Lt. Gov. Dan McKee will lead the coronavirus update today at 1pm
The City of Cranston has expanded sign-ups for the municipal COVID-19 vaccination facility from 75 and older to 70 and older. The City will continue to book appointments based on age with the older stresidents receiving priority. Residents 70 and older can sign-up at CranstonVaccine.com to be on the list. Volunteers and Senior Services personnel will continue to call and book appointments taking place at Cranston’s Department of Senior Services.
RI’s addition of 80 deaths from weeks, and months ago puts RI 3rd from the top in death ratios in the country – with little explanation as to why the data has been inaccurately reported for so long, providing a “rosier” picture than reality over the past 2-3 months. Most of the deaths were among those individuals over 80.
Massachusetts legislature will take testimony today at 11am about the decision to prioritize mass vaccination sites over community run and hospital clinics – as well as the crashing technology.
The state House can legally proceed with in-person sessions this week in MA without providing remote access to medically vulnerable lawmakers, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, told legislators Tuesday that they have “identified many deaths” that should have been certified as COVID-19-related but were not, including nursing home and assisted living residents who have died during the pandemic.
4 new CVS stores in RI/MA will open for vaccines – Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence, and Bristol Co., MA
Cranston has lowered age to 70 now at their municipal site. (cranstonvaccinate.com)
Some large Massachusetts companies are looking to vaccinate their own employees.
The New Hampshire General Assembly met indoors for the first time since September.
School bus drivers in MA are concerned about vaccine eligibility – the state said they are included in Phase 2, Group 3. Distance regulations are also changing, depending upon virus concentration in the community.
Villanova HS football team is opting out – choosing to focus all their energies on back-to-school
In Hartford, most students in the city will return to school five days a week beginning March 1 as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.
Maine Seacoast Mission is providing COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the state’s islands starting this week with medical and support staff arriving on the group’s 74-foot boat, Sunbeam.
Massachusetts has a 65% drop since the peak of hospitalization of COVID-19 cases.
The Boston Calling music festival has been canceled for a second year in a row
At Beth Israel Hospital in Plymouth, doctors are using fully vaccinated volunteer medical personnel to sit with and comfort isolated COVID-19 patients, who are alone in their rooms.
The MBTA announced a spring schedule Monday that calls for fewer commuter trains during the morning and evening peak times and more trains during the middle of the day.
The Mayor of Brockton is speaking out at the ceasing of vaccines being given to municipalities for distribution.
Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley on Tuesday called for elementary school students to return to in-person learning five days a week in April
RI’s next two mass vaccination sites will be in the northern RI and southern RI areas.
Vaccinations in RI will be for those younger than 65 approximately mid-March.
Kent Hospital can now have visitors under specific situations – refer to their site for details.
In Connecticut everyone under 55 will start vaccinations next week – moving the whole state to an aged-based system.
From the RI Dept. of Health:
Rhode Island received today the shipment of roughly 12,400 doses of Moderna vaccine that had been scheduled to arrive yesterday. Because we have received this vaccine, no other changes to the clinic schedule for this week are foreseen at this time. (The delay in this shipment had caused the rescheduling of appointments originally scheduled for today at clinics at the Cranston Senior Center, at the Swift Community Center, which is located in East Greenwich, and at the West Warwick Civic Center.)
On our first day of eligibility for people 65 and older yesterday, 17,081 appointments were made for the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and Sockanosset Cross Road. An additional 2,412 appointments were made available this morning. More than 30,000 appointments have been made for the two sites since Rhode Island moved to age-based vaccinating last week. This is all in addition to the vaccinating being done by pharmacies and by cities and towns.
Rhode Island’s administration rate has increased by 110% in the last seven days, compared to January. Rhode Island is now administering roughly 5,700 doses per day. Last week, we administered more than 31,000 first doses (which is almost double our previous high) and more than 42,000 total doses.
Older adults are representing a larger portion of our people vaccinated. Of the doses administered in February, 48% were to people 65 and older, up from 21% in previous months. While older adults in congregate settings have been getting vaccinated since late December, this increase reflects our shift to an age-based model.
At last week’s press conference, Dr. Alexander-Scott talked about our decrease in hospitalizations between January and February. Since then, our hospitalization numbers have continued to improve. We have now seen a 71% decrease in our daily hospital admissions between January and February. This compares to the national average of 42%.
50 COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the two State-run vaccination sites have been cancelled to date because these people were not eligible, based on the age or employment information they entered. When people register, they are required to attest that they are eligible to be vaccinated. These people are being contacted directly.
Cinemagic Theaters Closing All Its Cinemas In NH, Maine, Mass.
RI now measured with the 3rd highest death rate in the US.
By RI Community:
Community — Cases Last 7 Days — Cases Last 7 Days/100K People — Cumulative Cases
Deaths in hospital – 2 (not updated) – New Admissions – 31 (not updated)
New Discharges – 22 (not updated)
First vaccines: 147,564 Total fully vaccinated – 2 shots: 62,699
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Dr. Fauci is now saying that Americans who have gotten both shots still have “things they cannot do in society” – they should avoid dining inside restaurants, theaters, places where people congregate, because we don’t know how much protection the shots provide. This is the latest statement he has made – including one recently saying we will need to wear masks in 2022.
The Innova rapid at-home coronavirus test is still waiting for approval.
United States, Canada and Mexico agreed to keep their land borders shut down through at least March 21.
Johnson & Johnson will ship individual dose vaccines as soon as approval process is completed – this will mean 10s of thousands of doses in RI, alone. There is talk about it being less effective, but still keeping people out of hospitals.
6 million shots were delayed from the federal government to the states due to weather – the country should be caught up by next week
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said political divisiveness contributed significantly to the “stunning” U.S. COVID-19 death toll
In New Jersey, fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at the state’s largest facilities in limited numbers starting next week
An estimated 50% of Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the virus
Plans are to distribute more than 25 million masks to over 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens in an effort to reach underserved communities
Dr. Anthony Fauci says a new, eased guidance for people who have been vaccinated should be coming soon from the CDC
Famed soul singer Gladys Knight and her husband, William “Billy” McDowell, who live in the Asheville area, recently received their COVID- 19 vaccinations at Haywood Regional Medical Center and encouraged other folks to do the same at a vaccine drive.
Oklahoma opened its second phase of vaccinations Monday, providing inoculations to public school teachers and staff and to adults of any age with illnesses that make them more susceptible to the coronavirus.
Four federal mass vaccination sites are coming to Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville
Churches and places of worship will be considered critical in reaching out to vaccine resistent groups.
Carnival Cruises are postponing to the end of May.
Goldman-Sachs CEO told their employees the goal is to return to in-person working.
The state of Virginia is re-prioritizing Blacks and Latinos over seniors for the vaccine, causing conflict with senior advocates.
The U.S. government is launching a nationwide initiative to study COVID-19 patients who suffer from residual symptoms months after recovery, commonly known as “COVID long-haulers”.
A benefit of the pandemic for older Americans has been the opportunity built out of necessity to learn more about the internet and technology. Activities such as online shopping has been shown to ease loneliness, as well as browsing the internet.
The vaccine is showing better results at keeping the variant viruses at bay, as they continue to sweep across the US.
CVS Health has added Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to the list of states where select CVS Pharmacy locations will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible populations through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. This follows the successful February 12 rollout in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: COVID-19 vaccine updates in Rhode Island: more mass inoculation sites, and CVS is adding pharmacy locations to its vaccine list. Unions are reacting to news of a merger agreement between the state's largest healthcare networks. It may soon become easier to get approved to solemnize a marriage in the Ocean State.
>>COVID Vaccine In RI: More Mass Sites, CVS Adds Locations
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Health said on Tuesday that two more mass vaccination sites could be open by mid-March. Locations in northern and southern Rhode Island and the East Bay are being considered. In other COVID-19 vaccine news in Rhode Island, CVS Health said Wednesday that locations in Providence, Cranston and Pawtucket have been added to the list of pharmacies where shots are available. A WPRI-TV report indicates doses will be from the company's partnership with the federal government, not the state's allocation.
>>Unions Weigh In On Lifespan-CNE Merger Announcement
(Providence, RI) -- Unions are hoping the mega-merger announced this week between Lifespan and Care New England, the two largest healthcare networks in the state, doesn't mean job losses. A statement from the president of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents thousands of workers in both networks, says the merger should be scrutinized to a high degree to ensure it is in the best interest of patients and frontline health workers. The head of the Service Employees International Union says everyone currently employed now needs to be offered the opportunity to continue working.
>>Senate Passes Bill Making It Easier To Pronounce Marriages
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Senate is passing legislation to authorize the governor to designate any adult to solemnize a marriage. Currently, only the General Assembly can authorize individuals to perform the task. RI Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, who introduced the bill, says there is no reason the state needs to bog down the joyous occasion of a marriage with red tape. McCaffrey adds it is inefficient to handle what amounts to a clerical task through votes and committee meetings.
>>Auto Sales Owner Charged With Smuggling
(Providence, RI) -- A Rhode Island business owner is being accused of filing false export information with the United States Department of Commerce. Federal prosecutors allege Carlo Fakhri, who operates D'Agostinos Auto Sales and Salvage in North Providence among other businesses, smuggled a number of motor vehicles from his home country of Lebanon in 2016 and did not supply complete and correct information to the Commerce Department. Fakhri, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arraigned in federal court in Providence on Wednesday.
>>COVID Affects Winter Sports Conclusion; Woonsocket Football Team Opts Out
(Undated) -- The conclusion of some Rhode Island winter sports seasons are being impacted by coronavirus cases. The Barrington boys' and Warwick girls' hockey teams had to drop out of their playoffs on Tuesday. In related news, the two-time-defending-state-champion Woonsocket High School football team has opted out of the special "Fall 2" season.
>>Men's Basketball: Providence College Beats Xavier
(Providence, RI) -- The NCAA Tournament might not be in the cards for the Providence men's basketball team this year, but the Friars are looking to end the year on a strong note. PC beat Xavier on Wednesday 83-to-68 to improve to a 12-and-11 record. Providence has won three of its last four. Two regular-season games are left next month before the 2021 Big East Tournament.
Wedding Planning for Spoonies, the first wedding planning book focused on physical disabilities, released Valentines Day in the Texas Ice Storm, lifts spirits.
Wedding Planning for Spoonies is the very first wedding planning book centering on disability. The book was published on February 14, 2021, the first day the ice storm hit central Texas. During the days of blackouts and cold, the book offered some levity and a drive to share the love in a dark time.
“The book focuses on love as the center of a wedding. That’s why we have weddings, this is why there is an all-inclusive wedding planner now in existence. Sharing the news of the book during the Texas Freeze made people react positively and helped me focus on what could help me get through my dark, cold moments during the storm,” — Meara Bartlett, author
Wedding Planning for Spoonies: Inspiration & Tips for Chronically Ill and Disabled Couples intends to serve the disabled community in many ways. Planning a wedding for anyone is difficult. However, disabled people face significant prejudice and unique difficulties when it comes to wedding planning. Wedding Planning for Spoonies looks to empower disabled couples on their journey to matrimony with tips and inspiration and inform wedding vendors of a disabled couple’s struggle to improve the industry.
Wedding Planning for Spoonies centers on the premise that all people across abilities, genders and sexualities deserve to be loved, and celebrate their love. The question is, how? How should a wheelchair user find a suitable venue? Or should you plan for an army of wedding attendants if you have chronic pain symptoms?
Meara Bartlett is a graduate student at Texas State University studying Technical Writing with a concentration on social justice in technology. She planned two weddings to the same man, because she had a medical emergency and had to scrap her originally planned ceremony and create a new one in 48 hours. Meara writes for Offbeat Bride, The Mighty, Uncomfortable Revolution, and Rock n’ Roll Bride. There she interacts with fellow disabled brides, who helped with writing Wedding Planning for Spoonies. You can follow Mear’s blog at: https://spoonielifestyle.com/
By Emilio DiSpirito, Engel & Völkers, real estate writer, RINewsToday
Over the past week, I have been fortunate enough to connect with Mr. Gregory Rice the General Manager and Vice President of Nexus Property Management and their Franchise Sales. Mr. Rice oversees 1500+ rentals for local landlords and is also a property owner himself. He has a deep understanding of how our housing economy works here in Rhode Island and the benefits that it brings when landlords have money to spend at local stores, with local services, and to pay local taxes.
There is a new House Bill, House Bill 5309, AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY — RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT – which many Realtors, property managers, property owners and local businessowners feel will impact the Rhode Island economy in a terrible way.
I asked Mr. Rice a simple question and below you will find his answer!
Emilio DiSpirito: Mr. Rice, can you please tell us what House Bill 5309 is, the pros and cons; in addition to how we can stop this from happening?
House Bill 5309 is a partisan bill introduced by10 democrats and 0 republicans. In a nutshell the bill aims to eliminate all eviction filings, issuances of execution (the document you receive at the end of an eviction to kick out a tenant) AND prevent landlords from terminating tenancies during a declared state of emergency. We are in a declared state of emergency now and likely will be for the foreseeable future. When a state declares a state of emergency this enables them to receive federal funding. So, it is likely Rhode Island, among other states, will keep this in place until COVID is well under control. We are far from that!
The pros to this bill clearly favor tenants only. They are protected from eviction, constable visits, court appearances, and even being asked to leave without eviction proceedings taking place.
The cons certainly outweigh this benefit. I ask you, what is worse to the local economy, an eviction or a foreclosure? Now, this bill does simultaneously pause foreclosures, but once that pause is ended you better believe each city and town will be cranking out foreclosure proceedings to be reimbursed for the monies they are owed (taxes, water, sewer, etc.). There is far more damage to the investors and the local community when a vacant house exists. Check out this recent example in Providence. I look at this like a prime case study for what we can expect once there are HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS of foreclosures here in the Ocean State. Squatters, fires, drugs, death, guns and more. This is where we are heading with this bill:
Before I go, please know that there is also a matching Senate bill as we speak that has the same text as this one. It is Senate Bill 0183. You can also contact your local RI state senator (not US senator in congress; there’s a difference) to state your position on this bill.
If the community fails to get involved the politicians will have their way with our future, and further encroaching on what limited rights we do have at this point. Private property is called ‘private’ for a reason, and a bill like this is inching us closely towards a new way of life, communal property – where you as the landlord are 100% responsible for all the expenses of the property, but the State (and public opinion) get to tell you how (and when) you can run your business!
For more information and or to connect with Mr. Rice, please contact him below.
