Rising COVID cases and hospitalizations have Rhode Islanders on alert

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — COVID cases are on the rise in Rhode Island.

“I think we’re heading in the wrong direction as far as cases go,” said Dr. James McDonald of the Rhode Island Department of Health. “When you see the number of cases going up day after day, it’s time for everybody to just look in the mirror and pause and say, ‘What am I doing here? Am I helping the pandemic come to a close?’”

Hospitalizations are up too — but so far, not necessarily deaths.

“When you see more cases obviously more people end up in the hospital,” McDonald said. “We haven’t seen as much in the deaths, that takes a long time to see. But I think because there’s some advances in treatment, we’re seeing a little better control of the number of folks who are passing. Part of it too is when we look at the people identified in cases, they’re generally younger.”

But the health department is also seeing a spike in cases among people ages 50 to 59.

“Which surprises me, because you would think people my age would quite frankly know better,” McDonald said.

He says it also indicates widespread community transmission.

“It’s not nursing homes right now, it’s not K-12, and it’s not the colleges that are driving it in Rhode Island,” McDonald said. “It’s more broad, it’s all of us.”

Healthcare systems say they’re concerned about the increased hospitalizations, but they say compared to the first wave, this time, they’re better prepared.

“We are using Remdesivir, the antiviral medication,” said Care New England Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Erica Hardy. “In certain situations we’re using dexamethasone in patents that are sicker. Those work somewhat, unfortunately nothing is a magic bullet.”

Dr. Hardy says Care New England is also better prepared when it comes to PPE, and has adequate staffing now — but that could change if the situation worsens.

“If staff gets sick, or is quarantining or has to leave the workforce or quarantine, then I think we could face some shortages, for sure,” she said.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island