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Rhode Island (Updated November 30, 2021)

  • New cases: 733
  • 7-day positivity rate: 4.43%
  • Hospitalized: 155
  • Total deaths: 2,932 (5 new)
  • Vaccinated: 851,729 received at least one dose; 763,128 fully vaccinated

Massachusetts (Updated November 30, 2021)

  • New cases: 2,915
  • 7-day positivity rate: 4.46%
  • Hospitalized: 906
  • Total confirmed deaths: 18,991 (31 new)
  • Vaccinated: 5,375,085 received at least one dose; 4,861,312 fully vaccinated

New cases and deaths are for the previous day. RI numbers are updated on weekdays after 2 P.M.; MA numbers are updated after 5 P.M.







The Latest


  • Federal health officials are recommending COVID-19 booster shots for all adults as the new omicron variant is identified in more countries, The Associated Press reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously approved boosters for all adults, but only recommended them for people 50 years and older or if they live in a long-term care setting. The omicron variant has not yet been identified in the U.S. but federal health officials say it will inevitably reach this country. The boosters are recommended for people 18 or older six months after receiving their initial Pfizer or Moderna series, or two months after their initial Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC director said in a statement. (For more information visit covid.ri.gov/vaccination.)


  • Rhode Island health officials reported that 75 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Pilgrim High School in Warwick as of Tuesday following an outbreak linked to a Nov. 6 homecoming dannce. Principal Gerald Habershaw, 57, who had been fully vaccinated, died Saturday of complications from COVID-19, his brother, David Habershaw, told The Providence Journal. The newspaper reported that video taken during the homecoming dance reportedly showed the principal and students without masks. The dance was held in a tent outside the school building, but video reportedly showed students congregating inside the school where food was being several. Masking is required inside school district buildings in Rhode Island. Of the 75 people who tested positive for COVID-19, 68 were students and another seven were staff, the health department data shows. At least 45 of the people who tested positive for the virus attended the homecoming dance, Joseph Wendelken, a health department spokesman, said in an email Monday. The school had shifted to remove learning Nov. 20, and returned to classrooms after the Thanksgiving holiday.  Enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols at the homecoming dance is under investigation.


  • The U.S.is expected to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region beginning Monday in an effort to contain a new, potentially more dangerous coronavirus variant discovered in the region, The Associated Press reported Friday.  A World Health Organization panel has named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern. That's the same category that includes the delta variant currently dominant in the U.S. and Europe.


  • Rhode Island health officials said the early arrival of the flu season coupled with an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospital staffing shortages are resulting in longer wait times in hospital emergency rooms. Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott is urging residents who need non-emergency medical care to call their primary care providers or visit an urgent care clinic. For a list of medical providers visit the Health Department’s new web page


  • Rhode Island’s health director is urging residents 18 and older who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to sign up for a booster dose. The state’s high test-positivity rate for the virus -- 5.1% on Tuesday -- means that many adult residents are at higher risk of exposure and are eligible for the boosters under the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization guidelines, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said at a Nov. 16 briefing. About 72% of Rhode Islanders have been vaccinated against COVID-19, among the highest rates in the U.S. But Alexander-Scott said the state has plenty of COVID-19 vaccines available.


  • A Rhode Island Superior Court judge has declined a request by a group of parents for an injunction to block the state’s student mask mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In a 47-page decision issued Nov. 12, Judge Jeffrey A. Lanphear said that the state Department of Health had the legal authority to enact the emergency rule  and that Gov. Dan McKee was within his constitutional authority to carry out the emergency order. McKee imposed a student mask mandate in August, after the state Council of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in favor of university masking in schools. McKee issued an executive order Aug. 19 for all schools to comply with the state Department of Health’s masking protocols.


  • The Rhode Island Department of Health has notified two hospitals that their facilities are in violation of the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Eleanor Slater Hospital and Landmark Medical Center each received notices of violation following unannounced inspections on Nov. 1, according to state records. State inspectors found 17 of Landmark’s 21 unvaccinated workers, and 10 of Eleanor Slater’s unvaccinated workers were scheduled to work on Nov. 1, according to the notices. None of the unvaccinated workers were medically exempt from the state mandate, the notices said. State health officials have ordered Landmark and Eleanor Slater to hire independent monitors approved by the department to provide daily updates on each employee’s vaccination status. The hospitals have 10 days from receipt of the violation notices to comply with the vaccine mandate or face fines.


