Two members of the House of Representatives, Deputy House Speaker Charlene Lima and Representative David Morales will be submitting legislation to help Rhode Islanders by exempting unemployment benefits from the tax required by Rhode Island law.
The bill will be introduced by next Tuesday (4/6) and it has over 60 co-sponsors, according to Rep. Morales.
When you collect unemployment you can opt to have taxes withdrawn – or not – and with many opting out of having taxes withdrawn (to maximize their benefit amount received), and not realizing how long collecting would take place, are now faced with a significant tax liability. The IRS will not require taxes to be paid on unemployment, but Rhode Island will.
Tax deadlines have been extended from April to May 15th this year, both federally and locally. The bill would match the federal exemption of the first $10,200 in income from unemployment benefits, and would be effective for one year only.
Deputy Speaker Lima noted that the financial and economic devastation to our citizens and businesses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was not the fault of our citizens.
Recently the Federal government gave an $10,200 tax exemption to anyone receiving unemployment compensation caused by the Covid pandemic. The first $10,200 received in unemployment benefits will not be taxed by the Federal Government.
Rep. Lima said, “I want to give this same benefit to Rhode Island’s taxpayers so I will be submitting legislation, together with Rep. David Morales, to provide a similar tax exemption for the first $10,200 received in state unemployment compensation for all Rhode Islanders. This unemployment exemption will be in effect for the fiscal year 2020.
Our citizens need all the financial help the government can give in order for them to survive the economic harm caused by this pandemic that was caused through no fault of their own. It would be unconscionable if Rhode Island did not follow the Federal Government’s tax exemption for unemployment benefits. This is especially true since we will be receiving over a billion dollars in stimulus money from the Feds. This money must be given to those individuals most harmed by this pandemic and my legislation would help in accomplishing this goal.”
Rep. Morales said, “For over a year, it has been the working people and those on limited income who have been most impacted by COVID-19. Unemployment benefits have been the lifeline for this group to pay rent, buy food and pay utilities. It is imperative that these benefits be continued as fully as possible, this legislation will accomplish these goals.
While we are now making progress to overcome this pandemic, we are not there yet. Therefore, it is essential we provide our communities with the financial relief they deserve and that begins with waiving our state taxes on unemployment assistance.
Providence Councilwoman Sabina Matos will be announced as Gov. McKee’s choice for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Rhode Island, in an announcement today. Surfacing from a candidate pool of over 60 applicants, then down to 10, then down to 5, Matos was a front runner, along with former Mayor of Central Falls, James Diossa. Early on Diossa was rumored to be out of serious contention, and he announced he had taken a position at Brown University, leaving Matos the most speculated upon candidate.
The four other finalists are: Democratic Party treasurer Elizabeth Beretta-Perik, Rep. Grace Diaz, former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, and Sen. Louis Di Palma.
While this announcement is not finalized until the 10am ceremony, media sources were crediting each other for the “scoop”, with NBC10 in a rare other-media sourcing, noting the Boston Globe as the source of the naming of Providence City Council President Sabina Matos as the next Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island. As we go to “press”, neither Matos or Gov. McKee have given official confirmation.
A formal announcement is set for 10am this morning at the RI State House, Smith Street entrance, outdoors. While the Governor’s office is not confirming Matos’ appointment, his schedule has been released, along with a note that “A brief media gaggle will be held outside of each location following the visits“.
Governor McKee, his Lt. Governor nominee and Mayor Don Grebien will visit Notes Coffee Co.508, Armistice Boulevard, Pawtucket.
Governor McKee, his Lt. Governor nominee and Mayor Joseph Polisena will tour a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Johnston Recreation Center, 1741 Atwood Avenue Johnston.
Councilman John J. Igliozzi will become President of the Providence City Council, and a special election will take place for her replacement. Councilman Igliozzi has been on the City Council since 1997. He currently serves as Majority Whip and represents constituents who live in Ward 7; the westernmost neighborhoods of Hartford and Silver Lake. Councilman Igliozzi serves as Chairman of the Committee on Finance.
Sabina Matos currently serves as President of the Providence City Council, elected President in January 2019, the first Latina to hold the position in the city’s history. She is term limited as President of the Council. She was first elected to the Providence City Council in 2010 as Councilwoman for Ward 15, which covers Olneyville as well as parts of the Silver Lake and Valley neighborhoods.
In 2015, Matos became the first Latina elected as Council President Pro Tempore in Providence’s history and served in that role until her election as Council President.
Matos was born in the province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. In April 1994, she moved to the United States, first arriving in New York City, where she lived for a short time before moving to Providence with her family.
Council President Matos graduated from Rhode Island College in May of 2001 with a BA in Communications and Public Relations. She is also a graduate of the Latina Leadership Institute and Leadership for a Future.
Matos is also a graduate of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship Program – an invitation-only fellowship program for elected officials at all levels in the United States. She graduated in the same cohort as former Mayor of South Bend, IN, Pete Buttigeg, who is now running for President of the United States in the Democratic primary.
Council President Matos has served as the President of the ECAS-Educational Center for the Arts and Sciences, and the RI Latino Civic Fund – The Latina Leadership Training, and the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee. She has served as the Board Secretary of the Olneyville Housing Corporation and served on the Univocal Legislative Minority Advisory Council and Latino Policy Institute boards. She has also been a member of Direct Action for Rights and Equality and the Olneyville Neighborhood Association. She is a founding member of LUCHA-Latina’s United for Change, and is a graduate of the Leadership for a Future program.
Council President Matos, who is 42, lives in Olneyville with her husband, Patrick Ward, and their two children, Diego and Annemarie.
Matos says she believes, as Gov. McKee does that the Governor and Lt. Governor should run together. Matos will face confirmation in the Senate.
On February 21, 2021, Joe Paolino, Jr. interviewed Matos for his ABC6 television show, In The Arena:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The next lieutenant governor of Rhode Island is expected to be named today. A police reform bill that has been introduced in the RI legislature includes a statewide body camera mandate. The New England Patriots are getting an extra home game next season.
[[ watch for updates ]]
>>New RI Lieutenant Gov To Be Announced Today
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island's next lieutenant governor is about to be named. Governor Dan McKee is scheduled to announce the selection on Wednesday morning. Multiple media outlets have reported the choice is confirmed to be Providence City Council President Sabina Matos [[ suh-BEE-nuh MATT-ohs ]], who had received congratulations publicly from at least one other finalist on Tuesday.
>>Police Reform Bill Named After Man Assaulted During Arrest In Providence
(Providence, RI) -- Police reform legislation is being introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly. The Rishod Gore Justice In Policing Act is named for the man who was assaulted by Providence police sergeant Joseph Hanley last year. Hanley was recently convicted of the charge at a trial. The legislation would create a statewide mandate for police body cameras, require police to intervene and report severe misconduct by other officers, and it would make police civilly liable for willful misconduct. One of the legislators behind the bill is Representative Jose Batista, the former head of the Providence civilian police oversight board who was fired for releasing videos from the Gore arrest before Hanley's trial.
>>Man On Trial For Shooting At Police In Woonsocket
(Providence, RI) -- A bench trial is taking place this week for a man charged with assault and firing a gun while committing a crime of violence for an incident in Woonsocket which injured a Woonsocket policeman. Tyler Chandler of Portsmouth is asking a Superior Court judge to find him not guilty by reason of insanity. Chandler could face life in prison. The July 2018 incident played out after Woonsocket police responded to a report of Chandler walking in the city with a firearm in his hand.
>>New Vaccine Site Announced In Johnston
(Johnston, RI) -- The Johnston Police Department says a new regional COVID-19 vaccination site is coming to the town April 6th. WJAR-TV reports the site will be located at the recreational center on Atwood Avenue. Appointments for the clinic for qualified individuals can be made at the Rhode Island Department of Health COVID vaccine website, VaccinateRI.org.
>>Months Have Passed Without New Providence Teacher Contract
(Providence, RI) -- The riff between the Providence Teachers Union and the state-run Providence School District is putting a spotlight on the union's contract situation. After the head of the teachers' union called for an end to the state takeover on Monday, school leadership asserted that the contract is broken. The Boston Globe reports the union and State Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green [[ ahn-HELL-ick-uh in-FAHN-tay ]] have spent over three-hundred hours at the negotiating table since the contract expired at the end of last summer. Both sides earlier this year expressed beliefs that progress was being made on a new deal, but the Globe report indicates talks stalled during Rhode Island's recent governor's office transition.
>>Pats Home Opponents In 2021 Include Cowboys, Brady's Bucs
(Foxboro, MA) -- The NFL is adding one game to its regular-season schedule so teams will play 17 games instead of 16. That will mean one extra home game for the New England Patriots in the 2021 season, which will be played against the Dallas Cowboys. Also this year, Tom Brady will be part of the visiting team at Gillette Stadium for the first time when the Pats welcome in the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
>>Hasbro Wants Nerf And TikTok Enthusiasts To Apply For New Job
(Pawtucket, RI) -- Hasbro says it is hiring a "Nerf Chief TikTok Officer." Applicants are being told to post a Nerf-related TikTok video using the hashtag "NerfApplication" and tagging the Hasbro-owned toy brand. The successful applicant will get a three-month job, which will involve creating content for the Nerf TikTok handle. Applications will be accepted until Friday.
12 Metre Yacht Club Releases 12mR: An Enduring Legacy – A Film by Gary Jobson Features the 2019 12mR World Championship in Newport, R.I.
Photo: top: Enterprise (US-27) and Courageous (US-26) chasing the Grand Prix fleet to weather at the 2019 12mR World Championship in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo credit: SallyAnne Santos
This summer approximately twenty twelves will compete at the 2021 12 Metre World Championship hosted in Helsinki by Finland’s premier yacht club, the Nyländska Jaktklubben (NJK) from August 12-24, 2021.
Next summer, the 2022 12 Metre World Championship will return to the waters off of Newport, R.I., hosted by Ida Lewis Yacht Club from September 19-24, 2022.
The 12 Metre Yacht Club (12MYC) is excited to announce the release of 12mR: An Enduring Legacy. Filmed during the 2019 12mR World Championship in Newport R.I., highlights include racing footage and competitor interviews paired with the experienced insights of the 12MYC’s Station Steward Gary Jobson who also wrote and narrated this documentary.
Filmed during the 2019 12mR World Championship at Newport RI, highlights include exciting racing footage and competitor interviews paired with the experienced insights of the 12MYC’s own Station Steward, Gary Jobson.
From July 8-13, 2019, twenty-two 12 metre yachts and more than 300 world-class sailors representing six countries converged on Newport to compete at the 2019 12mR World Championship. “The narrative of this film demonstrates why the people who race 12mRs are so passionate about the yachts,” said Jobson. “The feeling of sailing a twelve upwind connects sailors to the wind and the water in a way that makes you want to come back.”
Jobson summed it up, “The twelves will continue to thrive long into the future, because they are fun and yet challenging boats to sail. The 12 Metre Class is the epitome of what yacht racing is all about.”
Produced by Gary Jobson with Jamie Hilton and Scott Shucher, and made possible by contributions from Jeff Beneville, Peter Gerard, Steven Gewirz, 12MYC Commodore Emeritus James Gubelmann, Art Santry and the 12 Metre Yacht Club Newport Station, 12mR: An Enduring Legacy is “must-see 12 Metre TV.”
America’s Cup, Olympic and World Champions are attracted to the 12 metres for the elite level of racing, the history of the Class and the raw power of the yachts themselves. For three-time Olympic medalist Jesper Bank who helmed Legacy (KZ-5), the attraction to this regatta was Newport and the 12mR history. His fellow Olympic medalist and Kookaburra II (KA-12) helmsman Torben Grael said: “It’s nice to race boats that were in the Cup…they are still very competitive…with many good sailors.”
An Enduring Legacy co-producer, Jamie Hilton added: “It was important for us to document the once-in-a-lifetime gathering of 12 metres at Newport for the 2019 World Championship. Not only did we want to capture the legendary racing fleet in action, but also the voices of the participants — many of whom had raced on the twelves in America’s Cup competition when it was held in Newport between 1958 and1983. Both American and international sailors were excited to be in Newport and ecstatic to be back on a 12 metre.”
Reunited aboard Courageous (US-26), three of Ted Turner’s 1977 America’s Cup winning crew — sailmaker Robbie Doyle; bowman LJ Edgecomb and tactician Gary Jobson — remarked on “better-than-original” boat performance throughout the highly-competitive Modern division. Together with Courageous, Newport’s iconic resident 12mRs — Columbia (US-16), Weatherly (US-17), Intrepid (US-22) and Freedom (US-30) boast seven America’s Cup victories among them.
Three “pre-war” twelves — Nyala (US-12), Blue Marlin (FIN-1) and Vema III (N-11) were shipped from Italy, Finland and Norway respectively, to race against the
United States’ oldest 12mR Onawa (US-6). American viewers will enjoy seldom-seen footage of these beautiful European wooden twelves sailing in Newport waters. In high-tech contrast, the three “plastic fantastics”— New Zealand (KZ-3), Legacy (KZ-5) and Kiwi Magic (KZ-7) — were together again battling for bragging rights in the Grand Prix division against Kookaburra II (KA-12). Although the competing 12 metres ranged in origin from 1928-1987, every yacht and her crew were ship-shape and fighting fit, each thoroughly prepared for world championship competition.
12MYC Commodore and owner of Challenge XII (KA-10) Jack LeFort is exuberant about the future of the 12 metre class in Newport. “This season we will welcome several new dynamic teams to our world-class racing fleet. And with the 12 Metre World Championship returning to Newport in 2022, we look forward to another highly competitive global event showcasing the legacy of our fantastic 12mR yachts.”
by Richard Asinof, ConvergenceRI, contributing writer
Story by Ian Knowles, program director at RICARES and a frequent contributor to ConvergenceRI.
The train to legalize recreational marijuana is picking up speed
The recreational marijuana legalization train is speeding down the tracks in Rhode Island. Gov. Dan McKee has now taken over for former Gov. Gina Raimondo in the conductor’s seat. The R.I. Senate leadership is on board, but they are pushing their own legalization plan forward – a 68-page Cannabis Authorization, Regulation and Taxation Act, 2021-S 0568. [For the record, marijuana is now often called cannabis, a more politically correct term.]
“Cannabis legalization is a monumental shift in public policy that effectively creates a new economy,” said Sen. Josh Miller, chair of the R.I. Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, in announcing the Senate plan on March 9, which differs from the McKee plan. “We want to ensure as many Rhode Islanders as possible have the opportunity to participate in this new economy.”
Fifteen states [and the District of Columbia] now allow recreational marijuana use. Thirty-three states [and D.C.] have legalized medical marijuana. New York State is on the verge of a deal to legalize recreational use. Rhode Island is playing catch up.
A 2020 national Gallup Poll reported 68 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing cannabis, a marked swing higher from the 50 percent who were in favor of legalization in a 2011 poll.
Indeed, the once contentious, divisive debate between advocates of legalization and critics recommending continued prohibition appears to be ending. If you are placing bets, the odds are that marijuana will soon join alcohol and nicotine as legal recreational drugs, heralding in the new normal in Rhode Island.
The question is no longer if, but when legalization will occur in the Ocean State. And, how soon federal legalization may follow.
Watching the river flow – and change course
In our telescoped news universe, it is sometimes hard to measure or gauge how quickly public opinion has shifted. In 1996, California was the first state to allow medical marijuana [Rhode Island did so in 2006]. In 1973, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana [Rhode Island did so in 2013]. And in 2012, Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize marijuana. In neighboring Massachusetts, the legal sale [and taxation] of products in recreational marijuana stores, which began on Nov. 20, 2018, has emerged as a blossoming enterprise.
The questions to ask are: What happened?What caused this sea change?What arguments swayed policy makers? And, how compelling is the economic rationale behind the change in policy?
Let’s take a quick look back at the historical arguments – and their waning influence on the present momentum.
• The critics: The basis for the initial prohibitionist argument was firmly established in 1930 by Harry J. Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics [a precursor to the Drug Enforcement Administration]. He proclaimed that “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind,” and that “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
Anslinger also claimed: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
If there is any remaining skepticism about the racial underpinnings for the War on Drugs, well, there you go.
For decades, the near-hysterical tone of misinformation and moral indignation continued to be reflected at the highest levels of government.
• In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act that classified marijuana under Schedule I, the classification for the most dangerous class of drugs with the highest potential for abuse and little to no medical value [including heroin].
• John Ehrlichman, counsel to President Nixon and assistant to the president for domestic affairs [and convicted for Watergate offenses], wrote in 1982 about the perverse rationale behind the designation: “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war [Vietnam] , but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the Blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”
• In 1980, then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan said: “Leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.”
• And, in 2017, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions [who became Trump’s first Attorney General], proclaimed: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
On the other side, the arguments around legalization of marijuana and other drugs, there were equally hyperbolic statements.
• The advocates: One spiritual leader of the abolitionists was Timothy Leary. In 1967, at the Human Be-In, a gathering of some 30,000 attendees in San Francisco, Leary urged America to “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” arguing the benefits of LSD and marijuana use.
• The early advocacy arguments included assertions that marijuana was a naturally occurring plant so therefore harmless; that legalization would essentially end drug-related violence [e.g., the influence of the cartels]; that marijuana was America’s largest cash crop and so would prove to be a fiscal panacea for states; that it is a medicine [ironically, a notion vehemently opposed by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws director in 2012]; and even that it would improve one’s sex drive.
Indeed, marijuana use was often celebrated in popular culture – in movies and in song, too plentiful to name all.
• Legalize it, don’t criticize it/Legalize it, and I will advertise it,” was the lyric to a popular Peter Tosh song.
• There was also the infamous slogan from The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers cartoon: Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.
However, the general thrust of the abolitionist arguments tended to minimize the potential economic and social costs.
This dominance of the unrestrained arguments and counterarguments related to marijuana legalization often proved to be confusing to policymakers – and to he general public.
“The strong claims made by both advocates and critics are substantially overstated and, in some cases, entirely without real?world support,” according to a 2021 Cato Institute drug policy analysis, which summed up the opposing contentions.
In the past decadeo,many of the arguments and discourse have become better informed, relevant and nuanced.
Advocates have suggested that legalization reduces crime, raises tax revenue, lowers criminal justice expenditures, improves public health, and stimulates the economy.
Further, advocacy has focused primarily on the human cost of marijuana prohibition, such as the lives of people that were ruined because of draconian penalties and lengthy prison sentences for simple marijuana offenses. [One egregious example is Patricia Spottedcrow, a 25-year-old mother in Oklahoma, who received a 12-year sentence in 2011 for selling two baggies of pot, worth $31, to a police informant.]
• “Marijuana legalization has always been a racial justice issue,” according to a 2019 Human Rights Watch report.
• A Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, according to a 2018 ACLU report.
• In 2018 in Rhode Island, Black people were 3.3 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. That ratio ranked us 30th in the nation for marijuana arrest racial disparities.
In turn, the marijuana prohibitionists have argued that legalization spurs marijuana and other drug or alcohol use, increases crime, diminishes traffic safety, harms public health, and lowers teen educational achievement – linking marijuana use and impairments in learning, memory and attention.
• Data from a 2014 National Bureau of Economic Research showed a national increase in probability of use, in frequency of use, and an increase in Marijuana Use Disorder diagnoses after medical legalization.
• Nora Volkow, the current director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said: “The greatest mortality comes from legal drugs. The moment you make a drug legal, you’re going to increase the number of people who get exposed to it, and therefore you increase the negative consequences from its use.”
Volkow continued: “When you legalize, you create an industry whose purpose is to make money selling those drugs. And how do you sell it? Mostly by enticing people to take them and enticing them to take high quantities.”
• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 95,000 deaths/year attributed to excessive alcohol use, and 480,000 to cigarette smoking.
“The fact that legalization might generate a fiscal dividend does not, by itself, make it a better policy than prohibition,” according to a caveat in a 2010 CATO Institute report on the budgetary impact of ending drug prohibition.
What arguments swayed policy makers and legislative leaders?Was it that un-just criminal punishment and racial disparities outweighed health considerations and increased public health costs?
The biggest arguments today are about what kind of business model to use for legalization. Former Gov. Raimondo favored a state-controlled business model. Senate President Ruggiero supports a commercial approach, and so does Gov. McKee.
Why legalization now?
There are numerous factors driving the push for marijuana legalization. They include: We are experiencing the convergence of our existing fractured economic situation, competitive legalization in Massachusetts, little fallout has occurred from our 2006 legalization of medical marijuana, the sharp decline in Twin River gambling revenue since the opening of Encore Boston Harbor, and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The perceived benefits from any drug policy change are the expected combination of increased revenue and reduced expenditures. Those gains would come from two primary sources: increases in tax revenue and decreases in drug enforcement spending.
When it comes to increased revenue and anticipated fiscal benefits, the national picture is revealing.
• “Marijuana sales have jumped substantially over the past year in parts of the country where recreational pot is legal, giving a boost to states that have come to depend on tax revenue to bolster their pandemic-battered coffers,” The Hill reported in February.
Further, The Hill story continued: “The majority of states that allow recreational marijuana reported either record sales or record-high tax collections in the past 12 months, signs of both a maturing industry that is attracting new customers and consumers who had little else to do during coronavirus lockdowns.”
• National sales of all cannabis products rose 67 percent in 2020, according to Flowhub, a cannabis retail management platform.
• More locally, Massachusetts has seen total sales of $1.24 billion between November of 2018 through March of 2021, in the first two and half years of marijuana legalization.
• Rhode Island is traditionally in the top 10 nationally in marijuana use. Approximately 23.3 percent of Rhode Island adults used cannabis in 2018-2019, ranking us 9th in the nation, according to Statista,
• The 2019 population of Rhode Island was 1.06 million. Twenty-three percent of that figure is a potentially robust market, with room for growth.
Under the R.I. Senate’s plan, the proposed law would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by individuals over the age of 21. It also allows for home grow comparable to neighboring Massachusetts. Cannabis consumption would be prohibited in public places, and unsealed containers would be prohibited from the passenger areas of a car.
In terms of taxation, a cannabis sales tax of 10 percent would apply, in addition to the 3 percent local sales tax and the state’s 7 percent sales tax. Licensing fees range from as low as $100 for a small cultivator’s license, $5,000 for manufacturers and testing entities’ licenses, and up to $20,000 for the largest cultivators and retailers.
Once enacted, the newly created, five-member Cannabis Control Commission would be empowered to establish rules and regulations for the state’s cannabis market and tasked to vet applicants. Retail licenses would be capped at one license per 10,000 residents per municipality, but every community would be eligible for at least three retail licenses.
The anticipated economic benefits extend beyond the expanding industry of cannabis researchers and developers, nurseries and dispensaries. There are potential opportunities for secondary industries such as software developers, construction companies, and financing services. Cannabis-related investments have already become a part of some investment portfolios.
In addition, there are the prospects of reduced expenditures in the elimination of some drug arrests, prosecutions and drug incarcerations. Rhode Island costs in 2016 related to marijuana were $76.1 million, according to the study on State and Local Expenditures Attributable to Drug Prohibition conducted by the CATO Institute. Rhode Island’s total cost attributable to all drugs was $203.6 million, according to the study. In FY 2020, the R.I. Department of Corrections received $267 million, according to an ABC6 report.
Gov. McKee’s proposed FY 2022 budget estimates legalized marijuana will only generate $1.7 million in net revenue to the state in its first year, due to what the budget office calls “substantial startup costs.” In later years, the annual revenue is expected to generate $17 million.
While legalization can produce ample tax revenue, it can also impose major costs. These include, but are not limited to, the expense of statewide regulation; treatment for marijuana use disorders; training for the police on dealing with marijuana-impaired driving; and public education about marijuana, including campaigns to prevent adolescent use.
An unknown is the effect on the black market. Prohibition imposes a black-market risk premium that is added to the cost of providing marijuana. With legalization this risk premium will no longer exist, or will be minimized. If the taxes are too high, or the black market is too strong, or the bureaucratic red tape is too onerous, then projections could miss their mark by millions.
A clear strategy direction?
If the industry growth rate continues, the potential benefits to the national economy will become more difficult for Congress to ignore. If marijuana becomes legal on the national level, investors will really be able to capitalize. The ability of marijuana companies to list their stocks on the U.S. exchanges would enhance liquidity and open access to many more investors.
Although policymakers are presently focused on marijuana, the majority of budgetary gains would likely come from legalizing heroin and cocaine, according to some observers.
The question is: Is the all-drugs legalization train now idling its engines waiting for the track to clear from the marijuana legalization express?
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.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Birx is doing multiple interviews saying that over 400,000 people could have been saved if the country did what she knew it should do but could not get leadership to listen to her. Dr. Birx never went to the press with what she suspected. Today, Dr. Walensky spoke to the American people saying she had a feeling of “impending doom” about another surge and more lives lost. She lost her professional demeanor, coming close to tears, in her attempt to reach people with this life-saving message. Later in the day, President Biden released new information in an impromptu message on COVID-19. He said:
“Now is not the time to celebrate:
1. calling for all states that have released their mask mandates to go back to requiring masks. This, as numbers tick up.
2. Also directing vaccine sites be within 5 miles of all Americans.
3. Adding 12 more federally run mass vaccination drive-up sites in minority communities in USA.
4. Also – more vaccination site at state level.
5. Sending millions of dollars to provide assistance, transportation to those who need help to physically get to the vaccine sites.
6. April 19th – 90% eligible for vaccine; balance by May 1. Hopefully deadlines will be reached earlier.”
Dr. Megan Ranney: “It boggles my mind that governors across the country are unwilling to hold on just a little longer to protect people.” On Dr. Birx, Ranney said, “Her months of public silence caused us all harm…”
Dr. Ahish Jha: “we should pause reopening efforts. Not forever But until every high risk person who wants a vaccine has one Vaccinations are going incredibly well Probably a month away from a better place Lets wait a bit longer to relax public health measures.”
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
5,500 new appointments opening up Tuesday at 9am at the RI website – Additionally, the Governor announced that beginning tomorrow, people who are 16 years of age and older, who live in one of eight hardest hit ZIP codes covering parts of Providence, Cranston, North Providence and all of Pawtucket and Central Falls, will be able to register for vaccination appointments at State-run vaccination sites and participating pharmacy locations. These additional appointments are being made available as the State is expanding efforts to ensure that residents of communities hardest hit by COVID-19 have access to vaccine. The eight specific ZIP codes are: 02860, 02861, 02863, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909.
Today a statewide push to vaccinate the roughly 25,000 homebound residents in Massachusetts who still have not received doses will begin. Homebound residents or their loved ones can call 1-833-983-0485 to begin the process of scheduling an in-home vaccine appointment.
