For information about COVID-19 vaccinations visit C19vaccineRI.org. A list of Rhode Island’s state-run test sites and their holiday hours is available here.


The Latest


  • The U.S. is poised to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like a yearly flu shot, The Associated Press reports. The Food and Drug Administration's scientific advisers are helping to decide if most Americans may need once-a-year boosters — and how and when to periodically update the shots’ recipe. COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and booster doses continue to help, but protection can wane and the virus still is rapidly mutating. FDA's advisers say vaccination should be made simpler. Next steps also will include a spring meeting on whether to update the vaccine recipe against new virus strains. Read the full story here. Posted 1/26/2023


  • COVID-19 contagion levels which spiked to “high” in Providence, Kent and Newport counties just after the holidays are now at “medium” throughout Rhode Island, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the onset of a contagious new strain of the coronavirus known as XBB.1.5, new hospital admissions in the state have been ticking up, though they remain less than a quarter of the volume a year ago, state health data shows. The Omicron bivalent booster provides “good protection” against the latest variant, though only about one-quarter of all Rhode Islanders received the bivalent booster. For updates on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters visit the CDC website here. Posted 1/23/2023


  • Federal health officials are reporting elevated levels of the coronavirus found in Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ wastewater following the December holidays, signaling a recent spike in the virus. In Rhode Island, six out of eight wastewater treatment plants had coronavirus levels at 80% to 100% of the highest previously detected at those sites, according to the data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reported the same high levels were detected in two out of seven wastewater treatment plants in Massachusetts' Middlesex and Worcester Counties. The samples were taken during the two-week period starting the Friday before Christmas. The CDC publishes the wastewater surveillance data to provide an early warning so that communities can act quickly to prevent COVID-19’s spread. The virus can be detected in the feces of people infected with COVID-19 even if they have no symptoms. Posted 1/10/2023


  • People in Providence, Kent and Newport Counties are advised to wear masks in crowded indoor settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to state and federal health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting “high” contagion levels in those counties. State health officials anticipated the increase due to holiday gatherings and a contagious new strain of the coronavirus known as XBB.1.5, Joseph Wendelken, a state health department spokesman, said Wednesday. The Omicron bivalent booster provides “good protection” against the latest variant, which does not appear to be causing more severe illness, Wendelken said. But only about one-quarter of all Rhode Islanders received the bivalent booster. For updates on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters visit the CDC website here. Posted 1/10/2023


  • As COVID-19 surges in China, the U.S. is expanding its traveler surveillance program, an early warning system for detecting new variants, the Associated Press reports. With the addition of Los Angeles and Seattle, there are now seven airports where volunteer passengers can swab themselves on arrival. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program now covers about 500 flights, including more than half from the China region. The CDC on Thursday also began requiring travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macao to test negative for COVID-19 before flying to the U.S. Meanwhile, scientists want to see more screening of wastewater from arriving airplanes. Read the full story here. Posted 1/5/2023


  • COVID-19 transmission rates have increased to "high" risk in Providence and Kent counties, Rhode Island health officials reported Friday. Bristol County, Washington County, and Newport County are now designated as "medium" risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say this relatively small increase in COVID-19 activity is not expected to last long. The CDC recommends that people in “medium” risk counties consider self-testing and masking when around those who are at high risk for getting very sick. The CDC recommends that people in “high” risk counties wear high-quality masks while in crowded, indoor public settings. Visit covid.ri.gov for more information. Posted 12/20/2022


  • Moves by several countries to mandate COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak — and that the government may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough. There have been no reports of new variants to date. But China has been accused of not being forthcoming about the virus since it first surfaced in the country in late 2019. The worry is that it may not be sharing data now on any signs of evolving strains that could spark fresh outbreaks elsewhere. The U.S., Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Italy have announced testing requirements for passengers from China, according to the Associated Press. Read the full story here. Posted 12/29/2022


  • New COVID-19 testing requirements will begin Wednesday for all U.S. travelers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections, The Associated Press reports. The increase in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation's strict anti-virus controls. China's “zero COVID” policies had kept the country's infection rate low but fueled public frustration and crushed economic growth. The new U.S. requirements, which start Jan. 5, apply to travelers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status. In a statement explaining the testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the surge in infections and what it said was a lack of adequate and transparent information from China, including genomic sequencing on the viral strains circulating in the country. Read the full story here. Posted 12/28/2022


  • A British historian, an Italian archaeologist and an American preschool teacher share a prominent pandemic bond: They’re each credited with describing, naming and helping bring long COVID into the public’s consciousness in early 2020. They all still have symptoms. Nearly three years into the pandemic, it's still unclear what makes people vulnerable to long COVID. Could being female, exposure to the mono virus, or excess fat increase the chances? And why do only a small portion battle symptoms for over a year? These are among the questions scientists are seeking to answer, in this report from the Associated Press. Read the full story here. Posted 12/27/2022


  • A regular exercise routine may significantly lower the chances of being hospitalized or even dying from COVID-19, NPR reports that recently published research shows. Those who had less than 10 minutes of physical activity a week were 91% more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and 291% more likely to die from it than those who were consistently active. Read the full story here. Posted 12/23/2022


  • President Joe Biden has signed a nearly $858 billion defense spending bill into law despite his opposition to a Republican-backed provision in the legislation that repeals the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for U.S. troops, The Associated Press reported Friday. Biden had agreed with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s determination that lifting the mandate was not in the best interest of troops or the military. But ultimately, Biden decided to accept Republican demands to lift the vaccine requirement in order to win passage of the legislation. Posted 12/23/2022


  • The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveils its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter, the Associated Press reports. After a three-month hiatus, the administration is making four rapid virus tests available through the website covidtests.gov starting Thursday. A senior Biden administration official discussed the program on the condition of anonymity. COVID-19 cases have shown a marked increase after the Thanksgiving holiday. Further coronavirus case increases are projected from indoor gathering and travel around Christmas and New Year's. Read the full story here. Posted 12/15/2022


  • Federal regulators on Thursday cleared doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than age 5, The Associated Press reports. The Food and Drug Administration's decision aims to better protect the littlest kids amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases around the country — at a time when children’s hospitals already are packed with tots suffering from other respiratory illnesses including the flu.  The FDA now has authorized use of the tweaked shots starting at age 6 months -- but who is eligible depends on how many vaccinations they’ve already had, and which kind. Only about 5% of youngsters under age 5 have gotten the full primary series since vaccinations for the littlest kids began in June. Omicron-targeted booster shots made by Moderna and rival Pfizer already were open to everyone 5 and older.  Posted 12/9/2022