  • Burrillville High School shifted all classes to on-line instruction the first week in November after several students and staff tested positive for COVID-19. Classes are expected to remain online for the rest of the week “in an abundance of caution,” the school district’s superintendent, Michael Sollitto, and the high school’s principal, Michael Whaley, said in a Nov. 2 letter posted on the school department website. A “large number of students” have been identified as close contacts of those infected, the letter said, and must quarantine and/or be tested. School officials said they were notified last Friday about the positive tests and have been working with state health officials to identify and notify close contacts of those infected. The high school is expected to resume in-person instruction on Monday, Nov. 5.


  • Rhode Island children ages 5 to 11 can now be vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Dan McKee and state health officials announced Wednesday. The state approved the expanded eligibility after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, late Tuesday followed the recommendation from CDC advisors to give a green light to pediatric-sized doses (10 micrograms) of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group. The vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart. About 900 doses of vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old have arrived in Rhode Island so far, and another 9,900 additional doses are expected Wednesday, state health officials said in a statement. Thousands more doses are expected in the coming days. Because much of Rhode Island’s vaccine for this population is still in transit, vaccines may not be available in some of the settings for several days.  (For more information visit covid.ri.gov/vaccination.)

Vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 will be able, by appointment, at the following sights: 

  • School clinics starting the week of Nov.7, will be open during evening hours to vaccinate children, whether or not they are enrolled at the host school.
  • Doctor’s offices Fewer than half of the state’s pediatrician and family physicians have signed up so far to provide the COVID-19vaccine to children. Contact your child’s healthcare provider to find out if they are one of them.
  • The state-run clinic at Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston: appointments will start to become available Wednesday at 2 p.m. on VaccinateRI.org.  If you need help scheduling an appointment call 844-930-1779.
  • Pharmacies: Many CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop and Shop sites are expected to begin this weekend. Visit pharmacy websites for more information. Appointments for independent pharmacies will be listed on VaccinateRI.org.
  • Health centers: Many health centers are doing direct outreach to their patients about vaccine availability.
  • Community clinics: community clinics will be scheduled in the coming weeks.


  • An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted Tuesday that all children ages 5 to 11 should get Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, the Associated Press reported. The CDC’s director, Rochelle Waleksy, signs off, late Tuesday. This marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of a COVID-19 vaccine. Shots for children under 12 could begin this week, as Pfizer already is packing and shipping the first orders, millions of doses, to states and pharmacies. The Food and Drug Administration has already authorized emergency use of kid-sized doses for children ages 5 to 11. But the CDC also must sign off before widespread vaccinations of that age group begin.


  • Rhode Island is giving away $1.00 lottery baseball scratch tickets to the first 1,000 residents 18 and older who get their first COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gov. Dan McKee joined WPRO anchorman Gene Valicenti and John Hazen White, Jr., owner of Taco Comfort Solutions, at a kick-off of R.I. Lottery Scratch Ticket Vaccine Incentive at noon. As of Monday, just over 91% of adults in Rhode Island were at least partially vaccinated; nearly 83% of adults had completed their primary vaccinations, according to state health department data. More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available at C19vaccineRI.org.


  • Mobile vaccine clinics this week will begin rolling out of New Bedford, MA, leaving behind a city where just under half of all residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision has left leaders on the front lines of the port city’s fight against the coronavirus increasingly looking to vaccine mandates. It's a strategy used across state government in the Bay State that has helped boost vaccination rates to among the highest rates in the country. (Read the full story here.)


  • The Food and Drug Administration authorized kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for children ages 5 to 11 to be vaccinated, the Associated Press reported. On Oct. 29, the FDA cleared the kid-sized doses -- just a third of the amount given to teens and adults -- for emergency use in children. Roughly 80,000 children in Rhode Island would be eligible for the vaccine, according to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state’s health director. Rhode Island has one of the highest cumulative COVID-19 infection rates among children since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.


  • Governor McKee announced the launch Oct. 27 of a pilot COVID-19 testing program at Westerly public schools. The federally-funded “test-to-stay” program is designed to prevent students from missing class due to quarantining. Parents of students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade can now give consent for their children to receive a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 if they have been exposed to the virus in school. Children who test negative and remain symptom-free will be allowed to stay in school rather than quarantine. The same testing option will be offered to school staff, Joseph Wendelken, a health department spokesman, said.


  • A federal advisory panel has endorsed kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds. The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Oct. 26 voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks, the Associated Press reported. That includes questions about a heart-related side effect that’s been very rare in teens and young adults despite their use of a much higher vaccine dose. While children are far less likely than older people to get severe COVID-19, ultimately many panelists decided it’s important to give parents the choice to protect their youngsters — especially those at high risk of illness or who live in places where other precautions, like masks in schools, aren’t being used.