Mr. Gregory J. Rice
GM/Vice President of Franchise Sales
Nexus Property Management™
Your Property, MANAGED®
(203) 217-1959 Cell – (401) 288-1117 Office
If you would have asked me what I wanted to be growing up, little Emilio would have told you “an archeologist” or “an architect” despite the fact that at age 8 I had my first lemonade stand, landscaping business and was recording my first “news show” on my boombox! Well, I never was much good at trigonometry and did could not see myself traveling for months and possibly years at a time, so becoming an architect or archaeologist clearly did not happen!
Fast forward 26 years later and I’m running a team of the finest residential real estate professionals, own a media company and host my very own radio news show about real estate!
In September of 2017, I married my best friend, Jaclynn, and we have two wonderful children, Destinee and Emilio, V. We have 3 dogs, one of which is a rescue and live in lovely Rhode Island. Jaclynn owns a high-end hair salon in addition to an on-location hair and makeup business!
For 7 years straight it seemed that I had put in more hours than the day had to give on my real estate business. 7 days a week, 14 to 16 hour days, without a break! Why? My friends and family did not understand the sheer magnitude of moving parts and services we offer to our clients during a transaction! One slip up or one missed call could mean make or break for someone’s dream home or even a lost deposit!
Running a team of like-minded, highly qualified and capable professionals has allowed me to offer a very streamlined, simplified and efficient approach to the sales process for our clients and allowed me to earn personal time again with my family while not missing a beat for my clients!
When I’m not working, I’m with my family, riding my mountain bike, eating at a number of local restaurants, enjoying live entertainment, hiking, skiing or reading!
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo could get a Senate vote for her Commerce Secretary nomination next week. Back home, Raimondo is handing over the reins to the upcoming state budget to Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee as he waits to take her office. Lifespan and Care New England have reached a merger agreement.
>>Update On Governor Gina Raimondo's U.S. Secretary Nomination
(Washington, DC) -- There is light at the end of the tunnel, possibly, for the path to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo becoming the next United States Secretary of Commerce. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday the vote could happen early next week. The Providence Journal reports a spokesperson for Senator Jack Reed said he initiated a "cloture" [[ CLOE-chure ]] petition to allow the Senate to move ahead with the nomination despite the "hold" placed by Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator asked for a commitment from the Biden administration to keep Chinese telecom company Huawei on a blacklist which is published by the Commerce Department. The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump also contributed to the delay in Raimondo's nomination process.
>>Raimondo Delegates Budget To McKee, Makes Several Appointments In Consultation
(Providence, RI) -- Governor Raimondo is handing off her budget-writing responsibilities to Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, who is waiting to take over for her upon her departure to Washington. Raimondo signed an executive order on Monday specifically granting McKee the power to handle the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, which is due in mid-March. Raimondo is also making three appointments requested by McKee. Matt Weldon and Marilyn McConaghy, respectively with the Department of Labor and Training and the Department of Revenue, are being promoted as acting directors of those departments. Jim Thorsen, who was the director of the Revenue Department, will become acting director of the Department of Administration.
>>Merger Agreement Has Been Reached Between Rhode Island Healthcare Systems
(Providence, RI) -- At long last, Rhode Island's two largest health care systems are merging, pending state and federal approval. Lifespan and Care New England say a definitive agreement has been reached to merge and join with Brown University. Lifespan and Care New England have been involved in merger talks going back a number of years. Governor Raimondo in 2019 intervened in an effort by Boston-based Partners HealthCare to acquire Care New England and asked CNE to return to the negotiation table.
>>Coronavirus Death Toll In Rhode Island: 2,476
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island reported ten new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday. The death toll from the pandemic in the Ocean State has reached two-thousand-476. The state reported two-hundred-82 new virus cases yesterday to increase the pandemic total to 124-thousand-262.
>>Fire Destroys House In Attleboro
(Attleboro, MA) -- A home in Attleboro, Massachusetts was destroyed in a fire Tuesday night. The blaze broke out at a house on Thatcher Street at around 7 p.m. Two people who lived in the home were uninjured. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
>>TSA Finds Throwing Knives In Carry-On Bag At Green Airport
(Warwick, RI) -- The Transportation Security Administration says officers discovered a set of martial arts throwing knives in a carry-on bag this past weekend. The TSA says the knives were sheathed, but should have been placed in the passenger's checked bag. The federal agency says martial arts weapons are not allowed through the TSA checkpoint.
Photo: Monday, Gov. Raimondo signed over the budget process to Lt. Gov. Dan McKee after many calls for an easier transition of power.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
As a result of severe weather that has affected distribution nationwide, certain COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for 2/23 are getting rescheduled. A shipment of approximately 12,400 doses of Moderna vaccine to Rhode Island did not arrive today. The community clinics scheduled for tomorrow at the Cranston Senior Center, the Swift Community Center (in East Greenwich), and the West Warwick Civic Center are affected by this delay and are being rescheduled. People who had appointments will be contacted directly by clinic organizers. This shipping delay could have additional impacts on some clinics currently scheduled for Wednesday. RIDOH will make an announcement on Tuesday about any impacts on Wednesday clinics.
Technology experts are weighing in on how complex and not user-friendly the state’s vaccine signup system in RI is.
Reporters had queried the state about the ability of the National Guard to pick up vaccines if weather caused delays – though there was no response in RI to do so.
RI is partnering with Health Equity Solutions, a nonprofit, to reach out to more than 10,000 minority residents over the next three months and dispel myths about the COVID-19 vaccine. They have already hosted webinars that have reached more than 3,000 people, and more than 20 events have been scheduled, with more planned.
Lt. Gov. McKee will hold a small business Facebook Live event Tuesday at noon.
Feb. 26 will be last day of care for Sockanosset Field Hospital.
The Rhode Island Department of Health has created a survey to gather information for those unable to leave their home to receive a vaccine. While all individuals are encouraged to seek vaccination opportunities through vaccination clinics and retail pharmacies, there are individuals who are unable to leave home to attend such opportunities. If you are unable to leave home to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, or are the healthcare provider or family caregiver of someone who is homebound, please inform RIDOH through the following form: http://bit.ly/homeboundvax [bit.ly] [r20.rs6.net]
Boston Gov. Baker says he hates to say he’s sorry but is taking ownership of the botched vaccination signup process – for that, the Boston Globe is reporting that people are responding positively to his shared outrage, ownership and efforts to fix the problem.
In 2-3 weeks, the Convention Center Field Hospital will be closed.
Gov. Raimondo held an impromptu Facebook Live press event:
What do you have to say to botched rollout this morning?
Said that “we will get better” regarding the Monday roll-out.
Gov says there’s a phone number to call
We do have live people on the lines.
Why are appointments populating throughout the day?
We start with what we anticipate being the number, and add to that. We can make adjustments as we go along.
Gov. McKee has been very critical – how do you respond?
Our initial strategy has been to be very targeted, and that worked. Now we are doing the next phase. We just jumped up on the NYT list. I’m supporting Lt. Gov’s transition – we’ll get better and better over time. We need to expand capacity in the system.
Criticism is spurring your administration to move quicker – do you agree with that?
No, I don’t agree with that perception. This has always been the plan – a very deliberate plan. Dr. Scott and the task force. This was our explicit strategy.
Signing EO to give more authority of Lt. Gov. McKee to hire cabinet level people – is that true?
I don’t have anything to say right now. We’re working through things.
What will happen with RIDLT with Scott Jensen leaving?
I will appoint a successor. I’ll have more news on this later.
Lt. Gov. named Mr. Silva to be point person on COVID – is that a good idea?
I’m not going to second guess his decisions. Dr. Scott IS and WILL BE the lead – she will stay as the lead and the Director of Health.
Why can’t you go back to do the COVID briefing? With a public face to the people? And McKee isn’t going either? This is a different situation – this is your rollout, not his. People would like to see somebody in charge.
I think it is important for the people to get more comfortable with the Lt. Gov. I’m here today – I’m fully accountable to the people of RI. I’m here answering your questions. Lt. Gov will be there on Thursday. We are working hand and glove to keep RI people safe.
Mayors will continue with vaccinations? Can mayors invite people?
Yes, and they can extend to 65 when they are ready. Yes, they can invite – we are sharing lists with them of eligible people.
Will Dr. Scott commit to continue to serve?
Yes, she will.
RI says it is more strategic, but other states have done it differently – why did this slower plan be better?
Big difference is more than any other state, we’ve seen huge drops in hospitalizations. 46% drop. Our decrease is beyond the US average, W. Virginia, etc. We have been faster and more significant.
How concerned are you about the variants?
We are very concerned. It is real. If there’s an uptick, we are ready.
From RIDOH: RI sent out an educational flyer for $265,000+
Monday’s vaccination opening to those over 65 did not go smoothly – from closed facilities to websites that didn’t work to people going from website to website. The RIDOH updated the system after 9am. Over 10,000 people did manage to use the site to sign up. The Sockanosset Crossroad facility will be closed every Monday. Others have gone to CVS or Walgreens for better efficiency.
RI Data: Feb. 22, 2021
Deaths: 9 (plus additional from last few months: 90)
The University of Maine is moving forward with spring sports after previously pausing all athletics amid cases of COVID-19 on campus.
1/3 of people who have had COVID-19 may suffer from PTSD
Publix is giving a $125 Publix gift card to each of its more than 225,000 employees who gets vaccinated. The supermarket chain is the latest major employer to offer an enticement to its workers to immunize themselves
At-home COVID tests were ready fast but regulatory approval has been slow. At-home COVID-19 tests could make a vital contribution to stemming the pandemic.
The cost of a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is reported to cost just $2.72 in India, $4 in the U.S., and $8.50 in Uganda. But a dose of the vaccine from Sinopharm, which was developed in China, ranges in cost from $18.50 in Senegal to $44 in China to $72.50 elsewhere.
Walmart is rolling out vaccine preparation in 22 states, the company is still supporting over 500 active testing sites across the country.
The Louvre, in Paris, remains closed – since Oct. 30th –
Dr. Fauci: It’s “possible” Americans will still need to wear masks in 2022 -CNN
Dairy Queen has canceled its Free Cone Day this spring out of crowding concerns.
by Richard Asinof, ConvergenceRI – contributing writer
Photo: The new pop-up COVID testing and vaccination site in Olneyville being managed by Clinica Esperanza in Eagle Square
How a volunteer free health clinic – Clinica Esperanza – has reshaped the delivery of health care to the uninsured, under-employed in Providence, during a time of pandemic
Writing about the success of Clinica Esperanza, a volunteer medical clinic operating in the heart of Olneyville, which recently was awarded $315,000 by TD Bank’s Ready Challenge, is an exploration into how a neighborhood has begun to reinvent itself in the midst of a pandemic, challenging the status quo when it comes to health care.
In a recent interview with its volunteer medical director, Dr. Annie De Groot, and with Frank Casale, the regional vice president at TD Bank, the conversation captured so much of what has not been reported in the last year when it comes to health care in Rhode Island: what De Groot accurately described as uncovering “the size of the iceberg in Rhode Island” when it comes to the large unmet health needs in the state, made starkly more visible by the pandemic.
You see, for much of the last decade, Clinica Esperanza, the “Hope Clinic,” has served the uninsured – patients who lack health insurance, including many hard-working, Spanish-speaking residents, many of whom are immigrants.
[Editor’s Note: ConvergenceRI has frequently reported about the work of Clinica Esperanza. It was featured in a story about the 2018 Health Equity Summit. At that time, Clinica Esperanza said it was serving more than 2,000 patients a year, mainly Central and South American immigrants, 60 percent of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language and 75 percent of whom reported incomes of less than $15,000 a year.
As ConvergenceRI reported: “The focus of much of the culturally appropriate care delivered is on nutrition education, cholesterol/blood pressure/glucose checks, primary care and vaccinations. Through what is known as the “Bridging The Gap” program, which includes quarterly visits with a primary care provider and participation in a health education program, patients’ use of emergency departments was reduced significantly compared with Medicaid patients.”
The story continued: “One of the goals of the program is to manage chronic diseases before they become emergent or incurable, improving the quality of life and lessening the burden on local hospitals and ERs to provide charity care.” See link below to ConvergenceRI story, “Eyes on the prize; 2018 health equity summit draws 750.”]
For sure, Clinica Esperanza is not alone in its grassroots efforts at the neighborhood level – which also has featured the good work by ONE Neighborhood Builders, the Providence Community Health Centers, the Sankofa Initiative, and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute, among others, to address the issues around health inequities.
But Clinica Esperanza has been among the most consistent, perhaps, in pushing back against the status quo when it comes to health care delivery in Rhode Island – developing a cost-effective program of providing basic primary care to those outside the mainstream of the health care delivery system in the state.
The disastrous spread of the coronvavirus pandemic, which has now killed some 500,000 people in the U.S. during the last year and sickened more than 28 million, blew up the prevailing assumptions that the health care delivery system had things under control.
Clinica Esperanza has been operating for the last 13 years, often dependent on the kindness of neighbors and philanthropic grants, to serve a burgeoning population of people who checked all the boxes for “unmet health needs” – unemployed, uninsured, Spanish-speaking, and lacking access to primary care.
In the interview, De Groot described how the pandemic had helped to suss out the size of the health care unmet needs iceberg in Rhode Island.
“During the pandemic, as you can imagine,” she explained, “even with going to telemedicine, even with limiting visits, we’ve actually had an increase of 130 percent [in new patients], in terms of new patient visits to the clinic, and that’s partly in relationship to the fact that we opened a COVID-testing site.”
You may wonder: How big was the demand for testing? The answer provided by De Groot did not take an advanced degree in health administration or a high-priced business consultant from Boston Consulting Group to interpret the data. It has been huge.
“The Clinic’s COVID testing site tested more than 3,500 people between April and December of 2020,” De Groot told ConvergenceRI. “On average, about 25 percent of those people were COVID positive. And, 66 percent of those people were uninsured, and they were new patients to us. We did not know them before this.”
Let that sink in for a moment: The testing site run by Clinica Esperanza, separate from the state-operated sites, tested on average 400 people a month. Two-thirds of the people tested were “uninsured.” One-quarter of the people tested – some 900 people, 25 percent – tested positive, a clear marker of how wide the community spread of the virus has become. And, most were “new patients” – people who had not been known to clinic before. [See second image, a graph detailing the most recent data of COVID testing by the clinic.]
“So, actually having the COVID-testing capacity enabled us to uncover the size of the iceberg in Rhode Island,” De Groot said. “Which is actually how many people in Rhode Island have no health insurance.”
The interview with De Groot and Casale, TD Bank’s regional vice president, revealed the extent to which a critical news story has gone unreported by the Rhode Island news media. Further, it highlighted the philanthropic investment by a major bank in the community-driven volunteer health clinic that is reshaping how a Providence neighborhood is redefining issues of health equity.