  • Twitter is no longer enforcing its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, which experts say could discourage vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus, The Associated Press reports. The change, effective Nov. 23, is part of a new hands-off approach since Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk. Read the full story here. Posted 12/1/2022


  • The Chinese city of Shanghai has started administering an inhalable COVID-19 vaccine in what appears to be a world first, the Associated Press reports. The vaccine, a mist that is sucked in through the mouth, is being offered for free as a booster dose for previously vaccinated people, according to an announcement posted on an official city social media account. Needle-free vaccines may persuade people who don’t like getting a shot to be vaccinated, as well as help expand immunization in poor countries because they are easier to administer. China doesn’t have a vaccine mandate but wants more people to get booster shots before it relaxes strict pandemic restrictions that are holding back the economy and are increasingly out of synch with the rest of the world. Read the fully story here. Posted 10/26/2022


  • The U.S. should prepare for a spike in COVID cases this winter as more people gather indoors and infections begin to rise in Europe, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha told NPR.  Jha said the extent of any surge would come down to a number of factors, namely the precautions people take and the vaccination rates. The warning echoes that of some other experts who anticipate a rise in cases in the coming months, while other modelling suggests that infections will recede in the near future. Read the full story here. Posted 10/13/2022


  • Kids as young as 5 can soon get updated COVID-19 booster shots, the Associated Press reports. The tweaked boosters rolled out last month for Americans 12 and older — shots designed to target the currently spreading omicron variants. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized kid-size versions for 5- to 11-year-olds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also signed off. Officials hope to expand protection against an expected winter surge. The updated shots contain half the recipe that targeted the original coronavirus strain and half protection against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions. Read the full story here. Posted 10/12/2022


  • Are sprays the future of COVID-19 vaccines? According to an article in the journal Nature, that’s the hope of dozens of research groups and companies working on new kinds of inoculation. Rather than relying on injections, these use sprays or drops administered through the nose or mouth that aim to improve protection against the virus SARS-CoV-2.  This week, an inhaled version of a COVID-19 vaccine, produced by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics in Tianjin, was approved for use as a booster dose in China. Read the full story here. Posted 10/06/2022


  • Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don't skip your flu shot this fall. And for the first time, seniors are urged to get a special extra-strength kind, the Associated Press reports. There's no way to predict how bad this flu season will be. Australia just emerged from a nasty one. In the U.S., annual flu vaccinations are recommended starting with 6-month-olds. Because seniors don't respond as well, the U.S. now recommends they get one of three types made with higher doses or an immune-boosting ingredient. Meanwhile, the companies that make the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines now are testing flu shots made with the same technology. Read the full story here. Posted 10/6/2022


  • Pfizer is asking the Food and Drug Administration to expand use of its updated COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 5 to 11, the Associated Press reports. Some 4.4 million Americans already have received one of the updated boosters since they rolled out earlier this month for anyone 12 and older. Just like with Pfizer's original vaccine, the elementary school-aged children would get a third of the dose of the updated booster. The FDA is expected to decide soon. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech also announced Monday that they have begun a study of the updated booster in children younger than 5. Read the full story here. Posted 9/26/2022


  • The head of the World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus deaths last week was the lowest reported number in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world had never been in a better position to stop COVID-19. In its weekly report on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said deaths fell by 22% in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. Still, the WHO warned that relaxed testing and surveillance means that many cases are going unnoticed. Read the full story here. Posted 9/15/2022


  • Updated COVID-19 booster doses are available in Rhode Island. These new, more comprehensive bivalent booster doses, recently authorized and recommended by federal health officials, will target both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant, which is the strain causing most current cases. State health officials announced on Sept. 6 that the updated booster shots will become available in Rhode Island. People should contact their primary care providers to learn about vaccine availability. Separately, some independent pharmacies and retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are beginning to schedule appointments for bivalent COVID-19 boosters for this week. Learn more about booster dose availability at Vaccines.Gov. Post updated 9/12/2022


  • U.S. health advisers on Thursday endorsed new COVID-19 boosters that target today’s most common omicron strains, saying if enough people roll up their sleeves, the updated shots could blunt a winter surge, the Associated Press reports.  The tweaked shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna promise Americans a chance at their most up-to-date protection at yet another critical period in the pandemic. They’re combination or “bivalent” shots, half the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions now causing nearly all COVID-19 infections. Read the full story here. Posted 9/1/2022


  • The Biden administration hopes to make getting a COVID-19 booster as routine as going in for the yearly flu shot, the Associated Press reports. That's at the heart of its campaign to sell the newly authorized shot to an American public that has widely rejected COVID-19 boosters since they first became available last fall. Shots of the the newest boosters could start within days, and they are specifically designed by Pfizer and Moderna to respond to the omicron strain. The U.S. government has purchased 170 million doses and is emphasizing that anyone who wants a COVID-19 booster will get one for free. Posted 9/1/2022


  • U.S. regulators have authorized updated COVID-19 boosters, the first to directly target today's most common omicron strain, the Associated Press reports. The move on Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna. The hope is that the modified boosters will blunt yet another winter surge. Until now, vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus. The new boosters are half that original recipe and half protection against the newest omicron versions. Before shots begin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend who should get the additional dose. CDC's advisers will debate that Thursday. Posted 8/31/2022


  • COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna is suing its main competitors Pfizer and the German drugmaker BioNTech, the Associated Press reports. Moderna is accusing the rivals of copying Moderna’s technology in order to make their own vaccine. Moderna said Friday that Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine Comirnaty infringes on patents Moderna filed several years ago protecting the technology behind its preventive shot, Spikevax. The company filed patent infringement lawsuits in both U.S. federal court and a German court. A Pfizer spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the company had not been served with a copy of the litigation. Posted 8/26/2022


  • Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its combination COVID-19 vaccine that adds protection against the newest omicron relatives, the Boston Globe reports. Read the full story here. Posted 8/26/22


  • New coronavirus cases reported globally in the last week dropped by nearly a quarter while deaths fell by 6%, the Associated Press reports. That's according to the latest report on the pandemic released Thursday by the World Health Organization. The U.N. health agency reported 5.4 million new COVID-19 cases last week, a decline of 24% from the previous week. Infections fell everywhere in the world, including by nearly 40% in Africa and Europe and by a third in the Middle East. Still, the number of COVID deaths rose in the Western Pacific by 31% and in Southeast Asia by 12% while falling or remaining stable everywhere else. Posted 8/18/2022


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines and dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person, the Associated Press reports. The CDC also said Thursday that people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The changes come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic. They are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected. Posted 8/12/2022


  • Rhode Island reported 115 new hospital admissions associated with COVID-19 during the first week in August, the highest since mid-June.  In about one-in-four of the people hospitalized COVID-19 was reported as a primary cause, according to the state Department of Health. COVID-19  was listed as a contributing cause in another 28% of the cases. The hospital admissions include both residents and non-residents. More detailed data is available on the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 data hub. Posted 8/11/2022.


