News

Press Releases

RSS
05/13/2021 14:15 EDT
05/11/2021 13:00 EDT
04/26/2021 18:15 EDT

More

04/23/2021 15:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jule's Foods is recalling all Jule's Foods products because they were potentially contaminated with Salmonella. These products include: - Jule's Cashew Brie (Classic) - UPC: 860388001507 - all expiration dates - Jule's...
04/14/2021 16:00 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that 3,200 additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on www.vaccinateRI.org on Thursday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the State-run site at Sockanosset Cross Road. These appointments
04/13/2021 08:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that Rhode Island is pausing administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal partners continue gathering more information. No Johnson & Johnson appointments had been scheduled for release today. RIDOH is directing...
04/12/2021 13:00 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that 7,600 additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on www.vaccinateRI.org on Tuesday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the Dunkin' Donuts Center, the State-run mass vaccination sites in...
04/09/2021 13:15 EDT
As a part of ongoing efforts to get vaccine into communities hardest hit by COVID-19, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that residents of Woonsocket who are 16 years of age and older are eligible to register to get vaccinated today. As outlined...
04/05/2021 13:45 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that approximately 7,300 additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on www.vaccinateRI.org on Tuesday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the Dunkin' Donuts Center, Sockanosset Cross Road, and...
04/01/2021 16:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Sabra Dipping Company is voluntarily recalling approximately 2,100 cases of 10 oz. Classic Hummus because they were potentially contaminated with Salmonella. The recall is limited to products produced on Friday, February 10,...
04/01/2021 16:00 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that approximately 12,000 additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on www.vaccinateRI.org on Friday at 5 p.m. "Tomorrow, we'll be releasing the largest batch of vaccine appointments in Rhode...
03/30/2021 15:15 EDT
As data from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s Office of the State Medical Examiners (OSME) indicate a continued increase in overdose deaths involving fentanyl, the State is working to expand community-level access to resources and supports to prevent overdoses and save lives....
03/29/2021 17:00 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that approximately 5,500 new COVID vaccination appointments will be made available tomorrow at 9 a.m. Additionally, the Governor announced that beginning tomorrow, people who are 16 years of age and older, who live
03/27/2021 10:45 EDT
Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on www.vaccinateRI.org today at 5 p.m. Approximately 1,000 slots will be made available for the State-run clinic in South County (132 Fairgrounds Road,
03/11/2021 16:45 EST
COVID-19 vaccination eligibility will open on Friday for Rhode Islanders who are 60 to 64 years of age and who are 16 to 64 with specific underlying health conditions, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing today. "Our goal is to get as many people...
03/05/2021 13:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is soliciting proposals from qualified municipalities and non-profit community-based organizations to expand Rhode Island's Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative to additional communities. RIDOH will distribute approximately $1 million through this...
03/03/2021 16:00 EST
Rhode Island is expanding its COVID-19 Testing Program for Businesses by launching a new COVID-19 Business Testing Contact Center, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing today. Through Rhode Island's COVID-19 Testing Program for Businesses, organizations receive regular...
03/02/2021 19:15 EST
This update to Thursday's press release specifies the names and sell by dates of recalled El Abuelito products. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that El Abuelito Cheese of Paterson, NJ is recalling all Queso Fresco (Fresh, soft cheese), Quesillo (Oaxaca,...
02/25/2021 08:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the FDA is working with El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. to recall all of its cheese products (queso fresco, Oaxaca cheese, cotija cheese, and crema). The Connecticut State Laboratory has confirmed that the Listeria monocytogenes...
02/23/2021 16:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that El Abuelito Cheese of Paterson, NJ is recalling all Queso Fresco (fresh, soft cheese) products, because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. As of February 11, 2021, the CDC reports seven people infected with
02/22/2021 18:30 EST
As a result of severe weather that has affected distribution nationwide, certain COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for 2/23 are getting rescheduled. A shipment of approximately 12,400 doses of Moderna vaccine to Rhode Island did not arrive today. The community clinics scheduled for...
02/22/2021 10:45 EST
COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Rhode Island continue to accelerate rapidly with eligibility now open to all Rhode Islanders 65 years of age and older, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing. People who are 65 and older can register to be vaccinated at one of two State-run...
02/18/2021 15:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the FDA, CDC, and state and local partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes potentially linked to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses. The CDC has reported that seven infections with...
02/17/2021 11:45 EST
Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that all Rhode Islanders 75 and older can now register for an appointment at one of the two State-run vaccination sites. Appointments will begin tomorrow, February 18. Beginning Monday, February 22,...
02/16/2021 15:00 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has been identified in samples from three Rhode Island patients. The variant was identified in these samples yesterday evening. One patient was in their 60s, one patient was in their 50s, and one...
02/11/2021 20:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) notified the City of Newport Water System today that the precautionary boil water notice issued to its customers can be lifted for all customers except 12 customers on Warner Street between Gould Street and Bay View Avenue. This is the immediate area...
02/10/2021 18:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting certain customers of the City of Newport Water System that they should boil their water before consuming it because of loss of water pressure in multiple areas of the water system. This was because of a water main break. This Boil Water...
01/31/2021 19:00 EST
Because of the inclement weather expected, all State-operated COVID-19 testing sites will be closed on Monday, February 1st. State sites are any of the locations scheduled through portal.ri.gov or the K-12 test scheduling service. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccinations will not be happening on...
01/28/2021 17:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced a plan today for the next phase of the State's COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The plan incorporates national public health guidance and local advisory committee input, making vaccine available to Rhode Islanders over the coming months based on
01/25/2021 18:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health is advising people of a voluntary recall by Lancaster Foods LLC of its processed butternut squash items due to potential for Listeria Monocytogenes contamination. The recalled items were distributed in retail stores in several states, including Rhode...
01/14/2021 09:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) have completed their final 2020 monitoring and evaluation of blue-green algae conditions in affected freshwater sites. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins...