Here is the ConvergenceRI interview with Dr. Annie De Groot and TD Bank’s Frank Casale, describing the iceberg of Rhode Island’s unmet health needs and the innovative solutions being delivered – outside of the narrow lens aperture of most news media in Rhode Island.
ConvergenceRI: How did TD Bank get connected with Dr. De Groot and Clinica Esperanza?
FRANK CASALE: First, congratulations to Annie and her team for being a TD Ready challenge winner, one of only six in the United States.
What happened, Richard, is that we have at TD Bank a TD Ready commitment and a TD Ready Challenge. The TD Bank Ready Challenge acts as a springboard for us to invest in social innovation, to establish and identify solutions to specific issues.
Each year, we ask some of the brightest minds in the not-for-profit world to respond with their proposals to help address growing problems within society.
So, those applications, if you will, those requests, come in, and we review them all, and keep narrowing them down. And, that’s how we find such great [programs] such as Clinica Esperanza.
We found Clinica Esperanza when they applied for the TD Ready Challenge.
ConvergenceRI: There are a lot of things to like about what Dr. De Groot is doing with her team at Clinica Esperanza? What specifically did you find that was innovative and ready for investment by TD Bank in the work of the clinic?
CASALE: The TD Bank Ready Challenge is part of the TD Ready commitment. The TD Ready commitment is basically focused on four interconnected drivers that change the community. They are: [promoting] financial security, having a vibrant planet, connecting the communities, and promoting better health.
They are the pillars – the meeting of unmet health care and health education needs of a predominantly immigrant, uninsured, Spanish-speaking population in Rhode Island, was something that was very interesting to us.
They do God’s work at their clinic, taking in uninsured folks, taking care of people who have lost their jobs, and who have lost their health insurance because of that. And that disproportionately affects low-income communities served by the clinic.
And the demands have increased, obviously, with the intensity of the pandemic.
ConvergenceRI: Annie, how will the grant enable you to expand the clinic’s work, providing non-urgent medical care for patients who are uninsured?
DE GROOT: First, I want to give gratitude to TD Bank for supporting this project. It’s really very exciting. And, to Morgan Leonard, who is the new director of clinic operations, who wrote the proposal.
The clinic, as you know, is a walk-in clinic that was set up in 2012-2013, initially with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, to divert people away from the emergency room.
The concept was actually that people were going to the emergency room and they were getting bills, and that was harming their credit worthiness because they couldn’t pay those bills. And, they were actually [seeking care] for things like colds, or back pain, or rashes, or sexually transmitted diseases, [conditions] that could easily be treated in a walk-in-clinic, but they didn’t have access to one.
It was also partly state Sen. Josh Miller’s idea. If you remember, as I ‘m sure you do, Richard, at the time, Sen. Miller was trying to create an emergency room diversion program from patients who were being sent to the drunk tank. [Editor’s Note: The pilot diversion program, which ran for a year, was abandoned after it proved impossible to transfer patients to health insurance to pay for the diversion effort, because too many of the patients were undocumented immigrants.]
We found that, in terms of cost savings, since we started the clinic, we were saving local emergency rooms more than $500,000 a year.
[Editor’s Note: The data results were documented in a study published by the R.I. Medical Journal, “Bridging the [Health Equity] Gap,” in November of 2018. “The overall savings from the emergency department diversion aspect of BTG could be as high as $781,122 annually if the program were to be expanded to 8,000 uninsured Hispanics, statewide,” according to De Groot.]
So, being fearless, we actually went to one of the local health care system providers and said: “Why don’t you give us $300,000 a year and then we’ll be saving you $200,000 a year?’ That didn’t go over well, as you can imagine – even though it made perfect sense.
We actually have been really struggling to support this project.
ConvergenceRI: Who were the people who were uninsured, who were seeking out testing for COVID?
DE GROOT: A lot of those people, as you can imagine, are young. Many are usually healthy, but they were obviously getting sick with COVID. We were able to take care of them, using telemedicine initially.
We also worked with local projects, such as the Elisha project, and we were able to bring food to their houses, so that they didn’t have to go out to shop for food.
And, also, with help from United Way of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the city of Providence we were able to give them cash cards to purchase groceries when they were feeling better, because obviously, they couldn’t go back to work, work was shut down.
We really provided a safety net for the safety net.
But now, these patients are our patients, so the award from TD Bank will give us the opportunity to take care of these patients, in an ongoing manner, over the next year, and hopefully, beyond that, because of the support that they are giving to the clinic.
ConvergenceRI: If you were able to get access to vaccines, are you prepared and would you be able to then vaccinate these same patients?
DE GROOT: Absolutely, and thank you for asking that question, Richard. And, Frank, you’ll be happy to know that we are setting up to be a vaccine site.
We have jumped through almost all of the hoops; it has been quite the exercise. We now have our state-approved refrigerator. The state has inspected our site. We have the proper social distancing in place. We have signed up for the mod vaccine scheduling service.
All we’re waiting for right now are the actual vaccines. We have a list of over 300 patients who are all over 75 years old, and uninsured, who come from our patient population. First, we will be setting up appointments for those people. And then, we will be opening to the general public for those who are over 75, and then as the Rhode Island prerequisites roll forward, for those over 65 in the same population.
That’s the exciting news for this week.
DE GROOT: I’m not sure exactly when we will open, Richard. I’m hoping that it’s Thursday, Feb. 18 [The interview took place on Tuesday morning, Feb. 16.]
The vaccination site is in a different location, because we were so busy with COVID testing that it was impeding our clinical care. We were able to get funding through the federal CARES Act to open a separate, COVID testing and vaccination site, which is located in Eagle Square. We have a big space, and we have a beautiful mural that talks about health in Guatemala.
[Editor’s Note: Despite the clear messaging on Clinica Esperanza’s website, a number of Rhode Islanders who were not 75, and who were not uninsured, attempted to jump the line, demanding that they receive vaccines, creating a stir.]
ConvergenceRI: How important is it, do you think, for people to understand that the unmet needs didn’t come about just because of the coronavirus pandemic? But rather, you are addressing deep-rooted problems in the community around health equity that have been magnified by the pandemic?
DE GROOT: Absolutely. I think everyone in the U.S. is well aware that the people who are at highest risk are disproportionately Latino and African American. Our [client] population is predominately Latino; we have one of the biggest Guatemalan populations in the Northeast in Rhode Island.
Most of our patients are Spanish speaking; they are uninsured, they are working low-wage and very transient jobs, and they do not have access to health insurance.
So we have been providing that safety net for many years now. We have been open 11 years in this current location, but actually we have been open for 13 years.
This is a population that is at high risk, partly because of language barriers, but also because of a lack of health literacy. A lot of people are unfamiliar with the basic concept about viruses and about how they are transmitted. There is a lot of education that has to occur.
Many of our clients live in multi-generational and multi-family households. Many of our patients live one family to a room, in three-bedroom apartments. It’s really quite crowded; it’s often impossible to do any kind of social distancing.
And so, that is why, when one person is infected, usually, it impacts 10 to 15 people who live in the same house.
ConvergenceRI: How are you communicating with folks? Is it mostly done through telehealth? Has the wire mesh network that has been built out by ONE Neighborhood Builders been helpful?
DE GROOT: I’m not aware that that has been impacting our patients. We usually reach them by cell phone. And, it’s a constant battle, because they are constantly switching their phone numbers.
We have a network of about 2,000 cell phone numbers that we can reach out to our patients. We have test messaging system called Care Message that allows us to send text messages in English and in Spanish, and get answers back, with “Yes” or “No” answers.
We’ve determined that 80 percent of our population is ready to get vaccinated – when we asked them if they were ready. So, that’s the exciting news. People in this population [who we serve] are ready to get vaccinated, because they have seen the devastating effect that COVID has had on their colleagues and their families.
There is really no way of reaching them other than text messages. We also do some outreach through Facebook. One of our board members, Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, who runs a talk radio show, but on Facebook, called “Rhode Island Informa,” he’s been talking about vaccinations.
We also have our own Facebook page, through which many of our patients have reached out to us, so they have actually scheduled appointment for COVID testing through Facebook. That has been a way that we have been reaching our patients as well.
Television doesn’t work. As you know, there is no local television station in Spanish.
There’s really no other way of reaching these individuals, other than by word of mouth. Beginning when we first opened the clinic, word of mouth has been the best way to reach people. We have asked them, over and over again, “How did you hear about us?” They answer; “A friend of mine told me.” That is universally what they say.
ConvergenceRI: How do you feel that your clinic strengthens the concept of “neighborhood?”
DE GROOT: Do you want to address that question first, Frank?
CASALE: At TD Bank, we are really focused on aspiring to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. We have a lot of folks who work for us, me included, that serve on a number of various boards, such as the Rhode Island Food Bank and Meeting Street. It’s just what we do; it’s in our DNA.
Especially as TD Bank members, we are committed to the community. And, we want to make a difference in the community. And, what better way to do that than to support organizations and folks such as Annie, Morgan, and their team. We are very proud to be partnering with them.
DE GROOT: There are some very important aspects of community that we address. First of all, we reach communities that are hard to reach. At Clinica Esperanza, over the years, we have built trust in the community of immigrants, and with Spanish-speakers who live on the West Side of Providence.
But we also have patients who come to us from all over the state, people come to us from as far away as Block Island and as close by as Central Falls, to our clinic for their health care.
In that sense, we have built a network in the community to provide a safety net to people that would otherwise really have no other access to health care.
In addition, I think we do something that is very, very important: We bring neighbors together to help neighbors. We are a volunteer-run clinic. I’m a volunteer. I’ve always been a volunteer at the clinic.
[Editor’s Note: In her “day job,” De Groot is the co-founder, CEO and CSO of EpiVax, Inc., one of the pioneering biotech firms in Rhode Island, which has developed its own proprietary immuno-informatics data software, and which is involved in research in developing vaccines across a number of cutting-edge health threats, including coronavirus.]
We benefit from the good will of the community, and having a clinic like this makes it possible for people to contribute to the well being of their neighbors.
Because I can see how much the community in Rhode Island, and that includes TD Bank and all of other supporters, how much our community cares for each other. I think that is one of the most important messages. In this pandemic, we do care about our neighbors and for each other, and we do reach out.
It’s really been wonderful to be able to be see how our work changes lives, not only for the patients, but also for the volunteers.
ConvergenceRI: What questions haven’t I asked, should I have asked, that you would like to talk about?
CASALE: We are committed to the community. The TD Bank Ready Challenge will grant some $20 million this year, with a commitment to invest $775 million by 2030. It is a philosophy, it is a strategy, and it is a commitment.
DE GROOT: I think it is important to talk about this effort in the context of the entire city and the entire state.
Rhode Island has really been the beneficiary of immigration by a group of some of the most hard-working, morally and ethically upright people. I am talking about the Guatemalan people and other immigrants from Central America who have come here to work hard and to make a better life for themselves and their children.
For me, it has been a wonderful experience, working with the immigrant community. I feel it is important to get back to a place where we appreciate the importance of immigrants in our community, the energy that they bring, and the investment in their children. So many of the young workers at our clinic are first generation immigrants, children and dreamers who are working very hard to make a better live for themselves and their kids.
I commend TD Bank for their investment in the West Side of Providence through Clinica Esperanza, and I believe we will strengthen the entire city and the entire state through this effort.
Richard Asinof is the founder and editor of ConvergenceRI, an online subscription newsletter offering news and analysis at the convergence of health, science, technology and innovation in Rhode Island.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The COVID-19 vaccination effort is continuing in the Ocean State. A rare occasion since her nomination to the Biden cabinet, Governor Gina Raimondo spoke to reporters again on Monday. A recently-published survey reveals whether boaters mind getting near the Block Island wind turbines.
[[ watch dating ]]
>>NWS Issues Black Ice Alert
(Undated) -- Drivers all across Southern New England are being told to watch out for black ice this morning. The National Weather Service says there is a risk of slick spots on untreated surfaces because of recent precipitation and snowmelt. The weather service says temperatures will fall around or below-freezing by day break.
>>Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Continues
(Undated) -- The state of Rhode Island expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all people 65 and older on Monday. The RI Department of Health is directing senior citizens to get vaccinated at one of the two state-run sites in Providence and Cranston, through select CVS or Walgreens or through their cities and towns. The Providence Journal reported the website VaccinateRI.org appeared to have filled over ten-thousand available appointments this week by noon Monday and was accepting registrations for next week later in the afternoon. The state has announced that community clinics scheduled for Tuesday at the Cranston Senior Center, the Swift Community Center in East Greenwich, and the West Warwick Civic Center are being postponed because of nationwide distribution issues.
>>Coronavirus Death Toll In Rhode Island: 2,466
(Providence, RI) -- The coronavirus death toll in Rhode Island increased on Monday to two-thousand-466. The state reported nine new deaths over the weekend. The number of virus cases during the pandemic in the Ocean State was almost at 124-thousand as of yesterday after the state reported over eight-hundred new ones over the three-day period.
>>Governor Raimondo Speaks To Reporters Again, Addresses Several Topics
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo on Monday answered questions from reporters for only the second time since her nomination to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Raimondo defended the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout and indicated Rhode Island is moving in the right direction. Following public criticism of her administration from Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee about the vaccine program and a no-show by both at last week's COVID-19 briefing, Raimondo assured reporters yesterday that there is not a rift between the two and that McKee will attend the next COVID briefing. McKee is set to take over for Raimondo upon her Senate confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. She said yesterday she doesn't know when the confirmation will happen.
>>Two Men Indicted For Fatal Shooting In Pawtucket
(Providence, RI) -- Two Central Falls men are charged with a murder in Pawtucket. The victim of a shooting outside of a car wash on Main Street last October was Julius Bell. The two individuals who were indicted by a Providence County grand jury on Friday are Olivio Leverone and Julio Debarros.
>>Study: Recreational Boaters Avoid BI Wind Turbines, Fishers Not So Much
(New Shoreham, RI) -- A recently-published study tracked boating trends around the Block Island Wind Farm. According to a Westerly Sun report, the study from a University of Rhode Island professor published in the journal "Marine Policy" in December found that recreational boaters try to avoid the five turbines in the farm. It also found that recreational fishermen were more likely to move close to the turbines because fish congregate near the foundations of the structures. The study was part of an effort to understand the impact of offshore wind farms. Block Island is the first and only utility-scale wind energy development in the region, but a number of other projects are pending.
In what was a bit of a surprise, the RI Department of Health briefing on Thursday including a loosening of hospital and nursing home visitation. As much as it was a surprise to the general public, it also took the two major hospital groups by surprise as their website policies haven’t been completely updated, to date.