  • Eleanor Slater Hospital’s medical unit in Burrillville is temporarily restricting all visitation after two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The no-visitation policy was imposed Oct. 26 after the state-run hospital learned of the two new infections, Randal Edgar, a hospital spokesman, said. Eleanor Slater provides medical care at its Zambrano unit in Burrillville as well as psychiatric care at three other units in Cranston. As of Oct. 19, 69 of the 856 of the hospital’s full-time staff and contract workers -- 8% of the staff -- had not been vaccinated, Edgar said. Eleanor Slater was one of 92 health care facilities in Rhode Island that were given an additional 30 days, until Oct. 31, to comply with the state mandate to have 100% of their staff fully vaccinated. In addition to restricting visitors, Eleanor Slater conducting twice-weekly testing of staff and patients on the affected units, and weekly testing of other patients and staff. The precautions will remain in effect for 14 days, he said.


  • Rhode Island is offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters to eligible residents who completed their primary vaccinations, Gov. Dan McKee and state health officials announced Friday. People eligible for the boosters can choose which brand of vaccine they receive, regardless of their primary vaccination, enabling people to “mix and match” boosters as permitted in recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following residents who have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccination at least six months ago are eligible for a single Moderna booster: 
  • Anyone age 65 or older;
  • Anyone age 18 or older who lives in a long-term care setting;
  • Anyone age 18 or older who has an underlying medical condition; and
  • Anyone age 18 or older who lives or works in high-risk settings.

A single Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 booster is available to anyone 18 or older who completed their primary vaccine at least two months earlier.

The Pfizer COVID-19 booster has been available since Sept. 24 to eligible residents who completed their primary vaccine at least six months earlier. 

Residents who are unable to leave their homes can request services for in-home booster doses. For more information:  https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination#athome'


  • Federal regulators have approved COVID-19 boosters for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they initially received, the Associated Press reported. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision on Wednesday marks a big step forward to expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began in September with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine. But before people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will consult an expert panel Thursday before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.


  • Rhode Island is gearing up to begin vaccinating roughly 80,000 children as young as 5 against COVID-19. Federal health officials are expected to decide in early- to mid-November on a request to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The Food and Drug Administration has tentatively scheduled a meeting on Oct. 26 to consider the request.  Rhode Island Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said Thursday that she expects high demand for the vaccine among parents. She advised parents with questions about whether to vaccinate their children to consult their pediatricians.

 

  • Rhode Island is deconstruct its remaining field hospital in Cranston. The Cranston Alternative Hospital, at 100 Sockanosset Cross Rd., was one of two field hospitals -- the other at the Rhode Island Convention Center -- built in the spring of 2020 as rising COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. Both field hospitals were decommissioned last February, but Gov. Dan McKee reopened the Cranston site in August, as cases of COVID-19 began to climb due to the spread of the Delta variant. McKee said Oct. 14 that the state no longer anticipated a need for the field


  • Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee is joining state health officials in urging Rhode Islanders to get their free annual flu shots along with their COVID-19 vaccinations. People can get their flu shots and COVID-19 vaccinations during the same visit to a pharmacy, primary care provider, school vaccination clinic or other site where both vaccinations are available. Anyone six months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine, state health officials said. Vaccination is especially important for pregnant women, people 65 and older, younger children, people with chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and asthma), health care workers and people who live with or care for people at high risk of flu-related complications. For more information go to health.ri.gov/flu.)


  • Rhode Island will receive nearly $1.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse costs associated with the state’s COVID-19 response, the federal agency announced Wednesday. The $1,490,011 in public assistance grant funding to the Rhode Island Department of Health will cover pandemic-related expenses for public health outreach including daily case information to the public, municipal officials, businesses and schools as well as testing and contact tracing. The funds are for the period from September through December 2020. The latest grant brings the total pandemic-related funding awarded by FEMA to Rhode Island to nearly $291 million. 


  • Johnson & Johnson has asked federal regulators to allow booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the government moves to shore up protection provided by all three vaccines. The Associated Press reports that Johnson & Johnson said has filed data with the Food and Drug Administration on giving a booster dose between two to six months after vaccination. The FDA has scheduled an Oct. 15 meeting of its expert advisory committee to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. The FDA last month authorized a booster shot for many recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the agency is considering doing the same this month for the Moderna vaccine


  • Ninety-two health care facilities in Rhode Island -- including 35 nursing homes, 15 assisted living facilities and seven hospitals -- have been given another 30 days, until Oct. 31, to comply with the state mandate to have 100% of their staff fully vaccinated, according to state health department data released Friday night. Among them are four hospitals operated by Lifespan -- Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital and Bradley Hospital -- as well as Landmark Medical Center, Westerly Hospital and the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital. All 92 facilities have agreed to comply with “corrective action plans” filed with the state Department of Health.  On Oct. 1, Lifespan officials said that nearly 98% of its workforce is partially or fully vaccinated; Care New England said 97% of its employees had at least one dose of the vaccine.