RI is monitoring a recent rise in coronavirus cases among children ages 10 to 14. The age group now has the third-highest rate of weekly infections, WPRI-TV reports. Only the 15-18 and 19-24 groups have higher rates, state statistics show.
Mayor Hopkins and the Cranston City Council to hold candlelight vigil in honor of those lost due to COVID-19 – Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, Councilors Jessica Marino, Robert Ferri, Nicole Renzulli, Lammis Vargas, Aniece Germain, John Donegan, Edward Brady, Christopher Paplauskas, Matthew Reilly and community faith leaders will hold a candlelight vigil in honor of those lost due to COVID-19 on Wed, March 31st at 6:30pm at Cranston City Hall. More than 130 lives have been lost of Cranston residents.
The City of Pawtucket has partnered with The American Red Cross, Asthenis Pharmacy, and the Pawtucket YMCA to bring COVID-19 vaccination clinics to the city every Sunday through the Rhode Island Department of Health’s High Density Community (HDC) allocations. Clinics are held on Sunday afternoons at the Pawtucket YMCA. To date they have vaccinated over 1500 residents. Residents are encouraged to visit the Pawtucket website at www.PawtucketRI.com/Covid19
BCBS will pay for transportation to vaccinations in Massachusetts.
Last night, 2,200 fans attended a Boston Celtics game.
Today, the Boston Red Sox will announce plans for their opening day later this week.
In addition to the YMCA located clinic in Pawtucket, High Density Community clinics are at the Blackstone Valley Community Healthcare Center, Simpson Pharmacy, Santiago Medical Group, and some others.
Becker College in Worcester will close permanently due to financial issues related to the pandemic.
Boston high schoolers went back to school this week..
Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin lending support to the Hynes Convention Center vaccination site in Boston
RIDOH is partnering with three agencies—Alert Ambulance, MedTech Ambulance, and PACE—to administer COVID-19 vaccines to homebound people in their residences.
A COVID-19 survivor in Massachusetts is donating blood plasma for the 10th and final time.
Workers will go door to door in 10 cities this spring, urging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Connecticut Department of Public Health also announced a $5.3 million plan to expand call center services for the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line.
Massachusetts spent more than $130 million on contact tracing.
Worcester is set to go back to school but has a big bus driver shortage.
Deaths in hospital – 0 – New Admissions – 13 – New Discharges -0
Vaccinated – 331,805; Both shots – 212,059
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Dr. Fauci and CDC – we are “pleading” with people to hang in there a little longer – we are seeing an increase that we hope doesn’t turn into a surge. Concerned about variants – 26% of all virus now is that more transmissible strains.
The WHO had bats in their laboratory to use in experiments for many years. Notably, the WHO report had to be signed off by China, bringing its conclusions under suspicion for accuracy.
New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection
A new study says even six feet of separation is dangerous if schools reopen without updated ventilation systems. It adds children, where schools are open, are spreading Covid into the community. https://theanalysis.news/interviews/is-six-feet-safe-new-cdc-guidelines-to-reopen-schools-could-be-dangerous/
The US govt. is said to be working on a “vaccine passport” plan – lots of technology concern about how far-reaching this could go.
In New York, Residents over 30 will be eligible for vaccinations today, and those over 16 will be eligible April 6.
In a NYT article about vaccinating children: “the most important and least recognized reason to vaccinate all children quickly is the possibility that the virus will continue to spread and mutate into more dangerous variants, including ones that could harm both children and adults”.
National Rugby League team Brisbane Broncos have booked a charter flight out of Brisbane for 50 players and staff, and will base themselves in Sydney for at least the next two weeks
San Francisco will pay artists $1000 per month as “essential workers” – 131 people qualify
Michigan is saying it is in its 3rd surge. Other states are expected to see this happen – the CDC is asking people to be cautious and hold on doing too much “risky” behavior until more people are vaccinated.
Dr. Jha spoke about the variant, how contagious it is, and how fast it is spreading – he says people are too relaxed, gathering indoors, etc. States have moved too fast, he said. Cases are increasing among the young, the fastest. 10-19 and 20-29 – they are relaxing and enjoying a more open life and that is where we are seeing the uptick.
Former CDC Chief says it is most likely the virus escaped from a research lab in Wuhan. Dr. Fauci later said he thought there was no evidence to say that is so, and the virus may have been around China for months, which doesn’t address the origin. The WHO has said they believe it was a transmission from animal to human that did not happen in a lab.
The CDC also said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide partial immunity of 80% two weeks after the first dose and 90% effectiveness after the full regimen.
AirBNB and VRBO business is skyrocketing.
In Florida, those 40+ can now be vaccinated.
The CDC has extended its moratorium on evictions until the end of June.
In Michigan the state expanded vaccinations to those over 16, a week earlier than announced, to respond to growing # of new cases.
Starting Friday, New Yorkers will be able to pull up a code on their cellphone or a printout to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus that causes it. The first-in-the-nation certification, called the Excelsior Pass, will be useful first at large-scale venues like Madison Square Garden, but next week it will be accepted at dozens of event, arts and entertainment venues statewide. It already lets people increase the size of a wedding party, or other catered event.
In Maryland, new coronavirus cases leaped in the state in the week ending Sunday, rising 21.9%
Only around 15% of the US population is fully vaccinated.
India has reported its worst single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since October, taking the tally to more than 12 million for the first time ever.
A 104 year old Romanian woman received her vaccine yesterday:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Thousands of new coronavirus vaccine appointments are becoming available today in Rhode Island. The state has issued guidance about reporting unemployment benefits from last year. The Providence Teachers Union is calling for an end to the state takeover of the city's schools.
>>Over 5K Vaccines Available Today; RI Eligibility Expanded
(Providence, RI) -- The state of Rhode Island is making over five-thousand new COVID-19 vaccination appointments available today for the state-run sites in Providence and Cranston. Starting at 9:00 this morning, people can register at VaccinateRI.org or by calling 844-930-1779. Governor Dan McKee is also announcing that eligibility is expanding today to include anyone 16 and older who live in one of eight hardest-hit zip codes covering parts of Providence, Cranston, North Providence, as well as the entire cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls.
>>Coronavirus Death Toll In Rhode Island: 2,613
(Providence, RI) -- Five new coronavirus deaths were reported from over the weekend for the state of Rhode Island. The pandemic death toll for the Ocean State was updated yesterday to two-thousand-613. There were over a thousand new virus cases.
>>Last Year's Unemployment Must Be Reported On State Taxes
(Providence, RI) -- The pandemic forced many Rhode Islanders to seek unemployment help in 2020. Now, the state is releasing guidance on how to report that money in tax filings. The American Rescue Plan passed earlier this month excludes over ten-thousand dollars of benefits from income for federal tax purposes for 2020. But, the guidance released by the RI Division of Taxation on Sunday is that you'll still have to include that amount on your state income tax returns.
>>Providence Teachers Union Calls For End Of State Takeover
(Providence, RI) -- The Providence Teachers Union is continuing to criticize the state-run capital city school district. On Monday, the head of the union called the state takeover of Providence Public Schools, prompted by an extremely-critical report of the district in 2019, quote an "abject failure" and asked for an end to it. The union took a vote of no-confidence against school leadership last week. The Providence School District and RI Department of Education responded yesterday by calling the current union contract "broken". But despite the contract, school officials say more progress has been made in the past year than the previous decade.
>>City Of Providence Releases Racial Injustice Report
(Providence, RI) -- The city of Providence is continuing to consider reparations for black and Native American people. Mayor Jorge Elorza released a report on Monday which details the history of racial injustice in Providence and in Rhode Island. Elorza had initially signed an order to pursue truth-telling and reparations last summer. It's not yet clear what exactly the reparations might entail, but it was announced yesterday that the city has issued a request for proposals for the reconciliation process.
>>Prov Police Detective Called 'Greatest' By Police Chief Has Died
(Providence, RI) -- Former Providence police detective Stephen Springer has died. Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements says Springer will go down as the greatest police detective of all time in Rhode Island. Both men were inducted into the RI Criminal Justice Hall of Fame in 2018. Springer was 76 years old and had battled stomach cancer.
by Herb Weiss, contributing writer on aging issues – opinion
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, signed S.B. 202, a 96-page bill that would shorten timelines, drop box restrictions, make it easier for state officials to have control of local election boards, ban third-party groups from sending absentee-ballot applications to voters, end the use of portable polling sites, and requiring a either a driver’s license or state ID or a photo copy of their identification to cast a mail in ballot. Water could still be available in a self-serve table, but no longer would be able to be given out by volunteers representing one candidate or another.
After passage on March 25, Gov. Kemp stated, “I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our elections were needed.” He stated, “Georgia will take a step ensuring our elections are secure, accessible and fair. Republicans defend the law saying that it will preserve the state’s election integrity and root out election fraud. Some voting rights advocates view Georgia’s new law as a GOP attempt to influence an election by suppressing voter turnout, particularly from minorities. Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight Action, stated, “Now, more than ever, Americans must demand federal action to protect voting rights as we continue to fight against these blatantly unconstitutional efforts that are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.” The Jim Crow comment has become a Democratic speaking point as it was later repeated by President Biden when referencing voter ballot changes.
Now, attention turns to Washington, DC to block GOP efforts to restrict voting in states by the passage of bills in state legislatures. The House recently passed H.R. 1, “For the People Act of 2021,” considered to be the largest overhaul of U.S. election law in a generation. The House proposal, now being considered by the Senate, can block state houses from taking steps seen as taking away the voting rights of their residents. Their legislative proposal contains a set of national mail-in voting standards, guaranteeing no-excuse mail-in voting. The act requires states to give every voter the option to vote by mail, calls for prepaid postage for all election materials and state-provided drop boxes for federal races.
Currently, 60 votes are needed to pass H.R.1’s Senate companion measure. President Joe Biden has indicated that he would support a change of current Senate rules to allow H.R.1 to pass by eliminating the filibuster that would reduce the number of votes for this legislation to pass.
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: COVID-19 vaccine distribution is picking up steam in the Ocean State. The Rhode Island Supreme Court is deciding not to approve a marina expansion agreement on Block Island. The Boston Red Sox are dealing with COVID issues as they get ready for Opening Day.
>>Rhode Island COVID Vaccine Effort Continuing
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island is accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination campaign after a slow start. Data from the New York Times indicated as of Friday, the Ocean State had fully-vaccinated 18-percent of its population, fifth-highest in the U.S. Rhode Island currently ranks seventh for percentage of population that have received at least one dose. The state released its largest batch of vaccine on Friday and is planning to open several additional large-scale vaccination sites in April.
>>Providence Man Killed In I-95 Crash
(Providence, RI) -- A Providence man was killed in a crash on Route 95 at the Pawtucket-Providence line on Saturday evening. The Rhode Island State Police says John Betters the Third veered off an access road from Smithfield Avenue to I-95 north and crashed into a tree. Betters was pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital.
>>Arrests Made After Group's Confrontation With Providence Police
(Providence, RI) -- A large number of arrests were made at an after-hours biker hangout spot in Providence this weekend. The Providence Police Department says seventeen people were arrested in total at the locale on Charles Street at around 3 a.m. Sunday. An officer was initially on the scene ticketing cars that were illegally parked. While one was getting towed, someone attempted to gain access to the vehicle and was arrested for reportedly refusing officer commands. The Providence PD says police were then surrounded by people from the hangout who obstructed the arrest.
>>State Supreme Court Not Approving Block Island Marina Expansion Deal
(New Shoreham, RI) -- The Rhode Island Supreme Court is declining to ratify a settlement for a controversial marina expansion on Block Island. Opponents of the privately-mediated agreement between the Coastal Resources Management Council and Champlin's Realty Associates called it a backroom deal which bypassed the town of New Shoreham. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha [[ nair-OH-nuh ]], who intervened in the case, said he was pleased with the court's decision. Neronha said the marina agreement failed to contain the environmental findings necessary to protect the important natural resource of Block Island's Great Salt Pond. An attorney for Champlin's tells The Providence Journal that it is weighing its options on what to do next.
>>RI Woman Suing Kohl's For Collection Calls
(Providence, RI) -- A Rhode Island woman is suing retail outlet Kohl's for allegedly violating federal law by making a high number of collection calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Providence Journal reports the suit was filed last week against the Wisconsin-based chain by Denice Perry of Warwick in federal court, claiming a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Debt collectors were exempted by a 2015 amendment to the act, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year the amendment was unconstitutional. Perry said she received over two-hundred calls since June, despite initially telling a collection agent she was going through severe financial hardship because of the pandemic.
>>Eight Red Sox In COVID-19 Contact Tracing
(Fort Myers, FL) -- The Boston Red Sox are grappling with COVID-19 issues days before the season opens. Boston placed eight players in contact tracing Sunday, one day after reliever Matt Barnes tested positive for COVID-19. The club did not identify the group except for pitcher Matt Andriese, who was scratched as Saturday's starter for a spring training game. The Red Sox open the regular season Thursday against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments were posted on www.vaccinateRI.org SATURDAY, 3/27, at 5 p.m. Approximately 1,000 slots will be made available for the State-run clinic in South County (132 Fairgrounds Road, West Kingston). These appointments will be for slots on Monday. Vaccine is currently available statewide for people who are 60 to 64, people who are 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions, and people who were previously eligible in Phase 1. More information about eligibility is available online.
Friday night RI made 9,000 vaccinations available on the state portal, too.
Several hundred RI veterans received their vaccines Saturday in a drive-up event.
Dr. Megan Ranney: “I have taken care of a whole bunch of sick people with COVID-19 in the ER in the last week. Zero of them were vaccinated.
“We are expecting a lot of folks to be back this year.” – Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom And this time visitors can expect to see the restoration of popular National Seashore programs. “We’re seeing numbers go up and not just in Yarmouth and Barnstable but in other towns on the Cape,” said Yarmouth Health Director Bruce G. Murphy. “It’s spreading quick.”
COVID cases in Massachusetts schools increase again, with 682 students and 228 staff members testing positive.
The popular Providence Flea Sunday market will return to its outdoor spot on South Water Street starting June 6.
Phones at RIDLT are being reported as difficult to get through to – new director said 40-50,000 calls can come in some time.
$100M more in coronavirus relief headed to ‘shortchanged’ Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, Randolph
The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport yesterday announced that they will be re-opening on April 1.
Hundreds of Massachusetts residents will get refunds from Boston Sports Clubs
Massachusetts is now seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among people younger than 30 years old
American Wallpaper and Design, in Fall River, is closing and moving to an online business, after over 95 years in business.
Fall River’s graffiti has increased, attributable to boredom of kids out of school – same with Providence, and much of it remains un-cleaned up.
People who fail to wear mask in Plymouth face $50 fine.
Boston Mayor Kim Janey received her first COVID-19 vaccine dose at a clinic in Roxbury.
A steep rise in new COVID-19 cases led to a campus lockdown at the University of Massachusetts Amherst last month, but data released by the school this week shows that case counts are dropping.
Boston researchers say they now have solid data that vaccines offer protection not just for moms, but for their babies, too.
Dr. Jha said that he wishes MA Gov. Baker hadn’t loosened restrictions at this moment, as upticks are happening throughout the US, including MA.
Deaths in hospital – 0 – New Admissions – 14 – New Discharges -15
Vaccinated – 315,865; Both shots – 194,497
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
The CDC notes a 7% increase in cases and a rise in hospitalization – mostly linked to young people.
Amazon has an emergency clearance from the FDA for an at-home test known as the Amazon Covid-19 Collection Kit. The nasal swab and PCR-based test, developed by Amazon subsidiary STS Lab Holdco, allows users to test themselves with or without a health care professional.
NASCAR opens today with 40,000 fans in the stands, still less than what the facility holds.
Face masks, hand sanitizer, and other PPE are allowed on tax forms as qualified health expenses.
The over-70s could begin getting booster shots to protect them against new coronavirus variants in September under plans for the future of the vaccine rollout – this reported in the UK.
College students in the United States, vaccinated with Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, will be part of a new study to test its effectiveness in curbing the spread of the virus.
Arizona has lifted all restrictions including mask mandates and restaurant restrictions.
COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at protecting pregnant women and likely provide protection for their babies as well, according to a new study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
France is having a “one-case” protocol in schools – if one case is reported, classrooms are shut down.
Rutgers University is requiring all students to be vaccinated prior to returning to school in the fall.
President Biden has upped his goal of vaccines from 100 million to 200 million.
Depending on a beard’s length and thickness, experts have said it may reduce the effectiveness of mask-wearing by creating more space between your face and the mask. Any opening “increases the chance that there is a virus that will get to the orifices, which can then obviously give you the disease.”
Dialysis centers will receive doses of COVID-19 vaccines for their patients and employees
A Chicago hospital has enlisted 50 outreach workers to promote vaccination against COVID-19 in hard-hit Black and brown neighborhoods.
Hundreds of families are in limbo as Covid-19 delays Chinese adoptions.
Pfizer and BioNTech have begun testing their Covid-19 vaccine in children as young as 6 months. Results are likely to come out later this year, meaning that, if the study is positive, the vaccine could be available for young children at some point in early 2022.
Pfizer is running a trial in children ages 12 to 15.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women – AJOG
March Madness? After taken a year off due to the Pandemic there has been nothing but upset after upset in the men’s tournament begs the question – when exactly did your bracket bust?
Perhaps it was the season of the pandemic or the wackiness of the past year when everything that we knew was turned suddenly upside down or as simply stated by Metallica, “We’re off to never-neverland! No one has recalled when the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament witnessed so many upset victories in a single weekend. For those teams that have made it to the “Big Dance” as it has been a birthright, have suddenly found themselves on the outside looking in, and for the fans who follow college basketball it has been amazingly wonderful and exciting to witness.
It all started on the first day of competition when in the lower East bracket #11 seed UCLA upset #11 seed BYU, 73-62, then # 14 Abilene Christian knocked off Texas 53-52 in a nail biter, and as if that were not enough #7 UCONN fell to #10 Maryland 63-54. Only #2 Alabama advanced with a 68-55 win against #15 Iona. The upper part of the Eastern bracket went as expected with all the upper seeds advancing to the second round and to the round of sweet 16. UCLA and Alabama both the higher seed advanced to the sweet 16 round as well. After the first two rounds the East region had seen three upsets.
The South side of the bracket saw some stunners as well. #9 Wisconsin knocked out #8 University of North Carolina, 85-62. #13 North Texas stunned #4 Purdue, 78-69; but it was Oral Roberts University the #15 seed’s 75-72 overtime win over #2 Ohio State that sent the message through the college basketball world that this was not going to be your average tournament. In all of the other of the South’s round one bracket games, the upper seed all held serve. #1 Baylor, #5 Villanova, #5 Texas Tech, #3 Arkansas and #7 Florida all moved on to round two. This remained the case into round two as #1 Baylor, #5 Villanova, #3 Arkansas advanced to the Sweet 16 round, it was #15 Oral Roberts who again in a stunning upset beat #7 Florida, 81-78 to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 as well. If you’re keeping track at home that is 7 upset wins by lower seed teams in the first two rounds in half the bracket so far, and there is more to come.
Bringing us to the Midwest bracket where #12 Oregon State pummeled #5 Tennessee, 70-56, #11 Syracuse routed #6 San Diego State University, 78-62 and #10 Rutgers nudged #7 Clemson, 60-56 as the five other games that were played all saw the favorite advance. The upset trend continued in the second round as Sister Jean once again became Loyola of Chicago’s favorite good luck charm watching her team knock out the #1 seeded Illinois from the #8 spot, 71-58 and punching their ticket to the Sweet 16. Not to be outdone, in the next game #12 Oregon State shocked #4 Oklahoma, 80-70 sending them to the Sweet 16 as well. #2 Houston held off the upset minded #10 seed Rutgers, 63-60 in a thriller, but the upsets were not done quite yet when old Big East rivals hooked up and #11 Syracuse out lasted #3 West Virginia, 75-72, making it the 13 upsets in the tournament so far and there was one bracket left to go.
On the West side of the bracket #1 Gonzaga, #2 Iowa, #3 Kansas #6 USC, #8 Oklahoma and #5 Creighton all went onto the second round as the upper seed. The only upset was #13 Ohio sent #4 Virginia home with a 62-58 win. In round two, the top of the bracket panned out as expected as #1 Gonzaga and #5 Creighton won both their games to make to the Sweet 16, but in the lower part of the West bracket had #6 USC crush #3 Kansas 85-51and #7 Oregon knocking out #2 Iowa 95-80 rounding out the Sweet 16.
The fact of the matter that there have always been upsets along the road to the final four but having 17 upsets in the first two rounds has been unheard of, leaving many to point to the Pandemic as a major factor for all the upsets that have happened to this point. Call it Pandemic pandemonium, the bottom line is that all these improbable teams that have advanced and have remained in the tournament have given the 2021 March Madness basketball tournament something they have not had in a longtime – a mystery. Rather than having the usual teams rise to the top for their “one shining moment” to this point the tournament has given 17 teams theirs. Assuring that the rest of the tournament will be anyone’s guess to who will still be standing at the end because for many their brackets were busted in the first round and blown sky high after round two now all we can do is sit back and enjoy the show! Let’s go, Oral Roberts!
The COVID-19 crisis deepened the bond between Americans and their pets, and a majority of those who acquired new pets during the pandemic did so in part from loneliness. And most pet owners by far would go to the mat to save their pets, regardless of the medical cost of doing so.
Those are among the key findings from the first comprehensive survey, by Money.com, of how people have treated, and felt about, their pets during the pandemic.
The poll of 2,200 Americans, including 1,384 pet owners, was conducted in early March by Morning Consult, and probed not only changes to America’s relationships to its pets during COVID-19 but to what is spent on them and how and why new animal companions were acquired.
We also wanted to know what people were willing to spend on their pets’ medical care and the degree to which they trusted their vets’ advice. Also important was to probe pet owners’ knowledge about pet insurance — the health-care coverage whose annual dollar sales have been growing annually by double-digit percentages in recent years — and to detail where they bought the policies.
The table of contents below contains five key findings from our study.
Here is a brief overview of the results:
The pandemic has stepped up how much Americans cherish their pets. Six in ten reported valuing their animal companions more, and half said they were being more affectionate to them now.
More than half of people who got a new pet during the pandemic cite loneliness as a reason.
More than a third of new pets were acquired at shelters, followed by breeders and pet stores. For all the ways to get a pet, satisfaction was high and problems were low.
Veterinarians are trusted pet-care partners, with more than two-thirds of owners saying they’d follow their vet’s advice on treatment.
Pet owners would spend big to save their animal, with two-thirds saying they’d take any measure to save its life, regardless of cost. Eight in ten would take any measure they could afford.
Most respondents said they were familiar with pet insurance, but sizeable minorities of those people said policies reimburse for expenses they rarely if ever cover.
Since shelters were the most popular places to get a new pet — and a highly satisfying source, according to survey respondents — we also teamed up with the crowdsourced rating service Yelp to help would-be pet owners find a great place to adopt an animal.
We identified businesses in the Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption categories, then ranked those spots using a number of factors, including the enthusiasm and total volume of reviews for them.
Here is the shelter in Rhode Island that topped the list:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee testifies against a proposed moratorium on new charter schools in the Ocean State. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a firearm seizure case in Rhode Island this week. A New England Patriots player is being hailed as a hero for his Good Samaritan action.
>>Governor McKee Testifies Against Charter School Moratorium
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee testified before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday against a three-year moratorium on charter schools. The state Senate has already voted for such a ban, and the House is now considering the same. As the mayor of Cumberland, McKee was a driving force behind the state's publicly-funded mayoral academy charter schools. He said on Tuesday the moratorium would stop schools that have secured locations and hired staff, but haven't opened yet, from operating.
>>SCOTUS Considering Cranston Gun Seizure Case
(Washington, DC) -- A Rhode Island case is being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The Caniglias of Cranston, Edward and Kim, were involved in a domestic argument in 2015 which eventually involved the police. Edward was taken to a hospital for an evaluation but was not admitted or charged with any crime. The Caniglias argue police illegally seized guns in their house and made multiple unsuccessful attempts to get them back before they were eventually returned. The issue is whether officers can enter people's homes without a warrant in such circumstances as Cranston police faced in this matter.
>>Two Teens Charged As Adults For 2019 Woonsocket Shooting
(Providence, RI) -- Two teens who were minors at the time of a fatal shooting in Woonsocket are now being charged as adults for the murder. Craig Robinson and Quinton St. Pierre, both now 19 years old, were arraigned in Providence Superior Court on Wednesday. Investigators say 17-year-old Nyasia Williams was fatally shot while sitting in a car with two other people, one of whom was the intended target. This happened in December 2019. Three people total have been charged in connection to the case.
>>Pawtucket Tent City Residents Ordered To Leave
(Pawtucket, RI) -- A Pawtucket tent city was recently ordered by the city government to clear out to make way for a major new development which will include a professional soccer stadium. There has been previous media coverage of the tent city's existence on the Seekonk River under Route 95. The Providence Journal reported the clear-out happened earlier this week. A Pawtucket city official said the people impacted are being connected with organizations that can help with housing.
>>MBTA Train Catches Fire In Providence
(Providence, RI) -- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority says a train fire at the Providence commuter rail station on Tuesday was contained to a small engine. The MBTA says there were no injuries to passengers or train crews. The T said Providence Line Train 7800 will be evaluated at a maintenance facility.
>>Patriots Player Credited With Stopping Attack
(Tempe, AZ) -- A New England Patriots player is being credited with saving an elderly woman who was the victim of an attempted sexual assault in a park in the Phoenix area. The Tempe, Arizona Police Department on Wednesday publicly thanked Pats offensive lineman Justin Herron and another Good Samaritan for their help during an incident last weekend. Herron, who is six-foot-five and weighs over three-hundred pounds, said he knocked the assailant off the woman and ordered him to wait until police arrived.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha released a statement of review of the action of Lifespan – and Care New England – to vaccinate over 100 members of its various Board of Directors. Some highlights of the AG’s review are below as well as a link to the 8-page document.
What answers would be good to know:
Who made the decision to vaccinate board members?
How was this decision communicated to board members – memos, phone calls, documents?
How did board members communicate back their personal decision to be vaccinated – and to who?
Did board members bring their spouses/family members with them to be vaccinated?
What were the ages of each board member vaccinated?
Where was the vaccination location and who provided the vaccines?
What other activity occurred at the vaccination?
Were there any voluntary donations that passed from board members to hospitals?
What were the ages of each board member vaccinated?
Which board members turned down the vaccine? How was that communicated?