But – Lifespan and Care New England don’t completely agree on how they will proceed in the short-term. Other hospitals are in the Charter Care partnership or independent Landmark Medical Center & Rehabilitation Hospital of RI, South County Hospital and the Yale affiliated Westerly Hospital. As each hospital varies slightly – and some significantly – a call or visit to the individual websites would be advised.
First, the RI Dept. of Health’s new policy:
In March 2020, the Director released Hospital Visitation Guidance in response to the increasing number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 globally, the growing number of patients diagnosed in Rhode Island, and the ongoing influenza respiratory illness season. This Hospital Visitation Guidance for all hospitals was based on a three-level approach to visitation. Each level becomes increasingly more restrictive as follows:
Level 1- Reduce visitation to protect vulnerable populations.
Level 2- Limit visitation hours, as determined by the hospital.
Level 3- No visitation other than those essential to care and who are free of the exclusion criteria in Levels 1 and 2.
RIDOH acknowledges and appreciates what all hospitals have done to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and that the lack of visitation for patients and their loved ones creates a significant psychosocial stress for the patient and their love ones.
They also acknowledge that we are now in a different phase of the pandemic, and cases have decreased. Also, hospital staff have been vaccinated, PPE is sufficient, and the general public is more compliant with protective directives such as mask wearing and infection control. They also add that COVID-19 is not going away, but may be an endemic disease, and we need to plan for its long-term presence.
It is recommended that all hospitals transition to Level 1.
Electronic methods for virtual communication between patients and visitors (e.g., video call applications on cell phones or tablets) are encouraged to the maximum extent possible. Hospitals should have these tools available for use by patients, and patients should be told that these devices are available.
Hospital Visitation Transitioning from Level 3 to Level 1:
Visitation Level 1:
Reduce visitation to protect vulnerable populations.
Anyone who is younger than 18 or feeling sick or having any symptoms or risk factors for COVID-19 are restricted from visiting staff or patients.
Rhode Island Hospitals Respond
Care New England Hospitals
Women & Infants
CNE policy statement: “Care New England is aware of the ask to lift visitor restrictions and is carefully considering how this will affect each of our operating units, with the unique needs of patients and staff of each location. We will announce when we have decided on any changes to the current, which can be found on our websites here: https://www.carenewengland.org/coronavirus
Care New England has adopted the guidance below for safe visitation. Visitation looks different at each of our unique hospitals, due to the difference in patient populations served and the physical spaces to provide social distancing. (Visitors are encouraged to contact each hospital for individual differences prior to visiting).
All visitors will be verbally screened upon arrival and will have their temperatures taken. Those visitors with fever or other risk factors for COVID will not be allowed to visit.
Visitors under the age of 18 are not allowed at this time.
Universal masking is proven to help prevent the spread of COVID. Visitors must wear a mask at all times while in the facility.
Social distancing helps prevent spread of COVID. All visitors must maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, including patients, while in our facilities.
Special accommodations to allow visitation for patients with a disability are available, such as when a support person is essential to the care of a patient with developmental disabilities.
Hasbro Children’s Hospital
Rhode Island Hospital
Effective Monday, February 22, Lifespan will be moving to a less restrictive visitation policy at Rhode Island, The Miriam, and Newport Hospitals, in accordance with Department of Health guidance. To ensure that patients can visit with their loved ones in the safest possible manner, we have created the following visitation guidelines:
Adult patients may identify two visitors for the duration of the hospital stay, who may enter during designated visitation hours. At Rhode Island and Newport hospitals, the two visitors may enter together. At The Miriam Hospital, one visitor at a time may enter, unless one visitor requires an escort.
Adult patients receiving end of life care may have two visitors at a time for a 30-minute visit. To accommodate additional family members and loved ones, additional visitors may enter after the original visitors exit, always for 30 minutes at a time.
Pediatric patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital may continue to have two identified parents/caregivers for the duration of the hospital stay, with one parent/caregiver staying overnight.
Visitation hours at the different affiliates will be as follows:
Rhode Island Hospital: 2 – 6 p.m. daily
The Miriam Hospital: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 5 – 7 p.m.
Medical/Surgical and ICU: 1 – 3 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m. daily
Vanderbilt Inpatient Unit: 2 – 5 p.m.
Behavioral Health Unit: 1 – 2 p.m. and 7 – 8 p.m.
Visitors will continue to be screened at the doors, and must present a photo ID. All visitors are required to be masked at all times, including in patient rooms, and may not carry in any food or drink. The cafeterias and cafes remain closed to visitors.
For outpatient care and office visits, including at the Lifespan Cancer Institute, one person may escort a patient to an appointment at the discretion of the patient’s care team.
For adult Emergency Departments, Lifespan has a no-visitors policy. If necessary for patient care, one family member may be permitted during the intake process.
CharterCARE CEO Jeffrey Liebman stated “This liberalization of visitor policies is based on the latest guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health and will safely address the many requests of patients and their families. We will continue to monitor visitor compliance and will maintain constant communication with the Department of Health for any modifications that may be required.”
CharterCARE Health Partners has announced restoration of patient visitor access at both Roger Williams Medical Center and Fatima Hospital, effective immediately.
The following visitor guidelines are now in place:
Visitors are now allowed except for anyone under the age of 18 or who is sick or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Visitors are required to wear a mask (double masking is at their discretion) and will be screened at the designated check points.
The current designated entrances at both hospitals will remain the same.
Social distancing will continue to be always observed in all areas.
There can be no more than 1 visitor per patient in a shared room and no more than 2 visitors in a private room.
There are still No Visitors for COVID patients unless authorized in advance by the hospitals’ Chief Nursing Officers.
There are no set visiting hours except for the behavioral health and addiction units. Please visit the website for specific times: chartercare.org
South County Hospital
South County Hospital has moved to Level 1 Visitation for admitted inpatients. As of 2/19, visitors are welcome during normal lobby hours – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To ensure that social distancing will be observed within patient rooms, no more than two (2) visitors per patient will be allowed.
Level 1 Visitation DOES NOT apply to outpatient areas (including diagnostic imaging, physician practices, labs, etc.), and the Cancer Center to protect vulnerable populations.
If a patient requires someone to accompany him/her to an outpatient appointment due to physical or cognitive limitations, the Administrator on Call must give the approval.
South County Hospital will continue to adhere to strict screening and social distancing guidelines, as well as cleaning of elevators, common areas, etc. to protect our patients, staff and visitors from the risk of spreading COVID-19 and any of its variants.
Everyone entering South County Hospital will be screened (including temperature checks) for COVID-19 and COVID-like symptoms.
Visitors under the age of 18 and those who have any of the following symptoms will not be allowed into South County Hospital inpatient areas:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
South County Hospital requires that everyone:
wears a mask or cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth
practices social distancing (remain 6 feet from others)
cleans hands when entering or exiting patient care areas
Women & Newborn Care Unit (WNCU)
Expectant mothers and their birthing partner should discuss exceptions with their providers and WNCU staff. To protect our patients and staff from the potential spread of COVID-19, we ask that visitors remain in the patient’s room during the visit. Once the visit is over, please do not enter other areas of the hospital, and exit through the main lobby.
NOTE: Individuals who have serious underlying health conditions, although not strictly prohibited from visiting, may want to consider visiting via telephone, video chat, or other means.
Landmark Medical Center & Rehabilitation Hospital of RI
Hospital visitor policies have been updated to reflect national efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. This policy may change at any time due to the rapidly evolving situation.
Maternity patients are allowed one companion/visitor.
Pediatric patients are allowed one parent/guardian.
Visitors to patients at end of life will be allowed at the discretion of the care team.
Hospital entry points will be limited to enable screening of visitors. Visitors who show any signs of illness, including mild symptoms, should not visit patients in the hospital or accompany patients to the emergency department.
Inpatients are allowed one visitor per patient, per day. Visitors must be age 18 or older. Check with the hospital for more details. Westerly is part of the Yale-New Haven hospital group.
Nursing Homes/Assisted Living Centers
Each facility is putting their own policies together about loosening visitation, or not. You should check with your own nursing home of interest to see what their policy is. Also note that facilities will change policy quickly if a case of coronavirus is diagnosed in a patient or staff member.
There is a Rhode Island petition which has over 500 signatures as of today, urging healthcare facilities to open their visiting policies more liberally.
Here is a sample policy from one large nursing home:
[We] will open for visiting as of 2-17-21. Appointments may only be scheduled with Reception. Visits will be weekdays for 30 minutes. Time slots are 9:30 am; 10:45 am; 1:30 pm; 2:45 pm. You must arrive 30 minutes prior to allow for COVID screening & testing. Limit of 2 persons (over 18) per visit & 1 visit per week. A 6-foot distance must be maintained. Food items brought in cannot be consumed during the visit. You must park in the handicapped parking spots, phone the facility & someone will come out to test you. Any new admits must be here for 14 days before they may have visitors.
Always double check with your hospital or nursing home prior to visiting to assure no changes have occurred.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Taking a look at how the coronavirus vaccination effort is going right now in Rhode Island. The anniversary of the deadly Station nightclub fire was on Saturday. A local hockey player who suffered a serious injury releases a video message hours before his team plays a game.
>>Rhode Island Coronavirus Vaccine Update
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island appears to be speeding up its coronavirus vaccination efforts. Data from the New York Times indicates the state on Friday improved to 38th in the U.S. in the percentage of population given at least one shot -- 13 percent -- and RI was ranked 30th for number of people who were given two shots, which was at five-point-eight percent. Any Rhode Island resident 65 and older is now able to register to get vaccinated. Several days after stating he was not satisfied with the COVID vaccine rollout in Rhode Island, incoming governor Dan McKee indicated on Friday that his administration's plan will not be much different. McKee said during a meeting with his COVID advisory task force that he wants more state-run vaccination sites and a strong partnership with RI municipalities.
>>Station Nightclub Fire Anniversary Was This Weekend
(West Warwick, RI) -- Saturday marked the 18th anniversary of The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick. One-hundred people died in the fire caused by pyrotechnics at a rock concert. Survivors of the fire and others visited the Station Fire Memorial Park on the ground where the club once stood on Saturday. WJAR-TV reports no formal service was held, but that a 20th anniversary event is planned.
>>Man Shot And Killed In Pawtucket
(Pawtucket, RI) -- A homicide is being investigated in Pawtucket. Twenty-year-old Jontel Tavares was reportedly shot in a vehicle on Benefit Street on Thursday. Police say the shooting appeared to be targeted.
>>Injured Hockey Player Releases Video Hours Before Team Plays Game
(Attleboro, MA) -- Local high school hockey player A.J. Quetta spoke publicly for the first time on Saturday since suffering a spinal cord injury. Quetta, a North Providence native who played for Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Massachusetts, expressed gratitude for the support he has received since the injury. He also wished his team good luck as they took on rival North Attleboro. Subsequently, that game, which Bishop Feehan won 2-to-1, was dedicated to Quetta.
>>CCRI Gets Money To Help Students Affected By Pandemic
(Warwick, RI) -- The Community College of Rhode Island is receiving over five-million dollars in federal grants to provide additional financial aid to students who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Providence Journal reports the money comes from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund. The CCRI website has a link to sign up for COVID-19 recovery scholarships allowing qualified new students to attend tuition-free for two years. Currently-enrolled students could also sign up to get two courses covered this upcoming summer.
(Providence, RI) -- A Rhode Island state Representative is calling for the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Rhode Island. William O'Brien of North Providence says he has supported previous legislation and plans to co-sponsor a new bill once it is introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. O'Brien says cannabis products from Massachusetts are entering Rhode Island, and that the Ocean State is left with all of the concerns of legalization without the immense profits.
Providence has set immediate sign-up for 2-day mass vaccination clinic for residents over 65 years of age and from ONLY 3 zip codes – 02907 – 02908 and 02909. Sign up here: https://www.providenceri.gov/vaccinate/
A RI vaccination coordinator has been named by outgoing Gov. Raimondo as she appoints a transition from a RI Dept. of Education staff member, without Lt. Gov. McKee’s involvement, according to multiple media sources.
CCRI vaccination site is closed for today due to the weather. Some vaccine can be expected to be delayed due to travel problems.
People under 75 have been able to register for the shot and are not being turned away at the vaccination centers.
In a “transition memo” from the Gov. to HealthSourceRI, they have been asked to trim $1M from their budget, regardless of their request for $3M more.
A vaccination clinic will be held at the John Hope Settlement House, for some Providence residents.
Lt. Gov. Dan McKee will hold a meeting today with his own coronavirus transition team.
With neither Gov. Raimondo nor Lt. Gov. McKee attending meetings, there has been wide discussion about a solid plan moving forward.
Kent Hospital is NOT opening up visitation – as well as Care New England facilities – Westerly Hospital is allowing 1 visitor per day.
Some nursing care facilities are loosening up visitation while some are mandating on-site rapid testing before entering the buildings.
Connecticut’s largest teachers union is running a TV ad that encourages officials to begin vaccinating teachers immediately.
Springfield, Worcester among 20 communities identified for targeted outreach in state COVID vaccination effort.
The Yarmouth Clam Festival in Yarmouth, ME has been canceled.
Massachusetts is nearly doubling the number of residents who are eligible for COVID-19 shots, announcing that residents age 65 to 74 and those with two or more qualifying health conditions can book vaccine appointments starting Thursday.
Massachusetts furniture retailers see increase in sales as homes become offices
Maine’s attorney general has issued a warning to health care providers against administering COVID-19 vaccines to ineligible people after MaineHealth gave shots to out-of-state consultants hired to fight an effort to unionize nurses.
Connecticut’s essential workers, including teachers, and people with underlying medical conditions should learn in about 10 days when they can begin making their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Plymouth State University is returning to online classes, citing a growing number of student COVID-19 cases.
Dartmouth College has begun planning for a “normal fall term,” if coronavirus cases remain low and community vaccination rates are high by summer’s end.
Biggest hurdle in Taunton COVID vaccine rollout is lack of supply from state
Garland Pen Co. had announced they were closing, but now remains open thanks to a PPP loan.
School swim meets in RI will compete individually, wait up to a day to learn their results, and have no observers.
The L’il Bear Pub in Tiverton is closing.
Mohegan Tribe will open a clinic at Mohegan Sun for 300 shots per day for CT residents.
The Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square has had all 3 of its restaurants close.
Fall River Mayor is complaining that Bristol County has not received a fair share of vaccine.
Massachusetts is nearly doubling the number of people eligible for COVID-19 shots, announcing that residents age 65 to 74 and those with two or more underlying health conditions, including asthma, can book vaccine appointments starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.” After the new eligibility rules were announced about 250,000 people flooded to the appointment-booking website and caused brief crashes.