 

  • A federal judge has denied a request by four unnamed people to block Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to the Associated Press. U.S. Court Judge Mary S. McElroy wrote in her decision Thursday that courts have held over a century that mandatory vaccination laws, which have withstood numerous constitutional challenges,  are a valid exercise of a state’s police powers. The legal challenge to the mandate that takes effect Friday was filed by four people who work in the health care field, including a doctor and a nurse.


  • Friday’s deadline for Rhode Island health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 appears to have persuaded many hold-outs to get the shots. More than 95% of Care New England’s workforce has been vaccinated against COVID-19, hospital officials said, up from 85 percent during the first week of September. “This number continues to climb by the day and the hour,” Dr. James E. Finale, president and CEO of Care New England, said in a statement Wednesday. Lifespan, the state’s largest health system, reports that about 96% of its workforce has had at least one dose of the vaccine. And about 83% of the workers at Eleanor Slater Hospital are vaccinated, Randy Edgar, a hospital spokesman said Wednesday. That’s compared with fewer than half of the workforce who were vaccinated at the state-run hospital in mid-July. Hospital officials say they have contingency plans, including hiring contract workers, to cope with staffing shortages.


  • A Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied a request by the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters to block enforcement of the state’s vaccine mandate, which takes effect Friday. Judge Melissa Darigan ruled at a hearing that the lawsuit filed by the lobbying arm of about 20 firefighters’ unions failed to show that the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers -- including Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) -- violates firefighters’ constitutional or collective-bargaining rights. Most of Rhode Island’s firefighters are also licensed EMTs who answer emergency medical calls. About 8% of the State Association's 1,500 members remain unvaccinated, said Joseph  Andriole, the association's business agent. In denying the association's request for an emergency restraining order, Darigan said that it was unlikely the firefighters would succeed in any constitutional challenge to mandate, citing decades of case law from other states in which the courts have denied First Amendment challenges to vaccine mandates, even when no religious exemption was offered.


  • A group of Rhode Island health care workers has filed suit in federal court alleging that the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow for religious exemptions. The lawsuit alleges that Rhode Island is the only state other than Maine and New York which outlaws consideration of religious exemptions. Maine’s vaccine mandate is the subject of two lawsuits; a federal court has issued temporary injunctions against New York’s vaccine mandate for health care workers and teachers. The plaintiffs in the Rhode Island suit, filed Sept. 21, include a doctor, a nurse, a hospital clerk and a health unit coordinator identified only by single initials. The Rhode Island regulation requires all employees of state-licensed health care facilities to be vaccinated by Friday. Only employees with a medical exemption are permitted to remain unvaccinated.


  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-18 vaccine boosters are now available in Rhode Island for people ages 65 and older, those with underlying medical conditions, and residents of long-term care facilities, state officials announced Friday. Given the state’s high vaccination rates, demand for vaccinations is expected to be higher for the next six weeks, state officials said in a statement, and thanked residents in advance for their patience. Appointments are strongly encouraged, they said, to ensure that enough vaccines are available at the sites and to reduce wait times. To make an appointment visit C19vaccineRI.org. People who need assistance making appointments can call: 844-930-1779, (401)222-8022, or 211.


  • The Rhode Island Department of Health says about 87 percent of Rhode Island’s healthcare facility workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s according to data released Tuesday. The state has set October 1st as a deadline for requiring healthcare workers in the state to be vaccinated. According to the Department of Health, some unvaccinated healthcare workers may still be able to work, if the healthcare facility demonstrates those employees are mitigating “a risk to quality of patient care.”


  • Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon, a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters. The Associated Press reported the vaccine maker said Monday it plans to seek authorization for this age group soon in the U.S., Britain and Europe. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.


  • An advisory panel to the federal Food And Drug Administration (FDA) overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to offer Pfizer booster shots against COVID-19 to most Americans, saying that the drug maker had provided little data on the safety and efficacy of extra doses, according to the Associated Press. But the committee of outside experts endorsed extra shots for those who are 65 or older or other groups a high risk of severe disease.


