The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) this afternoon announced that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has been identified in samples from three Rhode Island patients. The variant was identified in these samples yesterday evening.

One patient was in their 60s, one patient was in their 50s, and one patient was in their 20s. Dr. James McDonald from the Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed during a call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon that two of the patients were from Newport County and one was from Providence County.

Dr. McDonald said during the call that they are not identifying the patients. The patients haven’t been told that they have the variant yet, according to Dr. McDonald. In response to a question from What’s Up Newp, Dr. McDonald said that the patients have cleared isolation and those who tested positive for the variant will be told soon.

According to RIDOH, these samples underwent sequencing as part of RIDOH’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance plan and these cases are still under investigation. The sequencing was performed by the Broad Institute, in collaboration with RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories. This sequencing work is supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The B.1.1.7 variant was originally identified in the United Kingdom. This variant of COVID-19 is considered more contagious than the strain that has been predominant in Rhode Island through the pandemic. According to Dr. McDonald, this variant has already been identified in 40 other states.

RIDOH urgest all Rhode Islanders to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands regularly.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.