A report done by NBC10 says that anywhere from 25-75% of firefighters, police and EMTs in RI are not getting the vaccine, by choice.
RI and MA National Guard may drive to pick up the vaccine if it gets delayed because of national weather issues.
Massachusetts adds asthma to vaccine eligibility which is well received among those with asthma who were not included before.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health will focus resources on 20 cities and towns with high “social vulnerability” and coronavirus caseloads: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, and Worcester.
In Vermont, cities are vaccinating home-bound seniors by having EMTsgoing door-to-door, using the Moderna vaccine.
Warwick has issued a report of their vaccinations so far:
Between 12/28/20 and 2/10/21 we have fully vaccinated 239 uniformed first responders (Fire & Police) – 72% of the workforce
Between 2/3/21and 2/9/21 we vaccinated 390 75+ residents with their 1st COVID-19 Vaccine at the regional POD
On 2/15/21 we vaccinated 644 residents with their 1st shot at the City’s first 75+ POD at Veterans Middle School.
On 2/22, 3/1 & 3/8 will plan to vaccinate at least an additional 1,920 of the City’s 75+ population at the Veterans Middle School POD.
On 3/15, 3/22, 3/29 & 4/5 we will administer 2nd shots of the vaccine to the 2,564 residents that were vaccinated at the 1st shot clinics.
We currently have 3,200 75+ residents on the City’s Vaccine Waitlist. 700 of the oldest residents remaining on the list were invited to the 2/22 vaccine clinic by email this afternoon.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s commencement will be virtual.
The Newport Music Festival will host 17 outdoor concerts between July 4-17
The Blackstone Valley Community Health Center on Broad Street in Central Falls has apparently allowed non-residents who are also younger than the current state eligibility guideline of 75 and older to also sign up for vaccinations, according to several residents who spoke to the Providene Journal.
Massachusetts CIC Health issuing apologies on social media for signup glitches, downed website, etc. as hundreds of thousands of residents 65+ try to register.
With over 100 positive cases this week, Providence College is temporarily restricting student movement. Students who live both on and off campus are required to limit their activities to essential travel, including going to class, picking up food or groceries, medical appointments, outdoor recreation, and work, and visitors are not allowed in dormitories and on-campus students are not allowed to visit off-campus student residences.
Effective tomorrow – hospitals can return to Level 1 for visitation – all prevention measures in place, visitors will need to be screened and other supports will be in place. If you are sick do not visit, of course. Clinical judgement of facility will be deciding factor.
Effective tomorrow – nursing homes and assisted living facilities – visitation can resume with screening, etc. Guidance has been issued about ventilation, mask wearing, screening, hand washing.
Testing – if you are going to visit you should commit to get tested at least once a week – it is accessible everywhere.
New strain identified in RI – best way to protect is to get tested regularly, wear high quality mask, follow guidelines. 400K KN95 masks will be distributed at testing sites.
Vaccination campaign – initial portion was healthcare workers and congregate settings. 70% of our deaths have been in congregate settings. RI is ahead of the pack with 49% decrease in hospitalizations, particularly among groups we identified for vaccinations, but also treatment modalities and testing. RIDOH says no doubt vaccinations are responsible for this decline.
Vaccinations have been very complex and taken time. Much faster to have done it at mass vaccination sites. Administration rate of vaccines: we are a “little behind” other states who did not take our complex method of vaccination. Important we understand why RI chose the path it chose. We will measure health outcomes at the end – keeping people out of the hospital, avoiding deaths. Phase 1 has achieved by and large what we wanted to do. We can be confident in the fact that we are protected enough and now we can move on, still prioritizing by risk – age, underlying risk, geography.
2 mass vaccination sites for general public – The Dunk and the Sockanosset Crossroads facilities. Gen. Callahan is in charge. Today, alone, over 3,000 appts have been made so far – with 10,000+ over the next week and a half. Go to vaccinateRI.org – or call automated # 844-930-1779. We can do hundreds of shots per hour. We will stand up additional mass vaccination sites in RI.
We will consolidate clinics being run by cities and towns to 5 regional ones. This will allow vaccine to be shipped directly there and be stored without a lot of transport of vaccine.
Two objectives now: faster and simpler vaccinations. We understand it’s time. We will also consolidate the registration sites. Pharmacies will continue to have their own. Goal is to move regional sites into the one registration system, too.
Q: How do you explain so much unused supply of vaccine?
A: Vaccines considered on-the-shelf were not held back, but were part of the distribution and redistribution process. Packaging and repackaging, getting it to other partners, if vaccine had not been administered we would collect it and redistribute it again. 0.2% waste of vaccines. This is what contributed to the large amount on-the-shelf.
Q: Harvard gave RI an “F” because it didn’t go into people’s arms.
A: Within 14 days, almost 100% was distributed. Now looking at 7 days. With fewer sites.
Q: Is any of the state’s redistribution system a mistake?
A: We didn’t expect for this to be measured that slow – we needed to prioritize and we did that, and now it’s time to speed it up.
Q: Vaccination sign-ups are occuring now – and not after Monday – for 65 year olds?
A: From now until Monday it is 75 and older. After Monday, it is 65 and older. We will delete if those who do not qualify have set up. Over next 24-48 hours they will be deleted.
Q: Are you going to kick off 65 year olds who went on and signed up now?
A: If it is overwhelming, we can correct this – we will go carefully there.
Q: When does Governor plan on residing and have an orderly transition of government?
A: Dr. Scott said to reach out to Governor, but the Governor is fully engaged as is Lt. Gov. McKee.
Q: Significant appointments are being made in RI through the media and Lt. Gov. McKee’s frustration seems to show a disorderly situation.
A: Dr. Scott – I can assure you that our information is flowing and interacting.
Q: Gov. Raimondo extended her executive orders through March 17th, long after she is gone. Did Gov ask Dr. Scott to do this?
A: Yes, she asked our opinion about Executive Orders. We were concerned about the new variant. It will be significantly more contagious. We can make updates to those changes.
Q: URI football was supposed to play Bryant. Game was canceled, but now URI is going to play now. Why couldn’t someone sit outdoors and watch a game outdoors.
A: We’re looking at improvements.
Q: Would you continue to describe Gov. Raimondo’s management as brilliant?
Q: People under age of 65 can make appointments. They can make appointments – what will happen when they show up?
A: System is based on honesty and cooperation of people involved. Self-attestation is what is used. Hopefully between now and Monday, only those over 75 will go on, we do have ability to cancel them.
Q: What about the homebound?
A: We’re continuing to work through agencies involved in home care and plan for this – should have news next week.
Q: Has the approach cut down on deaths and how do you know?
A: We know fatalities lag behind decreasing cases…we need a few weeks to determine that.
Q: On Monday, will RI’s website crash as MA has?
A: Today we do not think it will. Because we’ve had over 10,000 sign up.
Q: Phone lines can’t get through – is RI going to improve this?
A: RI already made changes – we’ve added live individuals.
Q: Both CT and NY and MA and NJ have increased gathering limits for events, weddings, etc.
A: In a month, we should see gathering limits increase even more.
Stefan Pryor ended the conference with a note of confidence in the Governor and Lt. Governor and the group quickly left the stage.
Hospitalized – 193 – In ICU – 30 Ventilated – 19 Deaths in hospital
3 New Admissions – 23 New Discharges
27 First vaccines: 113,298 Total vaccinated, 2 shots: 52,190
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
The hazardous weather nationwide is delaying deliveries of coronavirus vaccine shipments.
Nearly 4 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer — trapped in a vicious cycle that makes it harder to get back to work
Vatican employees who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine will be fired. Pope Francis’ COVID-19 commission says that individuals have a moral responsibility to get vaccinated “given that refusing a vaccine can constitute a risk for others’”
Walmart prepares 5,000+ pharmacies to administer the COVID vaccine – 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a store
NIH funds study to evaluate remdesivir for COVID-19 in pregnancy
President Biden has been speaking a lot about the future with coronavirus – here are some statements in the last 24 hours:
“I think a year from now, … there will be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, have to wear a mask.”
“I don’t want to overpromise anything here,” Biden added. “It matters whether you continue to wear that mask.”
“By next Christmas, I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today.”
“My guess is they’re going to probably be pushing to open all summer, to continue like it’s a different semester and try to catch up. … The goal will be five days a week.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that the timeline for when the general population could receive shots was slipping from April to May or June.
Covid is devastating Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities,
U.S. public health advisers are weighing recommendations for extending the interval between the first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines, a potential strategy for quickly getting protection to more people.
Pres. Biden further explained his goal of back-to-school in 100 days, saying that his goal is 5 days a week.
3 Las Vegas hotels will again open 24/7.
PrepMod, the vendor for the crashing Massachusetts vaccination registration site is accepting responsibility for the difficulties which has locked out thousands trying to make appointments.
Nevada will begin vaccinating residents 65+ at local pharmacies.
Oxford University. Last week, started the world’s first coronavirus vaccine trial in young kids. This month, around 240 volunteers aged 6-17 will get the AstraZeneca shot. The goal: to assess the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in younger patients. Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly planning similar moves – and have already been carrying out trials in US kids as young as 12.
UMass Medical School announced the statewide launch of a Vaccine Corps to recruit and deploy volunteers to support and accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. Over $435,000 have been raised to support the Vaccine Corps, led by a $200,000 gift from the Woburn-based Cummings Foundation that UMass Medical School was challenged to match.
The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding & Event Professionals (RICWEP) has released a new training video to help event professionals operate their businesses more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video, sponsored in part by Rhode Island Commerce, was filmed and produced by Montage Media Productions and photographed by Sara Zarrella Photography. This training video is available in English Click Here for Footage and will soon be made available in Spanish.
“This is a great partnership with Rhode Island Commerce and the Department of Health, the Department of Business Regulation and the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau,” said Luke Renchan, of Luke Renchan Entertainment and a RICWEP task force leader. “The video demonstrates how event professionals put RICWEP’s phased action plan into action in coordination with the state’s public health measures. The enhanced safety protocols lay the foundation for a safer and more successful 2021 for weddings and events in Rhode Island.”
“It’s important that we find more and more ways for our small businesses to open and operate safely,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “We are proud to have partnered with the Coalition of Wedding & Event Professionals as it has worked tirelessly and creatively to produce this video – and to provide support to this professional community. Public health conditions permitting, we will utilize this tool as we work to enable the incremental reopening of this key industry.”
RICWEP Task Force Leaders:
Luke Renchan, Erica Trombetti, Mike Henriques, Meagan Peter, Kate DeCosta, Kenneth Ferrara, Faith Dugan
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The state's public health director says the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will speed up. Recapping how much snow fell in Rhode Island on Thursday. The name of the victim of a house fire in Warwick has been shared.
>>State Health Director Provides COVID Vaccine Update
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island Public Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott on Thursday promised the speed of COVID-19 vaccinations will increase going forward. Alexander-Scott said the state used a targeted approach in the first phase of vaccinations, and it has resulted in a decrease in hospitalizations. The doctor said the strategy moving forward will be to reduce the number of vaccine sites in the state. To register for one of the two mass vaccination centers that just opened in Providence and Cranston, you can visit VaccinateRI.org or call 844-930-1779.
>>Southern Rhode Island Picks Up Several Inches Of Snow
(Undated) -- Observed snow totals from the National Weather Service for Rhode Island as of 11 p.m. Thursday were higher down south. Richmond got three inches, Westerly three-and-a-half, Newport got four-and-a-half, and Block Island got five inches, according to the weather service. Only an inch of snow or less was reported for central and northern RI.
>>Warwick Woman Dies In House Fire
(Warwick, RI) -- The victim of a Thursday house fire in Warwick has been identified by family members as Shaylyn Schoonmaker. The victim's mother said Schoonmaker went back inside the house to try and rescue her dog, but never made it back down. The fire is under investigation.
>>Ivy League Cancels Spring Sports Because Of COVID
(Undated) -- The Ivy League is canceling its spring sports season yet again due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league was the first Division One conference to shut down athletics last fall. The schools admitted it is a "disappointment" and "regret the many sacrifices that have been required" due to the pandemic.
>>CCRI Tweaks Free Tuition Program To Accommodate Students With Disabilities
(Warwick, RI) -- The Community College of Rhode Island is changing its two-year free tuition program to provide more time for students with disabilities to graduate. The parents of a student negatively impacted by the rule that requires those taking advantage of RI Promise to attend full-time went to state Representative Mike Chippendale with their concerns. Chippendale then called on the General Assembly to address what he called a grave injustice to disabled students. The college believes it has the power to make the tweak to the program on its own.
>>Block Island Police Chief Retiring
(New Shoreham, RI) -- Block Island chief of police Vincent Carlone is retiring. Carlone joined the New Shoreham Police Department in 2003. According to a report from The Providence Journal, Rhode Island State Police Captain Matthew Moynihan will step in as acting chief in March and April while the town searches for a new police chief.
Yesterday, AARP Rhode Island issued a strong statement, “AARP Demands a COVID Vaccination That Works for all Rhode Islanders”. The statement was part of a flurry of activity yesterday to try to answer what has become universal upset at Rhode Island’s listing as last for disseminating shots to people.
Activity included 3 ZOOM events with Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott explaining the RI methodology. One ZOOM was run by Rep. Ray Hull, head of the RI Coronavirus Task Force, with heavy-hitting questions amidst lengthy slide presentations presenting data that while RI has been so slow to administer vaccinations, it has done so strategically, resulting in reduced hospitalizations.
A surprise ZOOM presentation came from Governor Raimondo looking clearly disturbed at the public and official outcry, which included at least 3 mayors asking for her to resign and let Lt. Gov. McKee fully take over. Her presentation included a statement that RI’s method has been “intentional”, given our expertise on focusing on the hospitalizations and cutting them – and she maintained that RI’s vaccination plan is “going well”.
By the end of the day, RI had announced 3 ways to register for vaccinations, and the addition of 65+ starting with Monday registration as well as the Providence 2-day registration (and the opening of a Portsmouth site):
vaccine registrations will be open on Monday, statewide, for those 65 and over for vaccination opportunities starting Monday.
An online signup has gone live at: https://www.vaccinateri.org/
Providence set up a 2-day clinic for Fri & Sat from 3 “hardest hit” zip codes at 02907, 02908, and 02909. Go to: https://www.providenceri.gov/vaccinate/
An automated phone number for RI sign-ups activated: 844-930-1779 – The call center will be open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and weekends from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
There are also opportunities for city & town vaccination clinics. Check on your individual website.
Massachusetts announced it will immediately begin vaccinating those 65+.
Links in this chart, below, are not click-able – you will need to type in the sites into your computer’s browser.