Those questions would tell us more about the “intent” of the action of administrators to vaccinate their top, volunteer leadership. If there was a legal action and investigation from the AG or court, those questions would have been fully made with documentation provided, but as the AG’s office acknowledges, “…there are no laws or regulations that govern this conduct, or perhaps more appropriately put, these choices.”
Some highlights of the report:
When this took place, “Lifespan and CNE were participating in the earliest stages of Rhode Island’s vaccination campaign…the stated goal…was to shore up our health care system and prioritize the State’s frontline healthcare workers — those with greatest risk of exposure to the virus. Meanwhile, with the exception of healthcare workers and other limited categories of people not relevant to this inquiry.”
“The appearance or perception that certain connected or wealthy individuals were, by virtue of their seat on a hospital board of directors, being given an opportunity to “jump the line” months in advance was upsetting to many and fueled anxiety among everyday Rhode Islanders who were dutifully waiting their turn.”
“RIDOH gave Lifespan and CNE wide discretion in vaccinating their hospital staff, including vaccination prioritization… RIDOH did not define who, among those connected with Lifespan or CNE, constituted “hospital staff,” leaving that vital question for Lifespan and CNE to determine on their own.
All these communications consistently indicated that only limited health care, public safety, and other frontline workers were eligible, along with nursing home staff and residents, and residents of Central Falls. The general population, starting with adults over 75 years of age, was not slated to be eligible until February/March of 2021.
RIDOH has advised this Office that “[t]he Hospital Systems’ decisions to vaccinate the members of the Boards when they were vaccinated were neither in conformity with, nor in violation of, RIDOH’s directives and guidance.” Neronha’s statement goes on to say that this decision by RIDOH effectively ends the matter.
Noteworthy is the comment that the hospitals also did not seek out the advice of RIDOH about their intended actions to vaccinate their Board. However, CNE did say that they could point “numerous telephone calls with RIDOH officials in which they “confirmed they had a similar overall perspective . . . on how the allotment of vaccine to our health system was to be used”. CNE felt that board members “serve a critical and essential function in overseeing the quality and financial integrity of the health care system…”. 17 CNE Board of Directors and its affiliate boards opted for vaccination.
Got a badge? Get a shot.
Lifespan interpreted “all personnel with a hospital badge, [which] included board members. Lifespan communicated internally that it was moving ahead to offer the vaccine to anyone with a Lifespan badge, which expressly included board members.
They mentioned that rather than “store vaccine” for different prioritized groups, “it was operating with the understanding that its ability to promptly administer vaccine would better enable the state to secure more vaccine in the future. Lifespan offered the vaccine to 110 board members, but can’t say how many opted for it. “This Office recognizes that speed, and a need to avoid waste and spoliation of vaccines were competing interests here, but we are not persuaded, based on the evidence that we have reviewed, that these competing concerns justified the decision to vaccinate board members.”
“By offering vaccinations to all of their board members, irrespective of any individualized criteria applicable to Rhode Islanders generally, at a time when Rhode Islanders were gravely concerned about their health and that of their loved ones, Lifespan and CNE erred, and significantly so.”
“We would be remiss if we did not conclude this report by acknowledging the extraordinary work, dedication, and sacrifice of both Lifespan and CNE and their thousands of employees and frontline health care workers over the past year, as well as the dedicated public servants at RIDOH. We are grateful for their hard work and leadership throughout this pandemic, and we look forward to our continued work together.The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all about the importance of strategies that require individual sacrifice for the benefit of others and the broader community. The vaccination strategy is no different, and our collective ability to follow the rules will help keep Rhode Islanders safe.”
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The Rhode Island Attorney General releases a statement after his office looked into whether Lifespan and Care New England properly distributed COVID shots. The RI legislature is advancing climate change legislation. A new harbormaster has been chosen in Newport after the previous long-time position-holder's death.
>>Rhode Island Attorney General Releases Statement About Previous Vaccine Distribution
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office is releasing a statement about its review of COVID-19 vaccine distribution by the state's two largest healthcare systems. The A.G.'s office looked into reports that Lifespan and Care New England offered board members the vaccine at a time when it was in limited supply and intended for use by frontline healthcare workers. Attorney General Peter Neronha [[ nair-OH-nuh ]] said his office concluded no violations were found because the state health department gave wide discretion in vaccine prioritization. However, Neronha says Lifespan and CNE, quote, "should have acted differently".
>>Former Police Oversight Board Executive Director Suing
(Providence, RI) -- The former head of the Providence External Review Authority, the civilian police oversight board, is filing a lawsuit. José Batista was fired from his executive director job after releasing video footage of an assault by Providence Police Sergeant Joseph Hanley last year. Hanley was convicted on the assault charge this month, stemming from an arrest made in the capital city in 2020. Batista defended his decision to release the video at the time, and he now says his freedom-of-speech rights were denied.
>>RI House Approves Climate Legislation
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island General Assembly is one step closer to sending a climate change bill to the governor's desk. The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation that would update the state's climate-emission goals and make them enforceable. The 2021 Act on Climate would serve as an update to the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014, with more ambitious goals that are updated by current science. The objective is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The House bill goes to the Senate, which last week approved identical legislation.
(Providence, RI) -- A dress code was approved in the Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday despite a lawmaker's argument that it was racist. Jonathon Acosta, a Democrat from Central Falls, said he shouldn't have to wear a blazer and tie. He and others argued at the State House that the dress code was a form of oppression. But the dress code passed by a 29-to-7 vote. Another senator who spoke during debate, Republican Gordon Rogers of Foster, said he dresses up out of respect for the institution.
>>Man Pleads Guilty To Steroid Distribution
(Providence, RI) -- A local man charged with illegal steroid distribution is reaching a plea agreement. The U.S. Justice Department in Providence says David Esser admitted to shipping steroids to customers throughout the U.S. from a stash house in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The DOJ says Esser faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.
>>New Harbormaster Selected In Newport
(Newport, RI) -- A new harbormaster has been chosen in Newport. The Daily News reports the city has named former Block Island harbormaster Stephen Land to the position. Former longtime Newport harbormaster Timothy Mills died in December.
Photo: New book featuring Dr. Fauci, to encourage children to undertake studies/career in medicine/science.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
Roughly 4,000 first dose appointments will be made available on vaccinateRI.org today at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for 3/30, 4/1, 4/2, and 4/3 (1,000 appointments per day) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. These will be appointments for Moderna vaccine. RI will be opening more first dose appointments tomorrow morning than we did on Tuesday or Friday last week. However, we are still doing a lot of second dose vaccinating. (We expect to administer roughly 35,000 second doses this week.) We expect larger numbers of first dose appointments to be available next week.
Kenny Chesney has rescheduled all his concerts to 2022 – refunds or use of tickets at next year’s events, including Gillette, is possible.
ProJo reporting that divorce rates are down in RI in the pandemic, for multitude of reasons.
The MBTA will be funded to return to pre-pandemic levels
RI extends tax deadline to May 17th to go with federal tax deadline that has been extended the month.
VFW halls in the area are having a hard time, financially, looking forward to post-pandemic return.
Bryant University has closed its Confucius Institute, shortly after Tufts Univ did so, and after URI closed theirs. Efforts to have these Institutes closed increased after the attributed China-originating pandemic.
Fenway vendors selling food will not be able to sell on the sidewalks, yet local restaurants will be able to set up outdoor seating.
It’s expected Disney cruises will return – in the fall.
Boston Red Sox are announcing plans for the upcoming baseball season at Fenway Park to put a limited number of single-game tickets for April games on sale to the general public starting Thursday. They will be sold in pods of two and four seats.
RI Adding About 4,000 Coronavirus Vaccine Appointments Tuesday
Only ½ of correctional officers in Bristol Co., MA opted for the vaccine. In RI, 70% of officers are vaccinated.
The RIDOH mobile testing unit was in Newport this past weekend – Jamestown & Newport beach areas. More sites will be announced.
Massachusetts residents age 60 and older, as well as essential workers, became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday.
Swampscott High School moves to all-remote learning for at least two weeks after a non-school event led to a high number of COVID-19 cases
Worcester State University plans to resume full in-person classes in the upcoming fall semester
Tanglewood concerts will return – they will be shorter, with no intermission, and all with outdoor seating and other protocols in place.
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission on Friday extended a moratorium on utility terminations that was set to expire on April 15 to June 25
Providence Teachers Union has taken a vote of no-confidence in RI State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green and Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters
Boston Globe reports spike in car thefts during the COVID-19 pandemic
Massachusetts is allowing dance floors at weddings and events
The head of the MPHA – Mass Public Health Association is cautioning Massachusetts residents about opening too soon and a possible 4th wave.
The Massachusetts Teachers Union is urging the state to delay the return to in-person learning after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools Friday.
The University of New Hampshire plans to fully reopen for the 2021 fall semester with face-to-face classes in a residential learning environment
Two Bruins games have been postponed after four additional players entered the NHL’s COVID protocols.
Two strains of coronavirus variants were detected in Vermont residents
Veterans of any age were vaccinated against COVID-19 during a clinic Monday at the former Benny’s, 1400 West Main Rd., Middletown. No registration required – first come, first served.
Kosher for Passover Food Boxes for those in need can be picked up in Providence, by pre-order at https://cloverfoodlab.wufoo.com/forms/m1x9f27a0nt0w36/ by Tuesday. A box for two costs $110, $200 for four, $276 for six, $328 for eight and $380 for 10.
Justice Francis Flaherty has been hired to assist Providence schools with unions and administration issues.
Providence College and Bryant will hold a formal commencement but without family/visitors
RI Hospital nursing fair – looking for nurses, nursing assistants, aids
Fall River is preparing to receive a windfall from the American Rescue Plan, with over $73 million in direct municipal aid.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI reversed its policy and will now provide members COVID-19 treatment with no out-of-pocket cost for the remainder of the pandemic.
Harvard is expecting a return to full campus
The state Department of Public Health’s weekly COVID risk chart has designated Fall River a red, or high-risk community for the past 23 weeks.
In RI, people in their 50s will get an eligibility window before vaccine appointments are opened up to everybody on 4/19; no decision yet.
A cheerleading camp in Waltham is now the site of an outbreak and will close with students going into quarantine.
Two women whose husbands died of COVID are favored in races to replace them in Congress (Luke Letlow in Louisiana and Ron Wright in Texas)
The Supreme Court is returning to normal, with most of the justices meeting in person now that they have been vaccinated.
New York is expanding eligibility for the vaccine to everyone aged 50 and older
Many members of the Armed Forces are eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine. But less than half in some units have agreed to get vaccinated, and the Pentagon is now working to counter that hesitancy.
NASCAR on Sunday used virus sniffing dogs to survey the area prior to and during the race event.
In Tennessee, they will soon allow all residents 16 and older to be vaccinated.
Loyola University announced plans to return to a full in-person format for the fall semester, athletics, etc.
George Washington University said it will cut varsity of men’s rowing and six other sports by the end of this spring, a result of budget cuts because of the pandemic.
Kent Taylor, CEO of Texas Roadhouse, died from suicide after suffering severe side effects after battling COVID-19 – including serious tinnitus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of the criminal justice system, leading to some positive changes, some missed opportunities and several lessons to be learned, according to criminal justice experts. Here is how it affected law enforcement and incarceration. Read full article
Walmart saying it will provide standardized digital vaccination credentials to anyone who gets vaccinated at one of its stores or at Sam’s Club. The retailer will develop a health passport app that people can use to verify their status at airports, schools, sports arenas and other potentially crowded places.
Tufts working hard to dispel bad impact of the vaccine on pregnant women or women wanting to become pregnant.
A U.N. spokesman said it has no staff in North Korea: those assigned to the country are working remotely. Despite claiming to be coronavirus- free, North Korea has sealed off its borders as part of stringent anti-pandemic measures that also involved the departure of diplomats and foreign nationals.
Dr. Fauci: “the more people get vaccinated, the less likelihood that there is going to be a surge.”
A study published today by JAMA Network Open found Americans living under lockdown gained about 2 lbs. a month.
DoorDash is offering same-day on-demand delivery of FDA-authorized COVID test kits. Go deeper.
New children’s book, approved, but not authored, by Dr. Fauci:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is expanding in Providence and Pawtucket. A state Senate committee goes over plans to downsize RI's state hospital. Bryant University is stepping away from a Chinese educational partnership.
>>Vaccine Eligibility Expanded In Providence, Pawtucket
(Undated) -- Providence and Pawtucket are expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. Providence says anyone 18 and older who lives in zip codes 02904, 05, 07, 08 and 09 can get the shot. Mayor Jorge Elorza's office has clarified the eligibility requirements for the state-run site at the Dunkin' Donuts Center have not changed, and that the residents given the green light from the city on Monday would need to get the shot at city-specific sites, according to a WPRI-TV report. Channel 12 also reports Pawtucket, which is expanding eligibility to all residents 16 and older, will release appointments on Wednesday.
>>Rhode Island Youths Participating In COVID Vaccine Trial
(Undated) -- At least a dozen Rhode Island adolescents are participating in a new COVID-19 vaccine trial. The teens, who are students at schools in Providence and East Providence, are participating in the trial for the Moderna vaccine, which has about three-thousand total young participants nationwide. Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week child vaccinations will be needed for herd immunity to be reached against the virus.
>>Senate Committee Reviews State Hospital Downsizing Plans
(Providence, RI) -- Plans to downsize Rhode Island's state hospital were examined by a legislative committee on Monday. The meeting held by the RI Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight came after the plans were announced as part of Governor Dan McKee's budget proposal to close buildings on the Burrillville campus of Eleanor Slater Hospital, but add a new facility at the same time. The reorganization would also affect the Cranston campus. Lawmakers expressed concern yesterday about the possible effect of the plans on patient care.
>>Bryant Ending Funding For Confucius Institute
(Smithfield, RI) -- Bryant University is announcing it is no-longer funding its educational partnership in China known as the Confucius Institute. Bryant president Ross Gittell [[ guh-TELL ]] says the school is evaluating changes to the U.S.-China relationship. The institute was established in 2006. Bryant says the Confucius Institute had no influence over its curriculum offerings in Smithfield or at its program in the city of Zhuhai [[ joo-HIGH ]], which it says will continue.
>>State Says Nursing Home Visits Must Be Allowed
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Health is directing nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow family members to visit loved ones. The state lifted visitation restrictions last month, but says it has received complaints from people who claimed they were being denied visitation. Nursing home officials are responding by saying facility managers have to deal with numerous pandemic-related rules and regulations.
>>Kenny Chesney Tour Delayed Again
(Undated) -- Kenny Chesney is delaying his stadium tour for a second time. The 2021 schedule has been pushed back to 2022, once again because of the pandemic. The tour included two dates at Gillette Stadium.
House Subcommittees tackle Age Discrimination, Workplace Issues in a Joint Hearing
By Herb Weiss, contributing writer on aging issues
Just days ago, Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced, H.R. 2062, the bipartisan “Protection Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” (POWADA), a bill that would strengthen federal anti-discrimination protections for older workers. The legislation was introduced on March 18, 2021, the same day of a joint House Education and Labor Subcommittee hearing, held to address a variety of workplace issues. POWADA has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor for consideration.
The reintroduction of POWADA is timely. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, older workers are attempting to keep their jobs, working more and longer than they ever have. When seniors lose their jobs, they are far more likely than younger workers to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. And unfortunately, discrimination appears to be a significant factor in older workers’ long-term unemployment.
A 2018 survey conducted by the Washington, DC-based AARP found that 3 in 5 workers age 45 and older had seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. The 2018 survey also found that three-quarters of older workers blame age discrimination for their lack of confidence in being able to find a new job.
Congress Gears Up to Again Fight Age Discrimination
Reps. Scott and Davis were joined by seven Republicans and fourteen Democrats, including Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee Chair Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chair Alma Adams (D-NC) to support H.R. 2062.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline has also requested to be a cosponsor of this legislation.
POWADA was first introduced in Congress after an adverse 2009 Supreme Court decision, Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., that made it much more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age. Under Gross, plaintiffs seeking to prove age discrimination in employment are required to demonstrate that age was the sole motivating factor for the employer’s adverse action. The Supreme Court ruling upends decades of precedent that had allowed individuals to prove discrimination by showing that a discriminatory motive was one of the factors on which an employer’s adverse action was based.
Scott’s reintroduced POWADA returns the legal standard for age discrimination claims to the pre-2009 evidentiary threshold, aligning the burden of proof with the same standards for proving discrimination based on race and national origin.
“Everyone – regardless of their age – should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. Unfortunately, age discrimination in the workplace is depriving older workers of opportunities and exposing them to long-term unemployment and severe financial hardship, says Chairman Scott, noting that the reintroduced bipartisan bill would finally restore the legal rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which covers workers age 40 and over.
Republican Rep. Rodney Davis puts aside political differences and has stepped up to the plate with a handful of GOP lawmakers to cosponsor Scott’s POWADA legislation. “Every American, including older Americans, deserves to work in a workplace or jobsite that is free from discrimination That’s why I’m proud to team up with Chairman Bobby Scott and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. Our bipartisan bill provides workplace protections for older workers by removing barriers they have to filing discrimination claims, ensuring their workplace rights can be enforced, says Davis, pledging to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally get the bill passed,” he says.
Oregon Rep. Bonamici, who chairs the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, notes that her state has a rapidly aging population, and age discrimination in the workplace remains disturbingly pervasive. She joins Scott in cosponsoring POWADA.
“I’ve heard from Oregonians who were denied or lost a job because of their age, but the bar for proving discrimination is very high and the outcomes are uncertain. The bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act makes it clear that unlawful discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable and holds employers accountable for discriminatory actions,” says Bonamici.
Adams, who chairs the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, joins Bonamici in cosponsoring POWADA. The North Carolina Congresswoman states: “Labor law must protect the dignity of all workers and it must recognize that discrimination against older Americans is discrimination all the same,” says Adams, who chairs the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. She North Carolina Congresswoman notes that POWADA ensures that older workers will be fairly treated in the job market, returning the legal standard for proving discrimination back to its original intent. There is no place for disparate treatment based on age in the workforce.”
“The introduction of this bill is a crucial step to strengthening the law and restoring fairness for older workers who experience age discrimination,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “It sends a clear message that discrimination in the workplace – against older workers or others – is never acceptable.
Tackling Workforce Issues
Over two-hours, four witnesses testified at a joint Zoom hearing, “Fighting for Fairness: Examining Legislation to Confront Workplace Discrimination,” held before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The morning hearing addressed an array of workforce issues including race and longstanding gender inequities and barriers and pregnancy discrimination at the workplace. A spotlight was also put on the rampant increase of age discrimination that older workers are now facing in the job market and the need to pass POWADA to reverse the detrimental impact of a 2009 Supreme Court decision.
Lauren McCann, senior attorney at AARP Foundation, pointed out to the attending House lawmakers that age discrimination in the workplace remains “stubbornly persistent” and urged a House Education and Labor hearing to “re-level the playing field” by passing strong anti-bias legislation.
McCann told the committee that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems faced by older workers, who have left the labor force in the last year at twice the rate during the Great Recession.
McCann testified that passage of POWADA, sponsored by Scott, the Chair of the House Committee of Education and Labor, is crucial to reverse the 2009 Supreme Court decision in the Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. case. McCann said that the high court’s 2009 decision abruptly changed the standard — from the longstanding requirement under the ADEA that a worker prove that age is just one motivating factor in adverse treatment on the job — to a much higher and tougher to prove standard: that age is the standard motive.
“Older workers now always bear the burden of persuasion in ADEA cases,” McCann emphasized.
The number of age 55 and over unemployed has also doubled, up from one million in February 2020, to two million last month, according to PPI.
Turning to the Senate…
At press time, a senior Senate aide for Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging, says the Senator is posed to follow the House by throwing the Senate’s POWADA Senate companion measure into the legislative hopper on Monday.
The Pennsylvania Senator clearly understands why he again must push for the passage and enactment of POWADA. “As more Americans are remaining in the workforce longer, we must recognize and address the challenges that aging workers face. We must make it clear to employers that age discrimination is unacceptable, and we must strengthen antidiscrimination protections that are being eroded,” says Sen. Casey. “POWADA would level the playing field for older workers and ensure they are able to fight back against age discrimination in the workplace.”
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com
(UNDATED) -- HERE IS THE LATEST NEWS: RHODE ISLAND NEEDS A HIGHER ALLOTMENT OF COVID-19 VACCINE. TEACHERS IN THE PROVIDENCE SCHOOL DISTRICT ARE GETTING DISPLACEMENT NOTICES. THE DEADLINE FOR FILING STATE TAXES IS BEING EXTENDED.
>>STATE REQUESTING HIGHER VACCINE ALLOCATION
(PROVIDENCE, RI) -- THE RHODE ISLAND HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS A LETTER WAS SENT BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT AND GOVERNOR DAN MCKEE TO THE WHITE HOUSE LAST WEEK REQUESTING ADDITIONAL COVID-19 VACCINES. IN ORDER TO MEET PRESIDENT BIDEN'S GOAL OF GETTING A FIRST DOSE TO EVERY AMERICAN BY THE END OF MAY, RHODE ISLAND IS REQUESTING AN ADDITIONAL FIFTY-THOUSAND VACCINES PER WEEK. GOVERNOR MCKEE LAST WEEK SAID ALL RHODE ISLANDERS 16 AND OLDER WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO GET THE SHOT BY APRIL 19TH. RIGHT NOW, THE CAPACITY IN THE OCEAN STATE IS FOR ABOUT ONE-HUNDRED-THOUSAND DOSES TO BE ADMINISTERED WEEKLY.
>>DISPLACEMENT NOTICES SENT TO PROVIDENCE TEACHERS
(PROVIDENCE, RI) -- THE PROVIDENCE SCHOOL DISTRICT IS SENDING DISPLACEMENT NOTICES TO NEARLY THREE-HUNDRED EMPLOYEES, MOSTLY TEACHERS, ACCORDING TO A PROVIDENCE JOURNAL REPORT. THE SCHOOL DISTRICT ANNOUNCED ON FRIDAY THE DISPLACEMENTS WERE A RESULT OF ENDING ONE-YEAR POSITIONS AND FAILING TO MEET CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS. THE PROJO REPORT INDICATES THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IS UNDER A FEDERAL DIRECTIVE TO HIRE MORE ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE TEACHERS AFTER A REPORT FOUND MAJOR DEFICIENCIES WITH ESL LEARNERS, AND THAT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS WERE TOLD BY THE DISTRICT LAST MONTH THAT THEIR JOB STATUS WOULD BE IMPACTED IF THEY DID NOT GET ESL-CERTIFIED. HOWEVER, A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE TEACHER'S UNION SAYS SOME TEACHERS GOT THAT CERTIFICATION, AND STILL RECEIVED DISPLACEMENT NOTICES.
>>NO GUESTS ALLOWED FOR PROVIDENCE COLLEGE, BRYANT GRADUATIONS
(PROVIDENCE, RI) -- THE PANDEMIC POSTPONED MOST SCHOOL GRADUATIONS IN 2020; NOW WE'RE LEARNING WHAT INSTITUTIONS ARE PLANNING FOR THE 2021 CEREMONIES. PROVIDENCE COLLEGE AND BRYANT UNIVERSITY WILL BE HOLDING THEIR GRADUATION EVENTS NEXT MONTH ON-CAMPUS, OUTDOORS, WITH NO GUESTS. BOTH WILL BE LIVE-STREAMED. PC IS ON THURSDAY MAY 20TH, AND BRYANT IS SATURDAY THE 22ND. ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT THE BRYANT GRADUATION IS THAT THE UNIVERSITY WILL HOLD MULTIPLE, SEPARATE MINI-COMMENCEMENTS TO KEEP THINGS SAFE.
>>DEADLINE FOR FILING RHODE ISLAND TAXES EXTENDED
(PROVIDENCE, RI) -- THE RHODE ISLAND DIVISION OF TAXATION IS ANNOUNCING THAT THE DEADLINE FOR FILING STATE TAXES IS BEING PUSHED BACK. THE DATE HAS CHANGED FROM APRIL 15TH TO MAY 17TH. THE STATE SAYS IT IS ALIGNING ITSELF WITH THE NEW FEDERAL DEADLINE THAT HAS BEEN SET FOR THIS YEAR.
>>FATAL WEEKEND SHOOTING IN PROVIDENCE
(PROVIDENCE, RI) -- THE PROVIDENCE POLICE DEPARTMENT IS INVESTIGATING A FATAL SHOOTING IN THE CAPITAL CITY THIS WEEKEND. AUTHORITIES SAY IT HAPPENED AT AROUND 3 A.M. SATURDAY ON JULIAN STREET. NO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE. THE PROVIDENCE PD IS PLANNING TO PROVIDE AN UPDATE ON THE SHOOTING TODAY.
>>FAN ATTENDANCE BEING PERMITTED FOR RI HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
(WARWICK, RI) -- THE RHODE ISLAND INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE IS ALLOWING FAN ATTENDANCE AT SPORTING EVENTS. STARTING TODAY, SCHOOLS ARE BEING DIRECTED TO FOLLOW GUIDANCE FOR INDOOR AND OUTDOOR ATHLETIC FACILITIES AS LISTED ON THE REOPENING RI WEBSITE. THE RIIL SAYS SCHOOL ATHLETIC FACILITIES OR SPORTING VENUES HAVE THE RIGHT TO IMPOSE ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS FOR ATTENDING GAMES.
“Help is here for venue operators hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA has worked diligently to build the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program from the ground up to assist and address the diverse eligibility requirements of each type of applicant and we will open for applications on April 8,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “The SBA knows these venues are critical to America’s economy and understands how hard they’ve been impacted, as they were among the first to shutter. This vital economic aid will provide a much-needed lifeline for live venues, museums, movie theatres and many more.”
Prior to the official SVOG application opening, the SBA will host a national informational webinar to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities from 2:30 to 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Those interested in participating can register here.
The SVOG program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, which appropriated $15 billion for it. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, appropriated an additional $1.25 billion, bringing the program funding to a total of $16.25 billion, with more than $16 billion allocated for grants.
To ensure eligible venues do not miss a window to receive assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, the American Rescue Plan Act also amended the SVOG program so entities that apply for a PPP loan after Dec. 27, 2020, can also apply for an SVOG, with the eligible entity’s SVOG to be reduced by the PPP loan amount. The PPP loan applications have been updated to reflect this.
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.
Today is National Down Syndrome Day. Katie Lowe has Down’s Syndrome. Katie started her own business, and is helping on behalf of this cause.
The developmental disability community in Rhode Island has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of their resources, such as in-person learning, or home service aides, having been cut off. Within this community, new small business owners are struggling, but are doing an excellent job of helping each other…and other charities as well.
In honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness Day (March 21) and National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March,) Katie Lowe, founder of Cheetah Greetings will be donating 30% of all proceeds from her special Friendship Line to The National Down Syndrome Congress, The National Down Syndrome Society, and The Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Katie’s company says, “On March 21 every year, we celebrate World Down syndrome Day (WDSD). WDSD is celebrated on this day to represent the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome. This is a day of awareness and education. Cheetah Greetings is celebrating this year with our friendship cards. These cards are blue and yellow, the color of Down syndrome awareness. They are all handcrafted and individual. We have chosen 3 places to donate the profits to: The National Down syndrome Congress, The National Down syndrome Society, and the Global Down syndrome Foundation.
A true passion for caring – the person behind the cards
Katie Lowe lives in Warwick, RI with her family. She loves pizza, the color pink, summertime, musicals, and of course cheetah! She created Cheetah Greetings because she enjoys making cards and making people happy. She likes to make personalized cards for family and wanted to do it for her business! Her cards are made by using patterned cardstock and stamping. Have a special request? Want a personalized card with a picture of your loved one? She can do that! Send her a message below or call Cheetah Greetings at 401-206-0599… we can’t wait to talk to you!
In addition, there are a number of Rhode Island small business owners in the developmental disability community that are committed to doing good during these difficult times, including:
? Karen and Jack Carfagna, of Mr. C’s Old Thyme Scents together with Debbie and Jason Wood, of WeBeJammin are helping the current or past RIDDC Self-Employment Business Class participants become vendors at local/outdoor flea markets and farmer’s markets
? Karen Carfagna is providing technical assistance to individuals currently enrolled in the RIDDC Self-Employment Business Classes
? Michael Coyne, who has autism, owns and operates Red, White, and Brew and The Budding Violet with his mother, Sheila Coyne. The Budding Violet serves as a retail shop providing space for local entrepreneurs and other business owners who have disabilities to sell their custom made products to the coffee shop visitors.
? Artist Rachel Rasnick donates a portion of every sale of her notecards to Special Olympics
? James Bray, photographer and graphic artist, owns TopShotDesigns, lending his skills to create logos and business cards for participants currently enrolled in the RIDDC Business Class Series.
All of the small business owners listed above have successfully completed the RI Developmental Disabilities Council’s (RIDDC) Self Employment Business Series, which is funded by the RI Dept. of Labor & Training and the Governor’s Workforce Board.
URI researchers develop new test for coronavirus, launch clinical trial – Non-invasive saliva test increases access, is accurate, simple and cost-effective
Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have developed a new COVID-19 test that will soon be put into use across its campuses as a screening and surveillance tool for the COVID-19 virus. The saliva-based test is less invasive than many of the traditional nasal swab tests in use, and researchers say it is sensitive, specific, and can deliver results at a lower cost. The University is launching a clinical trial this week as part of the final phase of data collection and validation in preparation for an Emergency Use Authorization submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Led by URI Professor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences Angela Slitt, the team began working on the test, which uses branched DNA assay technology, last spring when access to the more common polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests was severely hampered due to disruptions in the supply chain. Although PCR-based tests receive high marks for their sensitivity, they also require extraction of the nucleic acids, access to thermocyclers and other sophisticated lab equipment not as readily available outside of the United States.
“One of the things we set out to do was to develop a less invasive, more cost-effective, more accessible test,” said Slitt. “And I think we’ve done that. We use saliva, work off different supply chains, use different, less cost-prohibitive instrumentation and are effectively lowering the barriers to entry for many.”
Slitt was already using her research in URI’s Sources, Transport, Exposure, and Effects of PFASs (STEEP) lab, funded by the National Institutes of Health Superfund Research program, to look at changes in genetic material when the idea hit her. Since her PFAS test is ultimately used to look at these changes using branched DNA assay technology more commonly available in labs throughout the United States, she reasoned that this research could be adapted to identify coronavirus in human saliva samples.
With the Rhode Island Department of Health, the team has validated the assay using standard reference materials and specimens. The team is also working with Thermo Fisher Scientific, of Waltham, Massachusetts, to validate the test and provide the necessary supply chain for distribution.
Now in the final stretch of data collection to apply for Emergency Use Authorization through the FDA, Slitt believes the team’s COVID-19 test will be one of the few assay tests that could be made globally available. Based on trials conducted thus far, the test appears to have a high level of sensitivity similar to or more sensitive than other top-performing saliva tests on the market – meaning the test is better able to comparably detect the level of viral load in the sample. This is particularly helpful in gauging infectivity and possibility for spread.
The trial launching this week, conducted in cooperation with URI Athletics and URI Health Services, will screen student-athletes and others who consent to take part, with the data collected to be included as part of the University’s application to the FDA. The University has established a lab on its Kingston Campus expressly for the trial. The effort is a partnership between URI’s College of Pharmacy and the URI Research Foundation, with financial support from the URI President’s Office and a $100,000 gift from John ’87 and Sheila Priore for the testing lab.
“From start to finish this has been an extraordinary team effort drawing on expertise and support from across the University, as well as from the Rhode Island Department of Health and experts in industry, to protect our students and make a positive impact for others,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “The development of the test and the lab really speak to our mission as a research university engaged in relevant work that affects people’s lives.”
FDA approval of the test for diagnostic purposes would have far-reaching implications, both at home and abroad, in terms of increasing accessibility to testing to help manage pandemic response. In Rhode Island, FDA approval of the test would mean that it could be made widely available for surveillance and risk assessment on URI’s campuses, to local colleges and universities, as well as to schools across the state to assist in monitoring and testing for the coronavirus. Outside of the United States it could have a profound impact.
Says Slitt, “With minimal scientific equipment, we can not only increase our capacity in the United States but also help to put tools into the hands of people in developing countries that they can use.”
The URI Research Foundation oversees the commercialization of protected intellectual property, and the development of business relationships with corporate and government partners for the University of Rhode Island as part of its mission to assist URI faculty, staff, and students whose research often leads to new companies, cutting-edge patents, and innovative public-private partnerships.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Less snow than originally expected to fall this morning. One month from the announcement yesterday is when Rhode Islanders will all be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. A Providence police sergeant is being found guilty in an excessive force case.
[[ watch dating ]]
>>Weather Service Downgrades Snow Predictions
(Undated) -- The National Weather Service on Thursday night reduced its expected snow measurements for Southern New England for a weather system that is officially closing the book on winter. For Rhode Island, the expected totals from the weather service through 8 a.m. this morning are less than an inch for northern and central Rhode Island, and one-to-two inches for coastal RI. The spring equinox is on Saturday.
>>All RI'ers Eligible For COVID Shot In One Month
(Providence, RI) -- April 19th is being set as the date when all Rhode Islanders will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. That announcement was made on Thursday, one day after neighboring Massachusetts made the same announcement with the same date. But eligibility won't mean instant inoculation: state officials expect everyone who wants a shot will be able to get one by the early summer. Governor Dan McKee and Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott yesterday urged Rhode Islanders to continue social-distancing and wearing masks to help finally overcome the pandemic.
>>Capacity Limits Increasing
(Providence, RI) -- Governor McKee on Thursday announced capacity limits are going up across the economic board in Rhode Island. That includes raising the cap to 75 percent for restaurants. Social gathering limits are increasing to fifteen people indoors and fifty outdoors. This takes effect Friday.
>>Providence Police Sergeant Found Guilty Of Assaulting Arrestee
(Providence, RI) -- The verdict is "guilty" for a Providence police sergeant charged with misdemeanor assault. Joseph Hanley was convicted by Providence District Court Judge Brian Goldman on Thursday and was ordered to serve one year of probation and to complete anger management classes, despite the state's recommendation of one year at the ACI. Judge Goldman found that Hanley's actions against Rishod Gore, a man he was arresting in the capital city in April 2020, were unnecessary, including a kick to Gore's head. Hanley denied doing that at his trial, and the videos of the arrest don't show that action as clearly as the rest of what happened. Hanley testified the other measures he took were "compliance strikes".
>>Middletown Town Council President Stepping Down
(Middletown, RI) -- Longtime Middletown Town Council President Robert Sylvia is resigning from the council, according to a report from The Newport Daily News. The town says Sylvia cited personal reasons and the need to spend more time with his family. Sylvia served on the council for over thirteen years and had been president for the last seven.
>>East Bay Man Sentenced For Fraud
(Providence, RI) -- A former construction project manager for a real estate development company in Newport is being sentenced in a fraud case. The Justice Department says Gregory Meeker of Barrington received a three-and-a-half-year prison term on Wednesday. The DOJ says Meeker defrauded his employer, Landings Real Estate Group, as well as banks and construction companies of more than two-hundred-thousand dollars during a two-year scheme.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: RI will open vaccine eligibility to everyone next month. The state health director issues a cautionary warning. National Grid is selling its RI subsidiary.
>>RI To Open Vaccine Eligibility To Everyone
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island is going to open up coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone on April 19th. Governor Dan McKee cautions it's still likely to take weeks to book an appointment. Full adult vaccine eligibility also begins in April in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
>>RI Health Director Issue Cautionary Warning
(Providence, RI) -- Department of Health Director Doctor Nicole Alexander-Scott says it's critical for everyone to continue wearing masks. She cautions that less than 30-percent of Rhode Islanders are now considered immune either because of a previous infection or vaccination. Alexander-Scott also says more variants of the virus first identified in the United Kingdom are being detected locally.
>>National Grid Is Selling Its RI Subsidiary
(Providence, RI) -- National Grid is selling its Narragansett Electric Company subsidiary in Rhode Island to PPL Corporation, which is based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Narragansett Electric has about 780-thousand electric and natural gas customers. The companies say the majority of National Grid employees in Rhode Island will stay on with PPL. The five-point-three-billion-dollar sale is subject to approval by regulators.
>>RI DUI Task Force Arrests A Dozen
(Undated) -- Twelve people are facing DUI-related charges as the result of a Saint Patrick's Day crackdown. The arrests were made during DUI Task Force patrols between seven o'clock last night and three o'clock this morning. The task force includes state troopers and officers from various cities and towns.
(Cranston, RI) -- Nobody claimed a winning one-million-dollar Mega Millions lottery ticket before yesterday's expiration deadline. The Rhode Island Lottery says the winning ticket was bought at a gas station convenience store in North Smithfield on March 14th, of last year. The money now goes into the state's general fund.
Enrolling 6,750 healthy pediatric participants less than 12 years of agein the U.S. and Canada
Moderna Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA(mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced that the first participants have been dosed in the Phase 2/3 study, called the KidCOVE study, ofmRNA-1273, the Company’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19, in children ages 6 months to less than 12 years.
The study is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We are pleased to begin this Phase 2/3 study of mRNA-1273 in healthy children in the U.S. and Canada and we thank NIAID and BARDA for their collaboration,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “It is humbling to know that 17.8 million adults in the U.S. have received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to date. We are encouraged by the primary analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study of mRNA-1273 in adults ages 18 and above and this pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population.
”This Phase 2/3 two-part, open label, dose-escalation, age de-escalation (Part 1) and randomized, observer-blind, placebo-controlled expansion study(Part 2) will evaluate the safety, tolerability, reactogenicity and effectiveness of two doses of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart. The Company intends to enroll approximately 6,750 pediatric participants in the U.S. and Canada ages 6 months to less than 12 years.
In Part 1, each participant ages two years to less than 12 years may receive one of two dose levels (50 μg or 100 μg). Also in Part 1, each participant ages six months to less than 2 years may receive one of three dose levels (25 μg, 50 μg and 100 μg). An interim analysis will be conducted to determine which dose will be used in Part 2, the placebo-controlled expansion portion of the study. Participants will be followed through 12 months after the second vaccination. Vaccine effectiveness will either be inferred through achieving a correlate of protection, if established, or through immunobridging to the young adult (ages 18-25) population.
Evaluation of vaccine safety and reactogenicity is also a primary endpoint of the study. The ClinicalTrials.gov identifier is NCT04796896. For more information about the trial, including the process for enrolling participants, please visit www.kidcovestudy.com.
A Press Conference between Providence and Cranston Mayors and police chiefs was held on Tuesday to let the public know what had transpired from a joint meeting the night before about the ATV issues plaguing both cities. Mayor Hopkins of Cranston & Chief Winquist and Mayor Elorza and Chief Clements of Providence addressed a small gathering of media and interested community members, including the Bike Life Live Matter representative.
The city group agree on the formation of a joint ATV Task Force which will share resources, intelligence and personnel to make the two communities safe. The goal is to remove illegal vehicles and operators. Police will follow drivers until they can be safely stopped, unless there is an urgent safety situation.
Cranston will not crush vehicles but will be shipping them to the Dominican Republic for use by their local police department. The DR will pay for the shipping costs.
Both mayors invited other cities to join them in the enforcement measures for “none of us are safe unless all of us are safe”.
Jeremy from Bike Life Lives Matter challenged the mayors to find a place for riders to ride, legally, but the question came at the end of the conference, with no response from the city group.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: A man accused of torching a Providence police cruiser in last year's riot is reaching a plea agreement. Providence and Cranston have created a task force to address dirt bike and ATV-riding. An unclaimed million-dollar lottery ticket purchased in the Ocean State is about to expire.
>>Plea Agreement For Man Charged With Torching Police Cruiser
(Providence, RI) -- A man accused of setting a city police cruiser on fire during the 2020 Providence riot is reaching a plea agreement. The Providence Journal reports Nicholas Scaglione of Cranston faces a potential forty-year prison term under the agreement entered in federal court in Providence on Monday, on the charge of malicious destruction of property. A judge will make a determination. A plea hearing is set for March 25th.
>>Providence, Cranston Announce ATV/Dirt Bike Task Force
(Providence, RI) -- The cities of Providence and Cranston are starting a joint task force to crack down on ATVs and dirt bikes being illegally ridden in the streets. Officials held a press conference to talk about it on Tuesday as the cities renew a hard-line stance against the activity in response to recent arrests made. Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist said authorities cannot share all of the tactics that will be employed, but he said law enforcement will be creative. As far as what happens to the vehicles when they are seized, Cranston is now pursuing a partnership with police in the Dominican Republic to have them shipped to that country.
>>East Providence Police Trying Out Body Cameras
(East Providence, RI) -- The East Providence Police Department is going to start wearing body cameras. Six members of the department have agreed to begin wearing the cameras for a several-month-long trial period. New in-car cameras will also be part of the test run. According to a WPRI-TV report, the only Rhode Island police departments which require officers to wear body cameras currently are Providence and Middletown.
>>RI General Assembly Chambers Approve Climate, School Field Trip Bills
(Providence, RI) -- In the Rhode Island General Assembly on Wednesday, the Senate approved legislation to reduce climate emissions to net-zero by 2050. The bill, called The 2021 Act on Climate, would create a mechanism to legally enforce emission reduction goals. Meanwhile, the House approved a bill that would allow school districts to raise money for field trips. Many school districts in the state canceled field trips two years ago in response to an RI Education Department policy which said school departments could not charge students for the trips. The bills will now pass on to the other chambers.
>>Mega Millions Ticket Purchased In Rhode Island About To Expire
(Undated) -- A one-million-dollar lottery prize in Rhode Island is set to expire today. A winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased at Season's Corner Market on Great Road in North Smithfield on March 14th, 2020 for the Saint Patrick's Day drawing three days later. The numbers were: 20-27-28-58-59 with a Mega Ball number of 25.
>>Boston Beats Pittsburgh Behind Goalie Called Up From P-Bruins
(Pittsburgh, PA) -- Longtime Providence Bruins goalie Dan Vladar [[ vlad-DAR ]] made his first start for the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Vladar made thirty-four saves to help the Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-to-1. Vladar has played seventy-three games for Providence over five years. Boston is at Buffalo on Thursday.
The RI vaccination portal opens with new availability today at 9am – there is not enough supply until next week, it is estimated, to accommodate people. Only 1,900 appts are available today. RI can do 100K shots per week. The state’s site will also have a new “waiting room” feature.
Gov. McKee is encouraging people to buy at small garden shops this year.
Hundreds of Massachusetts State Police declined the vaccine. 35%, or 850 officers are involved.
8 students at North Kingstown High School have tested positive for COVID-19 and the school has returned to full distance learning until about the 22nd of the month. The involved students were not in one pod, classroom or group – quarantining will impact about 100 people.
RIDOH says about vaccination availability at the portal – some adjustments will be made and today at 9am the site will open up for about 1,900 appointments. Gov. McKee says our demand exceeds our supply – but people should keep trying – hear his interview with WPRI’s Kim Kalunian, here, about the sign-up process, and the re-prioritization of teachers, whether mandatory shots will be required in the fall, and which groups it might impact. He also discusses Lt. Gov. selection process
Boston Marathon is set for October at 20% registration limit.
Mondays….. 2p.m. – 6p.m. (March 15, 22, 29 & April 5) the Blue Cross Blue Shield personnel (Mobile Unit) will be at Bethel AME Church (parking lot) to assist ANYONE needing help to register for the vaccine.
Gov. Baker has said that 3 feet is sufficient, as opposed to 6 feet, for schools. Dr. Fauci’s statement on Sunday seems to back that up.
Connecticut is announcing April 5th as the date when the state will make vaccinations available for all over 16.
Brown University has not made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. If Brown decides to make the vaccine mandatory, medical and religious exceptions will be allowed, along with considerations for reasonable accommodations. Brown’s policies and protocols for vaccination will be based on the best scientific evidence.
Healthcentric Advisors, a Providence-based company specializing in health care improvement through data analysis and education, has been awarded a $600,000 federal contract to lead a COVID-19 learning collaborative for nursing homes.
Cape Cod, with a case-fatality rate higher than the state average and a second wave of winter deaths that peaked higher than last year’s spring surge – part of this is the older age of Cape Cod residents.
Next 2 Mondays. 2-6pm. East Side of Providence – Bethe AME Zion Church, 30 Rochambeau Ave. With BCBSRI – they will help you sign up for a vaccine.
Bishop Thomas Tobin pointed out that the timing of the lifted restrictions in RI is March 19, coinciding with St. Joseph’s Day. “Our churches have been safe places to gather, and they are still,” Tobin tweeted. “Our churches are open; it’s time to come back, time to come home, especially for Sunday Mass.”
Veterans Affairs Boston held its first of three mobile vaccine clinics at a VFW post in Dorchester, with others scheduled Wednesday and next weekend.
Boston Public Schools had its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for educators, bus drivers, bus monitors, administrators and all of the school district’s employees and contractors.
23% of renters in RI are not caught up on their rent – the highest in New England as reported by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities compared with 11% in CT, 17% in MA, 10% in VT, 15% in NH, 21% in ME.
Dr. Fauci has said that President Trump’s important message to his followers to take the vaccine is important to winning the pandemic’s toll on Americans
In Vermont, two households may now gather together, and that pairing doesn’t have to be the same each time. That means children can again have playdates, “which we know have been sorely missed and will be good for the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the kids as well as parents,” he said. Restaurants are now allowed to seat six people at a table from different families
Two SBA seminars will be held to update RI companies on PPP availability:
RI families of loved ones in nursing homes held a demonstration on Friday to demand an end to isolation policies in long term care facilities.
Brickley’s Ice Cream, Wakefield, opens for the season on Thursday, March 18 at noon. They have installed a temporary takeout window for service, they reported on Facebook. The Narragansett store opens in May.
While most Boston restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining beginning March 22, eateries in the city’s North End neighborhood will have to wait until April 1 to do the same.
It is estimated the RI vaccination website was visited 2.5 million times in one day after its Friday announcement of availability. This could be an average of 20 visits per person trying to access the system.
Volunteers are playing a key role in helping vaccinate thousands of New Hampshire educators at COVID-19 vaccination clinics this weekend.
URI has approx. 573 total students, faculty, and staff in isolation and quarantine.
Worcester’s DCU Hospital will close its field hospital this week.
Deaths in hospital – 3 – New Admissions – 11 – New Discharges -12
Vaccinated – 273,216; Both shots – 114,399
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
The White House this week will unveil a wide-reaching, $1.5 billion public relations campaign aimed at boosting vaccine confidence and uptake across the U.S. Federal officials have already allocated more than $500 million for local efforts to recruit local leaders and community organizations to encourage vaccine uptake and ensure racial equity in the vaccine distribution effort.
All Mississippi residents can get the coronavirus vaccine starting tomorrow, joining Alaska as states where all adults can get vaccinated.
Dr. Birx, who has left the CDC, was interviewed about what she thinks about where the US is:
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called for an economic and political boycott of next year’s Olympics in Beijing.
The CDC indicated that even after teachers and staff have been fully vaccinated, children as young as two should still be required to wear masks at day-care centers and schools.
Facebook pledged to label all Covid-19 vaccine-related posts. The disclaimers will apply to both Facebook and Instagram posts in the US. The company has come under fire for the spread of health misinformation on its platforms.
There is no causal link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots, according to medical experts.
Spring break on South Padre Island in Texas is packed, with most people not wearing masks.
At Florida spring break, over 165 people were arrested.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a plan to help more people get vaccinated. Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post early Monday that the social media giant is launching a tool in its COVID Information Center that shows “when and where you can get vaccinated, and gives you a link to make an appointment.” Facebook is partnering with Boston Children’s Hospital, which runs the VaccineFinder.org website, to offer the tool that identifies places nearby to get the vaccine.
Indiana has become “high risk” for the number of new cases daily. Notably, they have stuck with age based plan for vaccinations, with a slow roll out.
Contagion is rising again in the EU despite months of restrictions on daily life as more-virulent virus strains outpace vaccinations, with a mood of gloom and frustration settling on the continent.
487,000+ new businesses have formed during the pandemic in the US.
Air traffic is at its height for the past year right now.
Germany’s IDT Biologica said on Monday it would make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine using capacity previously reserved by Japan’s Takeda, helping to ease concerns about the U.S. drugmaker’s ability to meet its production goals.?
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the CDC is aware of accumulating data that suggest 3 feet of social distance” are OK under certain circumstances.”
Increase in smoking in 2020 as fewer people tried to quit.
Google has launched four new Career Certificates in project management, data analytics, UX design, and Android development. Google and the National Association of Workforce Boards are providing scholarships for 30,000 people to access the Google Career Certificate program.
Indonesia expects to receive 20.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna Inc and China’s Sinopharm from the second quarter to use in a private vaccination
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot agreed to the famous green river dyeing to proceed to recognize St. Patrick’s Day – without notice to the community to avoid large gatherings.
Some medical experts theorize that variants developed “inside people with challenged immune systems”.
British variants have tripled in Massachusetts.
13% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated.
“Now the nation just needs former President Donald Trump to help out”, Fauci says.
A recent new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found 41% of Republicans saying they would not get one of the three federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines, compared to less than 15% of Democrats. “We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from what’s common sense, no-brainer public health things,” Fauci said.
Duke University issued a quarantine order for all its undergraduates effective Saturday night because of a coronavirus outbreak caused by students who attended recruitment parties
Dr. Fauci’s message was that, yes, we could see some degree of normalcy by the Fourth of July, but only if cases drop as more Americans are vaccinated.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos will sit down with President Joe Biden this week to discuss the COVID-19 relief plan and more. The interview is scheduled to air Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
Males feelings about vaccinations: 25% of Black respondents, 28% of white respondents and 37% of Latino respondents said the same.
A stunning 25% of House members — all with access to the vaccine — have refused to get it, haven’t reported getting it, or are avoiding it for medical reasons
COVID testing and new ventilation systems are costing school districts tens of millions, forcing poorer districts to freeze hiring and cut entire programs
Farmers of color will receive 120% forgiveness of farm loans – no provision is for white farmers in the Biden stimulus bill.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s boxing career began in 1969, when after his family moved from Newark, New Jersey to Brockton, MA. Marvin was beat up on the street by a local boxer as his friends watched. He decided that enough was enough and the next day he walked into a gym owned by Pat and Goody Pontronelli. As fate would have it, the boxer who roughed him up and lit the fire would soon be defeated in the ring by Hagler.
Showing so much promise in the ring the Pontronelli brothers became Hagler’s trainers and managers and entered Hagler into some amateur tournaments, but in order to qualify Hagler had to be 16 years old, and being only 14 years old, he lied about his age. In 1973 Hagler won the National AAU 165-pound title and he never looked back. He completed his amateur career with a 55-1 record before turning professional.
Hagler’s reputation grew as he climbed the ladder to the top of the middleweight classification; his frustration of high-profile boxers avoided fighting him mounted, prompting Heavyweight boxing legend Joe Frazier to say of Hagler, “he was a triple threat, he was Black, a southpaw (left hander) and he was very, very good.” It was by chance that Hagler’s career took a turn when only with two weeks’ notice. Hagler was offered a fight against a Frasier trained boxer named Willie “the worm” Monroe, who in a close fight, left Monroe the winner, and giving Hagler the first of only three losses that he would experience. Both Hagler and Monroe would fight two more times, with Marvin winning both bouts. Hagler’s rise to the top excelled when big time promoters began scheduling fights with Hagler as the main event on the boxing cards, this at a time when the Heavyweight class was dominating professional boxing.
In his first fight for the Middleweight Championship, Hagler lost in a close fight to reigning champion Vito Antuofemo in November 1979 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. After Antuofemo lost his title to a British boxer Alan Minter, Hagler got a second shot at the Middleweight championship. The fight was to take place at in England at Wembley Stadium. When the fight ended, and after seven years and 50 fights, Hagler beat Minter to become the World Middleweight Champion on September 27, 1980.
Hagler would defend his title 12 times before losing a close match on April 6, 1987 to Sugar Ray Leonard, giving Hagler his third and final loss and sent Hagler into retirement when Leonard retired (the 3rd of what was to be 5 announced retirements by Leonard). Three years later, Leonard gave Hagler one more opportunity to have a rematch, but Hagler declined as he settled into a life of acting and was not interested in returning to the ring. Known as one of the boxing’s greatest fighters in any of the weight classes, Hagler was knocked down only once in his career, before he walked away.
Although the fight against Leonard was one of Hagler’s most high-profile fights, but it wasn’t THE highest profile fights. On April 15, 1985 Hagler and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns again at Caesars Palace, billed as only “The Fight”, the bout lasted only eight minutes and one second, but it was named the “Fight of the Year” by The RING magazine. As Hagler overwhelmed Hearns at the end of the third round and it was clear when Hearns collapsed in the arms of Referee Richard Steele’s arms that the fight was called and Hagler won his 61st fight. The highly promoted event was a huge hit in the Pay Per View market and helped usher in a whole new revenue stream to the sport of boxing.
