PROVIDENCE — All employees and visitors will be required to wear a mask indoors at state facilities as of Friday, even if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Daniel McKee’s administration announced Thursday.
“Rhode Island, like states around the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as a result of the delta variant,” James Thorsen, director of the state Department of Administration, wrote in a memo obtained by WPRI-TV and The Providence Journal. “The number one thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the delta variant is to get vaccinated.”
The policy will remain in effect until the state experiences a sustained decline in the transmission of COVID-19, the memo said.
People with a health condition that preclude them from wearing a mask can contact the contact the Human Resources Disability Management Unit.
Not everyone was on board with the mask requirement. State Rep. Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, called it “ridiculous” in a tweet.
McKee earlier this week said he was leaving masks in schools up to schools districts, although he recommended them.
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner this week announced that he will require his employees to either provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week.
All the key metrics used to measure the spread of the virus in the state have been climbing in recent weeks, and the director of the state Department of Health said earlier this week that about 75% of new cases can be blamed on the delta variant.
The department on Thursday reported more than 250 new confirmed cases and a 3.5% positivity rate from the previous day. No new deaths were reported.
The number of people hospital with the disease in the state was up to 89, according to the latest statistics, the most since mid-May.
More than 667,000 people in the state have now been fully vaccinated against the disease.