The AARP-Rhode Island statement:
The Providence VA Medical Center has begun vaccinating people who are enrolled in the VA Health Care. VA Providence is actively contacting patients at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to schedule their vaccination appointments. There is no need for Veterans to preregister, call for an appointment or come to a facility to sign up. https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/. If you are not yet enrolled in VA Healthcare you can do so by visiting https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/ online or by contacting the Eligibility Office at the Providence VA Medical Center Main Building, Main Entrance, Rooms D1089A and 1089E or call 401-273-7100 Ext. 12496 401-273-7100 Ext. 13250
A new vaccination site opened for Portsmouth residents aged 75 and older at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. It will be run by the town’s EMA. Incoming Gov. McKee participated in the opening ceremonies.
Additionally—this week, Wickford Art has launched a new web-shop: https://shop.wickfordart.org where they’ll be offering exhibited, featured, and donated artwork for sale representing our artist-membership, active exhibitors, and artists across the country who participate in the Wickford Art Festival. All work can be purchased and collected in-gallery or curbside, or Wickford Art can ship.
For more information on individual exhibits or programs, please contact us, or visit wickfordart.org. All programming is subject to change; all juried and judged exhibits will be featured through online virtual galleries as well as in-gallery hours (Wednesday through Saturday: noon to 4pm, Sunday: noon-3pm) at WAA’s beach-front North Kingstown home.
About the Wickford Art Association
The Wickford Art Association is a non-profit organization with approximately 450 members from Rhode Island and across New England. The association hosts art exhibits, classes, lectures, and workshops in its North Kingstown gallery and has produced the summertime Wickford Art Festival since 1962. Wickford Art Association is dedicated to educating, encouraging and inspiring artists and art lovers throughout the community. For more information, (401) 294-6840 or visit wickfordart.org.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island is in store for another round of winter weather. The state is opening up coronavirus vaccine registration to older Rhode Islanders. The state's first black judge has died.
[[ watch for updates ]]
>>More Snow To Fall In Rhode Island Thursday-Friday
(Undated) -- The National Weather Service is predicting five-to-six inches of snow for Rhode Island. That was the update from the weather service overnight Thursday. Snow is expected today and tomorrow.
>>Older Rhode Islanders Can Register For COVID-19 Vaccine
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island is opening up COVID-19 registrations to Ocean State residents 65 and older as of next Monday. The state says all Ocean State residents 75 and older can register right now for a COVID-19 vaccine at one of two state-run sites in Providence and Cranston. According to Governor Gina Raimondo and the health department, the state can now move into a phase where every Rhode Islander is vaccinated by age group because of the positive impact from the targeted approach during Phase 1. To register for a shot at one of the state-run sites, visit VaccinateRI.org.
>>More RI Vaccine Updates
(Undated) -- Here is a roundup of other coronavirus vaccine news in Rhode Island. WPRI-TV reports the RI Health Department has confirmed it is receiving an increased number of weekly vaccine doses. Lieutenant Governor and soon-to-be governor Dan McKee toured the vaccine site at the Raytheon building in Portsmouth on Wednesday and repeated his commitment to speeding up the state's vaccine rollout. Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott testified about the state's vaccine rollout at a General Assembly COVID Vaccine Task Force hearing on Wednesday. And the city of Providence says it is immediately getting shots in the arms of people 65 and older who live in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
>>Record Year For Grants From RI Foundation
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Foundation awarded a record amount in grants in 2020. The foundation said on Wednesday the dollar amount was 87-million. Over two-thousand non-profit organizations benefited. The foundation had its third-best year on record for donations last year, receiving 68-million dollars.
>>Child Patients At Psychiatric Hospital Getting Education After Report
(East Providence, RI) -- Children at a psychiatric hospital in East Providence are receiving a formal education after an investigative report from WPRI-TV. The news station had reported in December that more than twenty kids affiliated with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families who had been living at Bradley Hospital, some for months at a time, were not receiving a formal education. Channel 12 reports the hospital has implemented the educational use of Chromebooks and the DCYF has created a new policy to notify local school districts when one of their students is admitted.
>>First Black Judge In Rhode Island Has Died
(Naples, FL) -- The first black judge in Rhode Island has died. Alton Wiley was 91 years old. He passed away on Wednesday in Naples, Florida. Wiley was the first black judge to sit in both the state's district and superior courts.
Effective July 1, 2021, the partnership will include 13 locations across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The University Orthopedics family will consist of nearly 650 employees including more than 60 physicians, 45 advanced practice providers, 50 therapists, and numerous residents and fellows.
“Our mission at University Orthopedics is to provide the highest quality orthopedic care integrated with world-class education and research. In support of that mission, we have focused on expanding our services, our locations, our providers, and staff in a manner to best support that mission,” said Edward Akelman, M.D., President of University Orthopedics. “When the planning process began for our new location in Mansfield – which just opened a few weeks ago – discussions about potential collaborations with OCPN manifested. Fairly quickly, we came to realize that many similarities existed within our organizations, and it became apparently clear that a partnership just made sense.”
OCPN’s Simon M. Cornelissen shared Dr. Akelman’s sentiments.
“Just like UOI, patient-centric focus and high-quality care provided by great staff and providers are at the core of OCPN’s mission. With great enthusiasm, I believe this relationship to align our missions will allow our organization, as one the largest independent orthopedic groups in the country, to provide world-class, cutting-edge and compassionate care to our communities,” Cornelissen said.
“In the last three decades, University Orthopedics has become the leader in providing orthopedic care to the people of Rhode Island due to the hard work of our staff. OCPN is already a high-performing organization and together we are confident that we will continue to do great things in Massachusetts,” Akelman said.
With locations throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, OCPN already has deep roots in the community. UOI hopes these additional locations will enhance its newly formed partnership with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Mansfield (Forbes Blvd)
Mansfield (Reservoir St)
Rhode Island Locations:
East Greenwich, RI
East Providence, RI
North Providence, RI
About Orthopedic Care Physician Network
Orthopedic Care Physician Network (formerly OCS – Orthopedic Care Specialists) was founded in the mid-60s and has since grown to its current complement of nine surgeons whose specialties include general orthopedics; total joint replacement; sports medicine; trauma; advanced arthroscopic reconstruction of the knee and shoulder; hand and upper extremity; and spine.
About University Orthopedics
University Orthopedics (UOI, universityorthopedics.com), with clinic locations in Rhode Island (East Greenwich, East Providence, Johnston, Providence, Middletown, North Providence, and Westerly) and Massachusetts (Mansfield), is a regional center for orthopedics, sports medicine, and rehabilitation. UOI includes more than 45 board-certified orthopedic, fellowship-trained musculoskeletal, and sports medicine physicians. These specialists are faculty members of the Department of Orthopaedics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University who teach medical students, orthopedic residents, and fellowship sub-specialty surgeons.
For Ash Wednesday, from the Diocese of Providence: Please note, in light of the pandemic, the custom to “rub” ashes on the forehead in the form a cross has been suspended for this year. Instead, ashes will be distributed by “sprinkling” them on each person’s head as is the long-standing custom in other countries especially in Europe. Some locations are using ashes distributed on the forehead with Q-tips. Virtual and drive-through events will be happening, as well as putting ashes onto a folded card. Check with your church’s website for specifics.
NOTE: The RIDOH and the Coronavirus Task Force are planning a special address TODAY at 4pm. ALSO: Look for a special email edition of RINewsToday this morning. RI has been criticized for having over 90,000 doses in storage.
RI has identified 3 cases of the variant COVID-19 virus in the state. Patients were in their 60s, 50s, and 20s. Two cases were in Newport County – one was in Providence county. These findings were first known late last night and they have yet to be told. They have also all cleared the isolation period. While this is more aggressive in terms of transmittal and seriousness of illness.
Just as RI has loosened its restrictions for dining, etc. the new variants have left some medical experts saying this is THE time to use extra caution because of the transmissability of the new virus variant. In addition to extra cautions doubling of masks is recommended.
One Rhode Island nursing home is estimated to have approximately 50% of its staff members refusing the vaccine. RINewsToday will be doing a special story addressing resistance among healthcare workers.
Central Falls remains only high-density city where anyone can get vaccinated – 4 or 5 events have already been held for those over 18. Plans for high density sites in Pawtucket and Providence have been mentioned for special vaccination priority, but no vaccinations have yet been scheduled.
Massachusetts also has identified the So. African strain as well as the UK strain.
Jim Hummel, reporting in the Providence Journal reports that an Colony Personnel, in Warwick, an employment agency that has provided contact tracers, case investigators and other office workers for the Rhode Island Department of Health during the pandemic says the state owes them $275,000, going back to summer.
Massachusetts is working with communities, health insurance companies and other groups to set up transportation for people who cannot get to sites on their own, as well as home delivery systems for those who can’t.
New community vaccination site: Incoming Gov. McKee will participate at 11am today at an event with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Portsmouth Emergency Management Agency and other partners to mark the opening of a new community vaccination site on the Raytheon Campus in Portsmouth.
Cranston’s Culinary Affair, 650 Oaklawn Ave., culinaryaffairri. com, has reopened with new concept include grab and go prepared food options and a beer and wine list. They will also offer online ordering for pick-up or delivery service within a 3-mile radius.
Skye Gallery in Providence is closing and will reinvent as a pop-up gallery from time to time.
Davis’ Market, kosher market on the East Side of Providence has closed.
Worcester issued 20 violations to local businesses for not adhering to COVID19 regulations
Officials at every level of government in Mass. are criticizing Baker over vaccine rollout
Providence School Vacation Week Food may be picked up today, Feb. 17th, from 11am to 4:30pm – families should come prepared to carry large bundles of food.
Trying to find out why the state of RI has not used its vaccine quickly enough, NBC10’s Brian Crandall asked the question and received this response from RIDOH: “I asked why there are so many unused doses of vaccine CDC data shows RI has only administered 62% of its doses. RIDOH claims their “strategic” approach to focus on those most at risk takes longer than other states. RI is planning to open two mass vaccination sites Thursday. “It is because when we are vaccinating in specific settings, we need to have a certain amount of vaccine for the people there. For example, we need all the vaccine needed to cover a nursing home residents and their staff before we start vaccinating there. And if we are going to do a police department, we need all the vaccine to cover that police department. But the uptake in those settings varies. Sometimes that vaccine has to get cycled back into our inventory. That is time consuming and logistically challenging – it can literally mean having to transport vaccine back to a storage site. At the mass vaccination sites, there will just be open slots. Someone makes an appointment, and if they don’t show up that dose just goes to the next person and we open up another appointment. Administration is much faster and more efficient when you have people going to a site, rather than bringing vaccine to people.”
Rhode Island’s response to being last in quantity of vaccine given:
Deaths in hospital – 0 – New Admissions – 23 – New Discharges – 15
First vaccines: 103,369 Total fully vaccinated – 2 shots: 47,801
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Update from Moderna: Moderna expects to deliver 100 million additional doses by end of May 2021 followed by another 100 million additional doses by end of July 2021 – 45.4 million doses have been supplied to the U.S. Government to date. 25.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine have been administered in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Short term delays in the final stages of production and release of filled vials at Moderna’s fill and finish contractor Catalent have recently delayed the release of some doses, but these delays are expected to be resolved in the near term and are not expected to impact monthly delivery targets. The Company expects to meet commitment dates to the U.S. Government for all currently ordered doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, including targeting delivery of the first 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter 2021. The Company has moved forward delivery of its second 100 million doses by one month, from end of June 2021 to end of May 2021. It has moved forward delivery of its third 100 million doses by two months, from end of September 2021 to end of July 2021. These commitments reflect a ramping up of production over the last few months and an expectation of further ramp up over the coming months. All U.S. supply comes from Moderna’s dedicated supply chain in the U.S. Supply to locations outside of the U.S. comes from dedicated supply points based outside of the U.S.
Britain will provide vaccine COVID-19 certificates for its residents if they are required by other countries, although it is not planning to introduce them for use at home.
Pres. Biden says teachers should be prioritized for vaccination, but did not indicate over which other groups.
Mortgage extensions and foreclosure haults have been extended from ending in March to ending in June.
Maine has declared every county is now safe for in-person learning.
The pandemic is hitting child care centers hard – with 166,800 fewer people working in child care in December 2020 than had been in those jobs in December 2019.
The CDC says fever, chills, headaches, soreness and tiredness are normal signs that your body is “building protection.” Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen can help with that, but it is not recommended to take these medicines before vaccination as it is not known how these medications may impact how well the vaccine works.”
Dr. Fauci said a week ago that all Americans should be vaccinated by late spring/early summer – yesterday he said there are reasons to believe that all Americans may not have access to the vaccine going past summer and into the fall.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy emerged from quarantine Tuesday, less than a week after a family member tested positive for the coronavirus. He now wears two masks which he says is “unfortunately, the new normal”.
NYC’s subways will run for two more hours every day starting next week, and the nightly system shutdown for cleaning will be reduced to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.
There is no progress on the $1400 stimulus checks, with congress bogged down in impeachment proceedings.
Japan to start inoculation drive today with 40,000 medical workers
To speed up vaccination, poor countries are beginning to prioritize China’s 50 percent effective vaccine over Western vaccines that have efficacy rates of over 90 percent.
FEMA is opening vaccination sites in Los Angeles.
Malaysia to kick off COVID-19 vaccination drive next week
Colombia receives first COVID-19 shots, vaccination may begin early
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island is under a Winter Storm Watch for up to over a half-foot of snow. A Rhode Island man is accused of stealing a tractor-trailer at a Coca-Cola facility in Connecticut. A board approves plans for a proposed massive retail site in Johnston.
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>>Winter Storm Watch For RI
(Undated) -- All of Rhode Island except for Block Island is under a Winter Storm Watch from the National Weather Service from Thursday morning until Friday evening. The same watch also covers northern Connecticut and most of Massachusetts except for the Cape and Islands. The weather service says heavy snow and mixed wintry precipitation are possible. Snow totals of up to seven inches are predicted.
>>Ash Wednesday Will Be Different For Catholics This Year
(Providence, RI) -- The Catholic Diocese of Providence says Ash Wednesday services will be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The custom to rub the ashes on foreheads will not happen today. Instead, priests will sprinkle ashes onto people's heads. The Providence Diocese says this is a long-standing custom in other countries, including Europe.
>>Plainville MA Business Hit By Fire
(Plainville, MA) -- A structure fire that happened in Plainville, Massachusetts on Tuesday night is continuing to be investigated. The two-alarm fire broke out at the Mini-Systems electronic parts manufacturer business on East Bacon Street. Extensive damage was reported, but no injuries.