2020 News

Boil Water Notice Removed for Rocky Mountain Spring Water Company Kiosk Customers

2020-12-23

The Rocky Mountain Spring Water Company (Armistice, Rocky Mountain Spring Water Company; Front Street, Rocky Mountain Spring Water Company, North Providence, and Rocky Mountain Spring Water Company, Pawtucket) was notified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) on December 22 that the boil water notice issued to its customers can be removed. RIDOH required this boil water notice on December 17 because E. coli bacteria was found in raw and treated water samples collected at one of the springs that serves the water supply and two kiosks.

RIDOH received and reviewed absent coliform and E. coli sample results from Rocky Mountain Spring Water Co collected on December 18, December 20, and December 21, and approved the notice to be lifted.

For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials. General information about drinking water safety is posted on RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality web pages. Customers with questions should contact Edward Rose at 781-749-4849.

###

Boil Water Notice Issued for Rocky Mountain Water Co Kiosk Customers

2020-12-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to discard or boil water from the Rocky Mountain Water Co. that was sold at four kiosks in North Providence and Pawtucket.

Four public water systems, Rocky Mountain Spring Water Co – Armistice, Rocky Mountain Spring Water Co – Front Street, Rocky Mountain Spring Water Co – North Providence, and Rocky Mountain Spring Water Co – Pawtucket, are required to issue a boil water notice to their customers because E. coli bacteria was found in raw and treated samples collected on December 14 at one of the springs that serves the water supply and two of the kiosks. Total coliform bacteria were found in the other two kiosks.

The four kiosks are located at:

• 295 Armistice Boulevard, Pawtucket;

• 271 Mineral Spring Ave., Pawtucket;

• 172 Front St., Lincoln; and

• 1655 Mineral Spring Ave., North Providence.

These are kiosks that dispense water where customers can fill up their own personal containers. Water received from these kiosks between Friday, December 11, 2020, and Thursday, December 17, 2020, should be discarded or boiled before consumption.

RIDOH is also advising all customers of the Rocky Mountain Water Co kiosks to discard their personal water collection containers and replace with new ones from an alternate source. Water should not be collected from these kiosks until RIDOH approves the boil water order to be lifted at these locations. Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at https://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/.

The boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system and spring, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Edward Rose at 781-749-4849.

All State COVID-19 Testing Sites Closed on Thursday

2020-12-16

In anticipation of Winter Storm Gail, all State-run COVID-19 testing sites will be closed tomorrow, December 17. State-run testing sites are the sites that people schedule through http://portal.ri.gov, as well as all K-12 testing sites. Both indoor and outdoor sites are closing tomorrow.

When testing sites open again, people who had appointments for Thursday will not need to make new appointments. They can go to the site where their appointment was scheduled at any time with a print or screenshot of their confirmation notice, and they will be tested.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will post information on social media and make additional announcements on when testing will resume.

RI Hospitals Authorized to Begin Vaccinating Frontline Workers Against COVID-19

2020-12-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has received a recommendation from the Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee for hospitals to begin vaccinating frontline hospital workers against COVID-19. This recommendation was made at an emergency meeting of the Subcommittee this morning. RIDOH has accepted this recommendation and has communicated to hospitals that they may begin vaccinating these workers, as soon as vaccine arrives.

Initial shipments from vaccine manufacturers directly to hospitals will be arriving on Monday and Tuesday. Vaccine is first going to five hospitals: Kent Hospital, Newport Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital (and Hasbro Children's Hospital), Women & Infants Hospital, and The Miriam Hospital. Approximately 1,000 first doses are going to each facility.

"After a rigorous scientific review, we know that COVID-19 vaccine is safe. We also know that it is one of the most effective vaccines ever developed," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "In the coming weeks and months, as vaccine becomes more available, getting vaccinated will be one of the most powerful things you can do to keep yourself and the people you love safe from COVID-19. We are going to work to ensure that every person in every community in Rhode Island has access to the vaccine, especially those communities hardest hit by this virus."