  • The World Health Organization says in its latest weekly pandemic report that the number of coronavirus deaths fell by 9% in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable, the Associated Press reports. The U.N. health agency said Wednesday there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30% jump in cases while Africa reported a 46% drop. The WHO said that the omicron subvariant BA.5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70% of all virus sequences shared with the world’s biggest publicly available virus database. Posted 8/10/2022


  • MONKEYPOX: U.S. health officials have authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, the Associated Press reports. In an announcement issued Tuesday, they cited research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective. The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under the skin rather than into deeper tissue — a practice that may rev up the immune system better. The highly unusual step is a stark acknowledgment that the U.S. currently lacks the supplies needed to vaccinate everyone seeking protection from the rapidly spreading virus. Posted 8/10/2022


  • MONKEYPOX: The federal government declared a public health emergency Thursday to bolster the response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 6,600 Americans, the Associated Press reports. The announcement will free up money and other resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. Read the full story here. Posted 8/5/2022


  • Unvaccinated women who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy were at a higher risk of stillbirths, yet a lack of testing data and government guidance led many to avoid getting vaccinated against the virus, according to a ProPublica investigation published Thursday.  The risk of a stillbirth nearly doubled for those who had COVID-19 during pregnancy compared with those who didn’t. And during the spread of the delta variant, that risk was four times higher. Read the full story here. Posted 8/4/2022


  • New coronavirus cases fell 9% globally last week while deaths remained stable, the Associated Press reports. That's according to the latest weekly assessment of the pandemic, which was released Wednesday by the World Health Organization. The U.N. health agency said there were 6.5 million cases reported last week with more than 14,000 deaths. WHO has previously warned that recent surveillance of COVID-19 has been compromised by countries reducing their testing and reporting. The agency says COVID-19 figures are likely being significantly underestimated, which could make it more difficult to spot any worrisome new variants. New cases fell 35% in Europe but increased about 20% in the Western Pacific and 5% in Africa. Posted 8/4/2022


  • MONKEYPOX: Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and state health officials on Wednesday announced an expansion of the state’s monkeypox vaccination efforts, the governor's office said in a statement. Vaccine eligibility has been expanded to include additional at-risk populations. There will also be two community clinics Aug. 5 and 6, for eligible people who cannot be vaccinated at one of the healthcare facilities that will be vaccinating patients in Rhode Island. The news comes as the state is receiving additional vaccine doses, following a request McKee made on a recent call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here for more information, or to register for an appointment at one of the community clinics. Posted 8/4/2022


  • As the number of people with post-COVID symptoms soars, researchers and the government are trying to get a handle on how big an impact long COVID is having on the U.S. workforce, NPR reports. It's a pressing question, given the fragile state of the economy. For more than a year, employers have faced staffing problems, with jobs going unfilled month after month. Now, millions of people may be sidelined from their jobs due to long COVID. Read the full story here. Posted 8/1/2022


  • The Biden administration says it has reached an agreement with Moderna to buy 66 million doses of the company’s next generation of COVID-19 vaccine targeting the highly transmissible omicron variant, the Associated Press reports. The administration says that's enough for this winter for all who want the upgraded booster. Friday's announcement follows word last month that the federal government has secured 105 million doses of a similar vaccine from rival drugmaker Pfizer. Both orders are scheduled for delivery in the fall and winter, assuming regulators sign off. The omicron strain has been dominant in the U.S. since December, with the BA.5 subvariant causing a massive wave of infections, even infecting President Joe Biden. Read the full story here. Posted 7/29/2022


  • The country’s largest union of registered nurses has  sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging the agency to do more to protect the public in the face of elevated transmission rates nationally and the rise of the more contagious BA.5 variant of COVID-19. In the July 20 letter, the National Nurses Union President Jean Ross raised concerns about the rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, as well as the increase in patients seeking care for the effects of long-Covid. The letter calls on the CDC to strengthen mitigation measures, including masking and post-exposure quarantine and isolation guidance. Posted 7/21/2022


  • Health officials say U.S. adults who haven’t gotten any COVID-19 shots yet should consider a new option from Novavax, the Associated Press reports. The protein-based shot is a more traditional kind of vaccine than the three brands available in the U.S. Federal regulators authorized the two-dose vaccine last week for adults. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously recommended the option on Tuesday and the agency agreed. The Maryland-based company hopes the U.S. also clears booster doses and teen use fairly soon. Read the full story here. Posted 7/20/2022.


  • Boston public health officials are urging people to wear masks in crowded spaces and get booster shots as COVID case numbers rise again, WBUR reports. The Boston Public Health Commission reported COVID cases in Boston spiked by nearly 40% last week. Area hospitals are averaging about 150 new COVID-related admissions per day — up nearly 24%. The spike is likely driven by the highly infectious BA.5 subvariant, which can evade immunity. (Read the full story here.) In Rhode Island, COVID-19 transmission rates continue to be “low” in all five counties, according to a July 15 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rates are updated weekly. Posted 7/18/2022.