>>RI Man Arrested For Allegedly Stealing Truck In Connecticut
(Undated) -- A southern Rhode Island man is accused of stealing a tractor-trailer truck from the Coca-Cola facility in Waterford, Connecticut. Officers arrested Kyler Wilson of Richmond on a number of charges, including DUI, on Monday. Police say Wilson stole the truck, crashed it into an employee vehicle while trying to escape, and then attempted to evade police in Stonington, Connecticut by diving out of a moving truck before he was apprehended.
>>Board Approves Plan For Massive Retail Site
(Johnston, RI) -- A proposed large retail distribution site in Johnston is taking a step forward. Initial approval came from the Johnston Planning Board at a meeting on Tuesday for the proposed center in a wooded area off Route 6. Residents chimed in with concerns such as noise and traffic at the meeting. The proposed distribution center is rumored to be Amazon, but that has not been confirmed. The goal is to have it open in 2023.
>>Patriots Tickets Given To Milestone Vaccine Recipient At Gillette Stadium
(Foxboro, MA) -- An Uxbridge, Massachusetts woman received two tickets to the New England Patriots' 2021 season opener on Tuesday as a result of hitting a milestone at the Gillette Stadium COVID-19 vaccination site. WPRI-TV reports Brigitte Peters was the 65-thousandth-878th patient to get the shot, signifying the seating capacity at the Patriots home stadium. Peters says it will be her first Pats game. There was no fan attendance at Gillette in 2020.
Photo: Today is Fat Tuesday – and Mardi Gras – in New Orleans. With bars closed and Bourban Street blocked off, homeowners have taken to decorating their home-floats for people to enjoy as the traditional parades aren’t happening.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
Lt. Gov. Dan McKee released a statement of dissatisfaction in RI’s vaccination progress – only 62% of doses given to state given out. Here is his statement:
“Like most Rhode Islanders, I am not satisfied with the current administration’s progress on vaccine distribution, especially as we see our neighbors in Connecticut ranked among the top in the nation.
Speeding up vaccine distribution is my top priority. When I become Governor, I want to have all the information to be able to hit the ground running on day one. This week, I’ll be reaching out to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, leaders at Harvard University, and my transition COVID-19 advisors to ensure Rhode Island is prepared to immediately expand its vaccine distribution capacity.
Our transition team has already successfully engaged all 39 municipalities in the state’s vaccination planning and enabled EMTs to administer vaccines alongside other medical professionals. Still, we know that Rhode Island has much more work to do to get shots in arms quickly and efficiently.
Throughout this transition, my message to the public has been stay positive and test negative. As Governor, my message to everyone involved in the state’s vaccine distribution effortwill be equally as simple: Let’s get shots in arms right now.”
The RIDOH says it will take time to determine if RI’s highly targeted approach for vaccine distribution worked or not, as RI is still measuring as the last state in the US for vaccine distribution to people.
3 Mayors have called for Gov. Raimondo to resign while she is awaiting her confirmation to the cabinet to allow incoming Gov. McKee to fully take office and manage the COVID-19 crisis. The three mayors are Warwick Mayor Picozzi, North Providence Mayor Lombardi, Cranston Mayor Hopkins. From Mayor Picozzi: “I haven’t called for the Governor to step down as that would be disrespectful. I personally feel she should resign, as would I if I were in her current situation. Power needs to be handed over to the Lt. Governor so we can continue leadership in our state as we get through this pandemic. Governor Raimondo did a great job guiding us through this crisis to this point, but we need continuous leadership from this point on.”
Providence vaccination clinics for those residents 75 and over will be held next week – register here: VaccinatePVD.com – or call 3-1-1.
The next Central Falls COVID-19 vaccine clinic is being held on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Central Falls High School for Central Falls residents (18+) and employees ONLY. Residents will be required to provide proof of address when checking-in for their appointment on-site (ID/recent utility bill), and Central Falls employees will be required to show proof of employment in the city.
Pawtucket residents can sign up for vaccines in their city – if they are over 75 – at: www.pawtucketri.com/covid19 – there are several locations including Jenks School and St. Anthony’s.
Worcester State University will begin a vaccination program today.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens today at the Westerly Senior Center as a result of a partnership between the town and Westerly Hospital. Shots are available by appointment only and reserved for town residents age 75 and older, and the clinic is only open on Wednesday afternoons.
Despite glimmers of hope, URI Professor of Economics Leonard Lardaro, creator and author of the Current Conditions Index, anticipates 3-5 year recovery post-pandemic. Lardaro says Rhode Island’s economy remains largely stuck and noting the pre-pandemic economy was still largely stagnant, Lardaro asserts that the current crisis provides an opportunity for leaders to specifically define Rhode Island’s economic niche to reinvent and reinvigorate its economy and business climate.
North Providence Mayor Lombardi’s wife tested positive and moved to their summer home in Narragansett – Lombardi stayed out of work for the requisite time, tested negative and returned to work in the city. His wife was asymptomatic and is now home.
In Boston, the new program offering vaccines to those who accompany anyone over 75 for a vaccine is going awry as ads are being run offering rides, money, etc. to go with someone. The Governor has warned seniors to decline help from anyone not directly involved in their care.
In Hartford, Connecticut, lawmakers plan to hold a 24-hour, virtual public hearing starting today to discuss a proposal to eliminate the state’s religious exemption from vaccinations for schoolchildren.
According to the RI Dept. of Health website, this week “people experiencing homelessness will begin to be vaccinated – on site at shelters.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers and officials urge state to prioritize funeral workers in vaccine rollout
New Bedford is the hub of the world’s fishing industry and they are being credited for taking extensive steps to control COVID19 in their industry. Roughly 390 million pounds of seafood a year comes through New Bedford. A third is fished locally, while the rest is processed there but comes from Canadian, Scandinavian, and other international waters. After New Bedford processes and packages this mega-haul, the seafood is distributed globally via Boston and New York City. New Bedford processed seafood can be found the world over – and the health of its industry sets the market value on the menu.
19 people in Massachusetts have the new, more communicable strain of COVID-19.
Massachusetts stopped vaccines from going to hospital and primary care offices, opting to go with state run facilities to vaccinate more, quicker. Most of RI is doing the same.
More than half of the employees in the Massachusetts Department of Correction have declined vaccine. According to the Boston Globe, roughly 900 workers have been infected and 21 inmates have died.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has reopened. A Live discussion with Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor, SBA Regional Director Mark Hayward, and other technical assistance partners will be held TODAY, Feb. 16th, at 11am and Friday, Feb. 19th at 11:30am at https://commerceri.com/covid-19-sba-loan-faq/ to review the program and how to apply. Topics will include:
• Program overview – Eligibility Requirements – How To Apply
• How to obtain technical assistance – Q&A
RI’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee is set to meet TODAY. This is a group of external specialists that advises the RI Department of Health on immunization issues, including epidemiologists, primary care providers, pharmacists, pediatricians, long-term care advocates, ethicists, nonprofit leaders, school leaders, faith leaders, and others. They will discuss prioritization and distribution of the vaccine to ensure that it is done equitably, and in a way that best protects the State as a whole. Final decisions about vaccine distribution are made by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee is:
Chris Abhulime, Reverend; The King’s Tabernacle
Justin Berk, MD, MPH, MBA; Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Thomas Bledsoe, MD; Rhode Island Hospital
Jonathan Brice, EdD; Bristol/Warren Regional School District
Wendy Chicoine, MSN, RN, PHNA; Providence Community Health Centers
Sapna Chowdhry, MD; Thundermist Health Center
Eugenio Fernandez, PharmD; Asthenis
John Fulton, PhD; Brown University School of Public Health
Wilfredo Giordano-Perez, MD; Tri-County Community Action Agency
Kathy Heren; Rhode Island Long-term Care Ombudsman
Sabina Holland, MD; Hasbro Children’s Hospital
Joan Kwiatkowski, MSW; PACE
Beth Lange, MD; Coastal Medical
Kerry LaPlante, PharmD; URI College of Pharmacy
Christopher Ottiano, MD; Neighborhood Health Plan of RI
Teresa Paiva Weed; Hospital Association of Rhode Island
Pablo Rodriguez, MD; Care New England
Karen Tashima, MD; Lifespan Immunology Center
Larry Warner; United Way
RI Data – Feb. 15, 2021
Deaths: 2 yesterday / 44 since Thurs
Tests – 5,975 – Positives – 203 – Positive – 3.4%
Hospitalized – 181 – ICU – 35 – Ventilated – 16
Deaths in hospital – 4 – New Admissions – 15 – New Discharges – 31
Deaths in hospital – 5 – New Admissions – 27 – New Discharges – 43
First vaccines: 95,829 Total fully vaccinated – 2 shots: 42,116
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
New Orleans residents are decorating their homes, rather than floats, as a celebration of Fat Tuesday, today, and Mardi Gras.
The age group 65 to 74 – older baby boomers – may be the largest group to be vaccinated.
The WHO has issued emergency authorization for Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine.
The USS Teddy Roosevelt, in Guam, is reporting a new outbreak.
Britain is using hotel rooms to quarantine some travelers who arrive from certain countries with high incidence rates – for 10 days.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has won the $1 million Dan David Prize for “defending science” and “speaking truth to power” -NPR
The NHL will require rapid tests for all players, on-ice personnel, and team members.
While many herald the falling case rate, a leading infectious disease epidemiologist in the US has said that the worst of the pandemic is coming in the next 14 weeks because of a surge in cases due to a new variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the U.S. This will also make it difficult for schools to open or stay open. This is the position of Michael Osterholm, the head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a Biden transition advisor on COVID-19.
“A lot of schools are going to be challenged to open at all,” Osterholm told “CBS This Morning,” adding, “The next 14 weeks I think will be the worst of the pandemic.”
Roche’s arthritis drug tocilizumab cuts the risk of death among patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, also shortening the time to recovery and reducing the need for mechanical ventilation.
In NYC, advocates for homeless people sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over a series of Covid-19 rules that unfairly target people who shelter in the city’s subways. The rules prohibit people from staying in a subway station for more than an hour or after a train is taken out of service, and ban carts more than 30 inches long or wide. They were enacted on an emergency basis last April and made permanent in September.
Evidence has been building for giving blood thinners to hospitalized Covid-19 patients because the disease causes unusual blood clotting.
Travel through the Dubai airport has dropped 70%
The latest round of COVID-19 lockdowns saw people going to warm climates and vowing now to return until they can get a vaccine, according to Bloomberg. The East Coast went to Florida, South Carolina, and Turks and Caicos Islands. The West Coast went to Arizona and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo in Mexico.
The big picture: “Extended-stay discounts, the reopening of certain international borders, and better awareness on the precautions to take when traveling have further enabled a second-wave exodus.”
Bartle’s Pharmacy of Oxford, N.Y., hired college students on winter break to schedule appointments, but the phone system was quickly overwhelmed. To lighten the mood, patients can ring a “Covid cowbell” after they get their shot. “It’s pretty amazing to see the relief on people’s faces,” says pharmacist and co-owner Heather Bartle-Ferrarese.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan is donating $10 million to launch two medical clinics in underserved communities near his hometown in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Officials in Harrisburg, PA will not move teachers to the state’s first priority vaccination group, as requested by unions.
Peru’s foreign minister resigned over an uproar over government officials were secretly vaccinated before the country recently received 1 million doses for health workers facing a resurgence in the pandemic.
A California federal judge called out a DLA Piper attorney Thursday for not wearing a tie during a virtual hearing on Finisar’s $6.8 million securities settlement, saying male attorneys have taken the informality of COVID-19-era remote hearings too far
President Joe Biden says his administration has procured 200 million more doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The nation will now have enough vaccine supply to cover every American adult by the end of July.
South Africa has halted its use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a preliminary study showed it offers only minimal protection against the virus variant that is dominant in that country.
Australia and New Zealand have received their first vaccine deliveries and will begin rolling out inoculations in the coming week, while Melbourne and Auckland remained locked down following the emergence of new cases.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will judge this week how fast England can exit lockdown after the United Kingdom vaccinated 15 million of its most vulnerable people, but the health minister said death and hospital admission numbers were still too high.
The FDA has told Moderna it can add up to 40 percent more of the vaccine in its vials to more rapidly increase the available supply, though discussions between the company and the regulator are ongoing.
Children as young as six will be given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a new clinical in the UK to test its efficacy in youngsters
Japan’s Health Ministry said on Sunday it has officially approved Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, its first vaccine.
A COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Sanofi and U.S. group Translate Bio “will not be ready this year.”
In response to the task force from WHO that went to China, spent 3 hours in the Wuhan lab, and determined the virus did not original in the lab, but more likely in the market area, the US is asking for all detailed records from China going back to the very first days to better judge the accuracy of these findings.
The US Department of Education released their “Reopening” Document for schools throughout the US – you can access it, here:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is criticizing the Raimondo administration for its vaccine rollout as he waits to become governor himself. A structure fire was called in to the Plainville Fire Department Monday night. The town hall flagpole in Barrington is becoming a lightning rod for controversy.
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>>Winter Weather Advisory Continues Overnight
(Undated) -- All of mainland Rhode Island is under a Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service until 7:00 this morning. The weather service says freezing rain is the threat, with ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch. The weather service is predicting the next winter storm to impact Southern New England will arrive Thursday into Friday night with a plowable snowfall likely to start.
>>Dan McKee Criticizes Gina Raimondo Administration On Vaccine Rollout
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is criticizing his current boss for her handling of the coronavirus vaccination effort while he waits to take over for her. McKee released a statement on Monday saying like most Rhode Islanders, he is not satisfied with the Gina Raimondo administration's progress on vaccine distribution and that he will make speeding-up that rollout his top priority upon assuming the governorship. The Rhode Island Health Department says the state has taken a highly-strategic approach which has resulted in a large drop in virus cases in two key demographics: healthcare workers and nursing homes. State-run mass vaccination sites are set to open this week in Providence and Cranston.
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>>Structure Fire Battle In Plainville MA
(Plainville, MA) -- Firefighters in Plainville, Massachusetts were battling a structure fire Monday night. The Plainville Police Department reported the fire on East Bacon Street at around 9 p.m. WJAR-TV reported the massive blaze was at an electronics-manufacturing facility.
>>Disagreements Continue In Barrington About Flags On Town Hall Pole
(Barrington, RI) -- A group in Barrington that wants to put up a flag on the town hall that says "Keep Politics Off The Pole", is getting stymied so far. EastBayRI.com reports the request was made to the town manager and a town council member by the Barrington United Veterans Council, which also wants the flagpole removed from a veterans' memorial where it currently stands. The news report indicates the veterans group turned to a councilor who had said at a council meeting at the beginning of this month he did not think the Black Lives Matter flag should fly on the flagpole because of the inability to distinguish the cause from the organization. The BLM flag was put up last year. EastBayRI.com reported the Barrington Town Council at that February 1st meeting approved a policy giving itself and the town manager the power to decide which flags fly on the pole.
