Rhode Island health system halts hospital visits as COVID outbreak worsens

The state's new cases, hospitalizations and testing positivity rate are rising.

November 3, 2020, 4:23 PM

Rhode Island's largest health care system, Lifespan, has suspended visitation in its hospitals as the state's COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity testing rate continue to rise.

"Care teams will encourage the use of devices such as smartphones to communicate with patients remotely, and, when available, the use of iPads for virtual visits," Lifespan said on its website. If patients don't have a device to use for virtual visits, according to its website, Lifespan will provide one.

Exceptions to the rule, which went into effect Monday, include Hasbro Children's Hospital, which allows one parent to visit at a time and Newport Hospital's maternity ward, which allows one birthing partner per patient. One adult may accompany a patient arriving in the emergency department, and that visitor's stay will be limited.

PHOTO: In this screen grab taken from Google Maps, Rhode Island Hospital is shown.
In this screen grab taken from Google Maps, Rhode Island Hospital is shown.
Google Maps Street View

As of Tuesday, Rhode Island had reported 34,543 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 1,212 related deaths, according to the state health department. Rhode Island's testing positivity rate was 3.3% this week, which is lower than the 5% threshold the World Health Organization recommends governments get their positivity testing below.

Still, that rate has been slowly rising since September, and combined with increasing cases and hospitalizations, it suggests Rhode Island's outbreak is moving in the wrong direction.

On a national level, hospitals are filling -- 21% of hospitals across the country had more than 80% of their ICU beds filled the week of Oct. 24 through Oct. 30, compared to 17% to 18% during the summertime peak, according to an internal Health and Human Services memo obtained by ABC News.

ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

What to know about the coronavirus:

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events