The number of Rhode Islanders who have died after contracting the coronavirus has surpassed the 1,500 mark, according to state Department of Health numbers released Friday.
The department announced 11 new virus-related fatalities for a total of 1,509 since the pandemic began.
The 7-day rolling average of daily deaths in the state has now risen over the past two weeks from 7.71 on Nov. 26 to 14 as of Thursday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
The agency also reported more than 1,200 new confirmed cases of the disease the previous day, out of more than 18,300 tests, a daily positivity rate of 6.6%.
The latest average positivity rate in Rhode Island is now almost 8.5%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
Gov. Gina Raimondo on Thursday announced that she is extending her statewide "pause" for one more week until Dec. 20 to help get the current surge of cases under control.
A top aide to Raimondo has also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley got his positive result on Thursday, the agency said in a statement.
Smiley immediately began quarantining after he was informed Monday that he had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive, agency spokesperson Robert Dulski wrote. He is not showing symptoms.
Smiley is often seen standing near Raimondo during media briefings.
But Dulski said Smiley has not had contact with Raimondo since Dec. 3 and his exposure came after that.
"Director Smiley has been working from home for the past week and has had no close contacts in state government," Dulski said.
Smiley was Raimondo's chief of staff before being appointed to his current position earlier this year.
The Department of Administration oversees multiple state government functions, including central management, legal services, budgeting, human resources, information technology and appropriations.