"We have never had a vaccine that has been – or will be – more closely monitored than the COVID-19 vaccine," said Philip Chan, MD, MS, Consultant Medical Director for RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medical Services. "Teams of scientists at the national level have been scrutinizing thousands of pages of technical data for weeks, focusing on vaccine effectiveness, safety, and the manufacturing process, and our own local review has happened here in Rhode Island. I absolutely plan on getting vaccinated when it is my turn."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer last week after determining that the vaccine was safe and effective. Following the FDA vote, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group that provides guidance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued recommendations on its use. A second vaccine, made by Moderna, will start the same process this week.

Rhode Island's COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee is comprised of epidemiologists, primary care providers, pharmacists, pediatricians, long-term care advocates, ethicists, nonprofit leaders, school leaders, faith leaders, and others. It was responsible for doing an independent review of the process for evaluating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. The Subcommittee is advising on how to prioritize distribution of the vaccine to ensure that it is done equitably, and in a way that best protects the State as a whole.

"The review process for the COVID-19 vaccine was extremely rigorous, and did not skip any steps" said Kerry LaPlante, Pharm.D., a Subcommittee member and Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. "COVID-19 vaccines were held to the same high safety standards as every other vaccine. This may be the most important vaccine I received in my lifetime. In getting immunized, I can help save lives and protect the health of my community, my friends, and my family. It's all of our responsibility to protect our community and the persons we love."

"Rhode Island's COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee was watching the process every step of the way," said Larry Warner, Subcommittee member and Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives for United Way. "Every Rhode Islander should know that local experts and community leaders reviewed all available information about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine, in addition to the thorough review at the national level. Getting vaccinated is going to be an important step to keep ourselves and our communities safe."

The vaccine trials for the COVID-19 vaccine involved tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and people of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. (When vaccinated against COVID-19, people do sometimes develop post-vaccination symptoms such as soreness at the spot of the shot and headaches. This is normal, healthy, and expected. It means your immune system is working to develop protection.) Several systems are in place to do ongoing safety monitoring of the vaccine.

In line with the recommendations at the national level, Rhode Island hospitals have been given authorization to vaccinate frontline workers who are 16 years of age and older who do not have a history of anaphylactic reaction to any of the components of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in high-risk groups should be offered the vaccine and may choose to be vaccinated. A discussion with her health care provider can help her make an informed decision.

Over the coming days, the Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee will continue to work to solidify Rhode Island's COVID-19 vaccination schedule. People in higher-risk settings and professions, such as nursing home workers and residents and first responders, will be prioritized. RIDOH will provide regular updates to the public, including information on when and where specific groups can get vaccinated, as more vaccine becomes available. Vaccine is likely to eventually be available at community clinics, and in doctors' offices and pharmacies.

Two doses will be needed for someone to be fully immunized. Second doses will start arriving in Rhode Island in roughly three weeks. Rhode Island expects to receive approximately 10,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine the first week it is available, and approximately 19,000 doses of Moderna vaccine the first week it is available. Vaccine will come to Rhode Island in weekly allotments over the coming months.

The COVID-19 vaccine is among the most effective ever developed. In the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials, these vaccines were shown to be about 95% effective. By comparison, flu vaccines typically reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% each flu season.

RIDOH and DEM Lift Most Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2020-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are lifting most of the blue-green algae advisories that have been in place for bodies of water in Rhode Island this fall.

Advisories are lifted for the following waterbodies:

• North Providence: Wenscott Reservoir

• Providence (Roger Williams Park): Polo Lake, Pleasure Lake, Elm Lake, Willow Lake, and Edgewood Lake

• Cranston: Blackamore Pond, Spectacle Pond, and J.L. Curran Reservoir

These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining sunlight. They signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter or spring. Advisories remain in place for Melville Ponds in Portsmouth, Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence, Mashapaug Pond in Providence, and Almy Pond in Newport.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that harm humans and animals. The public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Barber's Pond

2020-11-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Barber's Pond in South Kingstown. The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and associated toxins.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations. These findings meet state guidelines to support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Barber's Pond again, as well as other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Rhode Island Department of Health Launches Public Health Out Loud Podcast

2020-11-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is launching a podcast this week – Public Health Out Loud – as a new platform to help Rhode Islanders stay informed about an array of local and national public health issues.

Envisioned as a continuation of the Facebook Live series done over the summer on COVID-19 and schools, the weekly podcast is co-hosted by James McDonald, MD, MPH and Philip Chan, MD, MS.

Dr. McDonald is a Medical Director at RIDOH, where he has helped lead the Department's response to the overdose crisis, COVID-19, and many other issues. Dr. Chan is a Consultant Medical Director with RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medical Services. He has also been a leader in the State's response to COVID-19, HIV, and a range of other infectious diseases.

"Public health involves every issue, including COVID-19 and much more that affects everyone. Join us as we talk about public health for the public," said Dr. McDonald. "Our goal is to provide people with information that is accessible, engaging, and informative, and helps people live healthier and safer lives."

