Nationally, COVID-19 cases are soaring. The country is averaging more than seven times the amount of cases per day as it was at the start of July, and in Rhode Island, the number of positive tests has increased by 237 percent over the last 14 days.
This all begs the question: Should Rhode Island re-institute its mask mandate?
So far, governor Dan McKee has been hesitant to do so. Earlier this week, McKee defended the state’s high rate of vaccination among those 18 and older, which sits at 72.3 percent — ranked fifth in the nation.
McKee also defended the number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in the state. While cases have more than doubled in the last 14 days, hospitalizations have been cut in half and the state is still averaging less than one death a day from the virus.
Even with the delta variant, McKee expressed confidence in the current situation.
“We have addressed this issue and unless that changes drastically, we don’t have to pull the alarm,” McKee said.
McKee paints the story of a state that is in no need of a new mask mandate — at least yet — and the numbers back him up. Until hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 begin to increase, McKee shouldn’t implement a new mask mandate.
That doesn’t mean the fight against COVID-19 is over. There are many areas in which the state needs to remain vigilant, the most obvious being vaccinations.
While the numbers might be trending in a positive direction at the moment, the only way to keep deaths and hospitalizations down is to achieve a high level of vaccinations. Instead of putting effort into reinstituting a mask mandate, the state should be working on encouraging vaccinations.
To some extent, they already are. In areas of the state where vaccination rates remain low — such as West Warwick, Woonsocket and Newport — the state is organizing “vaccine days of action,” McKee said.
It’s not enough. The state should be doing everything in its power to encourage people to get vaccinated so that it can become a national leader.
The state is fortunate to be in a position where re-issuing a mask mandate isn’t necessary. It should take advantage of its good fortune and work to set the pace nationally in vaccinations.
Unbiased, Unfiltered. WBOB's Original Reads feature our brightest and boldest personalities, offering their two-cents on the goings on of news, sports, politics, entertainment, and business. -- Are our opinions always PC? Nope. Are they always perfect? Nah. But, are they always 100% authentic? Absolutely!