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Governor reports Rhode Island’s 1st COVID omicron case

December 11, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor reported the state’s first case of the omicron variant of coronavirus in an adult who recently had traveled out-of-state.

Gov. Dan McKee and state health officials said Saturday that the person is in their 20s, lives in Providence County and recently returned from travel in New York. They completed a primary vaccination series and had no record of a booster shot. Officials are working on contact tracing.

The case was identified through the ongoing genomic surveillance program coordinated by the State Health Laboratories. Officials were expecting cases of omicron, given that the variant has been detected elsewhere in the region.

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“Rhode Island is prepared. This is not cause for panic,” McKee said in a statement.

McKee plans to announce a set of actions next week to address the growing number of COVID-19 cases and alleviate pressure on the hospital systems, while keeping schools open for in-person learning and preventing economic disruptions to small businesses. He’s finalizing the plans this weekend.

McKee and the health department encouraged residents to get vaccinated, get a booster shot if they’re already vaccinated, get tested and consider wearing a mask in crowded public places.

The health department announced Friday that it was expanding booster dose eligibility to residents ages 16 and older because U.S. health authorities had again expanded the nation’s booster campaign, opening extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to several million 16- and 17-year-olds.

McKee and state health officials are encouraging residents ages 16 and older to get a booster six months after their Pfizer or Moderna primary series or two months after their Johnson & Johnson vaccination. Only Pfizer booster doses are being administered to teenagers.

The state has had a high level of transmission since August. A holiday-season spike in cases and hospitalizations has hit even New England, one of the most highly inoculated corners of the country.