"We're excited to use this new medium to try to reach a broader audience and talk to people about emerging public health trends," said Dr. Chan. "This is one of the ways that we at RIDOH are trying to spark a conversation about how to build a healthier Rhode Island."

In addition to Dr. McDonald and Dr. Chan, Public Health Out Loud will feature other experts from within RIDOH and the Rhode Island public health community.

Currently, the podcast has four episodes available. Topics have included COVID-19, vaccinations, and the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health. New episodes will be published every Friday at 5 p.m. To listen to the available episodes, visit: http://publichealthri.buzzsprout.com/ [publichealthri.buzzsprout.com]

New Virtual Workshops for Caregivers

2020-11-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Parent Information Network are opening up a series of new virtual workshops to support Rhode Islanders who serve as caregivers for older adults and people with chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, and complications from other conditions, such as cancer, hypertension, or physical disabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has diminished access to caregiver resources and support systems, while placing additional burdens on caregivers to keep themselves and the people in their care safe from COVID-19. Support for caregivers to cope and address these factors is critical.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshops are six-week, group workshops that provide participants with tools and strategies to better handle and cope with the unique challenges caregivers typically face when caring for a loved one. Groups will meet virtually via Zoom once per week for an hour and a half over the six-weeks. The workshop is led by two trained and certified Powerful Tools for Caregivers peer leaders. Topics will range from identifying and reducing personal stress to communicating in challenging situations to mastering caregiver decisions.

People who have completed this program have shown improvements in self-care behaviors, management of emotions, self-efficacy, and use of community resources. The workshops will provide participants with ongoing access to resources that can increase a caregiver's confidence and allow older adults and individuals with disabilities not only to age in place, but to thrive.

Six-week sessions are starting on November 17th, November 21st, November 24th, and November 25th. To learn more about Powerful Tools for Caregivers and how to join, call the Community Health Network at 401-432-7217 or visit www.ripin.org/chn [ripin.org].

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Barney Pond

2020-11-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Barney Pond in Lincoln. The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and associated toxins.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations. These findings meet State guidelines to support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Barney Pond again, as well as other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Health Advisory Issued for Tanimura and Antle Romaine Lettuce

2020-11-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to not eat Tanimura and Antle brand romaine lettuce packed as single heads due to food safety concerns.

A routine sample of the lettuce collected in Michigan was confirmed positive for E. coli 0157:H7. Further analysis conducted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services determined that the strain of E. coli recovered from the product sample is highly related genetically to E. coli causing two recent illnesses in Michigan.

The lettuce was sold in a zip-top clear plastic bag with a blue label and white lettering. It has the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9 and a white sticker indicating it was packed in Salinas, California on October 15, 2020.

This product was sold at Walmart stores and other stores in Rhode Island.

Consumers should discard this product or return it to the place of purchase. If you think you or a family member have become ill from consuming any of these products, please seek immediate medical attention.

E. coli can cause serious or life-threatening illness in some individuals. Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101?F/38.5?C). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Lifted for Westerly Water Department Customers

2020-11-04

The precautionary boil water notice issued to customers of the Westerly Water Department is lifted. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Westerly Water Department alerted customers to this precautionary boil water notice on November 2nd because of a water main break that had the potential to cause the loss of water pressure to multiple areas of the water system. Westerly Water Department repaired the water main break, temporarily increased chlorine in the system (within safe levels), flushed the water mains, and collected bacteria samples that showed the absence of bacteria.

For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials. Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at https://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/ (scroll down to "What You Should Do Following Boil Water Advisories and Precautionary Boil Water Advisories").

Customers with questions should contact Bill Beauregard, Assistant Director of Public Works at 401-741-7589.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for Customers of the Westerly Water System

2020-11-02

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for Customers of the Westerly Water System

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting customers of the Westerly Water System that they should boil their water before consuming it because of a water main break that could cause loss of water pressure in multiple areas of the water system. (This announcement is unrelated to Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19.)

All water used for consumption should be boiled vigorously for at least one minute. This recommendation pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water.

Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. RIDOH is communicating guidance to restaurants and other food establishments in the area. (Guidance for food establishments is also available online.)

Water main breaks can cause low, or no, water pressure, especially at buildings in higher elevations. Low or no pressure increases the risk of contamination that can enter through cracks in the pipes or in areas without proper backflow preventers. Customers should continue to boil their water until the Westerly Water Department repairs the water main break, increases the chlorine in the system (within safe levels), flushes the pipes, and collects one day of bacteria samples at each routine sampling location, as long as the samples are absent of bacteria. An announcement will be made when the advisory is lifted. Water system administrators are currently alerting customers about this advisory and will alert customers when it is lifted.

If the water becomes contaminated with human or animal waste, microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

A health care provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

• Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally

• Blood in the stool

• Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

• Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

• Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days.

Customers with questions can call Bill Beauregard, Assistant Director of Public Works, at 401-741-7589.

COVID-19 Updates: Visitation, Testing, and Key Messages for the Public

2020-11-02

With cases of COVID-19 continuing to increase in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is recommending that all hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living communities restrict visitation for the next two weeks.

