Burrillville COVID-19 case rate exceeded state average as Omicron variant began to sweep RI


BURRILLVILLE – The number of COVID cases in Burrillville was well beyond the state average prior to the recent surge of the virus, according to data published by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Town residents show an average of 304 positive cases compared to the states’s rate of 206 per 100,000 by statistics published in late November. At the start of last month, Burrillville’s rate per 100,000 was at 371, compared to the state’s 156.

That data, however, did not account for the latest Omicron variant first reported to the World Health Organization on November 24. The variant is thought to be more contagious but less deadly, and led to a record-breaking number of positive cases reported in in a single day in Rhode Island on Tuesday, Dec. 28, of 2,379.

As the number of new cases continues to rise, the statewide rate per 100,000 had jumped to 673 for the last reported week of December 12 through 18. Rhode Island’s rate of COVID cases is now nearing pre-vaccine levels, which hit 772 per 100,000 in December of 2020. A town-by-town breakdown of the recent rates shows town-wide positive cases are now just below Rhode Island’s at 608.

While staffing shortages remain a major concern at medical facilities in the state, hospitalizations have fortunately kept a somewhat lower rate of increase. As of Monday, Dec. 27, 317 Rhode Islanders were hospitalized, compared with 513 in December of last year. And 44 COVID-19 patients were in the ICU, compared with 66 during the virus’s last peak in December of 2020.

Data tracked since March of 2020 shows that Burrillville has now had 3,137 cases since the start of the pandemic, including with 130 hospitalizations, putting the overall rate per population the 12th highest among Rhode Island’s 39 communities. Neighboring North Smithfield shows the 18th highest rate per population, with 2,110 cases and 119 hospitalizations.

Central Falls continues to have the highest rate per 100,000, with a total of 5,501 cases, while Providence comes in second with a total of 41,352 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The town’s rate of hospitalizations from COVID-19 – also calculated per 100,000 – was at 55 in November according to the state data, which shows zero hospitalizations among those living in North Smithfield. With counts of less than 5 hospitalizations displayed as “0,” the data shows the number of patients in the hospital from the neighboring town remaining very low since last May, when there were 40 per 100,000 from North Smithfield. But the data was last updated in November.

The rate of cases in Burrillville has exceeded the rate statewide at various points since the peak last year, according to a historic comparison. Just before the spike in December of 2020, Burrillville’s rate was at 1,495 per 100,000, while the statewide rate was at 2,062. But when the state had 2,740 per 100,000 at the height of the pandemic in December of last year, Burrillville showed a rate of 3,331, and in the months since, the town has often exceeded the statewide average

Burrillville’s vaccination rate continues to remain among the lowest in Rhode Island, with just 60.5 percent of residents completing the primary series, according to the latest data. Only Tiverton and Woonsocket have a lower vaccination rate, while in North Smithfield, 71.7 percent of residents have completed the series putting the town roughly average among Rhode Island communities.

Editor’s note: Some of the data in the above article has been updated to reflect the most recent data. We apologize for any previous lack of clarity.

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