>>URI Scholarship To Help Black Pharmacy College Students
(Kingston, RI) -- One of the first doctor of pharmacy graduates of the University of Rhode Island is establishing a new scholarship to help lessen racial disparity in the pharmacy profession. Kenneth Lawrence, who is black, received his doctorate in 1990 and has worked as a clinical pharmacist and in pharmaceutical development. The university says his fifty-thousand-dollar gift will be invested in the URI endowment. The scholarship will support College of Pharmacy students with a preference for African-Americans or other historically-underrepresented populations.
>>Gas Prices Up About A Quarter Since Beginning Of January
(Undated) -- Gas prices are up two cents a gallon from one week ago in Rhode Island, according to RIGasPrices.com. The current price in the Ocean State is two dollars, forty-five cents per gallon. That's about twenty-five cents higher than the price at the beginning of the year.
Beginning this past Sunday, the Newport Pell Bridge tolling system switched to a 4-week trial of full automation. Motorists heading eastbound will not be able to pay tolls by cash or credit card.
The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) reminds drivers that they will direct all traffic heading eastbound (towards Newport) through lanes that accommodate E-ZPass and bill by mail transactions. (Expected inclement weather could delay the start of the pilot program).
The pilot program will necessitate some toll booth lane closures. During the 4-week program, motorists heading eastbound will not be able to pay tolls by cash or credit card. Signs will direct motorists to keep moving and not to stop at the toll plaza to ensure traffic safety. Motorists approaching the toll plaza from the Jamestown on-ramp will be required to stop and then proceed to merge.
The tolls will be collected utilizing the existing open road tolling (ORT) technology. This technology reads E-ZPass transponders for tolling. If a vehicle does not have a transponder, a bill will be mailed to the address of the registered owner of the vehicle. The billed toll amount will be the same as if the vehicle was paying at the toll booth with cash or credit card. However, if the invoice is not paid on time, fees will be applied.
The tolls can be paid via mail, at the drop box located at the Jamestown office, online at www.ezpassritba.com, or over the phone Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-877-743-9727.
RITBA is encouraging customers to sign up for E-ZPass and utilize the online tools available to manage their accounts and pay for tolls, as call volume is expected to increase as a result of these changes. RITBA is asking its existing customers to log in to their accounts and update all vehicle, address, and credit card information to avoid unpaid tolls.
Impact on personnel
RITBA responded to questions from RINewsToday about how this impacts personnel. They said that there have been no toll collector jobs lost due to the program implementation, and that there will be no loss of shifts for full-time employees during this period. The duties of toll collectors will shift to other operations at RITBA. They will consist of observing and monitoring the trial period to help assess the program to make any necessary adjustments along the way.
RITBA is implementing this pilot program to evaluate the impact all-electronic tolling (AET) would have on the Authority in all aspects from finance and back-office tolling operations to plaza operations. This effort is part of RITBA’s Ten-Year Renewal and Replacement Plan unveiled in 2016.
In terms of permanent job replacement, RITBA said it did not know that at this time what the impact would be. They employ eight toll collectors and four full-time supervisors. However, “when RITBA shifts to AET permanently, RITBA is committed to making best efforts to transition displaced employees to other appropriate positions at RITBA”. When asked how much money the automated system could save, they said that “due to the unknown of how many of the twelve full-time employees would have new roles at RITBA, we cannot accurately calculate the future dollar savings (at this time).”
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island's Congressional delegation reacted after the second presidential impeachment of Donald Trump resulted in an acquittal. Several Rhode Island mayors are calling for Governor Gina Raimondo to step down while she awaits a call to the Biden administration. A judge has ruled Rhode Island's law on vanity license plates is unconstitutional.
>>Rhode Island Congressional Delegation Reacts To Trump Impeachment Verdict
(Washington, DC) -- Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline called Saturday's vote to acquit former president Donald Trump the most bipartisan presidential impeachment verdict in history. Cicilline had a prominent role in the trial as one of the impeachment managers from the House of Representatives. RI Congressman Jim Langevin said the House impeachment managers made a compelling case for why Trump should have been convicted for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and that Senate Republicans chose to ignore the evidence. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse went after Trump's lawyers for making what he said were "untruthful" statements during the trial. Senator Jack Reed thanked the seven Republican colleagues of his who crossed party lines to "acknowledge Trump's wrongdoing".
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>>Winter Storm Watch For Part Of Rhode Island
(Undated) -- A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for northwestern Rhode Island. The National Weather Service says the area could get up to three inches of snow and a half-inch of ice Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening. Power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice, according to the weather service.
>>Mayors Call For Raimondo Resignation; Governor's Nomination On Hold
(Undated) -- Several mayors of Rhode Island cities are publicly calling for Governor Gina Raimondo to resign while she waits on a confirmation from the U.S. Senate to become the next Secretary of Commerce. The mayors of Cranston, North Providence and Warwick have released statements of concern about the leadership limbo in the state's executive branch. Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is waiting to take over for Raimondo. The Providence Journal reports McKee specifically asked Raimondo to allow him to make a nomination to a Public Utilities Commission seat after he was sworn in, but Raimondo did not honor that request. However, the RI Senate Committee on Commerce has decided to hold off on the appointment of Jack Revens to the PUC post until after he meets with McKee.
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>>Judge Strikes Down Vanity License Plate Law
(Providence, RI) -- A federal judge ruled on Friday that a law covering vanity license places in Rhode Island is unconstitutional, according to a report from The Providence Journal. Electric car driver Sean Carroll, of Scituate, was threatened with a canceled registration by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles if he did not turn in his plate which he had initially gotten away with having, which read: "F-K-GAS". The judge ruled last week the state going forward cannot use a law on the books that says the DMV can deny vanity plates if they are offensive or in bad taste.
>>Injured High School Hockey Player Transferred To Rehab Center
(Undated) -- The Massachusetts high school hockey player who was severely injured after a head-first crash into the boards during a game last month has been transferred to a rehab center in Atlanta. A.J. Quetta was a player for Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro. The Quetta family, who previously said he may never walk again, says he was transferred to Shepherd Rehab Center, one of the top rehab hospitals in the U.S. which specializes in treatment of spinal cord injuries.
>>Residents Of Warwick Apartment Complex Displaced By Fire
(Warwick, RI) -- Dozens were displaced after a fire at an apartment complex in Warwick over the weekend. This happened at the Les Chateaux Apartments early Saturday morning. No significant injuries were reported. The Red Cross was working to find shelter for the thirty-five affected families. The fire reportedly started in the basement of the building and is under investigation.
Salve Regina University is reporting positivity above 5%.
Massachusetts is rethinking the buddy-up program to encourage 75+ residents to come with a caregiver, and the caregiver being given a shot as well – scammers are feared and security concerns.
Massachusetts has paused some vaccination sites due to lack of vaccine that is being consolidated for use at clinics and not hospitals.
94% of deaths in RI were of those above 60.
CVS will begin its federal vaccination program – separate from the state – this week at 5 RI stores for those in eligible categories. They expect to give out 200 shots per day. Stores in Westerly, Woonsocket, East Greenwich, Newport and Providence. Registration for those 75+ is on their website.
Providence College announced a series of new temporary restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the college community, with 172 students in quarantine and 92 students have tested positive in the past three days. Students, both on-campus and off-campus residents, are required to limit their movement to essential purposes including travel to in-person classes, travel to pick up grab-and-go meals or groceries, travel to work. Spectators will not be allowed at athletics contests. All field work, e.g., student teaching, practicums, and other placements are suspended. On-campus resident students are restricted from visiting off-campus student residences. In-person classes will continue.
Tiverton announces a new website, tivertoncovid19.com, that will serve as a resource for residents, visitorsand business owners to receive updates as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop and the State of Rhode Island moves through its vaccine distribution timeline. A link for a vaccination waitlist for those 75 and over is on the site.
The City of Cranston is seeking volunteers to assist with operations of the COVID-19 vaccination site taking place at the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center. Assistance is being sought from volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30am to 3:00pm beginning Tuesday, February 16th and ending Thursday, April 8th. There are a wide variety of ways to help. The City is seeking Doctors, Nurses, EMTs and other qualified volunteers to help administer the vaccine. The City is also seeking volunteers to make calls to qualified recipients of the vaccine and help facilitate the vaccination site. Interested parties may sign up to volunteer at www.cranstonri.gov/covid-19-vaccine-information or by calling the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center at (401) 780-6000.
The FDA has authorized a new antibody treatment from Eli Lilly. The new treatment combines Eli Lilly’s previously authorized antibody treatment, bamlanivimab, with a new drug, estevimab. Clinical trial results showed that the combination therapy could be used to prevent severe COVID cases in patients who are not yet sick enough to be hospitalized but who are still at risk for serious illness.
Cape Cod Democrat Sen. Julian Cyr lambasted the Massachusetts vaccine distribution, arguing the plan continues to leave the region and its significant senior population unable to access the potentially life-saving inoculation. Cyr told reporters that pleas from the Cape delegation for a mass vaccination site or additional doses have gone unanswered, even though Barnstable County has the largest percentage of population over 75 among the state’s 14 counties. This week, 1,300 appointments available for vaccines on the Cape filled up in 29 minutes, Cyr said. He contrasted that with the Baker administration previously flagging thousands of slots still open at its Gillette Stadium mass vaccination site. “To me, that indicates that where the vaccines are being made available is actually not accessible to the people who need them,” Cyr, a Truro Democrat, said. “Cape Codders are being left out of this vaccination,” he later added. “I don’t know why, and I don’t know what else to do other than air these frustrations because our pleas for help are not being answered.” Baker announced the state would stand up additional mass vaccination sites in Natick and Dartmouth.
Lincoln Shoe Repair, in Cranston, closing because of loss of business in the pandemic.
Deaths in hospital – 3 – New Admissions – 34 – New Discharges – 34
First vaccines: 93,489 Total fully vaccinated – 2 shots: 40,355
Governor’s Update – 2-11-2021
Reviewed the data
Looking for new strains which they suspect are already in RI – need to push them off which will give us more time to vaccinate.
Next week KN95 masks will be distributed at most testing sites. If you get tested once a week you can receive a new mask each time. If you have a cloth mask make sure it fits snug to the face and it is 2-3 ply.
Business leeway can happen now, but not go too far, because of the variances coming our way.
Social gathering size will increase from just household, to two households gathering indoors, and three households gathering outdoors – starting 2/12. The households should be the same. Must continue to wear a mask while gathering.
Very targeted now with medical workers, public safety, residents in congregate settings. 75 year olds and up.
Decline in cases among healthcare workers since vaccinating them. Plummeting figures of new cases. Good results in long term care facilities.
Without a lot of vaccine we are being very targeted with who we give it to.
Next portion will be general public. Locations: pharmacies, regional clinic, state run site. CVS and Walgreens are getting 7,000 doses for 75+ citizens. Cities/towns, 7,800 doses each week, total. Schools, senior centers, etc. will see clinics start next Wednesday. Need appt., no need to come earlier. Cities/towns are handling them. Clinics will not run out of vaccine. State-run sites: Next Thursday at Dunkin’ Donuts Center for 75 yrs + – and Sockanosset, same age groups. Healthcare workers have been being done at Sockanosset, too. Goal with state sites is volume – hundreds per hour – 500-900 per day to start. Age will expand as vaccines are given out.
Next Wed there will be a special registration list and phone list for the two Thursday sites for 2 weeks. There is still more demand than supply, so you may not get an appointment right away. We are doing everything we can to get more vaccine. We will get to the point where we will have sufficient doses.
Testing: New testing site at 79 Dorrance St, with rapid test – to replace The Dunk – walk up site – no appts needed. Most of the other sites need an appointment.
Treatment info on Health Dept. website.
Incoming Gov. McKee:
Goal to keep people out of the hospital.
Transition continues to be wholly focused on vaccine response and roll-out.
CommerceRI – Stefan Pryor:
Changes for businesses –
Venues of assembly – churches, movies, etc. – going from 25% to 40% capacity with maximum of 125 – exception for exceptionally large facilities if 6 feet can be maintained. Still safer to go smaller and go remote.
Bars – bars can reopen – 4 per bar, 90 mins stay, closing time of bars is 11pm. Bar seating should be dining, not just drinking. Patrons must remain sitting, no standing or congregating at bars.
Q: Why not streamline appointment making system?
A: Right now we want accessibility is the most important thing – want to have multiple systems of signing up. Credit cities/towns for helping seniors sign up. As we move forward we will work towards a more focused approach to register.
Q: Why a disparity among locations on quantities?
A: Oversight of distribution of vaccine is controlled by the state.
Q: In MA, caretakers can accompany seniors – in RI?
A: Not at this time with limited supply.
Q: Nursing homes – still no visitation – home owners want state to decide.
A: RIDOH is opening up slowly to engage further to increase visitation.
Q: Are you using field hospitals?
A: To a very small extent – but may be used when variant strains come here.
Q: Who is saying that bar reopening scheme works? Some employees are afraid to return to work.
A: RIDOH is assessing data and doing the best we can do loosen up and keep safe at the same time. We’ve followed public health data in doing this.
Q: RI has 4th lowest share and dead last in the country in vaccine delivery – what are the kinks in the system?
A: There are national agreements in pharmacies and how they are working. But now we are accelerating and we are working directly with the pharmacies. Gov. Raimondo also made contact with CEO executive.
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Filming of Real Housewives of NYC has been suspended due to positive cast members.
President Biden now saying not enough people will receive a vaccine by the summertime.
More than 5,000 have been vaccinated at Fenway Park.
Chicago begins to open schools after a bitter union fight – with 2,000 initial vaccines given and another 1,500 coming for the most at-risk workers.
Anyone arriving in England and found to have lied about a recent visit to a country on the British government’s travel ban list faces up to 10 years in prison.
Twitter and Instagram have pulled the account of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., famous for being an anti-vaxxer.
CVS will begin its federal program this week in 11 states.
Since reaching a peak on Jan. 8 — related to holiday gatherings — the number of confirmed new daily cases has fallen by almost 60 percent.
People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday
The Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. don’t use live or attenuated viruses and studies of pregnant animals suggest they are safe, experts say. However, pregnant and lactating people were not included in the initial vaccine trials.
With RI schools a patchwork of fully open, fully closed, virtual, hybrid, etc., here are the statistics updated as of Feb. 10th – with comparisons to prior months. Note that the list is split into two – schools ‘in session’ and schools that are virtual – data is very closely the same, except for the obvious staff cases.