These recommendations are being made for two weeks as RIDOH continues to work with facilities to develop plans and other measures to ensure safe visitation for more vulnerable populations during this period with increased community spread of COVID-19.

In hospitals, RIDOH recommends no visitation, except for people who are essential to a patient's care. Examples of visitors who are essential to a patient's care are a support partner for someone in labor, and a family caregiver for someone with dementia or a developmental disability. Visitors who are essential to a patient's care must be free of symptoms of COVID-19. Visits should only happen during specified blocks of time. A full guidance document is posted online.

In nursing homes and assisted living communities, RIDOH recommends only allowing compassionate care visits for the next two weeks. Examples of compassionate care visits are an end-of-life visit, a visit with a loved one who is experiencing emotional distress, or who is experiencing weight loss or dehydration. A full guidance document is posted online.

The guidance documents provide recommendations for alternatives to in-person visits, such as remote visits using phones, tablets, and computers. If facilities have technology available, they should make it available to patients and residents.

The nursing home and assisted living recommendations are effective as of tomorrow. The hospital recommendations are effective as of today.

Testing

State-run COVID-19 testing sites will be open tomorrow, Election Day. These sites are the 15 K-12 sites throughout the state, Rhode Island Convention Center site, the Stop & Shop locations in Newport and Cumberland, and the Block Island Fire and Rescue. However, these sites will be closed on Veterans Day (November 11th).

Key messages for the public about test results

If you are positive for COVID-19, RIDOH will call you within a few days. However, if you learn that you are positive for COVID-19 before RIDOH calls you, you should take action right away. Do not wait for RIDOH to call you to start making changes in your life.

What you need to do if you test positive:

- Stay home for at least 10 days from the day you were tested.

- Do not go to work or school for at least 10 days after testing positive.

- Call your employer or school to inform them that you have tested positive and will be out for at least 10 days.

- Call your primary care provider (if you have one) and inform them that you have tested positive.

- Get help if you feel sick. Call your primary care provider or an urgent care to get medical advice. Call 911 or the nearest hospital if you think you are having a medical emergency (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.) Tell them you have COVID-19.

- Do your best to keep your distance from those you live with. If you can, use a separate bathroom and bedroom from others. Stay out of the kitchen and rooms where people in the house gather.

- Protect the people you live with from catching COVID-19 from you. Try to stay in a different room and wear a mask if you must be in the same room with others.

- Have things you need delivered. Ask friends and family to drop off items at your door that you need, like food and other necessities.

- Write a list of people you have been in close contact with. Make a list of everyone you were around starting 2 days before you got tested or started having COVID-19 symptoms until the time you got your test result and started isolating at home.

- Let your close contacts know you have COVID-19.

- Answer the phone when RIDOH calls.

What people you live with need to do if you test positive:

- Everyone you live with needs to stay home too. People you live with cannot go to work or school while you are infected (10 days) and for an additional 14 days.

- Call the employers and schools of everyone in the house to let them know people will not be at work or school. Plan on 24 days home for everyone living in the house. (This is because symptoms can develop up to 14 days after your last exposure.) RIDOH will give you the exact dates when they call.

- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 in everyone living with you. Watch for all the symptoms of COVID-19. Check a temperature twice a day (fever is greater than 100.4 degrees F).

- Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or look online for a testing site (see link below).

- Help you stay in a separate room. If you are able to stay in your own room without help, people in the house can bring you your food and check on you so that you do not need to be hanging around in the same room with others in the house.

- Remind you to wear a mask if you have to be close to them or are in the same room in the house.

What your close contacts who don't live with you need to do if you test positive:

- Stay home for 14 days from the day they were last with you.

- Call their employer or school to let them know they are a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and are staying at home awaiting a call from RIDOH with quarantine instructions. RIDOH can provide an absence note from work or school for people in quarantine.

- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 Watch for all the symptoms of COVID-19 (list them). Check a temperature twice a day (fever is greater than 100.4 degrees F).

- Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present. Call your health care provider for help getting tested online (see link below).

- Answer the phone when RIDOH calls.

Fatal Overdoses in Rhode Island Continue to Rise

2020-10-28

New data from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s Office of the State Medical Examiners (OSME) indicate a sharp increase in accidental drug overdose deaths during the first seven months of 2020. (It can take up to 90 days for the OSME to confirm a decedent's cause and manner of death.)

There have been 233 accidental drug overdose deaths between January and July 2020, compared to 185 during the same period last year. Between these two periods, all drug fatal overdoses increased by 26% and opioid-involved fatal overdoses increased by 33%. During July, more Rhode Islanders died of drug overdoses than any month since the State started tracking fatal overdose data. Similar trends are being seen nationally.

The stressors and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic are believed to be factors in this increase, resulting in what researchers call a syndemic, which is the amplified result of two or more diseases that exist simultaneously in a community. However, Rhode Island's increase in overdose deaths started before the state's first COVID-19 case. Other factors that are likely contributing to the increase are polysubstance use (the use of more than one drug at the same time), counterfeit pills, and the presence of illegally made fentanyl in drugs like cocaine, counterfeit pills, methamphetamine, and other substances.

