PROVIDENCE, RI — All Rhode Island counties’ COVID risk are now considered medium, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports
Providence County, the sole RI region with a high level of infection last week, has since improved according to an update on the pandemic from the RI Department of Health (RIDOH). The new data place Rhode Island counties among 1,351, or 41.9 percent, in the nation with a medium community level of infection, according to the CDC.
CDC recommends that people in “medium” counties consider self-testing and masking when around those who are at high risk for getting very sick. CDC recommends that people in “high” counties wear high-quality masks while in crowded, indoor public settings. (A recommendation, not a requirement.) The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online.
Every week, the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as “low,” “medium,” or “high” using case rates, data on hospital admissions, and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Regardless of the designation of someone’s county, everyone should take certain prevention measures, RIDOH noted.
While all state counties’ risk are now medium, a new Omicron strain, XBB.1.5, considered still more contagious but not thought to cause more serious disease, is projected to comprise more than 70 percent of COVID-19 viruses in region 1, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The new strain is not only more contagious, but also more resistant to protection provided by prior infections and vaccination. Though those protections are less likely to prevent you from becoming sick with the new strain, they still protect against serious illness and death, noted American Medical Association (AMA) Vice President of Science, Medicine and Public Health Andrea Garcia.
“Well, XBB1.5 has gone from 1 percent to nearly 28 percent of COVID cases here in the U.S. pretty quickly. Scientists are reporting that it appears to bind more tightly to cells in the human body than the predecessors. It also seems to be more resistant than earlier variants to immune system antibodies. So we’re likely going to continue to see that increase in cases.
We know that getting vaccinated and staying up to date on COVID boosters still remains that best form of protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death, and that updated booster offers that added protection against those variants that are currently circulating,” Garcia said in a recent interview about the new strain posted by the AMA.
RIDOH offered the following health reminders as the pandemic continues:
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses. The Omicron booster doses currently being administered are providing good protection against the dominant variant circulating in Rhode Island.
- Ventilate indoor spaces as well as possible.
- Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with a healthcare provider about additional prevention actions.
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