into the fall when we start school again. I think it’s critically important that as many people as possible get vaccinated.”

When it comes to reinstating mask mandates for all, Dr. Chan said RIDOH is discussing different options and at this time are reviewing the current data and will make decisions from there.

WLNE-TV 2021

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island