Counterfeit pills, which often look like prescription medications, are in greater supply throughout the United States, particularly oxycodone (an opioid) and benzodiazepines (a sedating drug). These pills vary in purity and potency and can contain unknown amounts of fentanyl. It is impossible for an end user to know what drugs might be present in counterfeit pills. These counterfeit pills are even more lethal when crushed and snorted. One pill can cause a fatal overdose.

"What underlies the diseases of substance use disorder and COVID-19 are factors in our communities that affect people's abilities to be healthy and safe, such as housing, employment, education, and discrimination," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "While getting prevention and treatment resources into the community to prevent overdoses immediately, we need to continue working to address these larger structural issues. Every single overdose is preventable. There is help and there is hope for everyone who is living with the disease of substance use disorder."

"The increased potency of drugs combined with the challenges of COVID-19 have stressed an already fragile system," said Kathryn Power, M.Ed., Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals (BHDDH). "These challenges might have led people who were in recovery to relapse. In other cases, people who use drugs occasionally, like cocaine, might have succumbed to an overdose by not knowing fentanyl was present."

Director Power and Dr. Alexander-Scott are the co-chairs of Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

"The collision between the COVID-19 and opioid epidemic has really highlighted how crucial social determinants of health- safe housing, good employment, access to mental health support- are to sustaining long-term recovery," said Dr. Jon Soske of Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery (RICARES). "So many people have relapsed after evictions, layoffs, and traumatic losses- and these have hit racialized communities hardest. Addressing these issues at a systemic level is crucial going forward."?

Additional data points

- Accidental drug overdose deaths decreased by 8.3% between 2016 and 2019, dropping from 336 to 308.

- Rhode Island is on track to exceed 2016's total by at least 25%.

- During the first seven months of 2020, non-fatal overdoses fluctuated by month. During April and May, the numbers of non-fatal overdoses that EMS responded to in Rhode Island were lower.

- All Rhode Island cities and towns are being affected. Particular overdose hotspots include Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, and Woonsocket. Fatal overdoses doubled among Warwick and Providence residents during the first six months of 2020. In North Kingstown and Scituate, the total number of fatal overdoses during the first six months of 2020 exceeded the towns' total numbers for all of 2019.

- While the rate of fatal overdoses among White Rhode Islanders declined between 2016 and 2019, that rate increased in the first seven months of 2020. Overdose rates generally increased among African American and Hispanic Rhode Islanders from 2016 to 2019 and continued to increase during the first seven months of 2020.

- Overdose death data by month and year are available online.

Current action steps

In response to these trends, RIDOH and BHDDH hosted an emergency, online Community Overdose Engagement (CODE) meeting in July with more than 150 state and community stakeholders. Actions steps coming out of that meeting that are either in the implementation or planning phase are:

- Increased street outreach activities in overdose hotspots across the state. Certified peer recovery support specialists from community-based organizations like AIDS Care Ocean State, Community Care Alliance, East Bay Recovery Center, Parent Support Network, and Project Weber/RENEW distribute naloxone, sterile syringes, and fentanyl test strips and provide wrap-around services and basic needs to individuals who use drugs.

- Increased housing support for vulnerable populations in Woonsocket and Providence. Through the West Elmwood 02907 CODE project, Amos House maintains additional beds within its temporary housing assistance program. Project Weber/RENEW in Providence offers recovery housing grants for clients, and Sojourner House in Woonsocket will provide a drop-in housing clinic for emergency services.

- Strategic placement of Substance Abuse and Misuse Teams (SMART) at Rhode Island Hospital's and Landmark Hospital's emergency departments. Trained staff are ready to connect patients who have recently experienced an overdose to local treatment and recovery support services.

- Collaboration with a community-led work group and expert advisors across state agencies to explore the development of an overdose prevention center. Health services such as STI testing, addiction treatment, housing supports, and basic services (i.e., showers, food, and clothing) would be available at such a center. This would also be a place where people could use pre-obtained substances while being peer or medically supervised. Sterile equipment and immediate overdose response resources would be available to reduce overdose and infectious disease risk.

Next steps

- On October 30, the City of Providence Healthy Communities Office, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, Amos House, Rhode Island Public Health Institute, Systems Change Strategies, and Project Weber/RENEW will host a virtual event. They will release key findings from a community needs assessment and identify action steps. Members of the public can sign up at bit.ly/PVDCODE [bit.ly]

- The Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) is conducting an Evidence Update and Strategic Programmatic Review of Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.

Resources for people who need help

If you or someone you care about is living with a substance use disorder, there is 24/7 treatment and mental health support available over the phone or in-person.

- BH Link, Rhode Island's 24/7 behavioral health hotline, 401-414-LINK (5465), connects callers to trained professionals who can provide confidential counseling, referrals, and support services. People can go to BH Link's drop-in center in-person to get connected to support at 975 Waterman Ave. in East Providence.