  •  Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee is expected to renew an executive order requiring masking in schools, which is set to expire Saturday, Sept. 18. Asked by The Public’s Radio during the governor's weekly COVID-19 briefing Wednesday whether he would renew the school masking mandate, McKee replied, “yes,” without elaborating. Alana O’Hare, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in an email: “A priority for the Governor and his team is the safety of students in our schools. Right now, children under the age of 12 cannot get vaccinated and the Delta variant, which is highly transmissible, remains a dominant."


  • Health care employees in Rhode Island who fail to be vaccinated could face disciplinary action or termination, according to new state health department regulations. Employees of hospitals, clinics and other state-licensed health care facilities have until Oct. 1 to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who are not vaccinated by then will be placed on leave without pay for up to 75 days to allow them time to become vaccinated. If they are unable to provide proof of vaccination by Dec. 15, 2021, the regulations state, they will face “progressive discipline, up to and including termination.”


  • Block Island residents and visitors will be required to wear face masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, starting Friday. The emergency ordinance was approved Thursday night to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the island prepares for an influx of visitors over the Labor Day weekend. People who violate the ordinance could face a $50 fine. Restaurant patrons are not required to wear a mask while eating or drinking. Young children are among those exempt from the order.


  • All University of Rhode Island faculty and non-classified staff will be required to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 15, or request a medical or religious exemption. URI employees granted exemptions will have to submit to twice-weekly testing and remain physically distanced from others, the university said in a statement released Thursday. URI students, faculty and staff who are not vaccinated and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will not be permitted on campus.


  • Rhode Island health officials are asking residents to refrain from using hospital emergency rooms unless they are having a true medical emergency, citing emergency department crowding and prolonged wait times. More patients are visiting emergency departments which are already short on nursing staff, state health officials said in a statement Monday. Rhode Island Hospital and Landmark Medical Center this year have reported increases in ambulances being diverted to other hospitals due to emergency department crowding, state health department data shows. And it could get worse as COVID-19 cases continue to climb and the flu season begins. State health officials said anyone with back pain, flu-like symptoms or minor cuts will be seen more quickly by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility.

  • With less than five weeks for Rhode Island's health care workers to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, more than a quarter of the staff at Eleanor Slater Hospital remain unvaccinated, state officials confirmed Friday. Of the 859 health care workers at Eleanor Slater, 635 employees or about 26% of the staff remain unvaccinated, Randy Edgar, a spokesman for the state Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDD), said in an email. The recommended interval between doses is 21 days for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for Moderna. The other option is to get a single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Sept. 17 to meet the deadline.


  • Gov. Dan McKee said Thursday he will sign an executive order to allow retired nurses and other health care workers to rejoin the workforce without "sacrificing" their pensions. Rhode Island is bracing for staffing shortages this fall as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase due to the spread of the Delta variant, along with the seasonal flu and a rise in retirements nationwide due to pandemic fatigue.


  •  Lifespan has announced new visitation restrictions for its hospitals and out-patient clinics in Rhode Island due to the increase in the state’s COVID-10 cases. The state’s largest hospital said Aug. 24 that restrictions include fewer visitors per patient; fewer family members/escorts allowed upon arrival at the emergency department and no outside food may be brought into its facilities during visits. Hospital cafeterias will continue to remain open to visitors. Lifespan operates Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital. Detailed visitor guidelines at all Lifespan locations are available  online.


  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, a milestone that could help improve public confidence in the shots in the face of the most contagious coronavirus variant yet. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech has been available since it was granted emergency authorization use on Dec. 11, 2020. The full approval, means that the Pfizer vaccine has passed the agency’s standard review process for quality, safety and effectiveness for people ages 16 and older


  • All Rhode Island COVID-19  testing and vaccination sites were expected to reopen Monday except for those in Westerly, Gov. Dan McKee said at a briefing Sunday. People who had appointments on Saturday that were cancelled due to the storm should show up Monday, he said, and they will be vaccinated. All pop-up vaccination clinics scheduled for Tuesday will go on planned; all others will be rescheduled. Pharmacies and other privately-run vaccination sites will reopen as power is restored to their facilities.


  • Rhode Island Gov. Daniel J. McKee said Thursday he will sign an executive order to require masking in all schools that have not already adopted a mandatory masking policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The announcement during a weekly media briefing marks a sharp turn for the Democratic governor, who previously said he would leave it up to school districts to decide whether or not to require masking.  The decision follows the announcement Tuesday by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Republican, to mandate masking in Connecticut schools.


