This State Where COVID Was Plummeting Is Now Seeing Numbers Spike

While some believed the state had contained coronavirus, new cases are on the rise.

There isn't much good news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. With COVID cases surging throughout the country—and a few hard-hit states emerging as new epicenters of the crisis—there's a strong desire to find a success story. But with numbers on the rise almost everywhere, even the states that appear to be on track to contain COVID can face setbacks. In recent days, Rhode Island has been hailed as a model to follow, a state that managed to reverse course and get its outbreak under control. That celebration, however, may have come too soon, as the smallest U.S. state saw new coronavirus cases double last week.

According to the latest data from Reuters, Rhode Island's 321 cases for the week ending in July 12 represent a 106 percent rise in new cases, meaning the number of new COVID infections more than doubled from the week before. The only state that saw a larger increase was Kentucky, where new cases went up 163 percent.

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The significant jump in Rhode Island's cases is especially surprising given that recent coverage of the state has been so focused on how effectively it has managed the COVID crisis. On July 13, a Bloomberg opinion writer said that Gov. Gina Raimondo "has wrestled COVID-19 to the ground in her state and demonstrated ideas and resolve that could help guide the rest of the country in moving forward." And a July 8 Politico article also described Rhode Island as having nearly returned to normalcy, claiming "coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations, and infections have been plummeting since April."

The reality is a bit more complicated than that, as it now seems that Rhode Island is seeing a coronavirus spike like many states across the nation. As the Providence Journal noted on July 13, "The seven-day average of new cases now stands at 55, its highest point since June 19. The number of new cases reported on Saturday, 78, was highest in a single day since June 12." There are currently just under 17,500 COVID cases in Rhode Island, and there have been nearly 985 deaths.

rhode island seascape

That's not to say that Raimondo's efforts at containment have not been effective: Rhode Island is in a much better place now than it once was. While Rhode Island has not gotten nearly as much attention as its surrounding states, it has the fifth-highest infection rate in the country (1,651 cases per 100,000 people), as well as the fifth-highest death rate (93 COVID deaths per 100,000 people). The state's thorough contact tracing and low positive test rate reflect a marked improvement.

Still, the disparity between the narrative and the numbers offers a stark reminder that the coronavirus situation in the country is constantly evolving. With cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increasing nationwide, it may be premature for any state to be taking a victory lap. And for more areas to keep an eye on, The CDC Warns That These Are the Next 10 Coronavirus Hotspots.

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