Rhode Island governor extends pandemic executive orders

December 12, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor has extended his executive orders requiring masks in schools and declaring a disaster emergency due to new COVID-19 variants.

Both orders were due to expire Saturday. Gov. Dan McKee signed an extension through Jan. 8.

McKee reported on Saturday the state’s first case of the omicron variant of coronavirus in an adult who recently had traveled out-of-state.

McKee and state health officials said 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.

McKee plans to announce a set of actions this 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 currently finalizing the plans.

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.