  •  As COVID-19 cases among children nationally climb, Rhode Island Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott urged school superintendents in an Aug. 18 letter “to enforce an indoor mask requirement across the schools in your district...to protect the health and safety of those in your community and all Rhode Islanders.” Since early August, the COVID-19 positivity rate for children in Rhode Island ages 5 to 18 years old has risen above 5% compared with 3.5% for people 30 and older. The highest positivity rate has been 5.9% among children 10 to 14, the director said in the letter. States such as Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas that have recently reopened schools without these mitigation measures have seen surges in COVID-19 cases among children hospitalized, “a scenario we have the power to avoid.”


  • Rhode Island school districts will be required to mandate masking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in order to reopen schools, according to the R.I. Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to direct the state Department of Education to reject any local school reopening plans that don’t include mask mandates for students and teachers. Schools are scheduled to return to fully in-person classes this fall. Earlier this summer, state education officials said that decisions on whether or not to mandate masking would fall to local school districts. But that changed following concerns about the spread of the Delta variant, and the rise in COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island. Gov. Dan McKee has rejected calls from 34 state lawmakers to mandate masking in schools, saying he is leaving it up to local school districts.


  • Workers in all Rhode Island hospitals, nursing homes and other state-licensed health care facilities must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by Oct.1 or they will be prohibited from entering the facilities, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday. Facilities where employees violate the new state regulation may face financial penalties and/or suspension/revocation of the facility’s license, in addition to disciplinary action against the  individual employees who fail to  comply, the department said in a statement. The COVID-19 healthcare worker vaccination regulations and additional resources are available online.


  • More than 100 COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be open in Rhode Island from early August through mid-September as part of a push to get students 12 or older vaccinated before the start of school. Gov. Dan McKee and state health and education officials are urging eligible students and their families to get vaccinated to protect against the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant. To learn more about vaccinations and to sign up visit vaccinateri.org. For a full list of back-to-school clinics visit back2schoolri.com.


  • Rhode Island officials have announced plans to make third doses of the coronavirus vaccine available for people with weakened immune systems by early next week. The move follows a unanimous vote Friday by advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that people who are immunocompromised get a third shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. NPR reports that CDC officials presented studies to the committee showing that people with conditions that weaken their immune systems or who are taking treatments to suppress immunity are at higher risk of prolonged coronavirus infection and transmission and more likely to transmit the virus to people in their household. Rhode Island Gov. Daniel J. McKee and state Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott announced the decision in a joint statement Friday. 

 

  • Rhode Island’s courthouses now require all employees and visitors to wear face masks or coverings to protect against the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The executive order issued Friday by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell that was posted on Twitter says masking is required inside or around state court buildings, including in entryways, exits, stairways, restrooms and other common areas.


  • Starting Friday, all employees and visitors to any state building in Rhode Island, regardless of vaccination status, must wear face masks to prevent spread of the coronavirus, James E. Thorsen, director of the state Department of Administration said in a statement. The masking requirement follows the July 27 recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for indoor masking in areas such as Rhode Island which the CDC considers high transmission. The mandate for state buildings will remain in effect in the state until there is a “marked and sustained decline in the transmission of COVID-19,'' the statement said. Anyone who has a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, the statement said, must contact the state Human Resources and Disability Management Unit to seek an exemption from the mandate.


  • Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner have joined the American Academy of Pediatrics in calling for a statewide mask mandate in Rhode Island schools this fall. Gorbea and Magaziner, who are both expected to challenge McKee next year in the Democratic primary for governor, issued statements Wednesday urging McKee to institute mandatory masking since many students are still unvaccinated amid the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus. McKee has left it up to school districts to set masking policies, though when pressed at a news conference said that he expects school superintendents to “follow the CDC guidance,” which is for universal masking in schools K-12. 

 

  • As demand for COVID-19 tests surges in Rhode Island, state health officials have begun requiring appointments to get tested at most state-run testing sites. Rhode Islanders can schedule a free test online at portal.ri.gov or by calling 401-222-8022. Insurance is accepted but not required. If you arrive at a state-run testing site without an appointment, staff there will help you schedule a same-day test. The testing site for travelers at T.F. Green Airport will continue to accept walk-ups. The state also operates mobile pop-up test sites that do not require appointments. The schedule for the mobile pop-up sites is available online. Demand for COVID-19 testing at state sites rose 69% from the week of July 26 to Aug. 7, state health officials said, as coronavirus cases have spiked amid the fast-spreading Delta variant. The state is considering opening additional test sites if demand continues to increase, state health officials said in an statement Wednesday.


