R.I. confirms first case of COVID omicron variant

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 omicron variant, a Providence County resident in their 20s who recently returned from New York, Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s office announced on Saturday.

“We fully expected that omicron would eventually be detected in Rhode Island, as it has been in our neighboring states,” McKee said in a statement. “Rhode Island is prepared. This is not cause for panic. …  We know the best way to protect ourselves from delta, omicron or any other variant is to get vaccinated, get boosted, get tested and consider wearing a mask in crowded public places.”

McKee’s office said he will be meeting with “his whole government team” this weekend to finalize executive actions he plans to announce next week to address rising COVID-19 cases, “alleviate pressures on our hospital systems, [keep] our schools open for in-person learning and [prevent] economic disruptions to our small businesses.”

State health officials said the person who tested positive for the omicron variant had completed a primary vaccination series and has no record of a booster shot. They said contact tracing is ongoing.

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State Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott in a statement urged Rhode Islanders to stay vigilant in preventing the spread of the virus.

“Vaccination, booster doses, mask wearing, testing, social distancing and ventilation are all critical to minimizing the spread of any variant of COVID-19,” she said. “In advance of the holidays, these measures are more important than ever.”