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With COVID cases rising, CDC issues new guidance. What Rhode Islanders need to know. – The Providence Journal


Citing the latest data showing significant increases in the spread of COVID-19 and related hospitalizations nationally, the CDC on Wednesday said residents and leaders in many areas of the United States should adopt or consider adopting stricter containment measures, including mask-wearing in indoor public settings and more testing. Here’s what Rhode Islanders need to know.
Yes. The agency said its guidance applies to areas listed as medium or high on the Community Level rating system. Four Rhode Island counties are now listed as high: Providence, Kent, Bristol and Washington. Newport County is medium. 
Community risk is categorized as low (color-coded green), medium (yellow) or high (orange) “by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area,” according to the CDC.
On Thursday, Rhode Island reported no new coronavirus-related deaths and 1,043 additional cases of COVID-19 — the first time since Feb. 1 that more than 1,000 cases had been reported in a day. The state also reported 8,345 negative tests, for a 11.1% positive rate. Through Wednesday, Rhode Island had reported more cases per capita than any other state in the country over the previous seven days, although testing rates now vary dramatically from state to state. In Rhode Island, new cases are up 10% from a week ago and 38% from two weeks ago.
There were 103 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, compared to more than 600 at the height of the omicron wave in mid-January. The state Health Department reports that over the last month, about 40% of the COVID-positive patients tested positive after being admitted for reasons unrelated to the virus. COVID was the primary reason for hospitalization in only about a third of those patients.
No. Self-testing has proliferated and many – perhaps most – people who have learned that they are infected through self-testing do not report it to municipal, state or federal authorities.
“Although the reported number of cases in the U.S. is now over 100,000 per day, the real number is clearly orders of magnitude higher,” Brown University School of Public Health epidemiologist Mark Lurie told The Journal on Thursday. “We are clearly experiencing the next wave; who among us doesn’t know multiple people who have been infected during this wave?”
“With COVID-19 now an endemic disease in Rhode Island, we should expect moderate increases and decreases in our COVID-19 levels over the coming months,” Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken told The Journal in an email Thursday. “Fortunately, we now have an ample supply of vaccine, treatment and testing resources. For this reason, we don’t expect our case numbers and hospitalization numbers to get to the levels of January’s surge.”
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“Anyone who is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine should get up to date today,” Wendelken said. “A booster dose makes you 55 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Similarly, treatment is extremely effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. Ask your health care provider right away about treatment if you test positive for COVID-19.”
“Rhode Island is following the CDC’s guidance for community prevention measures,” Wendelken said. “For people in counties at the high level – which is now Bristol County, Kent County, Providence County, and Washington County – we recommend that you wear a high-quality mask when in indoor, public settings. When you wear a mask you protect the people around you, and a high-quality mask also provides the wearer with protection.”
The state has not, however, announced any intention of reinstating an indoor mask mandate. 
“If people are traveling, they should know that the CDC still recommends masks on public transportation and in transportation hubs,” according to Wendelken. “People should also be aware of the local recommendations related to COVID-19.”
Lurie said: “With many infectious people in the community, my recommendations would be, right now, to only travel if necessary, get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a well-fitting mask. Just because you want the virus to be over does not make it over.”
Yes, according to Lurie, who offered the same guidance as for state residents planning to travel.
Wendelken wrote that “this is one benefit of remaining consistent with the CDC’s standard guidance for limiting the spread of COVID-19: by consulting the CDC’s site, people coming to Rhode Island can learn about the COVID-19 recommendations here, and people traveling to other parts of the country from Rhode Island can learn about the COVID-19 recommendations where they are headed.”
Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven and Windham in Connecticut; Aroostook, Hancock and Penobscot in Maine; Barnstable (Cape Cod), Berkshire, Dukes (Martha’s Vineyard), Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk (Boston) and Worcester in Massachusetts; Grafton, Rockingham and Sullivan in New Hampshire; and Bennington, Rutland and Windsor in Vermont.
It’s happening again:COVID-19 cases are back on the rise in the U.S. There are 3 main reasons why.
With reports from Managing Editor Michael McDermott.
Cases in R.I.: 386,196 (1,043 reported Thursday)
Negative tests in R.I.: 7,494,797 (8,345 reported Thursday; 11.1% positive rate)
R.I. COVID-related deaths: 3,561 (0 reported Thursday)
Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 103 (6 in intensive care)
Fully vaccinated in R.I.: 832,181 (952,205 at least partially vaccinated)
Cases in Mass.: 1,830,028
Mass. COVID-related deaths: 20,453
Cases in U.S.: 83,005,804
U.S. COVID-related deaths: 1,001,433


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I am Zeba Anwer, a content writer who is still learning to make herself familiar with the world of technology. I am a writer by day and a reader by night who is still looking to make her footprint in the world of media.