  • Rhode Island will require all employees of nursing homes, hospitals and other state-licensed health care facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1., Gov. Daniel J. McKee said Tuesday. The move followed Massachusetts and Connecticut which last week announced vaccination mandates for all staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in those states. In Rhode Island, Lifespan and Care New England, the state's two largest hospital systems, said earlier this month that they will require their employees be vaccinated by September.


  • Rhode Island is now at a high transmission rate for the coronavirus for the first time since early May, according to state health data released Aug 2. The COVID-19 cases ticked up from moderate to substantial transmission over the weekend and crossed the threshold to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers high transmission after new cases hit 103 per 100,000 population. The CDC also reports high transmission rates in Bristol County, MA, which includes part of Cape Cod.


  • The City of Central Falls is requiring that all members of the public, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks inside City Hall, the Police Department and other city-owned public buildings beginning Aug. 2. The city is the first in Rhode Island to enact a mask order in the wake of a rise in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the highly-contagious Delta variant. The CDC recommended on July 27 that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear a mask in public indoor spaces in communities with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. Central Falls has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases of any community in Rhode Island, according to state health data.


  • Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island's two largest hospital systems, will both require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The move, announced Tuesday, comes in response to rising transmission rates of the Delta variant of the virus. In a emailed statement today, CNE President and CEO James Fanale said, “It is our responsibility to keep our patients, and our staff, safe. This program will be based on the best evidence that we have to date about preventing transmission of COVID-19. ” CNE has required all students, volunteers and new hires to be fully vaccinated since July 1st. It will require managers to begin the vaccination series by Labor Day. Complete details of implementation for all staff will be released in the next 7-10 days. Lifespan will require all employees, regardless of their role, to be vaccinated by September 1, 2021.


  • Ten Rhode Island nonprofit organizations will receive $10,000 grants to mark the vaccination of another 5,000 Rhode Islanders against COVID-19, Gov. Dan McKee’s office announced  Monday. The program aimed at encouraging Rhode Islanders to be vaccinated and helping organizations that have worked on the front lines of the pandemic. The $100,000 in grants awarded marks the first of four rounds of the $750,000 RI Gives Vax Challenge to vaccinate 20,000 more residents. The state contributed $500,000 to the challenge; the $250,000 was provided by the nonprofit Rhode Island Foundation. Eligible nonprofits are selected by lottery. The recipients of this first round are: Access To Recovery Inc.; Adoption Rhode Island; Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center; The Elisha Project; Pawtucket Soup Kitchen; Refugee Development Center; Rhode Island Free Clinic; Southern Rhode Island Volunteers and The WARM Center. (Track the grants here.) Applications will be accepted through July 30 at rifoundation.org/vax.


  • Six school and child care COVID-19 testing sites in Rhode Island are scheduled to close at the end of the month as testing becomes more accessible in traditional healthcare settings, state officials announced Thursday. Five other state-run school and child care testing sites will remain open, along with 14 additional fixed testing locations, state health officials said in a statement. Other test sites include retail pharmacies, respiratory clinics, doctor’s offices and mobile and pop-up test sites. Saturday, July 31 will be the last day for COVID-19 testing at the following locations:
  • Bristol Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 605 Metacom Ave.; Bristol, RI 02809
  • Cranston Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 275 Warwick Ave.; Cranston, RI 02905
  • Lincoln YMCA Parking Lot: 32 Breakneck Hill Rd.; Lincoln, RI 02865
  • Providence Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 850 Manton Ave.; Providence, RI 02909
  • Smithfield Fidelity Investment Hedquarters Parking Lot: 100 Salem St.; Smithfield, RI 02917
  • Westerly Walmart Parking Lot: 258 Post Rd.; Westerly, RI 02891. For more information about COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island visit covid.ri.gov/testing.


  • Only 12% of Rhode Island’s primary care offices surveyed offer COVID-19 vaccinations in their offices, according to data presented Tuesday to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee. The lack of availability of the vaccine at pediatricians’ offices could present barriers for parents to getting their children immunized before students return to their classrooms. While 77 % adults (18 and older) are at least partially vaccinated, fewer than half of residents ages 12-15 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, state health data shows.  


  • Beginning July 10, drive-through vaccinations will be available for anyone age 12 or older on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Wickford Junction Train Station Parking Garage, 1011 Ten Rod Rd., North Kingstown, R.I. The clinic will administer first or second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. To receive a second dose, visitors must ensure that it has been at least 21 days since their first dose. This clinic is open to Rhode Islanders and people who live in other states or who may be visiting Rhode Island. Appointments are recommended, but not required. Individuals seeking vaccination must arrive in a vehicle. No walk-ups will be accepted. The clinic will be held, rain or shine, in the Wickford Junction Train Station parking garage. To register for an appointment, visit www.vaccinateri.org or call 844-930-1779.