- The Buprenorphine Hotline, 401-606-5456, provides telehealth services for experiencing opioid withdrawal. Callers can learn about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options and make a plan for continued treatment and recovery support through a Rhode Island Center of Excellence. Rhode Island Centers of Excellences are specialty centers that use evidence-based practices and provide treatment and the coordination of care to individuals with moderate to severe opioid use disorder.

- Fire stations in Providence, Newport, and Woonsocket are "Safe Stations." They are open every day to help people in crisis get connected to a peer recovery support specialist and treatment and recovery support services.

How you can save a life

- Learn the signs of an overdose, such as slow, shallow breaths; gurgling noises; breathing that has stopped; very pale skin; and, blue-gray lips and fingernails.

- Call 9-1-1 first if someone is overdosing. The Rhode Island Good Samaritan Law protects people who call for help when a person is experiencing an overdose.

- Carry the overdose reversal medicine naloxone (sometimes called Narcan) and know how to use it. Naloxone is available at pharmacies without a prescription. You can also get naloxone from a community-based organization like AIDS Care Ocean State, East Bay Recovery Center, Parent Support Network, Project Weber/RENEW, URI Community First Responders and RICARES.

Four Bars Receive Compliance Orders and Fines for COVID-19 Violations

2020-10-23

After inspections by Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force four bars have been fined and temporarily closed because of violations of Rhode Island's COVID-19 health regulations. The fines ranged from $1,050 to $2,450.

The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR). Inspectors with the Task Force noted various violations at these businesses, including bars being accessible after 11 p.m., mingling customers being served at bars, failure to maintain separation at bars, and employees not wearing masks. Although restaurants can operate bars, they must close by 11 p.m., and patrons must be seated at bars with barriers between seated parties. Nightclubs cannot operate in Rhode Island at this time.

The four establishments that received orders and fines are:

- Levels Lounge, 1137 Broad Street, Providence

- LoVera V.I.P, 1266 Broad Street, Providence

- Vibe Lounge and Hookah Bar, 25 Broad Street, Pawtucket

- MamaJuana Restaurant, 905 Main Street, Pawtucket

These four establishments are currently closed.

Thorough environmental cleaning will be required of all establishments, in addition to the ongoing requirements for all businesses offering dining on premises. These include requirements to keep contact information for guests, screen employees and guests for symptoms of COVID-19, ensure mask wearing, and ensure social distancing.

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR at http://dbr.ri.gov.

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit http://taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

Key public health guidance:

- Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home until they get tested and receive all their test results. You should also let the people in your life know that you have symptoms and are being tested, and encourage them to stay at home as well (and monitor for symptoms).

- If a person has symptoms of COVID-19 – especially a new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or recent loss of taste or smell – everyone in the household should stay home until that person has been tested (and has a negative result).

- Practice the three Ws:

Wear your mask whenever you are around people you don't live with.

Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day (or use hand sanitizer).

Watch your distance. Try to stay at least six feet away from others whenever possible.

- Keep your groups consistent and small. The social gathering maximum in Rhode Island is 15 people. The smaller the group the better.

Rhode Island Runs One Millionth COVID-19 Test

2020-10-22

As Rhode Island runs its one millionth COVID-19 test, State officials are urging Rhode Islanders to recommit to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including getting tested whenever you are experiencing symptoms and getting tested regularly if you are eligible to participate in Rhode Island's asymptomatic testing program.

"While Rhode Island's COVID-19 numbers are not moving in the right direction, we absolutely have the power to change our trajectory. We all need to be wearing our masks when we're around people we don't live with, limiting our groups, and avoiding non-essential activities with people outside our households as the holidays approach," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Testing is also critical. By getting tested, you are helping to keep the people around you safe by limiting the spread of infection, and you are helping the entire state's fight against COVID-19. In particular, testing in our hardest hit communities is key to our work of narrowing health disparities and ensuring that people in certain ZIP codes and people of color do not continue to suffer the impacts of COVID-19 disproportionately."

Starting with the work happening at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Rhode Island has emerged as a national testing leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Rhode Island has run 1,015,720 tests. 408,302 unique people have been tested. 29,594 cases have been identified.

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider to schedule a test. The symptoms of COVID-19 are a new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, recent loss of taste or smell, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose or stuffy nose, and fatigue.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home until they get tested and receive all their test results. You should also let the people in your life know that you have symptoms and are being tested, and encourage them to stay at home as well (and monitor for symptoms). If a person has symptoms of COVID-19 – especially a new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or recent loss of taste or smell – everyone in the household should stay home until that person has been tested (and has a negative result).

People can get tested if they are asymptomatic if they are in one of the following groups:

- People who work in high-contact occupations. This includes, but is not limited to, barbers, child care workers, clergy, cosmetologists, first responders, gym and exercise trainers, healthcare professionals, personal care services (nail technicians, massage therapists, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmeticians, manicurists, body piercers, and tanning facility staff), public transit drivers, and restaurant workers.

- Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 39.

- People who recently attended a large protest or demonstration.