Hagler’s career record after 67 professional fights was 62 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws. He fought matches at a rate that most boxers today would not even consider. In his first year as a professional, Hagler’s first professional fight was May 18, 1973. During that first year Hagler fought 8 times including two bouts in October and December. 11 times in 1974, doubling up in May, August and November. 7 fights in 1975, 1976, 1977 before fighting less bouts in each of the following years. Hagler’s fights had taken place all over the world starting in the Boston area to the Philadelphia Spectrum, Madison Square Garden, Atlantic City, Las Vegas to Italy, Monaco.
In 1982 Hagler became so annoyed that the network announcers would not call him by his nickname, he legally changed it to “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, which when applying for the change, exposed the fact that Hagler began boxing at 14 years old instead of the required 16 years old. Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as being named the Fighter of the Decade (1980’s). Although Hagler grew up in Brockton, MA, having 9 fights in his hometown, before moving all over the New England region (including 2 bouts at our own Providence Civic Center, one at Brown University’s Marvel gym, and one at Providence College’s Schneider Arena). Hagler was the favorite son of Brockton – but he belonged to the New England region.
The New England region is in mourning with the passing of Marvelous Marvin Nathaniel Hagler. Born May 23, 1954 in Newark, New Jersey and died March 13, 2021 at home in Bartlett, New Hampshire. His death was announced on social media by his wife, as “unexpected”. At this time a cause of death has not been released. Hagler is survived by his wife of 21 years, Kay, and his five children: Marvin, Jr., James, Gentry, Celeste, Charelle.
Editor’s Note: Rumors that Marvelous had died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine spread like wildfire – and yesterday, his wife, Kay, refuted those claims saying she had been the only one to be with him and that this was not true – “For sure [it] wasn’t the vaccine that caused his death. My baby left in peace with his usual smile and now is not the time to talk nonsense.“
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The state is putting out a warning about a bacterial disease that was detected in wildlife on a Narragansett Bay island. A former Rhode Island town manager has been found guilty of several ethics violations. The New England Patriots have signed several free agents.
>>Public Warned Of Animal Testing Positive For Bacterial Disease
(Portsmouth, RI) -- The public is being notified about an animal testing positive for a highly-contagious bacterial disease in the Ocean State. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management reported the case of tularemia [[ TOO-luh-REE-me-uh ]] in a New England cottontail rabbit from Patience Island earlier this month. Tularemia is said to be rare, but left untreated it can be fatal. The DEM is warning anyone who goes to Patience Island to avoid being bitten by insects or having any contact with wildlife.
>>Providence Library Branches Offering Vaccine Signup Help
(Providence, RI) -- The Providence Community Library is helping residents sign up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Any of the city's ten library locations can be called for help, and a staff member will schedule an appointment on the eligible resident's behalf. The library branches cannot make appointments at clinics outside of the capital city.
>>North Kingstown High School Remote This Week After Virus Cases
(North Kingstown, RI) -- North Kingstown High School is holding classes online this week after a spike in coronavirus cases. The school district superintendent says eight students tested positive. No obvious link was identified. The plan is to go back to in-person learning next week.
>>Narragansett Police Department Reports Circulating Phone Scam
(Narragansett, RI) -- The Narragansett Police Department says it has been made aware of a recent scam. Multiple people have reportedly received a phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer from the town, with a "spoofed" phone number that appears to be from the Narragansett PD. The scammer then claims the victim owes money for an arrest warrant or a subpoena.
>>Former East Greenwich Town Manager Found Guilty Of Ethics Violations
(Providence, RI) -- Former East Greenwich town manager Gayle Corrigan is facing a fine from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. Corrigan was found guilty by the commission on several violations on Friday. She was fined three-thousand dollars for supervising and directing a business associate who was hired for a town position, but the commission acquitted Corrigan for the actual hiring. Corrigan was also fined for failing to disclose that her company did work for the Central Coventry Fire District.
>>Report: Experimental Drug Shows Promise In Fight Against Alzheimer's
(Providence, RI) -- Researchers at Butler and Rhode Island Hospitals in Providence, along with Brown University, are reporting that a new drug slows down Alzheimer's disease symptoms. The drug called donanemab, which is from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, targets the amyloid plaque and tau protein buildups in the brain which are associated with the disease. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine over the weekend.
>>Patriots Sign A Number Of Free Agents
(Foxboro, MA) -- The New England Patriots were busy on the first day of NFL free agency on Monday. The Pats reached deals with former Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith and former Baltimore Ravens pass-rushing linebacker Matthew Judon for over a hundred-million dollars combined. ESPN also reports the Patriots have reached deals with former Philadelphia Eagles defense back Jalen Mills, Miami Dolphins nose tackle Davon Godchaux [[ god-shaw ]], and wide receiver Nelson Agholor [[ AG-oh-lore ]] of the Las Vegas Raiders.
In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island General Assembly move to hammer out their Fiscal Year 2022 budget, Senate lawmakers push a package of eight legislative proposals to put the brakes on skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.
The Senate resolution (2021-S 0560) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-District 1, Providence), has already been passed and complements the prescription drug affordability package that will be considered next week that would require health insurers to provide coverage, without cost sharing, for colorectal screenings and follow-up colonoscopies when necessary.
The package of legislation aims to protect Rhode Islanders by limiting copays for insulin, capping out-of-pocket expenses for high deductible plans, requiring health insurers to cover preventive colorectal cancer screening, eliminating clauses hidden in pharmacy contracts that prevent a pharmacist from talking about more affordable options, requiring transparent pricing information, importing wholesale prescription drugs from Canada, and creating a board responsible for evaluating and ensuring drug prices are affordable.
According to Greg Paré, the state Senate director of communications, this package of legislative proposals was developed in conjunction with AARP during the off session before the 2020 Senate session and first submitted last year, but legislation considered last session was limited due to the pandemic and so it did not pass. The legislation has been resubmitted this year with some small modifications and remains a Senate priority.
Last year, AARP along with 14 groups including, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society Action Network, and Aging in Community, urged lawmakers to pass the package of legislative proposals. Expect to see some of these groups again call for passage of either the total package or specific bills at a Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s virtual hearing, chaired by Sen. Joshua Miller, on Thursday, at 5:00 p.m. For the hearing’s agenda, go to: For hearing details go to: https://bit.ly/3ezofmJ.
Passage of this legislative package would require action by both the Senate and House. At press time, not all of the Senate bills have companion measures in the House.
Controlling the Skyrocketing Increase of Prescription Drugs
Here are specifics about the Senate’s prescription drug affordability legislative package that will be considered next week by the Rhode Island’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee:
Legislation (2021-S 0170) sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D–Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), would limit the copay for prescription insulin to $50 for a 30-day supply for health plans that provide coverage for insulin. Additionally, the bill mandates that coverage for prescription insulin would not be subject to a deductible.
Legislation (2021-S 0381) sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D–Dist. 29, Warwick), would cap out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs at the federal minimum dollar amount for high-deductible health plans, currently $1,400 for individual plans and $2,800 for family plans.
The bill (2021-S 0383), sponsored by Senator Goodwin (D–Dist. 1, Providence), would save lives by requiring health insurers cover preventive colorectal cancer screening in accordance with American Cancer Society (ACA) guidelines. This coverage must be provided without cost-sharing and includes an initial screening and follow-up colonoscopy if screening results are abnormal. The ACA recommends people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45.
A bill (2021-S 0497) sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D–Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) would allow consumers to pay less for their prescription drugs by banning gag clauses sometimes found in pharmacy contracts that prevent a pharmacist from talking to a customer about more affordable options.
This bill (2021-S 0494) would require pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, health insurers, and hospitals to disclose certain drug pricing information. Such transparency would help payers determine whether high prescription costs are justified. This bill is sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).
This bill (2021-S 0499), sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D–Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), would create a state-administered program to import wholesale prescription drugs from Canada, which has drug safety regulations similar to those of the United States. Such programs are allowed under federal rules, with approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This legislation (2021-S 0498) would create a prescription drug affordability board tasked with investigating and comprehensively evaluating drug prices for Rhode Islanders and possible ways to reduce them to make them more affordable. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D–Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
The bill (2021-S 0496) introduced by Senator Felag (D-District 12, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren) aims to protect consumers from unexpected changes in their health plan’s formularies (list of covered drugs). Under the legislation, formulary changes can only be made at the time of health plan renewal, if the formulary change is made uniformly across all identical or substantially identical health plans, and if written notice is provided 60 days or more before the change.
Seniors Hit Hard by High Price of Prescriptions
“The high price of prescriptions is having a severe impact on Rhode Islanders, particularly older residents,” said Ruggerio, noting the state’s population is one of the oldest in the nation. “Many older Rhode Islanders have limited means, and the high cost of prescriptions means people are
Ruggerio warns that the pharmaceutical industry is not going to address this on its own, so it’s up to the state and federal governments to take action.”
Maureen Maigret, Co-Chair, Long Term Care Coordinating Council, observes that with Medicare paying the tab for costly pharmaceuticals, controlling rising drug costs is a federal issue. “But this is a big issue to address for those with low and moderate incomes under-insured for prescription drugs,” she says. “I applaud the Senate legislative package aimed at controlling the cost of prescription drugs for Rhode Islanders, says Maigret, who cites the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that shows one out of four persons take four or more prescription drugs and more than one-third say that have difficulty taking their medication properly due to cost. “Seniors may fail to get prescriptions filled, resort to pill splitting or skipping doses. Some may end up with costly hospital Emergency Rooms or inpatient visits as health conditions worsen due to the inability to afford their medications, notes Maigret, calling for lawmakers to make necessary prescription drugs affordable for all who need them. Maigret says, “It is time to make necessary prescription drugs available for all who need them.”
“AARP Rhode Island is eager to work with both the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass this important legislation designed to lower prescription drug costs,” said AARP State Director Kathleen Connell. “The high cost of drugs leads families – and particularly older Rhode Islanders on fixed and limited incomes — to often make impossible decisions. No one should have to choose between paying rent, providing food for themselves or their family and vital prescription medications that keep them healthy,” she says.
We look forward to working with legislators from across the state to help improve the health and financial stability of everyone by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We thank Senate President Ruggerio for once again bringing forth this very important legislation,” adds Connell.
It’s mid-March. Lawmakers turn their attention now to passing the state budget. Even if the Senate passes every bill in the prescription drug affordability package, the lower chamber must pass companion measures for these bills. When passed, Governor Dan McKee must sign the legislation to become law. Right now, it’s an uphill battle and Rhode Islanders must call on their state lawmakers to get on board to support bills to reduce the high cost of pharmaceuticals. It’s the right thing to do.
Things that You Should Know
This meeting will be streamed live online through Capitol TV:
Written testimony is encouraged and can be submitted prior to 2:00 PM on Thursday, March 18, 2021, in order for it to be provided to the members of the committee at the hearing and to be included in the meeting records. Finally, if you are interested in providing verbal testimony to the committee at this hearing, please go to the following link and make your request by 4:00 p.m., on Wednesday, March 17, 2021: https://bit.ly/3bIJAs2
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com.
Herb Weiss has enjoyed a distinguished 41 year career in journalism, earning a national reputation as an expert on aging, health care and medical issues. Over 780 articles that he has authored or coauthored have appeared in national, state and local publications. Governor Gina Raimondo appointed Him to the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on aging. Today, Herb’s weekly newspaper column appears in the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket call, two North Rhode Island daily newspapers, and will now run in RINewsToday.com. Herb and his wife, Patty Zacks, reside in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
“Community” is more than our middle name, it’s embedded into who we are.
“Hope” is more than our State’s motto, it’s embedded into everything we do.
365 days ago, our world changed. The second Friday in March of 2020, COVID-19 hit our community with a vengeance, and changed every aspect of our lives. A year later, I want to check in with all of you. I’m reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re going.
How are you, really? It’s been a brutal 12 months for every. single. one. of us. The pandemic dropped fear, anxiety, and hardship on every doorstep. We’ve been united in uncertainty, not knowing what even the next week would look like.
The past year has been different, but that “different” looks different for each of us.
Some of the changes were inconvenient and stressful, but we coped. Suddenly “Zooming” took on entirely new meaning. We’ve hoarded toilet paper, doomscrolled on our devices, and built colorful collections of cloth masks. We’ve learned to greet each other with elbow bumps. We’ve stood in long lines to get our brains stuck with a Q-tip. We’ve said “I miss you” so many times, it’s exhausting. We’ve had to learn to work from home at the same table where the kids did distance learning.
Other changes broke our hearts. We’ve cancelled graduations and birthdays and weddings. We’ve been separated for a year from our aging family members who’ve never needed us more. We’ve lost wages, lost jobs, and even businesses. We’ve seen those we love struggle with loneliness, mental illness and addiction. We’ve had to hold drive-by funerals.
Over half a million American lives lost. Incomprehensible. 529,000 people nationwide, the vast majority of whom took their last breaths alone. And in just the time it took to write this, 1,000 more American lives lost. The overwhelming weight of this is almost too much too bear. I know so many of us are hurting, mourning in isolation. We’ve battled this still-mysterious virus – some with extreme symptoms – and some still experience unresolved symptoms day after day. We’ve faced complete and utter exhaustion from essential jobs, or from unexpected childcare and homeschooling. We’ve lost the jobs that kept the lights on and food on the table.
Most of us have wondered: “how are we going to get through this?”
For many in our community, that answer was with the help of the MLK.
For everyone’s safety last March 13th, I dismissed our dedicated volunteers, closed our Preschool and After School, and stopped accepting food donations, despite the growing demand for food. One year ago as our community shut down, families immediately turned to the MLK. The air was heavy with the weight of layoffs, unemployment, suddenly being without childcare, the uncertainty of it all. That day, we pivoted our food pantry from in-person visits to bagged distribution of non-perishables, toiletries, milk, meat, eggs, fruits & veggies, and yes – even toilet paper – to anyone who needed it; brown bags of hope so food was one less thing to worry about. That very first day, we met families who had never used the Center’s services before. In the first 10 days, we served over 200 new clients.
Our Breakfast program in normal times serves the most vulnerable in our community, many of whom face homelessness. Faced with the inability to gather to serve a meal, we quickly moved to a bagged Breakfast distribution every day, complete with freshly brewed hot coffee, bagged breakfast, lunch and a snack and even toiletries.
Pre-COVID, most of the food we distributed was donated: 65% was donated, while we purchased the remaining 35%. But last year, the ratio flipped. We purchased 65% of our pantry’s food while only 35% was donated. Thanks to an outpouring of support from people like you, we had the resources to offer food every 14 days to those in need.
Our Mobile Food Pantry brought food into neighborhoods in Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Jamestown, where folks can’t get to the Center but needed the help of food every 14 days. Our Food 2 Friends program was a crucial lifeline, bringing groceries to the most vulnerable homebound people.
When I think back to those early days of the pandemic, I think of the faces of the people we helped, because our community rallied in support of the MLK. Together, we fed the laid-off restaurant worker who, 3 days after the initial shutdown, turned to the Center to feed his family of 4. We think of the unaccompanied teens who came to the pantry to shop for their families, who brought home 2-weeks’ worth of nutritious food, thanks to you. Together, we caused that sigh of relief from our elderly neighbor when they saw the Mobile Food Pantry truck pull up to their neighborhood. Together, we fed the newly unemployed mother who said, “I am so thankful for the MLK. During these stressful times of trying to figure out how the bills will get paid, I am so thankful to not have to worry about food.”
Those days were long, and somehow, they feel like yesterday but also a lifetime ago. In just 9 weeks, we fed 2,747 people, or 60% of the clients we served in all of the previous year. And, 25% of these clients were first-time clients to the Center.
Spring came and went, bringing new faces to the Center, and deepening the need for those who already turned to the Center for support. In August, when we could finally cautiously reopen our education programs and the food pantry, and welcome back a handful of volunteers, Newport County once again answered the call. Your overwhelming support meant we could provide scholarships to cover nearly 90% of weekly tuition – the hard-hit, working families of our Preschoolers paid only $20 per week for childcare to help them get back to work, and back on their feet. Our full-day Summer Camp program reopened shortly thereafter (with fewer kids) and we were able to distribute more scholarships than we ever had in our history.
Our Grab & Go meals were born out of necessity: Pre-COVID, local churches offered daily meals to anyone in need, but they were unable to do so given the pandemic. Our solution? We hired a local caterer to prepare and serve hearty meals, simultaneously helping a small business open, and feeding our neighbors. Our Grab & Go meals remain a community mainstay: we’re providing 2 free lunch meals to the community per week, plus 1-2 additional meals throughout the month.
The MLK serves as “a bridge between.” In “normal” times, we were the bridge between the two sides of Newport County: the served and underserved. In the past year, the Center has been a bridge connecting our shared but often very different experiences of this crisis. Some who were previously in a place of relative comfort found their situation changed overnight and found themselves on the other side of the bridge and in need of help.
Our bridge has held strong. This year has reinforced everything the Center is, because of we hold together as a community. From generous funders and donors who stepped up in those early days, to those who had a little to spare from their stimulus, to those who donated food when we reopened donations, to those who fundraised and spread the word in whatever way you could – we got here, 365 days later, together, Newport County.
People are getting vaccinated. Restaurants are adding more space for dining. Kids are learning in school. Events are being scheduled for the fall. The light is coming back to our days, and to our lives. Hugs will come back. Hope never left.
I hope you are seeing light at the end of this long and dark road. And if you aren’t, reach out to us. We are here for you.
Because we will never give up hope or stop working towards a better Newport County for everyone.
Because this isn’t my community, or your community. It’s our community.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Patience and vigilance urged for Rhode Islanders in the effort to finish the fight against COVID-19. Several arrests are made in connection to illegal ATV/dirt bike-riding in the city of Providence. The Ocean State's first lottery director has died.
>>Rhode Island COVID-19 Update
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island's health director said Friday the state is going in the right direction in the fight against COVID-19, but quote, "we are not out of the woods yet". Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said it is critical for Rhode Islanders to continue to wear masks and practice social-distancing. Alexander-Scott said the state is making very strong progress in distributing COVID-19 vaccines, as there are about 75-hundred doses going into arms daily. But the doctor asked for continued patience as the supply being received by the state continues to be limited.
>>ATV/Dirt Bike Arrests Made In Providence
(Providence, RI) -- The crackdown on street-illegal dirt bikes and ATVs is continuing in Providence. Police Chief Hugh Clements announced on Friday that there were five arrests made, and thirteen such vehicles were seized after a targeted operation. City officials took a public hard-line stance against dirt bike and ATV-riding last week after authorities arrested two people said to have been part of a larger pack riding through Providence and Cranston. WJAR-TV reports the mayors of the two cities are set to meet today to discuss ways to address the issue.
>>Man Indicted For Cold-Case Killing
(Providence, RI) -- A man has been indicted for murder in connection to a cold case in Providence. The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office says Jason Lopes was arrested last week in Garland, Texas and is awaiting extradition back to the Ocean State. Lopes, formerly of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, allegedly stabbed Zackary Marshall to death in Providence in 2010.
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>>Several Charged With Sex Assault In Wakefield
(Wakefield, RI) -- Four people are being charged after a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted at a home in Wakefield. The Rhode Island State Police says 19-year-old Montrell Wilson of Narragansett, 18-year-olds Trenton Scuncio of Wakefield and Jah'quin Sekator of North Kingstown, and a juvenile boy are the ones charged for the March 1st incident. The victim reportedly told authorities she was incapacitated and alleged the assault was filmed. Arraignments for the adults are expected on Monday.
>>Brett Smiley Announces Run For Providence Mayor
(Providence, RI) -- The former administration director for ex-Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo is running for mayor. Brett Smiley made it official over the weekend. Smiley was administration director for the state for about a year after serving for several as Raimondo's chief of staff. He was the chief operating officer for the city of Providence before that. Current Prov mayor Jorge Elorza is term-limited and cannot run again in 2022.
>>State's First Lottery Director Has Died
(North Scituate, RI) -- Rhode Island's first lottery director has died. Peter O'Connell was ninety-nine years old. O'Connell retired from the RI State Police after twenty-five years and then ran The Lot from 1974 to 1993. O'Connell's obituary /says he was a pioneer in the lottery field and the use of instant ticket and online systems.
The new Budget for 2022 was presented at a noon press conference yesterday, held by state budget personnel who followed Gov. McKee’s introduction. They provided details on specific items of the budget, which total $11.17 billion.
4 Stimulus packages have come from the federal government. Including vaccine and testing grants which prevented RI from having to use its general revenue funds. FEMA reimbursement has also been greater than RI anticipated, as they went from 75% of costs to 100% retroactively of costs. Match rate for Medicaid from federal government increased and extended. The latest stimulus package is not in this budget, as they are just being passed now, so changes will take place.
Federal money has been allocated and spent in FY20 and FY21 – modest amount in FY22, though that is still in consideration. Rental assistance program and COVID related response activity that will be financed by federal funds are anticipated.
Corrections Reform – Expansion of ACI programs and IT tracking. Recovery friendly workplace. Supportive housing. Individualized treatment programs. Changes in probation programs including credit to reduce sentences, flexibility for technical violations, parole reform. Early parole for those with long sentences given before age of 22. Work training, work release training.
Equity and Social Justice – expand RI Works to incentivize working; expanding clothing allowance for infants and toddlers; expansion Food Bank; expansion of Doula services.
Expansion and strengthening home and community based services: Medicaid eligible programs, nursing home rate increases; home based programs. $15 M transformation fund for DD system.
Small Biz – bridge grant program until federal money can come in. Expansion of economic development program. Gov. McKee has a strong interest in supporting small businesses.
Housing: rental assistance, affordable housing, etc.
Education: Increase childcare provider rates; childcare for those in college; transformation specialst for underperforming schools, etc. RI Promise program becomes permanent.
Electricity & Natural Gas: similar to other states, for response to natural disasters.
Adult–use Marijuana program: private, regulated – not state managed. 25 new licenses every year for 3 years – some set aside for MBE recipients. 25% of proceeds for education and enforcement, 15% for communities, balance to general fund.
Slater Hospital – continue transformation focusing on long term care. Create Institute for Mental Disease. New facility on Zambarano campus. More funding. Patients will be moved to other areas during construction – they won’t have to leave facility.
Local Aid – would include maintaining car tax phase out.
Notable Revenue & Expenditures
Beach parking – Misquamicut Beach parking fees will be raised by regulation, after a public process.
No income hike for taxes.
Federal money coming into Rhode Island will do a significant amount to address the shortfall locally.
Jeremy Costa, spokesperson for “Bike Life Lives Matter” listened to Mayor Elorza’s latest statement on ATV’s and mini-bikes in Providence with new eyes and ears as Elorza pulled up the welcome mats with a policy flip. Not only saying they would not be allowed on roads in the city, but the mayor is now encouraging friends and neighbors who know where illegal vehicles were to drop a dime and turn them in. The statement left the media and others verifying that the Mayor was backtracking on his “legal welcome” policy given just a few days before, and even the Mayor looked surprised during his own presentation – surprised again when saying that this “new” policy is different than what he said earlier. While still saying that vehicles need to be licensed and insured, there would be no driving on city streets. Promises of working on a play park were no longer mentioned. He went on to say that there are no mini-bikes, mopeds, dirt bikes, or ATVs that are legal to own within Providence city limits, so all that are owned can be confiscated and destroyed.
Costa said he thought he would come and hear the mayor stand up for the riders, maybe with a plan for a place to ride, but instead it was “nothing but a bait and switch”.
Mayor Elorza & Chief Clements
“The use of dirt bikes and ATVs on our City streets is illegal and poses a serious danger to the public. We’ve been aggressive in pulling over, seizing, and destroying over 200 ATVs and dirt bikes in recent years. Drivers are arrested and held accountable for their actions. We will continue this approach to make sure that the illegal and dangerous use of these bikes is eliminated from our roads. To report the location or operation of an illegal recreational vehicle please contact Providence Police Department at 401-680-8ATV. Later in the day, this hotline information was posted on the Providence city website:
Sharon Steele, long involved in downtown Providence safety and development progress said she didn’t hear the Mayor backtrack enough, saying she didn’t think the Mayor’s new policy was much different than what he had said previously; “what we want to hear is Providence take the exact same position as Mayor Hopkins of Cranston. We want a zero tolerance policy for Providence”.
Mayor Hopkins announced a four step plan to curtail the use of ATVs illegally in Cranston. All steps went into effect immediately.
Enforcement of ordinance 10.40.030 that prohibits the illegal vehicles – vehicles are immediately empounded and ownership forfeited.
Any service station licensed by Cranston to refuse service to unregistered or illegal motorcycles, ATVs, recreational vehicles, etc.
Service stations must also notify police immediately for enforcement.
These orders take effect immediately.
10.40.030 – Riding of mini-bikes, etc., on public property:
No person shall ride, drive or otherwise use a mini-bike, non-street legal or unregistered motorcycle, go-cart, or other like vehicle on or upon any public property of the city. Registered vehicles only shall be allowed on public streets, parking lots or other areas designed for regular traffic, unless prohibited by the chief of police.
At the press conference, a photo was shown of a rider with a large handgun and it was noted that many who are stopped either have weapons or drugs on their person, or some outstanding criminal issue. Chief Winquist noted that these are not young people out for fun, and that most are adults.
Mayor Hopkins noted that civil
fines will follow in conjunction with additional initiatives to come before the City Council.
It is expected that vehicles taken will be destroyed, most likely using DPW front loaders to do so. At this point, with the way the law is, vehicles confiscated have to be returned to the owner, so new regulations will be a “helpful tool” to enforcement of the ban on illegal ATV-type vehicles within Cranston city lines.
Last summer Mayor Fung and the Cranston Police stood a line at the Cranston border while Providence dealt with nightly issues with off-road vehicles and incidents primarily in the Elmwood Ave/Park Ave area. They utilized DPW vehicles to block travel over the Providence border at some points. Blockades into Cranston gave a strong affront that these incidents would not be allowed in the city of Cranston.
The statements from Cranston followed incidents that have started of ATVs in the city, surrounding vehicles, etc. Since that time 60 vehicles were taken and two arrested in a Route 10 incident where a gun was shown to an officer from the belt of rider. The full story is here: https://rinewstoday.com/cranston-to-power-down-atv-menace-in-city/
Statement from Warwick’s Police Chief
In response to RINewsToday inquiry, the Mayor’s office provided us with this statement: “We stand by our opinion that the unlawful and reckless operation of unregistered dirt bikes and ATVs upon our city streets presents a clear hazard to the involved riders, pedestrians and the law abiding motoring public. We will continue to make every effort to enforce our existing laws and ordinances with the safety of our officers and the public in mind. Obviously the unlawful actions of the riders create a challenge but we will not ignore this public safety issue, ” said Warwick Police Chief Brad Connor.
The North Providence Mayor Lombardi reaffirmed the zero tolerance policy for North Providence on talk radio during the day. On with Gene Valicenti, he said he was “baffled by the Providence mayor”.