  • As of Friday, Rhode Island is lifting some of its last remaining pandemic-related capacity restrictions on higher-risk settings and activities including nightclubs and live performances. The state is also working on a coronavirus vaccination incentive program to benefit charities, rather than individuals, Gov. Daniel McKee said Thursday. The total budget for the incentive program would be about $1 million, and McKee said under his plan, charities would receive money when the state reaches certain vaccination rate milestones, such as 75%, 80%, 85% and 90%.


  • Some Massachusetts pandemic-era policies that had expired on Tuesday, such as allowing restaurants to offer take-out cocktails, were quickly extended Wednesday after Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill sent to him by state lawmakers. The new law would also let government bodies continue to hold virtual public hearings and extend some protections for tenants facing eviction. Those protections briefly expired after the coronavirus state of emergency was lifted in Massachusetts on Tuesday. It had been in place for more than a year. Two other pandemic-era policies, the expansion of early voting and mail-in voting, were not extended.


  • Massachusetts is giving away five $1 million cash prizes and five $300,000 college scholarships to residents who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that the aim of the VaxMillions Giveaway, modeled after a similar program in Ohio, is to drive up the state’s vaccination rate, already one of the best in the nation. The state will hold weekly drawings for five weeks starting the week of July 26. The announcement came on the same day that the state's pandemic-related state of emergency was lifted.


  • More than a dozen state run COVID-19 testing sites around Rhode Island including the drive-thru site at the Rhode Island Convention Center parking garage will be closed by the end of the month, state officials announced Monday. The consolidation comes as the state shifts its focus to mobile and pop-up testing in schools, travel destinations and communities with low vaccination rates, according to a statement. The state will maintain 25 COVID-19 test sites throughout the state; pharmacies and medical offices also continue to offer testing. For a full list of COVID-19 test sites, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.


  • Rhode Island will close two of its largest vaccination sites — at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and the former Benny’s in Middletown — on June 26. Gov. Dan McKee said he anticipates the Dunkin’ Donuts Center will be able to resume holding recreational events by September or October.


  • CVS Pharmacy announced that individuals can purchase three over-the-counter COVID-19 tests options in stores and online. The tests are the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test, and the Pixel by Labcorp PCR Test Home Collection Kit, which have all received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. The tests do not require a prescription and can be used by individuals with or without COVID-19 symptoms.


Who is eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Anyone 12 and older who lives, works or studies in Rhode Island or Massachusetts
  • Tourists and other out-of-state visitors are also eligible to be vaccinated in Rhode Island.


Find a vaccination site near you: Search for a site in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.


More information on vaccination:

  • Homebound Rhode Islanders can request an in-home vaccination
  • Veterans, along with caregivers and spouses of veterans, are eligible to get vaccinated and can register for vaccination through the Providence VA.
  • Rhode Island and Massachusetts resumed use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older, ending a pause in administration that began April 13. The decision follows the recommendation of an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Learn more about Rhode Island's vaccination plan.


Reopening:


  • Fully vaccinated Rhode Island residents are no longer required to wear masks in most settings. And Rhode Islanders are no longer be required to wear masks outdoors, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, state officials said "unvaccinated individuals are still strongly encouraged to wear masks in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact."


  • Massachusetts residents are no longer be required to wear masks in most settings, although officials advise those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a mask indoors if they cannot socially distance. Gov. Charlie Baker said the mandate will remain in place indefinitely for schools, public transportation, rideshares and healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, addiction treatment centers and other congregate care environments.


  • Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and The Miriam Hospital are loosening some of their visitation rules as the number of new coronavirus cases in the state continues to fall. Lifespan, which operates the hospitals, said Tuesday that visitors must be at least 18 years old, will still be screened for symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19 upon entry, and will be required to wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status.


  • Rhode Island officials plan to offer guidance for school reopenings on July 1. Gov. McKee said he hopes to see a full return to in-person learning next fall, and the state may no longer require districts to offer a virtual learning option. Tom McCarthy, the state health department’s director of COVID response, said Rhode Island is not planning to require students to be vaccinated in order to return to school.


  • As of May 21, Rhode Island restaurants, bars and other businesses can remove their plexiglass dividers, dispense with social distancing and operate at full capacity.


  • Rhode Island nightclubs which require staff and patrons to be vaccinated will be able to resume operations at 100% capacity. Nightclubs that do not require vaccinations will be able to operate at 50% capacity.


Maps














With reports from the Associated Press.