  • The BA.5 omicron subvariant now dominating coronavirus cases in the U.S. is four times more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, according to new study, NPR reported Friday. The "hypercontagious" strain is more defiant against messenger RNA vaccines, which include Pfizer and Moderna, the Mayo Clinic study found.The BA.5 strain represented 65% of cases from July 3 to 9, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But people who are vaccinated still are much better protected against the new strain. Read the full story here. Posted 7/15/2022


  • The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged governments and health care systems to take steps to curb Covid-19 transmission, as a fresh wave of infections moves across Europe and the US, CNN reports. Sub-variants of the omicron strain are lifting case numbers and leading to further fatalities, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. Tedros, as the head of the WHO is known, recommended the revival of protocols like mask-wearing to stop the spread. Also on Tuesday, White House doctors responded to the rising case numbers by stressing the importance of getting booster doses now, and encouraging people not to wait until the fall for vaccines targeted at the variants in addition to the original strain, the Associated Press reports. Posted 7/14/2022


  • Approximately 300,000 children under the age of 5 in the US – about 2% of that age group – have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine since it was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month, CNN reports. A senior White House official told CNN Thursday that the number aligns with expectations, though is lower than other age groups. The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization on June 17 for both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for young children. Vaccine advisers to the CDC voted unanimously on June 18 to support recommending Covid-19 vaccination for children as young as 6 months and vaccine administration began shortly after that. Read the full story here. Posted 7/7/2022


  • Pharmacists can now prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients, The Associated Press reports. The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible and then prescribe Pfizer's drug Paxlovid. Previously only doctors could prescribe it. Paxlovid has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19 but it has to be started within five days of symptoms. Paxlovid is intended for people with COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill. That includes older people and those with other health conditions. Read the full story here. Posted 7/6/2022


  • COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. between March 2020 and October 2021, according to an analysis of death data published July 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The leading cause of death in the U.S. during that period was heart disease (20.1%), followed by cancer (17.5%), and then COVID-19 (12.2%), the study reported. The pandemic has also had indirect effects on other causes of death, including higher rates of heart disease, accidents, stroke, Alzheimer disease and diabetes, the study found. Posted 7/5/2022


  • Rhode Island has closed its state-run COVID-19 community vaccination clinics and at-home vaccination services, Joseph Wendelken, a state Health Department spokesman, said in an email Thursday.  Residents or visitors who want to get vaccinated, boosted or tested for COVID-19 in should contact their health care provider or find a retail pharmacy that offers the vaccine. For more information visit C19VaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org] and Vaccines.gov [vaccines.gov].State health officials said the COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be widely available at no out-of-pocket cost across Rhode Island. The decision to close the state-run clinics, announced last month, is part of a transition to treating the coronavirus as a “manageable endemic disease,” state health officials said.  Posted 6/30/2022


  • Rhode Island health officials are recommending that children who are eligible get vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the COVID-19 vaccine is not being added to the regular school immunization schedule for the fall, Joseph Wendelken, a Health Department spokesman, told The Public’s Radio Wednesday. The COVID-19 vaccine is still being provided under “emergency use authorizations,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not added it to the CDC’s list of routinely recommended vaccines. “The CDC is likely waiting for full authorization before taking that next step,” Wendelken said in an email. Rhode Island health officials are “aligning with the CDC,'' he said, and recommending COVID-19 vaccinations for children who are eligible but not including them in the regular school vaccination schedule. Five of the six New England states, including Rhode Island, have no student COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. New Hampshire has banned student COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Posted 6/29/2022


  • Government advisers are recommending that some U.S. adults get a modified COVID-19 booster shot this fall — one that better matches more recent virus variants, The Associated Press reports. If the Food and Drug Administration agrees, it will have to decide on the exact recipe change. Pfizer and Moderna tested shots updated against the omicron mutant that surged last winter. But those shots are already somewhat outdated, with relatives of omicron now the main threat. Read the full story here. Posted 6/28/2022


  • Federal officials have recommended Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines for children and adolescents ages 6 through 17. The recommendation last Friday means that people under 18 now can choose either Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for their primary series. In Rhode Island, health care providers can now order COVID-19 vaccines for children and adolescents on Tuesdays before noon for delivery the following week, state Health Department officials said in a statement to providers. The Moderna vaccines for children ages 6 to 11 are given in two 0.50 milliliter doses at least 28 days apart to children who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems. The Moderna doses also can be used as booster doses for people ages 18 and older. Posted 06/27/2022


  • Pfizer says tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and boosts protection, The Associated Press reported. The vaccines currently used in the U.S. still offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death -- especially if people have gotten a booster dose. But those vaccines target the original coronavirus strain and their effectiveness against any infection dropped markedly when the super-contagious omicron mutant emerged. As Omicron’s even more transmissible relatives are spreading widely, the Food and Drug Administration is considering ordering a recipe change for the vaccines made by both Pfizer and rival Moderna in hopes that modified boosters could better protect against another COVID-19 surge expected this fall and winter. Read the full story here. Posted 6/25/2022


  • All five Rhode Island counties this week were downgraded from “medium” to “low” risk of spread of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This marks a first for the state since the CDC began reporting weekly on the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as “low,” “medium,” or “high.” The rankings are based on case rates, data on hospital admissions and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. The CDC recommendations by community level are available online. Regardless of the risk level in any county, state health officials advise everyone to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots for those eligible. Posted 6/23/2022


  • The U.S. this week opened COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers and preschoolers, The Associated Press reports. The shots will expand the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 6 months. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccines for the littlest children, and the final signoff came hours later from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director. While the Food and Drug Administration approves vaccines, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them. The shots offer young children protection from hospitalization, death and possible long-term complications that are still not clearly understood, the CDC’s advisory panel said. Posted 6/21/2022


  • Federal regulators have authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, paving the way for vaccinations for children under 5 to begin next week, The Associated Press reports. The Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization Friday follows a unanimous recommendation by its advisory panel. The kid-sized shots are made by Moderna and Pfizer. The FDA's action allows the companies to begin shipping millions of preordered doses across the country. A final signoff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected this weekend. The nation's vaccination campaign began with adults in late 2020, about a year into the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story here. Posted 6/17/2022


  • Florida is the only state that hasn’t preordered COVID-19 vaccines for toddlers in anticipation of their final approval by the federal government, The Associated Press reports. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he won't facilitate their distribution but that the shots will be available to people who want them. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre says if Florida doesn't preorder, availability of the shots could be delayed in children's hospitals and other facilities that have relied on state distribution. Florida officials say the jabs will be available at pharmacies and community health centers, which can preorder them directly from the federal government. Read the full story here. Posted 6/16/2022


  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has tested positive for COVID-19, National Public Radio reports. The 81-year-old is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and has been boosted twice, according to the National Institutes of Health. He is experiencing mild symptoms and will continue to isolate and work from home. He was also prescribed Paxlovid, the anti-COVID drug, according to a representative for the agency. Read the full story here. Posted 6/15/2022