Pawtucket’s Acting Public Safety Director and Police Chief Tina Goncalves: “The safety of vehicle operators and pedestrians continues to be an utmost priority. The Pawtucket Police Department continues to monitor and assess the slight rise in ATV and off-road vehicles throughout our community.”
Black Life Lives Matter – Jeremy Costa on Dan Yorke Show, WPRO
(click on link to hear this interview – and what the bikers say they have wanted – and what their future in RI is)
From Bike Life Lives Matter Instagram (click video):
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: COVID vaccine eligibility is increasing in Rhode Island. Governor Dan McKee has proposed his first budget. Students at Rhode Island universities sued to get their tuition back after a switch to remote-learning last year, but a judge is dropping the case.
>>COVID Vaccine Eligibility Expanding In Rhode Island
(Providence, RI) -- The state of Rhode Island is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people who are 60 years old and older, as well as 16-to-64-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions. Those groups become eligible today. The list of specific conditions include cancer and heart disease patients. The state is encouraging those not yet eligible for the vaccine to sign up on an "interest notification list" at portal.ri.gov. and they'll be notified when they can make an appointment.
>>Governor Dan McKee Releases First Budget, Includes Marijuana Legalization Proposal
(Providence, RI) -- Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee released his first budget on Thursday, but acknowledged that the stimulus bill signed by President Biden could cause it to evolve. McKee's budget contains a number of proposals likely to cause debate, including: legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana, continuing the free tuition program at Community College of Rhode Island, continuing the phase-out of the state's car tax, and constructing a new long-term care facility at Eleanor Slater Hospital's Zambarano campus in Burrillville. The eleven-point-two-billion-dollar spending plan is lower than this fiscal year's budget. The Providence Journal reports it does not contain steep tax increases, but McKee wants to augment the real estate transfer tax.
>>Providence Taking Hard-Line Stance Against Dirt Bikes, ATVs
(Providence, RI) -- The city of Providence is pursuing all options available to get illegal dirt bikes and ATVs off the streets. A press conference was held by city officials on Thursday, two days after Cranston police arrested two riders who were allegedly part of a larger group that rode from Cranston to Providence. Mayor Jorge Elorza yesterday announced a hotline number to report illegal vehicles: 401-680-8-ATV. Elorza said you can make the call even if you don't see the vehicles actively being ridden. One thing the city will continue to do is seize and destroy the ones they catch illegally riding on city streets, after an ordinance granting the power was passed by the Providence City Council in 2017.
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>>Trial Against Providence PD Sergeant Resumes
(Providence, RI) -- Closing arguments are expected Friday in the assault trial of Providence Police Sergeant Joseph Hanley. The charge stems from his treatment of a man he was arresting in Providence last year. Hanley was cross-examined by the state on Thursday as the trial resumed after a nearly-two-week-long recess.
>>Patriarca Family Associate ID'd As Massachusetts Murder Suspect
(New Bedford, MA) -- A dead Providence mobster is being identified as a suspect in a Massachusetts murder. The Bristol County, Mass District Attorney's Office says Kevin Hanrahan, an associate of the Patriarca crime family, was one of the people who killed Howard Ferrini, a professional gambler from Berkley, Mass. The prosecutor's office said the ID was made thanks to an updated fingerprint database. Hanrahan was fatally shot in 1992, one year after Ferrini's death.
>>Court Dismisses Tuition Reimbursement Lawsuit After Pandemic Forced Remote Shift
(Providence, RI) -- A federal court has dismissed claims made by students at several Rhode Island universities who sued for a tuition refund after the coronavirus pandemic forced a transition to remote learning. A federal court order issued earlier this month dismissed breach of contract and tort claims in the case brought on by students at Brown, Roger Williams and Johnson and Wales universities, as well as the University of Rhode Island. The judge said the schools were responding to the remarkable circumstances of the pandemic.
Photo: Most Rhode Islanders will receive a card like this with specific dates/times on it after their first vaccination. Courtesy KAMR – Expect to see apps develop as proving vaccination status becomes required for entry into large venues, flying, etc.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
Gov. McKee review will now be on Fridays at 11am.
RI could receive $1.2billion from the federal stimulus bill.
The Rhode Island Foundation is offering local libraries, schools, municipal agencies and nonprofit groups grants of up to $10,000 to fund proposals that bring people together as a community. March 12 is the deadline to apply.
A COVID-19 vaccine delivery program brought second doses to Massachusetts residents challenged by mobility and increased health risk.
In Warwick, school personnel vaccinations for 1st dose of Pfizer vaccines begin at Veterans Memorial Middle School, 1-4pm for public, private, parochial teachers & staff, licensed child care workers. 1st dose clinics: 3/13, 20 & 27. 2nd dose: 4/3, 10 & 17. City will contact approx. 430 workers.
RIDLT is warning about an email phishing scam – do not open or respond to emails asking if you are receiving unemployment in Canada.
New mass vaccination clinic opened in Middletown (where Benny’s used to be)
The RI Lifespan site is now scheduling vaccines for patients waiting for an organ transplant.
Lombardo’s Dining in MA will become a temporary courthouse.
Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade (postponed to tentatively September 25
Deaths in hospital – 1 – New Admissions – 19 – New Discharges -22
Vaccinated – 241,795; Both shots – 97,716
List of cases by city/town as noted by the Providence Journal:
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
The national stimulus passed – checks should be coming soon for $1400 stimulus and $300 extended additional employment, housing payment extensions, etc.
President Biden will speak today on one of the one-year anniversary moments of COVID-19 at 8pm – this also marks 50+ days without taking questions from members of the press.
“The global community will find out fairly soon, within the next few years” what started the coronavirus pandemic, a key member of a World Health Organization-led investigation into the pandemic’s origins said on Wednesday.
Texas is leading 12 states to drop mask mandates.
United Natural Food Inc. – based in RI – earned a $59 million profit in the company’s fiscal-year
Your passport to freedom? China’s digital certificate, launched Tuesday, details an individual’s Covid-19 test results and vaccination record. It will be a required form of personal identification to register for an International Travel Health Certificate that runs on the messaging app WeChat. The certificate can be printed out and includes an encrypted QR code that makes Chinese travelers’ health information available to other countries. On Weibo, the topic of the international travel health certificate has been viewed more than 40 million times since March 7. The launch also prompted strong negative reactions in English-language spaces, including claims that a “vaccine passport” would be rolled out in the UK. (The EU is reportedly considering a “vaccine passport” program to allow vaccinated people to move freely within the 27-member bloc.) The World Health Organization is opposed to Covid-19 immunity certification, citing practical, medical and ethical concerns.
England’s $32 billion test and trace system has not made a clear impact on the progress of COVID-19, the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said on Wednesday, decrying the “unimaginable” costs of the program.
Six people who have been preparing Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, for sea trials have tested positive for the coronavirus.
45 staff from BuzzFeed/HuffPost have been laid off after a $20M loss last year.
Nursing home residents can now receive visitors under most circumstances, after widespread vaccination helped sharply reduce Covid-19 cases and deaths among residents of the facilities
Vaccine packing and shipping priorities have hurt the exporting of apples across the nation.
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and VBI Vaccines Inc. today announced a partnership to develop VBI’s enveloped virus like particle (eVLP) vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the B.1.351 variant, also known as 501Y.V2, first identified in South Africa.
Covid-19 Vaccines Targeting Multiple Variants Are in the Works at Moderna, Novavax
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has kept its Covid death rate lower than most American communities’ — even though Native Americans are almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people are. In this video, we uncover the secret to the Cherokees’ success. But it’s not exactly rocket science. It’s really just a smart, slow but steady commitment to universal health care. Oh, and a long history of having to be self-reliant when the U.S. government fails to step up and provide support.
100 million doses are coming from Johnson & Johnson – enough to vaccinate the entire US population.
Hawaii is now vaccinating anyone who wants a shot over the age of 16
62 million Americans have now received at least one dose.
Massachusetts Gov. Baker marks one year since signing the Executive Order state of emergency with an emotional moment.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Lifespan says COVID shots are available for the immunocompromised. We're still waiting to find out if the death penalty will be on the table for a Providence man accused of a fatal kidnapping. Plans have been revealed for a re-imagined Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence.
>>Elevated Fire Weather Potential Today
(Undated) -- The National Weather Service is warning about an elevated potential for fire weather across most of Massachusetts and Rhode Island on Thursday. The exceptions are locations along the immediate coast and places in Mass where there is still snow on the ground. The weather service says the reason for the increased potential is a combination of warm afternoon temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds.
>>Lifespan Says 16-To-64 Immunocompromised Can Sign Up For Vaccine
(Providence, RI) -- Lifespan says Rhode Islanders 16 and older who are immunocompromised are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at its clinics, according to a report from WPRI-TV. Among those who qualify are cancer patients. The Rhode Island Health Department has not updated state eligibility guidelines to include the 16-to-64 immunocompromised demographic, but a spokesperson says they are included in the next eligibility group.
>>Hearing Held For Louis Coleman Kidnapping Case
(Boston, MA) -- Federal prosecutors have still not decided whether to seek the death penalty against the Providence man accused of kidnapping a woman, resulting in her death. The Providence Journal reports a federal judge expressed hope at a hearing on Wednesday that the case against Louis D. Coleman the Third could begin next year. Coleman is accused of kidnapping Jassy Correia in Boston in 2019. His attorney asked the judge yesterday to wait until the death penalty issue is resolved, and said the pandemic has hindered his ability to communicate with his client.
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>>Man Sentenced For International Travel To Have Sex With Minor
(Providence, RI) -- A Pawtucket man is being sentenced to federal prison for traveling to Canada to have sex with an underage girl. The Justice Department says 24-year-old Herbert Rodas communicated with a 13-year-old on social media and traveled to Winnipeg in 2019. Rodas received a six-year sentence on Wednesday.
>>New Layout For Providence's Kennedy Plaza Revealed
(Providence, RI) -- The geographic center of Providence is being reimagined in plans that were made public on Wednesday. London-based design firm Arup teamed up with the city to come up with a number of changes to the Kennedy Plaza area. They include replacing the current ice rink with a larger skating surface that would double as a splash park during the summer. The project, which is estimated to cost 140-million dollars, is being promoted in conjunction with a new plan from state transit officials for a multi-hub bus system, replacing the current central Kennedy Plaza hub.
>>Friars Men's Hoops Team Eliminated From Big East Tournament
(New York, NY) -- The Providence College men's basketball team was bounced out of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday. PC lost to DePaul, 70-to-62. The Friars finish the season with a 13-and-14 record.
50 and over only Providence residents who live in 02905, 02907, 02908, 02909 can be vaccinated.
All Veterans can now be vaccinated – contact the VA.
URI, PC, Bryant and Brown have canceled spring break.
Vermont’s number of new coronavirus cases in the state is increasing, but cases among older Vermonters and deaths continue to decline.
In Massachusetts, unions have proposed having firefighters administer vaccines to educators, who become eligible to sign up for their shots later this week, to make the process faster and more convenient.
Only 65% of Cranston school children returned to school this week – though 80% expressed interest in going back.
Maria’s Cucina on Broadway in Providence reopens March 11th.
Vaccinations for Newport and Providence residents who are 65 or older are available by Lifespan – request an appointment by calling (401) 475-SHOT, from 8am to 5pm, weekdays, or on Lifespan’s website at lifespan.org/covid.
Massachusetts education officials are requiring both elementary school and middle school students to return to classrooms full-time next month, taking hybrid and remote learning options off the table for districts as meeting the required student learning time hours as of April 5, meaning districts and schools must shift their learning model for elementary school grade levels to full-time, in-person instruction five days per week by that date. For middle schools, the date is April 28.
Giusto, the restaurant in Hammett’s Hotel, Newport, reopened this week.
Pawtucket is preparing to open up coronavirus vaccine appointments to all city residents 50 and older. The vaccines are expected to be made available starting the week of March 15. Priority will still be given to residents 65 and older.
Governor’s Press Conference on students/school staff vaccinations:
With over 30 cities/towns cooperation and leadership, by the end of March, statewide, they will vaccinate all teachers & staff, K-12. 18,500 are expected to be vaccinated with their first shots in March; 2nd in April. Providence will do the same using alternate cooperative means.
This initiative agrees with President Biden’s initiative to do the same nationwide.
This effort is separate from, but in addition to, CVS & Walgreens initiative to vaccinate teachers/staff.
Childcare – all personnel who are involved in any way with regular service to public, private and parochial childcare
Initiative to start as early as this weekend.
Do not call cities/towns – you will be contacted by city/town where you WORK, not where you LIVE.
Dr. Scott – great momentum in vaccination campaign in RI – we are remaining on schedule to next groups in timeline – next are 60-64 and people 16-64 with underlying health conditions. Target is mid-March for these groups.
Federal govt overallocated vaccine for pharmacies and RI has been able to take that back for this program.
Commissioner Infante-Green – Providence vaccination program: Clinics will be run by Partnership for RI – Lifespan – 2 days/week for 2 weeks – designated just for school staff.
Q: Goal to accomplish by end of March?
A: Yes, first shot by end of March.
Q: State sites vs. local sites
A: Just as important – we can be site specific in cities/towns
Q: Over 60 and those who have underlying conditions – will this slow that down?
A: Teachers are our priority – end of story.
Q: What about other sectors – front line workers, etc.
A: We are getting so much more vaccine, so fast – we will build on that capacity.
Q: What about people who are sick – have cancer, etc. – and can’t get their vaccine?
A: Make your appointments as they open up.
Q: Hesitancy among teachers to get vaccinated?
A: Hopefully not, but all communities have some people who hesitate. Most teachers seem to be clamoring for the shot.
From Statement of Governor:
Rhode Island is partnering with cities and towns to get first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all K-12 teachers, school staff, and child care workers by the end of the month.
“Getting our teachers, school staff, and child care workers vaccinated is one of the best things we can do right now to support students, families, schools, and our economy,” said Governor McKee. “Here in Rhode Island, we’ve heard President Biden’s directive, and his goal is our goal. Child care and in-person learning are essential services, and we should treat them that way. I want to thank the leadership of our cities and towns for stepping up to help us meet this moment and get these workers vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and safely.”
Teachers, school staff, and child care workers at centers and family child care sites licensed by the Rhode Island (DHS) will be vaccinated at the existing 30 city- and town-operated clinics throughout Rhode Island. Some clinics are serving more than one community. School staff includes administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, clerical staff, custodial or maintenance staff, bus drivers and bus monitors.
Clinics will be open to teachers and staff from public, private, parochial, and independent schools. Many will start vaccinating on Friday and Saturday. This week, municipal Emergency Management Agency Directors will reach out to school leaders (district superintendents, charter school leaders, non-public school leaders) and DHS licensees for child care centers to share information about how they can get vaccinated. People will be vaccinated based on the community where they work, not where they live. After doing first doses in March, these clinics will start administering second doses in April.
Given the high volume of staff and the large number of child care workers in Providence, the city of Providence will use an alternate approach. Through support from the Partnership for Rhode Island and Lifespan, a designated clinic for Providence teachers, school staff and licensed child care workers has been established for three weeks at 335R Prairie Ave., Providence, RI 02905. Beginning Wednesday, March 10, eligible individuals can call (401) 444-8139 to schedule an appointment.
“Our teachers and school staff are and always have been, a top priority. We know that our classrooms are spaces that should be protected in any way we can in order to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students, especially in these challenging times,” said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.
In addition to getting vaccinated at city- and town-run clinics, teachers are also able to make appointments at select CVS and Walgreens locations. Teachers, school staff, and child care workers are not currently eligible to get vaccinated at one of the State-run sites.
Rhode Island will remain on schedule for the next groups in its vaccination timeline because 14,040 doses of surplus vaccine from the long-term care facility pharmacy partnership are being reintegrated into Rhode Island’s general inventory. In mid-March, RIDOH anticipates opening eligibility to the next groups in the timeline: people who are 60 to 64 years old and people who are 16 to 64 with specific underlying health conditions.
Clarification on age prioritization in vaccinations from Governor:
“As the Governor said during the briefing today, the schedule for vaccination eligibility has not changed. The plan has always been to open eligibility for people 60 to 64 and people 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions in mid-March. We expect to have additional information on that in a few days. We encourage Rhode Islanders to make an appointment when they become eligible based on the timeline established by the Rhode Island Department of Health.”
Providence residents, 50+, specific zip code residents-only:
Vaccine clinics managed by the Providence Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will continue to be accessible to all eligible Providence residents ages 65 and older as well as those who are 50 and older in the hard-hit zip codes of 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908 and 02909. “I am glad to see the expansion of the vaccines to include 02904 and 02905 zip codes. We must do everything we can to get as many people 50+ vaccinated, especially those in multi-generational households, and that are part of our historically marginalized communities,” said Providence City Council President Sabina Matos. “I now hope that we can also work to address the issues of vaccinating residents with co-morbidities and underlying health conditions. I also want to thank all the community partners and volunteers who are working day in and day out to ensure that shots get in arms.” Providence residents ages 65 and older or 50 and older living in zip codes 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909 are encouraged to register for vaccine clinics through the City’s online portal VaccinatePVD.com. They can also call 3-1-1 or (401) 421-2489. Representatives are available to help fill out the registration form on the constituents’ behalf in English or Spanish.
From City of Warwick regarding water and sewer accounts with overdue balances:
Customers with delinquent water and sewer accounts have been given a warning about shutting off services with long overdue balances. In the past, customers could enter a payment plan to avoid shut off if they put 50% of what they owed down. The Mayor has since reduced that number to 25% down. To assist residents with outstanding bills, Westbay Community Action is offering to help. To find out if they qualify, residents can call 401-732-4660. “We have a number of ways the city can work with customers to get their accounts in good standing. I know how tough it’s been during this pandemic and we are here to help. We will not be shutting off service to those who make a payment arrangement. “said Mayor Frank Picozzi.
Urgent cautions being issued to spring breakers in hopes of preventing a surge.
Hospitals are reporting the “third wave” of COVID-19 is over.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are being discouraged.
More than two-thirds of Americans 75 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine
Vaccines are expected to be plentiful by April.
New York will lower the vaccine eligibility threshold from age 65 to 60 this week
Many summer camps will make a return this summer – after 80% of overnight camps shuttered.
About 78% of people who were hospitalized, placed on a ventilator or died from COVID were overweight or obese
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that about 55,000 high schoolers who signed up for in-person classes last fall will be able to return to school buildings starting March 22.
60.1 percent of respondents consumed more alcohol than they did before the pandemic, according to an NIH study.
Since 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has connected over four million students from low income families to low-cost, high speed internet
Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains will now include private rooms for select trains traveling overnight between Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York, officials said. The rooms will be available on trains beginning April 5.
Johnson & Johnson has told the European Union it is facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year,
VBI Vaccines Announces Initiation of Enrollment in Adaptive Phase 1/2 Study of Prophylactic COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate, VBI-2902
Italy’s state-run railways will operate “Covid-free” high-speed trains on the Rome-Milan route starting next month
Promising preclinical experiments show that, under specific and monitored conditions, ultraviolet-A (UVA) exposure reduces certain bacteria, fungi, and viruses including coronavirus-229E without harming mammalian columnar epithelial cells. We aimed to evaluate the safety and effects of UVA therapy administered by a novel device via endotracheal tube in critically ill subjects with SARS-CoV-2 infection. (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.05.21252997v1)
Up to four people from two households can meet outside in Scotland from Friday. it includes social and recreational purposes and can be in private gardens.
California rolled out a statewide COVID vaccination website this week aiming to streamline the appointment process after months of criticism, but the site is riddled with its own snags, preventing many from signing up for shots.
At least 21 journalists have died from COVID-19 in the past month throughout the world.
10% of the village of Corzano, Italy has the #B117 variant—10% of all residents! 60% of cases are kids from kindergarten and primary school, other 40% are their parents, says the mayor. Schools in the village now closed.
By Herb Weiss, contributing writer on aging issues
Everyone has heard of the ago old proverb, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” After being tricked once, hopefully a person learns from one’s mistakes and avoids being tricked in the same way again. But for many victims of financial fraud, this is not the case. Last week, AARP, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) and Heart+Mind Strategies released a four-phase study that identifies evidence-based ways to help repeat victims of financial fraud and their families to avoid being tricked again.
The study’s researchers note that over the years intervention strategies have generally remained the same, while the sophistication of the scammers continues to evolve. This new study, “Addressing the Challenge of Chronic Fraud Victimization,” released on March 4, provides “new thinking” as to how to support victims of financial fraud and scams who are repeated targeted and fall victim to sophisticated scammers.
According to the study, some of the common tactics used savvy scammers include: playing upon fear, need, excitement, and urgency; making threats; creating a belief of scarcity; using the victim’s personal life and history to create trust; and using emotional stimuli, like hope of winning a prize or finding love, to lure in the victim. The Chronic Fraud Victimization study, published during National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), scheduled from February 28 to March 6, uses a behavior model to help illuminate factors that may contribute to repeat or chronic victimization by financial fraud schemes.
Taking a Look at Chronic Fraud Victimization
According to AARP, “about one-in-ten U.S. adults are victims of fraud each year, losing billions of dollars annually to criminals through a variety of scams, including natural disaster scams, fake charities, fake prize promotions, and government imposter scams, such as Social Security and Medicare scams.”
“The drivers behind chronic fraud victimization have remained a mystery, so this study is an important step to being able to stop the cycle,” said Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs and leader of the AARP Fraud Watch Network in a statement announcing the release of the study findings on March 4. “Chronic fraud can give targets and their families a sense of helplessness. By gaining a better understanding of the target’s drivers, we are hopeful there can be more meaningful interventions to disrupt and end the cycle,” notes Stokes.
Last year, the FINRA Foundation and the AARP Fraud Watch Network engaged Heart+Mind Strategies to deploy a four-phased study of chronic fraud victimization to uncover evidence-based concepts for effective interventions. The study’s goal was to generate new ways of thinking as to how to best support the individuals and families repeatedly targeted and victimized by financial scams and fraud. The study’s researchers accomplished this goal by reviewing existing literature, interviewing subject matter experts, chronic victims of financial fraud, and family members of victims, and finally, hosting two expert roundtables as a part of the study.“This research provides a new lens through which to identify key intervention strategies that could disrupt the cycle of chronic fraud victimization at one or more points along the path to victimization,” adds Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Foundation. “We hope it stimulates additional attention to the need for effective interventions that may reduce chronic fraud victimization,” she says.The 13-page study found that chronic fraud victimization may be a consequence of chronic susceptibility due to certain situational factors that disrupt judgement and derail good intentions. The researchers say that one of the most effective ways to reduce chronic fraud victimization may be to reduce chronic susceptibility. However, they note that chronic susceptibility can be challenging to identify and address. The study offers ideas for managing other factors, such as triggers that elicit an emotional response and the ability to access funds, which may be more scalable ways to reduce fraud victimization rates or counteract the negative consequences associated with being a victim. The study identified the importance of fraud education but acknowledged that victims or would-be victims do not consider themselves as such, and consequently may not seek out help or absorb anti-fraud messaging. So, creating more in-the-moment education and intervention opportunities could be more effective approach, say the researchers. Partnering with clergy and counselors, or locations such as hair salons and churches, could provide more powerful messages and tools for potential or repeat victims, they note.The researchers concluded that preventing chronic fraud victimization is a challenging task in the absence of interventions and individualized support. However, even after a person has been scammed, intervention is possible to lessen chronic fraud victimization and its impact.
Free Resources to Turn To
Anyone who suspects a fraud or has a family member experiencing chronic fraud can call the free AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information. The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that equips consumers with up-to-date knowledge to spot and avoid scams, and connects those targeted by scams with fraud helpline specialists, who provide support and guidance on what to do next. The Fraud Watch Network also advocates at the federal, state and local levels?to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.Investors with questions or concerns surrounding their brokerage accounts and investments can also contact the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors toll free at 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. FINRA staff can help investors with concerns about potential fraud or unsuitable or excessive trading; answer questions about account statements or basic investment concepts, and assist beneficiaries who are having trouble locating or transferring their deceased parents’ assets.
According to AARP, the Washington, DC-based aging group and FINRA Foundation have a long history of collaboration on research and programs that explore and combat financial fraud. Working together, the Foundation and AARP Fraud Watch Network’s fraud fighter call centers, have conducted outreach to more than 1.7 million consumers, enabling them to identify, avoid and report financial fraud.National Consumer Protection Week is a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed financial decisions about money.
Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island is expanding coronavirus vaccine access to educators and childcare workers. Two dirt bike riders are arrested after a pursuit in Cranston and Providence. More details about a submarine that caught fire in a Providence scrapyard.
>>Governor Shares Plan To Get COVID Shots To Educators
(Pawtucket, RI) -- The state of Rhode Island plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine to over 18-thousand teachers, school staff and childcare workers by the end of this month. Governor Dan McKee said Tuesday that the state would be following President Biden's directive to prioritize educators, and that this is being done because children are a top priority. People under 65 with underlying health conditions remain ineligible, but state officials say their time to get the shot is coming soon. It was announced yesterday that the educator vaccine effort will be done through municipal clinics, except for Providence Public Schools, which will work with Lifespan.
>>Vaccine Eligibility Expands For Two More Providence Zip Codes
(Providence, RI) -- The city of Providence is expanding COVID-19 vaccine availability to anyone 50 and older in two zip codes. Those are: 02904 and 02905. The city has already expanded eligibility for the 50-plus crowd to three other zip codes, ending in 07, 08 and 09. More information can be found on the website VaccinatePVD.com.
>>Two Dirt Bike Riders Arrested After Pursuit
(Providence, RI) -- Two people were arrested following a police pursuit of dirt bikes through Providence and Cranston streets on Tuesday. The pursuit reportedly ended on the Route 10 onramp from Elmwood Avenue on the border between the cities at around 5 p.m. In a statement reported by WJAR-TV, Providence Major Jorge Elorza said the incident was another example of the danger illegal bikes pose to the city. Elorza said his administration is looking into requiring new bikes be registered and insured before they can be purchased.
>>Submarine That Caught Fire Was Used For Movie
(Providence, RI) -- A Russian submarine once used in the Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson movie "K-19: The Widowmaker" caught fire in Providence on Tuesday. The submarine was being taken apart in a scrapyard off Allens Avenue when the fire on its hull was started through the use of blowtorches. The vessel had a long post-Cold War history that included being used as a floating museum after it was acquired by the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation in Rhode Island. It sank during a storm in 2007.
