The Rhode Island Department of Health has announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the weekly COVID-19 community levels for the state’s counties. According to the latest data, three counties in Rhode Island are now classified as “medium” risk – Bristol, Washington, and Newport – while Providence and Kent counties are classified as “high” risk. The state has seen a relatively small increase in COVID-19 activity, but it is not expected to last long. Health officials had anticipated an increase in respiratory virus activity, including COVID-19, around the holidays.
The CDC has issued recommendations for individuals in all counties to take preventive measures to stay healthy and safe. This includes staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, ventilating indoor spaces, avoiding contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and following recommendations for isolation if necessary. People in “medium” risk counties are encouraged to consider self-testing and masking around those who are at high risk for getting very sick, while those in “high” risk counties are recommended to wear high-quality masks in crowded, indoor public settings.
In addition to these measures, the CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, wash their hands frequently, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and stay home if they are sick. Children should also be kept home from daycare or school if they have a fever or other respiratory symptoms, and parents should contact their pediatrician or healthcare.
CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the weekly COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island’s counties. Three Rhode Island counties are designated as “medium” – Bristol County, Washington County, and Newport County. Two Rhode Island counites are designated as “high” – Providence County and Kent County. The relatively small increase in COVID-19 activity that Rhode Island is currently seeing is not expected to last long.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. Respiratory viruses (such as the flu) spread more readily when people gather, and when those gatherings are indoors. Local and national health officials anticipated an increase in respiratory virus activity, including COVID-19 activity, around the holidays.
CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations
Regardless of the designation of someone’s county, everyone should take certain prevention measures to stay healthy and safe.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, including recommended booster doses.
- 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.
Additionally, 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. (This is a recommendation, not a requirement.) The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online.
General measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses
COVID-19, the flu, and RSV are common examples of respiratory viruses.
- Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see health.ri.gov/flu.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.
- Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor’s office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.
About COVID-19 community levels
Each 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. More information on these three metrics is available online.