  • The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, the Associated Press reports. The move eases one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A senior administration official says the mandate expires Sunday. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the formal announcement, told the Associated Press that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the mandate is no longer necessary. The official said Friday the CDC will reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges. Airline and tourism groups had been pressing the administration to eliminate the testing requirement. Read the full story here. Posted 6/10/2022


  • Beginning July 1, Rhode Island will end its state-run COVID-19 community vaccination clinics and at-home vaccination services. Residents who want to be vaccinated, boosted or tested for COVID-19 will either need to contact their health care provider or find a retail pharmacy that offers the vaccine. (See other options at C19VaccineRI.org and Vaccines.gov.) The decision is part of a transition to addressing the coronavirus as a “manageable endemic disease,” the Rhode Island Department of Health said in a statement. The COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be widely available at no out-of-pocket cost across Rhode Island, the statement said. If virus levels in communities spike again, health officials said, the state is fully prepared to reopen certain mass testing sites for symptomatic individuals.  Virus levels in all five counties in the state as of June 3 were at a “medium” level of spread according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Posted 6/7/2022


  •  Americans may soon get a new COVID-19 vaccine option — a more traditional kind of shot known as a protein vaccine, The Associated Press reports.  The Food and Drug Administration is evaluating the vaccine made by Novavax. It's late in the pandemic for a new choice. But with millions still unvaccinated — or who need a booster — the Maryland-based company is hoping to find a niche. Its vaccine is made very differently than the widely used Pfizer and Moderna shots. Novavax's COVID-19 shots are authorized in numerous other countries, but U.S. clearance is a key hurdle. Read the full story here. Posted 6/7/2022


  • Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Thursday. The infection was detected by an at-home test; Elorza was still awaiting the results of a PCR test. Elorza appeared at several public outdoor events earlier this week with other city officials. The mayor’s office has canceled all in-person meetings for the next few days, and the mayor plans to work remotely. Posted 6/2/2022


  • Stop & Shop supermarkets are now offering the coronavirus antiviral medications Paxlovid and Molnupiravir at its Rhode Island 14 pharmacies, the company announced Thursday. Paxlovid is available at all Stop & Shop pharmacies in the state; Molnupiravir is available at select locations. The antiviral medications are being provided at no cost to people with a valid prescription from a healthcare provider. Paxlovid and Molnupiravir have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19 in people at higher risk of developing more severe illness. Molnupiravir can be prescribed to those 18 and older, while Paxlovid is authorized for use by adults and children ages 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds.  Posted 6/1/2022


  • Providence Public Schools is making masks optional for students, staff and visitors beginning Tuesday. The new policy comes as Providence County has been downgraded to “medium risk” for community spread of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average daily number of new COVID-19 cases across the school district last week decreased to about 45 cases per day, down from about 60 cases per day the previous week, school officials said in a statement. The new mask-optional policy comes one week after the district reinstituted a mask mandate, following an increase in community spread of the virus. Posted 5/31/2022


  • Three of Rhode Island’s four counties previously identified as “high” risk for spread of the coronavirus have been downgraded to “medium” risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Bristol, Kent, Providence and Washington Councils are now considered at medium risk, state health officials said in a statement Friday. Newport County, which was previously at “medium” is now designated as “high” risk. The CDC revises the COVID-19 community level in every county weekly using virus case rates and data on hospital admissions and percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.  The CDC  recommendations by community level are available online. Posted 5/26/2022


  • Rhode Island will be the first in the country to open a federally funded test-to-treat COVID-19 center which will provide the antiviral Paxlovid to residents at no charge, state health officials confirmed Thursday. Governor Daniel J. McKee and Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-Coordinator and the dean of Brown University School of Public Health, are scheduled to announce the center’s opening at  Clínica Esperanza, a free clinic on the West Side of Providence. During the last 12 months, the COVID-19 test the clinic reports an overall COVID-10 positivity rate of 27 percent, according to Dr. Annie DeGroot, the clinic’s volunteer medical director. Posted 05/26/2022


  • Rhode Island will be the first in the country to open a federally funded test-to-treat COVID-19 center which will provide the antiviral Paxlovid to residents at no charge, state health officials confirmed Thursday. Governor Daniel J. McKee and Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-Coordinator and the dean of Brown University School of Public Health, are scheduled to announce the center’s opening at  Clínica Esperanza, a free clinic on the West Side of Providence. During the last 12 months, the COVID-19 test the clinic reports an overall COVID-10 positivity rate of 27 percent, according to Dr. Annie DeGroot, the clinic’s volunteer medical director. Posted 05/26/2022


  • The Providence Public School District has reinstituted mandatory masking indoors starting Tuesday. Providence Schools will require all students and staff to mask indoors due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases among school staff and students during the last two months and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating the county is now at high-risk of spread for the virus, the district said in a statement Monday. The CDC considers Providence County – along with Bristol, Kent and Washington Counties – at high-risk for spread of the coronavirus. Rhode Island's largest school district, with more than 3,000 students, Providence Public Schools last week reported 60 positive COVID-19 cases per day, up from about 40 positive cases in early May. That compares with a low of about 10 positive cases per day in the district in March. Providence is the second school district to resume indoor masking, following Central Falls. Posted 05/23/2022


  • Central Falls schools have reinstated mandatory masking for all students and staff effective Monday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. The  one-square-mile city has been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic; in 2020 Central Falls recorded the highest case rate per 100,000 residents of any community in Rhode Island. Central Falls is among a smattering of school districts, mostly in the Northeast, that have brought back mask mandates and recommendations for the first time since the Omicron winter surge ended.  Posted 05/23/2022


  • Pfizer says three small doses of its COVID-19 vaccine protect kids under 5 and that it plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week, according to The Associated Press. It's the latest step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots. The 18 million tots under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. The Food and Drug Administration has begun evaluating data from rival Moderna. That company hopes to offer two kid-sized shots by summer. Read the full story here. Posted 05/23/2022


  • Federal health advisers are urging a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, the Associated Press reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly signed off on the advice. The decision opens a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids, just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older. Regulators this week authorized the extra dose to be given at least five months after youngsters' last shot. Read the full story here. Posted 5/20/2022