>>State Senate Confirms Public Utilities Commission Nominee
(Providence, RI) -- Former Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader John "Jack" Revens is being confirmed to a term on the state's Public Utilities Commission. The state Senate voted 29-to-9 to confirm on Tuesday. The nomination was noteworthy because it was made by Governor Gina Raimondo in her last days in office before resigning to become the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
>>DEM Warns About Invasive Species In Retail Product
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is alerting pet shops and fish tank owners about an invasive species presence in certain products sold in stores. The Zebra mussel has been found in "moss balls", an aquarium plant product sold nationwide. The RI DEM notified more than fifty businesses over the weekend of the possible contamination. The state says the moss balls must be destroyed only by freezing, boiling or bleaching them and then disposing of them in the trash in a sealed container.
STATEMENT BY AARP RHODE ISLAND STATE DIRECTOR KATHLEEN CONNELL:
AARP Rhode Island is still waiting for a more transparent, age-prioritized state vaccination plan that includes an efficient and effective centralized registration and appointment system. Our first call for transparency was on January 8. Subsequently, AARP, our members and thousands of other Rhode Islanders have sent letters and petitions to Governors Raimondo and McKee on age prioritization and a centralized system serving all distribution sites. It’s been 64 days. Yet the state plan – such as it is – remains opaque, confusing and constantly changing. Meanwhile, 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the state have been among Rhode Islanders 50 and older and 77% of hospitalizations have been patients 50+. This must not continue.
AARP is today renewing its call, urging Governor McKee to address the criteria outlined in AARP Rhode Island’s “Roadmap for Improvement” and commit to an age-prioritized state plan that serves those who are most vulnerable. Truly a matter of life and death, it is imperative the state gets this right. On day 64, older Rhode Islanders are still waiting for an end to confusion, chaos and uncertainty surrounding the state’s plan and how it is being executed.
A Roadmap for Improvement
Prioritize Older Residents – Since the start of the pandemic, 99 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people age 50 and older. That is why it is critical that older adults be prioritized to receive these vaccines and the associated appointments.
A Centralized, Equitable, Accessible, User-Friendly, Vaccination Appointment System – All consumers must have access to a one-stop means of scheduling a vaccination. This is key to ensuring transparency and effective vaccine distribution and program management. Critical elements of any system must include the elements below.
1) a simple one stop appointment information and sign-up website requiring only minimum personal information
2) a centralized, well-staffed, toll-free, phone number to ensure all citizens are able to find and register for vaccination appointments by telephone
3) a variety of languages available to those seeking vaccination appointments.
4) options for homebound individuals that bring the vaccine to them i.e. mobile clinics that are aligned with prioritization tiered approach.
5) an effective appointment confirmation system is also critical – and that appointments made by phone are confirmed by phone
6) an effective system for scheduling a second dose of the vaccine, as required
7) a processes to identify any accessibility issues that may need to be addressed
Transparency of Data and Plans Related to Infections, Hospitalizations, Deaths, Vaccinations, and Appointments–citizens deserve a weekly, if not daily, update on all data available around the COVID 19 pandemic and the vaccination efforts in Rhode Island. A centralized appointment system is key to transparency and information needed to adjust and improve any vaccination efforts. The minimum data Rhode Island citizens should be updated on must include but not be limited to:
1) Vaccination appointment system plans, challenges, and successes.
2) List of Team Members and Vendors Developing and Managing Vaccination Program in RI.
3) An abundance of data that provides a dashboard for measuring vaccination progress as well as detailed data that tracks registration (appointments made, shots delivered, variances recorded) by zip code, age and race, as well web site and phone center performance data (including average caller wait times and average wait times at distribution sites).
Monday morning, the CDC took to a video conference call to review interim guidelines for post-vaccinated people; guidelines that have been expected for over a week.
This is the first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. This guidance will be updated and expanded based on the level of community spread of SARS-CoV-2, the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated, and the rapidly evolving science on COVID-19 vaccines.
For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen ).†
The following recommendations apply to non-healthcare settings.
Fully vaccinated people can:
Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
Photo: Dr. Fauci – has given his personal model of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The model will be housed within the national medicine and science collections. Fauci has used the blue and pink spikey ball as an educational tool over the past 13 months to explain COVID-19 in briefings to members of Congress, journalists, and the public. The model was made with a 3D printer and shows the various components of the complete, infectious form of the virus including the spike protein–a key characteristic of the virus that allows it to penetrate host cells and cause infection.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
This morning, Gov. McKee will announce a plan to vaccinate school teachers and personnel.
The AARP Rhode Island is concerned that the age-priority for vaccinations will be lost in the plan to now vaccinate school personnel and the changes are not being done properly.
The U.S. Small Business Administration in Providence announced has scheduled two webinars this week for small business owners who want to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans. The agency said only a few weeks remain to apply, and because there are udates to the program, the webinars will help people increase their maximum loan amount. The webinars are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Walgreens added then removed teachers from their RI list of categories – “We apologize for the confusion this caused our customers, and will continue to work hand in hand with the state of Rhode Island to vaccinate our most vulnerable patients as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement. CVS locations are also providing vaccinations for teachers and school staff.
Pawtucket will begin to take over 50 registrations on their list for vaccine availability. The form will serve as a contact list for residents to submit their information and be contacted by the BEAT COVID-19 team when an upcoming clinic they are eligible for is announced by the RI Department of Health. Currently, there is no vaccine clinic information though the City anticipates that vaccines will be made available to the 50 and over population the week of March 15th. Residents are required to provide information including their name, date of birth, street address, telephone number, and email in order to be placed on the contact list. This form does not serve as preregistration for a clinic and residents are still required to consult the Pawtucket website or call the BEAT COVID-19 hotline to register for an individual clinic once they are notified that they qualify. Registration on the form does not guarantee the resident a spot in the next vaccination clinic and all clinics are still on a first-come-first-serve basis. Go to: www.PawtucketRI.com/Covid19 to put your name on the list.
The variant in RI is doubling every 10 days – this will give us a spike, but we can avoid it if we do a good job with vaccinations.
Mass. reports 343 new coronavirus cases among public school students, 133 among school staff members
Organizers of Bristol 4th of July Parade and Gaspee Days Parade are in full planning mode.
Massachusetts educators groups have booked 25K vaccination appointments at CVS.
Cranston Elementary and Middle School began in-person on Monday – option out still available
The Providence VA Healthcare System reports more than 28,000 remote appointments within the first 5 months of 2021
Mt. St. Charles Academy will begin in-person this week
No. Attleboro kindergarten – 4 days in class/1 at home
Massachusetts mass vaccination sites at Fenway, Gillette costing $1.1 million a week
Rhode Island Department of Labor has received 899,505 unemployment insurance claims, and 382,683 of those turned out to be suspected or confirmed fraud, the agency said in releasing that fraud data for the first time – 43% of all claims.
Blackie’s Restaurant will reopen.
Standardized testing will be given to RI students this spring.
Members of the Union Fire District have been helping transport elderly patients to and from their vehicles at the clinic, which is located at the South Road Elementary School building in South Kingstown.
Wednesday marks one year of living under a state of emergency in Massachusetts.
CVS has added 14 new stores to their resource of vaccination sites.
Massachusetts education officials announced they plan to postpone this spring’s MCAS testing in an effort to ensure a smooth reopening of schools.
Visitation begins again at New Bedford nursing homes.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills said as of Friday, travelers from Massachusetts are allowed to visit without requiring testing or quarantine.
Nineteen Massachusetts communities are in the Red category this week, which indicates the highest level of COVID-19 spread. That’s down from 28 last week, but West Bridgewater remains the highest.
Pawtucket has added Simpsons Pharmacy as a vaccine site for people over age 65
Providence is vaccinating everyone over 65, those over age 50 in the following zip codes 02907, 02908 or 02909, and Clinica Esperanza will vaccinate residents 18 and older provided they also help register and bring an older adult aged 65 or older to be vaccinated. Both individuals must live in the 02907, 02908 or 02909 zip codes.
The Iditarod, Alaska’s legendary long-distance sled dog race, began Sunday despite the threat of coronavirus. The route, usually almost 1,000 miles, has been modified to avoid most communities and will be roughly 100 miles shorter than usual.
The French government is discussing conditions that would allow bars and restaurants to reopen with representatives from the hospitality industry. Speaking at the weekly press conference on Covid-19 today, Prime Minister Jean Castex said “we might be able to loosen some restrictions” by mid-April, “that’s our clear objective.”
FDA issues an EUA for the Cue COVID-19 Test for Home and OTC Use, a molecular nucleic acid amplification test and the first molecular test authorized for OTC without a prescription.
Some people are reporting skin irritations after receiving the Moderna vaccination, but it goes away in a few days.
Republican lawmakers conducted their own hearing Friday on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s management of the pandemic, questioning the handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
Concern growing over the Pope’s visit and huge masses he will hold in the Mideast – that the events may be super-spreaders
Baltimore strippers are back to work after the city lifted a pandemic-related shutdown of gentlemen’s clubs, in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the clubs.
In the US, most flu seasons, somewhere between 100 and 200 children die from flu; so far this season there has been one pediatric flu death.
Dr. Fauci told military families that service members who refuse to take the vaccine are “inadvertently being part of the problem” and urged them to trust the expert who cleared the vaccines and follow public health guidelines.
Abbott said it has received emergency use authorization from the FDA for a test that can detect and differentiate the coronavirus, influenza A, influenza B and respiratory syncytial virus.
Hong Kong’s city’s vaccine program will expand to include more priority groups including teachers and delivery workers, and cab drivers as fears grow over a series of adverse reactions following the vaccine rollout.
CLEAR, the digital identity used in airports, is joining forces with CommonPass, a health app that lets you securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, Axios’ Erica Pandey writes. The result is an app that’ll tell planes you’re cleared to fly, arenas you’re cleared to watch the ball game, and casinos you’re cleared to head to the slots.
“A 2.3% jump in overweight dogs in a year is significant. It’s among the biggest increases we’ve seen over the past decade,” a period of rising pet obesity, attributed to COVID-19 at-home time, Dr. McAllister says.
Chip Sander, hotel consultant predicts a year or a year and a half before hotels are once again profitable.
Switzerland announces plan to give every resident five free tests per month
So. Carolina releases mask mandates.
Great apes at San Diego Zoo become first non-humans to receive COVID-19 vaccine
Health Canada approves use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Canada
Amazon increasing sales of N95 masks, per request of the US government.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found people with a BMI above 30 had a113% higher risk for hospitalization, a 74% higher risk for ICU admission and a 48% higher risk of death.
Many small independent pharmacies in rural areas of America are waiting for their vaccine delivery to be able to vaccinate their communities.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Rhode Island's governor plans to talk today about getting the COVID-19 vaccine to educators in the Ocean State. A North Providence doctor accused of knowingly exposing people to COVID has had his license restored. Cranston authorities are warning about an increase in catalytic converter thefts.
[[ watch for updates ]]
>>Governor To Discuss Vaccines For Educators; Walgreens Offering Shots To Group
(Providence, RI) -- The wheels are turning to get the COVID-19 vaccine to Rhode Islanders working in the education and childcare system. Governor Dan McKee is expected to talk about the plan to get the shots out to those groups this morning. Meanwhile, Walgreens says it has opened vaccine appointments to school staff and childcare workers, joining CVS. According to a report from WPRI-TV, Walgreens apologized Monday for any confusion that was caused by shifting around eligibility requirements on its website a number of times in recent days.
>>Sinclair Cuts Impact Providence Station
(Providence, RI) -- Sinclair Broadcasting Group's recently-announced job cuts across its nationwide network of local news stations include positions at WJAR-TV in Providence. A spokesperson tells the Journal nine workers at Channel 10 are impacted. All on-air talent jobs were retained.
>>Red Sox Pitcher, CCRI Alum Rheal Cormier Dies
(Undated) -- Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Rheal Cormier [[ ree-ALL CORE-me-ay ]] has died. Cormier attended Community College of Rhode Island in the late 80s and earned All-America honors, according to MLB.com. He had a lengthy Major League career including two stints with the Red Sox in 1995, 1999 and 2000. Cormier was 53.
>>Doctor Accused Of Deliberate COVID Exposure Reinstated
(North Providence, RI) -- A North Providence doctor who was suspended for allegedly exposing his patients to the coronavirus, and doing so deliberately, has gotten his license back. The state public health department suspended Dr. Anthony G. Farina Jr. in January because of stated concerns that his practice would constitute an immediate danger to the public. The health department said this week it was later-determined that was no-longer the case. Farina denied the allegations.
>>Proposed High School Merger Appears To Have Lackluster Support
(Newport, RI) -- Hope appears to have been abandoned for a proposed high school merger between Middletown and Newport. Citizens Exploring School Unification, a nonprofit formed a few years ago to explore the possibility of combining Middletown and Rogers High Schools, disbanded last month. The group says there does not appear to be a political will on Aquidneck Island for such regionalization.
>>Cranston PD Warns About Catalytic Converter Thefts
(Cranston, RI) -- The Cranston Police Department is reporting a recent increase in reported thefts of catalytic converters from cars. The Cranston PD is asking local scrap metal dealers to be on the lookout. Police are also requesting tips from anyone who witnesses suspicious activity around car dealerships, parking lots, or other place vehicles are parked.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be sworn in as your Governor today. It’s one that I will never take lightly because Rhode Island has always been my home.
I want to recognize and thank my family — my wife Susan, my daughter Kara, my son Matt and my soon-to-be daughter in law, Laura — for the support they have given me. I also want to thank my mom, who is 92 years old and watching safely from home today. This week, she received her second Coronavirus vaccine and I’m almost as excited as she is.
I know this is not a typical inauguration celebration. We are one year into a once-in-a-century public health crisis. Too many Rhode Islanders are struggling. Everyone has missed loved ones. Many have lost their job or lost a business they had built for decades. So many have lost friends and family members to this virus.
This past year has been hard on all of us. But as we reflect on all that we’ve been through, we must also remember the heroism and resolve that Rhode Islanders have shown in our hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms, public safety organizations, local shops and our own living rooms each day and each night. I would like to thank Secretary Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott and General Callahan for their leadership during these difficult times.
Today, we move forward. Today, is about our future.
Together, we’re going to keep Rhode Islanders healthy. We’re going to get us back to work. We’re going to get teachers and students safely back in school. We’re going to get our businesses back in business. And we’re going to make sure that families in all 39 cities and towns not only recover, but come back stronger.
Thankfully, the vaccines are here and we’re getting shots in arms. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And there’s reason to have hope.
Right now, I ask Rhode Islanders to join me, to come together as a team, and meet this moment.
We’re going to get the job done.
And that job is mobilizing every aspect of state government and engaging elected leaders, educators, first responders, and civic and church leaders in all 39 cities and towns to reach our goal of fully vaccinating Rhode Islanders as quickly as possible.
Getting everyone vaccinated is priority number one. But we also know this isn’t just a public health crisis. We are in an economic crisis. Our families, small businesses, workers and students are struggling. And our communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted.
But even with all of these challenges facing our state, here’s my message to Rhode Island today: We will get through this, together. We are getting through this, together. And we will come out of this crisis a stronger, better Rhode Island.
Before I entered politics, I was a small business owner. Before that, I was a Boys & Girls Club kid. I grew up at the club that my dad and his friends started in our town. I became President of that Boys & Girls Club, then left the board room and went into the gym to coach basketball for over a decade.
There, on the basketball court, I learned a philosophy that I took to Cumberland Town Hall, to my office as Lieutenant Governor, and that I will take to the Governor’s office. That is: Good teams are built when talented individuals do their best. But the best teams, the very best teams, are built when talented individuals use their skills to help others do their very best.
Rhode Island can be better than just a good team. We can be one of the very best.
We will get through these challenging times – and we will rise together to reach our highest potential. By lifting each other up. By making each other better. By working as a team. As a great team.
One that recognizes the sacrifices of nurses, teachers, grocery store workers, those living in isolation and more – a team that rallies around our frontline heroes to get over the finish line.
There is no playbook for this extraordinary moment in Rhode Island’s history. There is no playbook for defeating this virus or for a lieutenant governor becoming governor during a global pandemic.
I want Rhode Islanders to know: My team is prepared to lead and beat COVID-19. And I ask all of you to join us in the huddle and help us make the right calls to keep Rhode Island safe and move us forward, together.
With every decision we make in the months ahead, I am going to be thinking about how to get through the challenges facing all the communities that make up our 39 cities and towns.
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. One team. That is my promise to you.
Thank you for being with me today. Thank you to my staff and my transition team and everyone who made this afternoon possible.
In 2021, let’s stay positive and test negative.
God bless the people of Rhode Island and the men and women who are keeping us safe.”
Governor Daniel J. McKee, 76th Governor, State of Rhode Island – March 6, 2021
Governor McKee was ceremonially sworn in by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea using the McKee family Bible. The Governor’s wife, Susan McKee, held the Bible. She and the Governor were joined by their daughter Kara McKee and their son Matthew McKee and his fiancée Laura Clifford.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The New York Times reports Rhode Island has fallen to the coronavirus pandemic. An inauguration ceremony was held for Governor Dan McKee on Sunday. There is an update in the matter of a fire that killed two young sisters in Providence last December.
>>NYT Report Says Rhode Island "Fell" To COVID In Late 2020
(Undated) -- A new article from The New York Times is putting the Ocean State in an unflattering spotlight regarding the coronavirus pandemic. "How Rhode Island fell" to the pandemic is the headline the newspaper ran over the weekend. The report says things got bad in RI in the fall, and that by December, it earned the distinction of having more cases and deaths per one-hundred-thousand people than any other state; the case rate still puts Rhode Island among the top five states. The NYT report cites the state's population density, second-highest in the country, for causing the spike. Rhode Island's virus death toll as of Friday was over 25-hundred.
>>Vaccinated Can Travel Without Quarantine To RI; Maine Opening Up
(Undated) -- Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine means you no-longer have to quarantine when traveling to Rhode Island. The Providence Journal this was an unannounced part of an executive order signed by former governor Gina Raimondo a week ago and reaffirmed by now-Governor Dan McKee on Friday. In other news related to COVID and regional travel, Maine's governor announced over the weekend that all other New England residents can visit without a quarantine or negative virus test.
>>Governor Dan McKee Is Inaugurated
(Providence, RI) -- An inauguration ceremony was held Sunday for Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, who had already been on the job for several days. The former lieutenant governor took over the state's executive office after Gina Raimondo was confirmed for U.S. Secretary of Commerce. McKee at a State House ceremony yesterday thanked Rhode Islanders for the heroism and resolve they've shown during the coronavirus pandemic and said we'll get through the multiple challenges it has created, together.
>>Attorney General Files Opposition Motion To Block Island Marina Project
(New Shoreham, RI) -- Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha [[ nair-OH-nuh ]] is filing a court motion in opposition of a planned marina expansion on Block Island. Neronha says the agreement between the Coastal Resources Management Council and Champlin's Realty Associations to allow for the expansion in Great Salt Pond is invalid because it was reached outside the public regulatory process. The A.G.'s office filed a petition to intervene in the matter and was granted the motion by the state Supreme Court last month.
>>DCYF Says Neglect Contributed To Children Deaths In Providence Fire
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families says neglect contributed to the deaths of two girls in a Providence house fire last December. The fire on Lucy Street around Christmastime killed seven-year-old Ashley Sandoval and her two-year-old sister Allison. No charges have been filed in connection to the incident thus far.
>>Teen Killed In Scituate Crash
(Scituate, RI) -- A seventeen-year-old girl was killed in a crash on Route 6 in Scituate on Thursday night. Authorities say the driver was the only occupant in the one-vehicle crash. The victim's identity has not yet been released.
>>Hockey Teams Declared Co-Champs; Schilling Creates Fundraiser For Quetta
(Undated) -- The Rhode Island high school boys' hockey Division One championship scheduled for this past weekend was canceled because of a COVID case. The RI Interscholastic League says Mount Saint Charles and Bishop Hendricken mutually agreed to be co-champions. In other local hockey news, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was behind a tournament that was held this weekend in Walpole, Massachusetts to benefit North Providence native A.J. Quetta, the Mass high school player who was severely injured in a game earlier this year.
Photo: New setting for weekly press conference provides a more conversational, friendly tone.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
The RI National Guard has produced a video about how to register for one of the 2 (eventually 4) mass vaccination sites.
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner launched the Frontline Heroes Fund, new program to provide the children of frontline workers who have passed from COVID-19 with a $2,500 scholarship in a CollegeBound Saver account. COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 2,500 Rhode Islanders. Treasurer Magaziner is launching this program to honor the legacy of the brave frontline workers who have kept the state’s economy running and to support the future success of their families. CollegeBound Saver is a tax-advantaged savings plan that allows Rhode Islanders to affordably save for higher education. Savings can be used at accredited colleges, universities, trade, and vocational schools worldwide, as well as for registered apprenticeship programs.
After meeting conference, institutional and RIDOH COVID protocols for contract tracing and return to play, Bryant has confirmed its intent to participate in the 2021 NEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.”
Four new cases of the “U.K. variant” coronavirus strain were identified in Rhode Island on Tuesday, the state Department of Health said, bringing the total number of cases found in the state to seven.
More than 500,000 Connecticut residents between 55 and 64 years old became eligible this week for COVID-19 vaccinations, but Gov. Ned Lamont warned it could take more than three weeks for the majority to get their first shot.
The Little Sisters of the Poor will hold its annual St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser at The Old Grist Mill Tavern on Wednesday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This year the format is carry out.
The Old Grist Mill Tavern has hosted an annual event for the Little Sisters of the Poor for St. Patrick’s Day – the 2021 dinner, while a take-out format, will be exactly the same as past years: corned beef and cabbage prepared by the Old Grist Mill Tavern culinary team, along with the traditional accompaniments that guests have come to enjoy including soup, salad, sides, Irish soda bread, and dessert. The cost of the dinner is $17 for adults and $7.50 for children under the age of 12. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance.
RI will open two more state-run mass vaccination sites, including the former Sears building in Woonsocket.
Valley Breeze reports that “With some estimates finding that the city of Pawtucket could be in line to receive nearly $60 million through the federal stimulus plan now under consideration.”
An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Vermont state prison in Newport has grown to 100 inmates and eight staff members,
United Way of RI says they have received 90,000+ phone calls to their help line, 2-1-1 about the pandemic.
URI’s Rhody Hillel will hold a virtual reunion on March 14th.
Student-athletes at Salve Regina University are pleased that the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Coast Conference approved its plan to return to competition.
For those 65 or older and live in Newport or Middletown, a limited amount of spots are available for a clinic being held Friday at the CCRI site in Newport. Click here to reserve an appointment.
Department of Public Works in Tiverton will continue to be shorthanded after two more workers returned a positive test. They refer to many employees coming down with an “infestation of COVID”.
The Vermont National Guard-run clinics in South Burlington on Friday and this weekend still had numerous available appointments for first-dose vaccines for people 65 and older.
The Lisbon, Maine Town Council has voted to skip the Moxie Festival this summer.
A mass vaccination site by appointment only for this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a goal of inoculating 10,000 people.
Dr. Ranney is predicting a back-to-normal in August though masks may not go away.
The Newport St. Patrick’s Day will not be held this year – they may reschedule to the fall.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will livestream St. Patrick’s Day Mass this year. Maine Catholics have numerous other events planned for St. Patrick’s Day week, including a “virtual party” via Zoom from Our Lady of Hope Parish on March 15.
Bishop Tobin issued a recommendation that if people had a choice on a vaccine, to opt for the Moderna or Pfizer shot, but if there is no choice, it is absolutely ok to take the shot. The fetal cell line used in research is from decades ago – which has been widely replicated over the years, far distant from any medical policy now.
In Gloucester, MA: Teachers will be eligible to register for vaccines starting March 11
The mass vaccination site at Fenway Park will begin to transfer operations to the Hynes Convention Center later this month.
Educators can now start up on March 11th on the state of Massachusetts’ website…
Governor Dan McKee and his wife Susan received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this morning at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Reported by the Newport Daily News: Restore Greater Newport, a task force formed by the chamber and other industry leaders in March 2020 to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local business, announced a list of six recommended actions at a Tuesday morning press conference it hopes will aid Newport-area businesses recovering from the pandemic and moving into the 2021 summer tourism season. Two of the task force’s recommendations focus on aid to the tourism and hospitality industry, which Donovan-Boyle called a key business sector in the Greater Newport region. The task force is asking the state to develop and communicate a reopening plan for the tourism industry and identify state funding for regional travel marketing.
Gov. McKee’s first press conference
Gov. reviewed his day yesterday visiting vaccination sites, small businesses, and local churches to discuss outreach.
Doing approx.. 8K shots per day in RI.
Teacher vaccination: RI adopts this as a goal. More to say on that next week. Right now, CVS is doing this, at limited capacity.
More than 80% of Rhode Islanders over 75 have been vaccinated. More than 60% over 64-75 have been vaccinated. 46,000 more appts scheduled between now and March 13th.
Double down on wearing masks, and being vigilant, knowing that variants are around.
March 14th – will be next date for flexibility on our businesses.
Need to get vaccine out of inventory and into arms. Support our communities as they move to regional sites. Open more state sites. Vaccinate more school staff.
Dr. Scott reviewed data:
375 new cases – 1.9% positivity – we’ve basically stayed the same over time with a few increases in some communities. 4 new variant cases in RI. Hospitalization data continue to improve, down about 73% from peak in Nov/Dec. Sadly, 5 new deaths. Overall fatality data continues to hold steady. 84% decrease from December peak.
3 public channels – retail pharmacies; regional/municipal clinics; 2 state run sites. – we will open new sites in Middletown and Woonsocket. State run sites ages 65+. Educators will be vaccinated with a mid-March target.
Jansson (J&J vaccine) is starting to come in. Rec’d 9,100 doses and are distributing them now. Also will be for homebound individuals soon.
Hardest hit communities: Central Falls is good news – 34% of adults have had at least one dose. 93% 65+ have rec’d at least one dose. 63% decrease in cases. Other communities need attention: Pawtucket and specific areas of Providence. We have the model that we tested in CF.
Testing program for businesses: Free rapid test kits available for businesses. To learn more go to: help.ri.gov for announcement.
New round of serology testing: looking for antibodies for COVID-19. 10K randomly selected households now available through March 12th.
Treatment: we have very effective treatments – covid.ri.gov/treatment – treatment available with or without insurance.
Education Commissioner Infante-Green:
It was a breath of relief for all of us for Gov. McKee to “side with us” that school staff are essential and a priority.
Stefan Pryor – CommerceRI
4 areas of revision
Gyms, fitness centers – changing capacity limits from 1 person to 125 sq. ft. to 100 sq. ft. Density increases. There is an exception process for smaller studios where they can describe specifics such as testing, plexiglass, etc. – Contact dbr.ri.gov – outdoor fitness activities conducted by professional gyms, etc. – no restrictions as long as people are 6 ft. apart, mask-wearing. Effective now. Creating more guidance for close contact sports facilities such as martial arts, etc.
