National Guard deployed to Butler Hospital, 90% of positive COVID-19 cases deemed Omicron variant

The governor said that the state is working towards three goals: increasing testing capacity, increasing vaccination capacity, and relieving stress on the state's hospitals.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)- Govenor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health held a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, the first of the New Year.

Governor McKee opened up the briefing by stating his three goals: increasing testing capacity, increasing vaccination capacity, relieving stress on the state’s hospitals while supporting staffing needs.

McKee says this week Rhode Island administered 175,000 COVID tests, meaning that 17% of the state tested in one week.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said during Wednesday’s press conference, that 90% of the infections in Rhode Island are the Omicron variant.

An additional 100,000 rapid-at-home-COVID-19 tests have arrived in the Ocean State. Those tests will be distributed to cities and towns soon, according to the state. McKee said that he expects more tests to arrive soon.

Testing is not absolutely critical for those who are asymptomatic, a close contact, or work in a high-risk setting, according to Dr. Alexander Scott.

The governor said that the National Guard will begin helping staff the state’s hospitals. The state is deploying 60 National Guard members to assist at Butler Hospital.

“Deploying RING to Butler will allow the hospital to increase its capacity, to accept patient transfers, allowing other hospitals to send ‘non-critical’ care patients to Butler and free up more beds at the other facilities,” McKee stated.

CCRI nursing students will also be helping in hospital facilities, earlier than usual as part of their clinical rotation. About 66 students have stepped up to help as of Wednesday.

McKee says he would like R.I. to follow a similar route as New York and Massachusetts, where hospital data will differentiate patients with COVID, from those who just tested positive but were there for something else.

Vaccines and booster shots are “excellent ways to keep people out of the hospital,” Dr. Alexander-Scott said.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island