  • Rhode Island is now among the states considered at high-risk for the spread of the coronavirus, state health officials said late Thursday. Four of Rhode Island’s five counties – Bristol, Kent, Providence and Washington Counties – have been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a “high” level of spread and residents based on COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations. The CDC recommends people in those communities wear high-quality masks in indoor public settings. Newport is the only county that remains at “medium” risk. The Rhode Island Department of Health released seven tools for protecting against the virus, including vaccination, ventilation, masking, screening for symptoms, testing, isolation for people who test positive and treatment. COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations during the last several weeks have increased in the state, though they remain below levels earlier in the pandemic. Posted 05/19/2022


  • Federal health officials warned Wednesday that a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk for the spread of COVID-19 and should consider wearing masks indoors, according to The Associated Press. (Read the full article here.) Massachusetts is now among the states considered at high-risk for the spread of the virus, The Boston Globe reports that a coalition of public health leaders, infectious disease doctors and community organizers on Wednesday called on the Baker administration to reinstitute mask mandates in public schools and transportation as infection rates and hospitalizations rise. In Rhode Island, which as of Wednesday was considered at medium risk for spread of the coronavirus, cases and hospitalizations also have been rising. Posted 5/19/22


  • About 280 deaths from COVID-19 in Rhode Island could have been prevented between January 2021 and April 2022 if 90% of the state’s adult population had been vaccinated against the virus, according to a new analysis by researchers at Brown School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Microsoft AI for Health. The researchers developed a new dashboard that models vaccine-preventable deaths based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York Times. The dashboard displays alternative scenarios based on the pace of vaccinations at the point of highest demand last spring for each state for coverage at 85%, 90% and 100% of the adult population. Read the full story on NPR here. Posted 5/16/2022


  • Dr. Ashish Jha, the new White House COVID-19 coordinator, says that the U.S. will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t swiftly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments. Jha told the Associated Press Thursday that Americans’ immune protection from the virus is waning, the virus is adapting to be more contagious and booster doses for most people will be necessary — with the potential for enhanced protection from a new generation of shots. Read the full story here. Posted 05/12/2022


  • Nationally COVID-19 cases are up, leading a smattering of school districts, particularly in the Northeast, to bring back mask recommendations and requirements, according to the Associated Press. Their return comes for the first time since the Omicron winter surge ended and as the country approaches one million deaths from the virus. Districts in Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have brought masks back in schools, with a few in Massachusetts also recommending them even as the school year enters its final weeks. Read the full story here. Posted 5/11/2022

  • As more doctors prescribe Pfizer's powerful COVID-19 pill, new questions are emerging about its performance, including why a small number of patients appear to relapse after taking the drug, according to The Associated Press. Paxlovid has become the go-to option against COVID-19 because of its at-home convenience and impressive results in heading off severe disease. But experts say there is still much to be learned about the drug, which was authorized in December for adults at high risk of severe COVID-19 based on a study in which 1,000 adults received the medication. Read the full story here. Posted 5/9/2022


  • The Biden administration is warning the United States could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new omicron subvariants, The Washington Post reported.  The BA.2 omicron subvariant continues to account for a majority of new infections in the United States, but the BA.2.12.1 subvariant is rapidly gaining ground and may soon become the most common strain. The Post reported that the new projection was made Friday by a senior administration official during a background briefing as the nation approaches a COVID-19 death toll of 1 million. The latest forecasts are being shared with lawmakers in Washington as the White House seeks to restart stalled negotiations over appropriating more funding for the coronavirus response. Read the full article here Posted 5/7/2022


  • COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 29% in Rhode Island and 41% in Massachusetts during the last 14 days, according to data analyzed by The New York Times. Nationwide, the average increase in hospitalizations during the same period was 20%. Among the biggest increases in hospitalizations were in New Hampshire (+70%) and Maine (+59%). Though hospitalizations tend to lag increases in cases by several weeks, federal health officials are focusing more on the data since the closure of state testing sites and the increase in at-home testing means new cases are likely significantly undercounted. Posted 5/6/2022


  • Federal regulators are strictly limiting who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots, the Associated Press reports. The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday the shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request J&J’s vaccine. The decision is the latest restriction to hit the company's vaccine, which has long been overshadowed in the U.S. by the more effective shots from Pfizer and Moderna. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using the Moderna and Pfizer shots over J&J’s because of its safety issues. Read the full story here. Posted 5/5/2022


  • Parents of children under 5 expressed reluctance to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a survey released Wednesday by the nonprofit KFF. More than one quarter of the parents surveyed (27%) said they will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated and 11% said they would do so “only if required” for school or daycare, according to the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey. Another 38% of parents said they would want to “wait and see” how it works for other young children before getting their child vaccinated. About a fifth (18%) of parents with children under age 5 said they intend to get their child vaccinated “right away” once federal regulators authorize its use for their child’s age group. The survey was conducted just prior to news about Moderna’s request for the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their vaccine’s use in children under 5. Posted 5/4/2022


  • Moderna is asking federal regulators to open its COVID-19 vaccine to children under 5, the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for vaccination, the Associated Press reports. Moderna submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration Thursday. The company hopes the FDA will rule in time for tots to start getting vaccinated by summer. It's a complex decision partly because while other countries give Moderna shots to older children, the U.S. so far has restricted them to adults. Only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S., using rival Pfizer’s vaccine, leaving 18 million younger tots unprotected. Read the full story here. Posted 4/28/2022


  • Community based COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held this week around Rhode Island. Registration is recommended for these clinics. To register, visit C19VaccineRI.org and click “Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics.” The COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses also are available in many healthcare providers’ offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island. More information about COVID-19 vaccination locations can be found at C19VaccineRI.org. Posted 04/27/2022


  • Providence County’s COVID-19 transmission rate has increased to “medium” risk, Rhode Island health officials reported Monday. Providence County last week was considered at “low” risk for transmission while Bristol County, Newport and Washington Counties earlier this month increased from “low” to “medium” risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases in a county is at 100 or more per 100,000 residents, the CDC considers it at medium risk. State health officials have advised residents with weakened immune systems who live in those counties to follow the CDC guidance  about masking, testing and other precautions. For more information visit covid.ri.gov. Posted 4/25/2022


  • Nationwide, new COVID-19 cases as of Friday had increased 52% in the last 14 days, after a sharp decline from the January peak, according to The New York Times. The increases are sharpest in the Northeast and Midwest. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, cases rose 33% and 51%, respectively. New Hampshire reported among the steepest inclines in the country; cases during the last 14 days in New Hampshire have more than doubled. The official case reports likely are significantly undercounting cases due the closure of mass testing sites and shift toward at-home testing. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News on April 10. “We’re probably only picking up one in seven or one in eight infections.” Posted 4/22/2022