Restaurants – beginning today increasing capacity from 50% to 66% capacity. Restrictions on table seating and households are still in effect. Have not changed bar seating curfew.
Catered events at venues (weddings…) – issuing new guidance on dancing and beginning of April, still anticipate growing numbers to 100 indoors and 150 outdoors. More details including going forward plan so people can plan ahead.
Funeral Homes – incremental relief – current 15 in and 25 out – now 30 indoors and 50 outdoors. Effective tomorrow.
A: Need to watch this – hope there is little chance that we would have to go backwards
Q: When can kids ditch masks?
A: There’s still time for that – masks are necessary – after summer, probably in fall, new reassessments
Q: Next eligibility group – and teachers – still good for mid-March
A: A number of things will dissect to make this possible – fewer partners, more vaccine, pharmacy partnership,
Q: Homebound – is there a plan?
A: Still working on this – working with Vendors. Having list is important to use to build from.
Q: What is deadline to have kids back in classroom?
A: Working closely with municipalities to get teachers vaccinated and working with superintendents to see where we are – part of limitations comes from CDC guidance on bussing and size of classrooms. Don’t think we can give a deadline of April 1st. or any deadline right now. We have 208 schools fully in person. In proportion, more than MA. 99 of them are hybrid. Only 4 schools that are fully virtual. Majority of kids are now in person. MA has not been in school all year.
Q: Where are we with Providence schools progress?
A: We are in the 9th inning – we’re at the tail ending of negotiation.
Q: Serology testing – what are you looking for?
A: It will be interesting to see how far we’ve come – it’s validation for our progress.
Q: Is there any money left for small business?
A: We have several million dollars to put into this left over.
Businesses with compliance problems as of March 1st:
Deaths in hospital – 0 – New Admissions – 18 – New Discharges – 20
Cases by community:
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) was the first to respond to Biden’s remark, writing on Twitter: “President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘Neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” Reeves said. “As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.” – “The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities,” Abbott tweeted. “The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.
In anticipation of the new CDC guidelines advising people what they can and cannot do after being vaccinated, this is outlined by Politico: “The CDC is expected to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals should limit social interactions to small gatherings with family and other vaccinated people, wear masks in public, and continue social distancing. The guidance will also include additional information about where and how vaccinated people should socialize, along with travel considerations. As many states begin relaxing restrictions upon masks and restaurant capacity, the CDC will urge individuals to adhere to mitigation measures to limit the spread of the virus.” Final guidelines should be out this week.
CDC went further to caution states not to open up too soon as one state after the other announced quick changes. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “with these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” Walensky said. “I understand the temptation to do this — 70,000 cases a day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago — but we cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths.”
New stimulus plan, which is not yet approved revises for $1,400 stimulus checks to phase out if you make more than $75,000 as a single filer or over $150,000 as a joint filer. Those no longer eligible are if you have an individual income of over $80,000 or $150,000 while filing jointly, rather than the $100,000 and $200,000 proposed in the House plan. 8 million people who would have received some form of payment under the House plan will no longer be eligible.
One of the new virus variants, B.1.1.7, may be as much as 50 percent more transmissible than earlier types of the virus. That means we should keep wearing face masks, even as some states are lifting mask mandates.
Testing reached its peak of roughly 2 million tests per day in mid-January, but the average number of tests has fallen by nearly a third since then. Experts believe the decrease in testing has largely been driven by recent declines in cases across the country, the end of holiday travel season, and a growing focus on vaccines.
Majority of Small Businesses Not Requiring Employees Get Tested or Vaccinated
South Carolina, Alaska, and Indiana moving quickly to lower ages – vaccinating those over 55, with plans to lower asap.
Senate votes to go into marathon debate over $1.9 trillion stimulus package bill.
New York, one of the first states in the U.S. to implement travel restrictions on domestic visitors last spring, took another step toward relaxing its COVID-19 policies Wednesday by lifting the quarantine and COVID-19 testing restrictions on people who have been vaccinated within 90 days of their second inoculation.
Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, the INM, said Wednesday that it took tourists an average of only one to two minutes to enter the country, to process paperwork and contact info.
International arrivals in Cancun took the biggest hit in January, dropping nearly 55% but domestic arrivals of people boarding flights within Mexico to Cancun were down only about 18%.
Arizona has so much vaccine it is now vaccinated anyone over 18.
Australia extends international travel ban, maybe not opening until the fall.
Super Bowl 55 resulted in 57 total COVID-19 cases. Thousands of fans traveled to Tampa to attend the game and surrounding events.
California is not prioritizing prisoners for vaccinations.
New Jersey’s supply of vaccines, far below demand, will “explode” around Easter, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.
Pennsylvania vaccine clinics for teachers, school staff and child care workers will begin next week
In South Carolina, the state’s largest hospice provider is partnering with state health officials to pilot an effort to vaccinate the homebound.
108 illegal immigrants released into the country from the Mexican border have tested positive
“As lambs lie with lions across the pharmaceutical industry”, it’s been said of the relationship with Merck agreeing to manufacture doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from rival Johnson & Johnson in a deal that goes one step beyond similar agreements.
President Biden is making it clear that teachers are “essential workers”
It is estimated that 1 in 3 nonprofits is in financial and stability jeopardy in the US
For COVID-19, convalescent plasma “just doesn’t look like it’s providing any significant impact on things that count: mortality and hospitalization,” said Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist at ProHEALTH Care in New York.
The Children’s National Hospital will offer vaccinations to qualifying 16- and 17-year-olds
“Jazz Fest” in New Orleans is moving to October, rather than the end of April.
Thousands of UPS and FedEx pilots have flown around the globe for months to deliver doses of Covid-19 vaccines. But many pilots have yet to receive the vaccines they’re transporting. The average UPS pilot is 52 years old, too young to be eligible in parts of the country, but FedEx and UPS pilots are testing positive for the virus at a higher rate than the general U.S. population. By the end of February, 963 of the more than 8,100 pilots at these two companies had tested positive.
The Jewish news agency said that Jews in mourning are finding unexpected comfort in virtual minyans by listening to the morning rituals on ZOOM without necessarily having a person to remember.
Covavaxin, the COVID vaccine developed in India, has an 81% efficacy rate according to interim results from its manufacturers.
Alabama will lift Mask Mandate on April 9.
AARP members are speaking out to ensure people age 50+ are prioritized in the federal relief bill, because “we have faced some of the worst consequences of the pandemic” – you can send your support to… https://bit.ly/3ec1XY0.
17 states are ready to lift mask mandates.
New Jersey ok’d weddings of 150 people.
California to set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for areas most at risk.
3 Mass vaccination sites will open in NY today. With 3 additional sites to go round the clock with vaccinations.
Georgia will open five sites in two weeks.
FEMA has seven mass vaccination sites in California, New York and Texas, with more on the way.
Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrollment for studies of children ages 12 and older, and they expect to release the data over the summer
Arizona opens all schools to in-person learning by March 15th – done by Executive Order of the Governor.
Germany’s vaccine authority will recommend AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for over-65s.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Restaurants in Rhode Island can start seating more people today. Federal prosecutors say homeless people in the Providence area were recruited in a check-cashing scheme. New regulations have been approved for renting mopeds on Block Island.
>>State Allowing For Increased Business Capacities
(Providence, RI) -- The state of Rhode Island is easing COVID-related restrictions for restaurants, funeral homes and gyms. Restaurant capacity can increase from 50 percent to 66 percent. The changes go into effect on Friday. The Rhode Island Commerce Department says we should expect to see new rules on weddings and other catered events soon.
>>Feds: Group Recruited Providence-Area Homeless For Check-Cashing Scheme
(Providence, RI) -- The Justice Department is accusing a group of suspects of recruiting and paying homeless people in the Providence area to cash counterfeit business checks. Federal prosecutors say the men from the Atlanta, Georgia area instructed the recruits to cash bogus checks at financial institutions in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and elsewhere. It's alleged that at least once, a homeless person was threatened if they failed to provide the proceeds to the schemers.
>>Pawtucket Man Sentenced For 2020 Shooting Incident
(Providence, RI) -- A Pawtucket man is being sentenced to ten years in the ACI for a drive-by shooting. The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office says in April of 2020, Jayquan Parker got into a fight, drove to a home on Jefferson Avenue in Pawtucket and fired at least 22 rounds from an apparent semi-automatic rifle towards a driveway, missing two people who were standing nearby. The A.G.'s office says the weapon was not recovered, but that Parker was arrested through a law enforcement review of surveillance footage.
>>Woonsocket Clerk Seen Drinking Beer During Virtual Meeting
(Woonsocket, RI) -- The explosion of virtual meetings in the last year has produced plenty of unusual caught-on-camera moments. In Rhode Island, a school committee member in Coventry was seen taking a nap in a recliner last December. Adding to the file in the Ocean State, something that happened in Woonsocket this week. During an online meeting on Wednesday, city clerk Christina Harmon was seen taking a drink from a Corona beer bottle, which appeared to catch others taking part in the meeting off-guard. Harmon has since apologized and said she didn't realize her camera was on.
>>Block Island Moped Rental Restrictions Approved
(New Shoreham, RI) -- New moped rental rules are being approved on Block Island. The New Shoreham Town Council has voted to restrict rentals to the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone who wants to rent a moped must watch an educational training video. The regulations were approved in response to a pair of deadly crashes involving mopeds on the Island last summer.
>>Skate Park Unexpectedly Cleared In Glocester
(Glocester, RI) -- The demolishing of a skate park in Glocester is surprising and saddening some members of the community. The Valley Breeze reports the skate park within Glocester Memorial Park was knocked down last week as part of a renovation project. A local artist who spent the last two summers revitalizing the skate park said he was told it would be kept when the project got underway.
>>Tournament Time For RI College Basketball Teams
(Undated) -- March Madness is on this year. Providence College hosts Villanova on Saturday afternoon for its last regular-season game before the Big East Tournament, which the Friars will need to win to get to the dance. The University of Rhode Island finished out its season on Thursday with an 84-to-72 loss to Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Bryant opens the Northeast Conference Tournament tomorrow against Sacred Heart.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Former Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo is officially the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce. New RI Governor Dan McKee was focused on the virus pandemic on his first day of work. The state health department has approved another COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in the Ocean State.
>>Gina Raimondo Sworn In As Commerce Secretary
(Washington, DC) -- Former Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Wednesday. Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office in Washington. RI Senator Jack Reed, who said during Raimondo's nomination process that he had known her since she was a baby, presented the Bible which Raimondo placed her hand upon for the ceremony. Raimondo released a video afterwards pledging to create millions of good-paying jobs to help Americans combat the coronavirus pandemic. She said the Commerce Department wants to revitalize domestic manufacturing.
>>RI Governor Dan McKee Focused On Pandemic On Day One
(Providence, RI) -- The Governor Dan McKee era is underway in Rhode Island. The former lieutenant governor who was called up due to the departure of Gina Raimondo spent his first day on the job Wednesday focused on the coronavirus pandemic. McKee signed an executive order that directs the state health department to engage cities and towns to be full participants in the COVID vaccination effort. He also surveyed vaccines being administered in Providence. McKee himself got vaccinated on Tuesday.
>>State Health Department Approves Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Health is authorizing use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The state is expecting to receive an initial shipment this week of about nine-thousand doses. The health department says it is planning out how to administer the vaccine.
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>>Son Of State Senator Charged With Sex With Underage Girl
(Westerly, RI) -- The 18-year-old son of a state senator is being accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Westerly police say the person charged with third-degree sexual assault is Ian Morgan, the son of Elaine Morgan, whose district covers parts of central and southern Rhode Island. Morgan was accused of having a sexual relationship with a girl he met online.
>>New Freshman Academy Announced In Providence Public Schools
(Providence, RI) -- The Providence School District is announcing plans for a special freshman academy next school year. The state-run school district says ninth-graders from Alvarez High School will join the "newcomers" program, which is for students new to the United States whose education has been interrupted. The combined students, which the district says will number about two-hundred, would then move to Alvarez High School for tenth grade. The goal of the freshman academy is to ease the transition for the students between middle and high school.
>>WooSox Park Opening Delayed
(Worcester, MA) -- The Worcester Red Sox will not be opening Polar Park in April. It has been announced the triple-A baseball season will start a month late because of the virus pandemic. The Pawtucket Red Sox relocated to Worcester and will open up a brand-new ballpark after a 50-year run at McCoy Stadium.
As CVS announced, with no advanced notice that they would now vaccinate teacher and school staff individuals, word spread on social media that the website CVS.com would now accept registrations. By noon the state of Massachusetts announced that it would change their own designations for all vaccination centers and adapt to the CVS guidelines. Rhode Island has not changed its category as of this morning.
The AARP-RI issued their statement of concern about the promised priority in Rhode Island to prioritize seniors for vaccinations:
“We share our members’ concerns when changes made in the state plan disrupt what was once promised as being age-prioritized,” said AARP State Director Kathleen Connell. “We reassert our call for a transparent, statewide registration and appointment system that reduces confusion, and that the plan accommodates Rhode Islanders who do not have access to the Internet or someone to assist them.
“We also have called for the state to include a specific strategy to address those who are isolated, lack a means of transportation or face other obstacles to reach a vaccination site. Or that otherwise they can be vaccinated at home. These considerations are necessary to fulfill the state’s responsibility to see that the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders are being vaccinated. That goal should not be forgotten.”
As of now, Rhode Island has not decided to join Massachuetts in adding teacher groups to the mass sites and regional sites. Governor McKee has not spoken on this yet, only to say he is waiting for more guidance. There is a press conference set for today at 1pm, which will be his first as Governor on the coronavirus update.
The Massachusetts Teachers Union said: “This is huge,” said Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. “This is going to bring a lot of joy to all school employees. Now Governor Baker, get with the program and get us in line,” she said.
The extension of teacher groups by CVS – and soon expected to go to Walgreens was in response to President Biden on Tuesday night issuing a “mandate” to states to begin vaccinating the school groups and to complete it by March 30th, along with an announcement of many new thousands of doses of vaccine on the way from Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer and Moderna. The statement was issued with no pre-warnings to the public, school officials or states. There is a federal partnership done through Operation Warp Speed that is separate from the states’ run vaccination program.
CVS had no official announcement on their website, but they issued this statement when we inquired: “We’ve aligned with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines by making appointments available to pre-K through 12 educators and staff and childcare workers in all 17 states where we currently offer COVID-19 vaccines.”
Some early-birds were lucky in getting first appointments, but “refresh” was the name of the game throughout the day as thousands of Rhode Islanders tried to secure their required appointment times.
The cooks and bakers at Newport Cooks Crew can’t wait to get back into the Kitchen this week with their young bakers and cooks for their upcoming 5-week after-school programs.
All of the menus the children can master and feel confident making at home.
The children have fun in the class, and working in groups they tackle a counter filled with ingredients and work together to figure out what and how they’ll be making. They gather and prep the ingredients and then make up an entirely original recipe. There is always great team work, creativity and problem solving among the students and the dishes they create are truly restaurant worthy.
Newport Cooks Crew also has a 7 weeks of week-long summer camps that start June 28th and run through mid-August. These always sell out quickly, so register as soon as possible. This summer, a new class, Introduction to Plant Based Whole Food Cooking and Baking will be held. They’ll also have 3 sessions of Baking Camp, and a week of Writing & Creating Recipes.
Mary and the Newport Cooks Crew add this note: “Hang in their adult cooks and bakers. As more of us get vaccinated and restrictions loosen up such that we can host a full adult class, we’ll start scheduling them as soon as possible. We miss you all terribly, and are looking forward to cooking & baking with you all soon!”
Register now for The Monday group that meets from 3:30 – 5:30pm and we’ll create delicious (and healthy) meals together – Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch and Dinner.
Or, The Wednesday group that meets from 4 – 6pm and is for kids who know their way around the kitchen (at least a bit) and who are already cooking some on their own.
Photo: Wenatchee High School, Washington. Band and choral practice safety tents.
RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY
No more capacity limits for restaurants in Massachusetts now.
Some maple producers are welcoming visitors this season, with pandemic restrictions in place. March is considered Maple Month in New Hampshire. Open houses set for Maple Weekend, 3/20-21.
URI hit another record last week with 132 positive cases while its positivity rate increased to just over 2%.
Brown University has reported 58 new cases in the past seven days as of Sunday, issuing warnings to students and faculty.
Mayor Walsh says St. Patrick’s Day could be a super-spreader, even with new rules
Massachusetts can now have 6-person jury trials, while most other court services are happening virtually
WooSox will delay their April start in Worcester as AAA changes timelines of baseball
University enrollment news: Brown University has a 26% increase in applications; Providence College almost 3% increase; RISD a 15% increase; Salve Regina, up 3%; JWU is level; New England Institute of Technology up a whopping 35% – reported by Linda Borg in the Providence Journal.
High school football is back in session
Graduate Hotel in Providence set to reopen in April
Providence College will start to allow spectators in outdoor sports
The Bristol 4th of July Parade planning group is planning for a full parade, with adjustments if needed.
TF Green Airport will begin Delta flights soon.
9,000 new Johnson & Johnson shots are headed to RI
Cranston begins vaccinating those over 65.
Marble House, a National Historic Landmark that’s been closed since last March because of the pandemic, is reopening to visitors.
Maine: With vaccines more plentiful, the state is expanding eligibility to those 60 and up this week and will use a strictly age-based approach moving forward
Safe Face, a Newport based company, has created a two-ply with a filter inside of it that allows the mask to exceed the N95 standard for doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel. Now the company is producing masks and gaiters for company’s employees like Facebook and Shop Rite, NHL team players, and even the L.A. Dodger’s right fielder Mookie Betts and his family. For more information on the company visit their website.
The move to loosen restrictions in Massachusetts includes: + Indoor performance venues can run at greater capacities + Capacity limits across all sectors have been raised + Indoor, higher-contact recreational activities can reopen at 50 percent capacity,
Deaths in hospital – 1 – New Admissions – 8 – New Discharges – 11
First vaccines: 189,139 Total fully vaccinated – 2 shots: 76,451
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL
President Biden announces states must begin vaccinating all school-related personnel, completing that in March.
President Biden announces that all people in the US wanting a shot will have access to a vaccine by the end of May.
After steady national numbers declined, they are now rising again – up by more than 2% and 2,000 more deaths.
CDC Chief says the US could lose the progress we have gained
Johnson & Johnson one shot vaccine is being shipped to all states.
Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2. The measures will remain in place for the next seven days. The case is a family member of a student from Papatoetoe High School. That could provide a straightforward explanation for this infection, but in this case it has not
Olympics – Dr. Ranney cautions that this event, if held with masks-optional policy and 70K in arena, will become a super-spreader event. –
Fry’s Electronics, the go-to chain for tech tinkerers looking for an obscure part, is closing for good.
Delta Airlines will start up again in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Texas Governor Abbott ends statewide mask mandate
Mississippi opens state totally.
Kansas opens state with modification on restrictions.
Finland declares a state of emergency, allowing it to close bars and restaurants to curb the spread of the coronavirus
At the University of Delaware, 300 students tested positive for the coronavirus last week – the most cases in one week the school has ever seen.
AAA baseball delayed nationwide.
Teachers, support staff and public transportation workers will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine March 15 in New Jersey.
Roughly 1/3 of the military have turned down getting the vaccine – some facilities, such as Fort Bragg, at 50%, are much higher.
There are many at-home COVID-19 tests approved and on the market right now. They tend to be single use and expensive – with high rate of false positives.
Cellphone usage up 34% during the pandemic
All Apple stores in the U.S. are open for the first time since businesses began widespread closures last spring.
The CDC warned states that “now is not the time” to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths “appear to be stalling.”
American Assoc Family Practitioners president Ada Stewart, MD, noted in a statement that “Despite many patients contacting their family physicians for information on how they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, 85% of independent practices are unable to obtain COVID-19 vaccines for their patients … The AAFP is advocating that federal, state and local governments take immediate steps to supply community-based primary care physicians with COVID-19 vaccines, and those vaccination strategies should leverage trusted primary care physicians to reduce vaccine hesitancy.”
To combat resistance to vaccine, we need to spread the word – speaking on radio shows and in virtual sessions with church and social groups, government officials, the state NAACP – answering questions and dispelling myths
In Florida, Gov. says, “we have put Seniors First from day one and I’m pleased to announce that starting tomorrow we are providing vaccines directly to seniors at the Venice Municipal Airport Festival Fairgrounds” and will vaccinate over 4,000 people in 2 days.
Governor Raimondo is now Commerce Secretary Raimondo and a member of the President’s cabinet. She was approved yesterday by a vote of 84-15 in the Senate. She will be sworn into office later today by VP Kamala Harris.
Lt. Gov. McKee was sworn in as RI Governor last night – there will be another small inauguration planned for Sunday.
McKee has served s Lt. Governor since 2014 and was Cumberland Mayor for 6 terms. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Assumption College in Worcester and has an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. He is credited with being a small business advocate, supportive of the Mayoral Academies. Throughout the pandemic, he has focused on helping small businesses learn what national and local support was there for them, including the wedding and special event industry.
McKee has not picked a Lt. Governor yet with some estimates of close to 80 applications having been made. The front runner, early on, was former Mayor Diossa of Central Falls. McKee opened the application process as more people were interested in the position. A few days ago, McKee said that he would interview all those interested, infilling of other positions as needed.
The Governor begins his day with a tour of vaccination centers and a meeting with his new staff. Initial staff were announced – they are:
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: Dan McKee was sworn in as governor of Rhode Island on Tuesday night. Voters in the Ocean State passed bond referendums authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing yesterday. National Grid is working to get power back for everyone in New England after Monday night's windstorm.
>>Dan McKee Is Sworn In As New Rhode Island Governor
(Providence, RI) -- Dan McKee is the 76th governor of the state of Rhode Island. The Democrat McKee, previously a two-term lieutenant governor and the mayor of Cumberland before that, was sworn in at the State House Tuesday night after Gina Raimondo resigned the governorship following her confirmation as the next U.S. Commerce Secretary. McKee plans to hold a public inauguration ceremony on Sunday.
>>Voters Pass Bond Referendums Totaling $400 Million
(Undated) -- Rhode Island voters approved seven bond referendums on Tuesday authorizing four-hundred-million dollars in borrowing. The most tightly-contested question was also the largest spending item, over one-hundred-million dollars for construction projects at the Ocean State's public colleges. About sixty-percent of the hundred-thousand-plus people who went to the polls yesterday voted in favor of that question. Ample amounts were also approved for projects in state recreational areas, housing and transportation infrastructure.
>>More UK COVID Variants ID'd In RI
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Department of Health is identifying four new cases of the "UK variant" coronavirus strain. The state has now reported seven cases total. The UK strain is considered more contagious.
>>National Grid Busy In New England After Windstorm
(Undated) -- National Grid reported about two-hundred power outages overnight Wednesday in Rhode Island that were lingering from Monday night's powerful windstorm. The storm, which the National Weather Service said packed winds of up to 65 miles per hour, had initially knocked out power for thousands in the Ocean State. National Grid said last night that it had restored electricity to over one-hundred-thousand customers in New England, and that many of the remaining outages involve damage that will require multiple repairs before service can be restored.
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>>Man Sentenced For Sex Assault At Pawtucket Home
(Providence, RI) -- A Cumberland man is being sentenced to twenty-two years in the ACI for first-degree sexual assault. The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office accused James Robinson of assaulting a victim who was known to him at a home in Pawtucket in 2019. Robinson was convicted by a Providence County Superior Court Jury in a trial last month.
>>Name Of Providence Shooting Victim Released
(Providence, RI) -- Police have identified the victim of a weekend fatal shooting in Providence. The name of the 19-year-old who died was Johnjairo Brito. The victim was reportedly sitting in a car on Academy Avenue when the shooting happened on Saturday. Police believe Brito was targeted.
(Undated) -- Here is the latest news: The Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is getting added to the mix in the Ocean State vaccination effort. One person is dead and another hospitalized in separate shootings in Providence on Saturday. A station on the Providence commuter rail line has been closed.
>>Another COVID-19 Vaccine About To Enter The Picture
(Providence, RI) -- The newly-approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is coming soon to Rhode Island. The Providence Journal reports a spokesperson for the state health department says the shot could be administered in about two weeks. The state has been told it will get a nine-thousand-dose shipment initially from Johnson and Johnson, but it does not know what allocations will look like beyond that.
>>Saturday Shootings In Providence, One Fatal, Under Investigation
(Providence, RI) -- A fatal shooting took place in Providence this weekend. A nineteen-year-old victim was reportedly killed in a shooting while sitting in a car on Academy Avenue on Saturday afternoon. Police are investigating that incident and another shooting in the capital city that took place at a restaurant Saturday evening. Police say a 41-year-old man was shot after an altercation at Montecristo Bar and Grille on Elmwood Avenue. The victim was listed in stable condition after being sent to Rhode Island Hospital. The city has ordered the closure of the establishment where the shooting happened.
>>Providence Men Indicted On Firearms-Dealing Charges
(Providence, RI) -- The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office is announcing a grand jury has returned an indictment against a group of individuals for a statewide illegal firearms-dealing scheme. The five Providence men are accused of running a straw-purchase scheme to sell nearly a hundred handguns in Rhode Island in 2019 and 2020. The A.G.'s office says this was the second significant illegal firearms case in February.
>>Providence Police Sergeant Joseph Hanley Testifies At His Trial
(Providence, RI) -- Providence Police Department sergeant Joseph Hanley testified at his assault trial on Friday. Hanley is accused of using unnecessary force on Rishod Gore during an arrest in Providence last year. Hanley testified in defense of the actions he took during the arrest, using his attorney to demonstrate what he described as "compliance strikes". He denied that he kicked Gore in the head or face.
>>Commuter Rail Station In South Attleboro Closed
(South Attleboro, MA) -- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is closing the South Attleboro train station until further notice. The MBTA says the closure is due to concerns about the safety of the pedestrian bridge at the station. Providence/Stoughton Line riders are being asked to use the Attleboro station as an alternate stop.
>>Heating Oil Delivered To Wrong House, Floods Basement
(Cranston, RI) -- An oil delivery company reportedly caused a huge mess when it delivered to the wrong address in Cranston. According to a story from WPRI-TV, the Mathews Oil company delivered heating oil into a basement that did not contain an oil tank because the house had converted to propane, but the exterior pipe wasn't removed. About one-hundred-40 gallons got pumped into the basement before the homeowner got someone's attention. The company told the news station it was an unfortunate case of delivering to the wrong address, and that it has worked on a cleanup and restitution effort.