  • The Biden administration on Wednesday appealed a federal judge’s order that struck down a requirement for passengers to wear masks on airplanes and trains and in travel hubs such as airports and train stations, The Associated Press reported. The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that the mask mandate “remains necessary for the public health.”  It remained unclear whether the Biden administration would ask the federal appeals court to grant an emergency stay to immediately reimpose the mask mandate on public transit. Legal experts told The New York Times that it was unlikely the administration would ask for a stay, and were that to happen the court could decide within days whether to grant it.  Posted 4/20/2022


  • The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority on Tuesday announced it is no longer enforcing a federal mask mandate on its buses. The announcement follows Monday’s decision by a federal judge in Florida to overturn the mask requirement in airplanes, trains, buses and other public transportation. Most major U.S. airlines also have lifted their mask requirements on domestic and some international flights.  The federal ruling came less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the mask mandate through May 3rd. The extension followed the rise of the Omicron subvariant of COVID-19, known as BA.2. While RIPTA drivers and passengers are no longer required to mask, RIPTA’s chief executive, Scott Avadesian said in a statement that the authority *encourages* people who want to continue to mask on board to do so. The Rhode Island Department of Health and the CDC continue to recommend masking on public transit including indoor waiting areas. Posted 4/18/2022


 

  • Rhode Island state health officials reported Friday that COVID-19 transmission is now at “medium” risk in Bristol, Kent, Newport and Washington Counties. The counties were considered at “low” risk of transmission earlier this month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Driven by the rise of the more contagious BA.2 Omicron variant, the seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases in those counties are at 100 or more per 100,000 residents, which the CDC considers at medium risk. State health officials advised residents with weakened immune systems who live in those counties to follow the CDC guidance  about masking, testing and other precautions. For more information visit covid.ri.gov. Posted 04/15/2022 

 

  • Rhode Island’s top health official said this week that residents will not be required to mask in public indoor spaces, despite the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases. Dr. James McDonald said state health officials will, instead, issue “recommendations and guidance” about how residents can protect themselves against the disease, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more about it here. Posted 4/15/2022


  • While far fewer people are being hospitalized for the coronavirus disease since the winter surge, The New York Times reports that Rhode Island leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases per capita. Driven by the rise of the Omicron subvariant known as BA.2, the average daily increase in new COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island during the last two weeks has more than doubled. Rhode Island’s hospitalization numbers – the primary metric state health officials consider when issuing recommendations – continue to remain relatively low, Dr. James McDonald, the state’s interim health director said Wednesday. New hospital admissions this week averaged about 40 people, compared with more than 100 in February. Posted 04/14/2022


  • The federal requirement to wear face masks on airplanes and other public transportation will be extended for two weeks as health officials monitor an uptick in COVID-19 cases, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the order, which was to expire on April 18, by two weeks to monitor for any observable increase in severe virus outcomes as cases rise in parts of the country. Airline executives and Republican lawmakers have been urging the Biden administration to let the mandate die. Posted 4/13/2022


  • Community based COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held April 12-16 around Rhode Island. Registration is recommended for these clinics. To register, visit C19VaccineRI.org and click “Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics.” The COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses also are available in many healthcare providers’ offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island. More information about COVID-19 vaccination locations can be found at C19VaccineRI.org. Posted 4/11/2022


  • After two months of steady declines, Rhode Island is among the states where coronavirus cases have recently increased. During the last 14 days, the daily average number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Rhode Island rose 56%, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s compared with a 14-day increase of 58% in Massachusetts. Rhode Island’s current case count remains at about 32% of what it was during January’s peak. Hospitalizations are now at about 10% of what they were in January and deaths are 2%, the analysis shows. Nationwide, the daily average number of new COVID-19 cases has declined 3% during the same period. Among the biggest 14-day increases were in Washington, D.C. (+106%) where Commerce Secretary and former R.I. Governor Gina Raimondo and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were among the public officials who this week reported testing positive for the virus, according to The Associated Press. Posted 04/08/2022


  • In the latest Senate package in Washington, D.C. targeted at stopping the coronavirus, U.S. lawmakers dropped nearly all funding for curbing the virus beyond American borders, a move many health experts slammed as dangerously short-sighted, The Associated Press reports. The suspension of COVID-19 aid for poorer countries, health experts warn, could ultimately allow the kind of unchecked transmission needed for the next worrisome variant to emerge and unravel much of the progress achieved so far. Read the full story here. Posted 04/07/2022


  • Rhode Island community based COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held on Friday, April 8 in Providence, and on Saturday April 9, in East Providence, Lincoln, Newport and Warwick. Registration is recommended for these clinics. To register, visit C19VaccineRI.org and click “Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics.” More information about COVID-19 vaccination locations can be found at C19VaccineRI.org. Posted 4/7/2022


  • Providence Public Schools will make face masks optional starting Monday, April 11. Rhode Island’s largest school district said that the decision follows consultation with the state health officials and feedback from students, parents, teachers and staff. Over the past several weeks the district – which has 20,000 students – has averaged less than 10 positive COVID-19 cases per day, the district said in a statement released Wednesday. In a community survey conducted last week, the district said, about 70% of the more than 3,000 respondents agreed with making masks optional for students and staff. Of those who favor the mask optional policy, the district said, 52% “strongly agree” and 17% “agree.’’ Another 11% “disagree” and 12% “strongly disagree” with making masks optional. The remaining 8% said they were neutral. The single largest group of respondents who supported making masking optional – 61% – were school staff, according to the survey results. Posted 4/6/2022


  • Rhode Island is offering second COVID-19 booster doses to people age 50 or older and those 12 or older who have compromised or weak immunity systems, in accordance with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The second booster dose can be given four months after the initial booster. Dr. Philip A. Chan, an infectious disease specialist and consultant medical director at the state Department of Health, said at a news conference Friday that he strongly recommends that people with compromised or weak immune systems get the second dose because of their higher risk of several illnesses and death from COVID-19. “For other people who are eligible for the second booster doses,” Chan said, “my recommendation is to talk to your health care provider.’’ Governor Daniel J. McKee, 70, received a second booster dose from Chan at the news conference. For more information about second booster doses visit C19vaccineri.org. Posted 4/1/2022


  • COVID-19 was the primary cause of about one-quarter of the people hospitalized in Rhode Island during the past four weeks, according to new data released this week by the state Department of Health. That’s compared with 77% of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 as the primary cause last December, during the omicron surge. The percentage of hospitalizations attributed primarily to COVID-19 began to decline in January, to 61%, but the overall number of people hospitalized with the virus spiked to 1,240 people, more than four times the 291 people hospitalized for the virus two months earlier. The surge in virus-related hospitalizations helps explain the outcry in January by doctors about critical staffing shortages at hospitals. The data marks the first time since the start of the pandemic that the state has provided a breakdown of hospitalizations by whether COVID-19 was the primary cause, a contributing cause or not a cause. Another 15% had COVID-19 listed as a contributing cause. The remaining 59% hospitalized during the past four weeks were there for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 but tested positive for the virus, the data shows. Posted 03/31/2022


  • Americans 50 and older can get a second COVID-19 booster if it’s been at least four months since their last vaccination, a chance at extra protection for the most vulnerable in case the coronavirus rebounds, the Associated Press reports.. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for that age group and for certain younger people with severely weakened immune systems. Read the full story here. Posted 03/29/2022


  • COVID-19 booster rates in Rhode Island have barely budged during the recent lull in cases, according to state health data. The number of booster doses administered in Rhode Island during the three week period ending March 24 rose less than 2% compared with a more than 18% increase over the same period ending Jan. 25, the data shows. Fewer than half of all Rhode Islanders 18 and older (47%) have received a COVID-19 booster dose. Even so, Rhode Island leads the nation in booster rates with more than three-quarters (76%) of all residents age 65 or older having had their boosters, the third-highest rate in the country, according to The New York Times. The booster rates for people 65 and older in Massachusetts and Connecticut are 66% and 71% respectively. Posted 3/28/2022


  • The Biden administration is planning to give Americans age 50 or older the option of a second booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccine without recommending outright that they get one, the New York Times reports. Read the full story here. Posted 3/25/2022


  • Scientists worry that a contagious coronavirus variant called BA.2 may soon push cases up in the United States just as it has in Europe and Asia. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows overall COVID-19 cases have been trending down. But the share caused by BA.2 is up significantly; the variant accounted for about 35% of new infections reported last week. In the Northeast, it was about half. Read the full story here. Posted 3/22/2022


  • Drugmaker Moderna has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a fourth shot of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for all adults, according to The Associated Press. The request, made Thursday, is broader than rival pharmaceutical company Pfizer's request earlier this week for the regulator to approve a booster shot for all seniors. Read the full story here. Posted 3/18/2022


  • Community based COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held Saturday, March 19 in Lincoln, Warwick, Cumberland, and Providence, and Sunday, March 20 in Providence. To register, visit C19VaccineRI.org and click “Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics.” More information about COVID-19 vaccination locations can be found at C19VaccineRI.org. Posted 3/18/2022


  • Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health and an outspoken public health advocate during the pandemic, is heading to Washington, D.C. Jha has been tapped by President Joe Biden to lead his administration’s COVID-19 response. Read the full story here. Posted 03/17/2022


  • Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee on Wednesday extended the COVID-19 state of emergency for another four weeks. In his latest executive order, McKee said the order would remain “in full force and effect” through April 14 unless renewed, modified or terminated by a subsequent executive order. The order, originally scheduled to expire March 16, extends McKee’s emergency powers to, among other things, require mask-wearing in schools and protect health care facilities from lawsuits. Posted 03/16/2022


  • Pharmacy giant Pfizer and its partners, BioNTech, will seek emergency authorization for a second booster shot for their COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The effort is designed to bolster waning immunity that occurs several months after the first booster, the newspaper reported. The submission to the Food and Drug Administration is expected to include data collected in Israel, one of the few countries that has authorized a second booster for older people. (Read the full story here.) Posted 03/15/2022


  • The seven-day percent positive rate for coronavirus infections in Rhode Island on Tuesday rose to 3.73%, marking a week-long rise and the highest since Feb. 22, according to state Health Department data. The positivity rate, which has been ticking up since March 8 when it fell below 3%, remains less than half the double-digit levels earlier this year. The percent positive is considered a critical measure of how widespread infection is in the area of testing, and whether the levels of testing are keeping up with disease transmission, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The World Health Organization recommended in May that the percent positive remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening. Two other key indicators – the rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and hospital admissions – both have continued to decline. Posted 03/15/2022


  • Brown University is lifting its mask mandate effective Monday, March 14. The university also is making testing for undergraduate students who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines optional, the university said in an email from Russell C. Carey, the university’s executive vice president of planning and policy. The changes are due to the “high campus compliance with vaccination requirements and declining numbers of reported positive test results,” Carey said in the email. Brown requires all employees and students who are on campus or conduct in-person instruction to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. Brown previously required undergraduates to do two rapid COVID-19 tests per week since the start of spring semester due to the surge in the omicron variant. Students are advised to continue to carry a “well-fitting KN95, KF94, N95 or disposable/surgical mask at all times,” the email said, and the university “encourages all students, staff and faculty to wear a mask whenever you choose to do so and for any reason (including personal and community protection against seasonal flu and colds).” Posted 3/14/22


  • Rhode Island health care workers who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will be allowed to continue to work as long as they wear medical grade N95 masks when transmission rates in the state are at 50 cases or more per 100,000 people per week, according to a new emergency regulation published by the state Department of Health on Friday. The state reported 119 new cases per 100,000 people for the week of March 5. The state considers health care workers up to date for COVID-19 vaccinations when they have received booster doses, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The emergency measure replaces the state’s current vaccination requirement which is due to expire March 12. The emergency measure mirrors the changes the department has proposed for the state’s permanent health care worker vaccination regulations, which will not become effective for at least several weeks because the public comment period remains open, Joseph Wendelken, a department spokesman, said in a statement. As of last month, he said, roughly 94% of the state’s health care workforce have been vaccinated. Posted 3/11/22


  • Federal officials are extending the requirement for masks on planes and public transportation for one more month — through mid-April — while taking steps that could lead to lifting the rule, the Associated Press reports. The mask mandate was scheduled to expire March 18, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Thursday that it will extend the requirement through April 18.TSA said the extra month will give the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention time to develop new, more targeted policies that will consider the number of cases of COVID-19 nationally and in local communities, and the risk of new variants. The TSA enforces the rule, which extends to planes, buses, trains and transit hubs. Posted 3/11/22

For a more complete archive of updates on coronavirus, click here.