- Rhode Islanders planning to travel to a state that requires a COVID-19 test to avoid extended quarantine.

- People who are coming to Rhode Island from a place with elevated cases.

To schedule a test, asymptomatic people should visit http://portal.ri.gov. Tests are run at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, at the Stop & Shop sites in Cumberland and Newport, and at the Block Island Fire and Rescue station. Appointments are required at these State-run sites.

There are many other sites throughout Rhode Island where asymptomatic people can get tested that are not operated by the State, including urgent care centers, healthcare facilities, and community health centers. A list of those sites is available online.

Rhode Island has implemented a targeted testing strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 statewide, with an emphasis on more vulnerable populations. The three facets to Rhode Island's COVID-19 testing strategy are:

- Symptomatic testing – All people with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. This allows Rhode Island to quickly identify cases and get people into isolation and quarantine.

- Outbreak rapid response – Rhode Island uses testing as a guide to implementing infection prevention measures in higher risk and higher density settings where outbreaks are occurring, such as nursing homes and other congregate living settings.

- Sentinel Early Warning System – Rhode Island is doing broad, population-level testing and testing in high-risk groups to monitors incidence of COVID-19. This enables quick, targeted responses to potential clusters. (Asymptomatic testing is a part of Rhode Island's Sentinel Early Warning System.)

Resources:

- More information about testing is available online (http://health.ri.gov/covid).

- For general questions about COVID-19, call 401-222-8022.

- To report a concern about a business and COVID-19 non-compliance, call 401-889-5550 or write to taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

- To report a concern about a large gathering, call 401-764-5554.

Reminders for the public:

- Practice the three Ws:

Wear your mask whenever you are around people you don't live with.

Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day (or use hand sanitizer).

Watch your distance. Try to stay at least six feet away from others when possible.

- Keep your groups consistent and small. The social gathering maximum in Rhode Island is 15 people. The smaller the group the better.

- Resources are available for people who need to stay home because of COVID-19. Please do not go into work if you are sick. (https://health.ri.gov/publications/resourceguides/COVID-19-Relief-for-Workers.pdf)

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Lower Melville Pond

2020-10-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Lower Melville Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. An advisory for Upper Melville (also known as Thurston Gray) Pond has been in place since August 20 and remains in effect. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. Neither pond will be stocked with trout this Fall. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisories will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Blue-green algae blooms may also be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence

2020-10-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from this water body. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Blue-green algae blooms are also affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Red Monkey Foods, Inc. Recalls Organic Parsley and Herbes de Provence

2020-10-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Red Monkey Foods, Inc. is recalling select organic parsley and Herbes de Provence products due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The potentially affected products were distributed to all fifty states and to Puerto Rico with the following product names, product codes, and "best by" dates:

Cost Plus World Market Herbes de Provence, 0.6 oz

UPC: 25333107

Best by 13 MAR 2023

Cost Plus World Market Organic Parsley, 0.3 oz

UPC: 25333251

Best by 4 MAR 2023

Great Value Herbes De Provence Organic, 0.6 oz

UPC: 078742154510

Best by 14 MAR 2023

Great Value Organic Parsley Flakes, 0.3 oz

UPC: 078742154602

Best if used by 14 MAR 2023

O Organics Herbes De Provence Organic, 0.65 oz

UPC: 079893411316

Best if used by 24 MAR 2023

O Organics Parsley Organic, 0.3 oz

UPC: 079893411095

Best if used by 25 MAR 2023

Full Circle Parsley Organic, 0.3 oz

UPC: 036800328310

Best if used by 11 MAR 2023

To date, there have been no consumer complaints or reported cases of Salmonellosis in connection with these products.

Salmonella is a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.?

Consumers who have purchased the product with the listed "Best By" dates are urged not to consume the product, but to discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers or Media with questions may call Red Monkey Foods, Inc. Customer Service Center at (417) 319-7300 or by e-mail at customerservice@redmonkeyfoods.com for more information. Customer Service will be available in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday to Friday.

###

Four Bars Receive COVID-19 Compliance Orders

2020-10-12

Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force has taken immediate action against four bars for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR).

Inspectors noted various violations at these businesses, including bars being accessible after 11 p.m., mingling customers being served at bars, failure to maintain separation at bars, and employees and patrons not wearing masks. Although restaurants can operate bars, they must close by 11 p.m., and patrons must be seated at bars with barriers between seated parties. Nightclubs cannot operate in Rhode Island at this time.

"We are taking a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to bars that, by blatantly flaunting Rhode Island's COVID-19 requirements, are hurting the entire industry, are jeopardizing the safety of customers and communities, and are setting the whole state back in our work to prevent the spread of this virus," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "To the businesses throughout Rhode Island that are serving customers in a way that is responsible, healthy, and safe, thank you. To the businesses that are not, serious consequences can be expected."

The four establishments that have received Immediate Compliance Orders are:

- 7 Sisters La Cachimba Hookah Lounge, in Providence

- Tres Letras Hookah Lounge, in Providence

- Fish Co. Bar & Grill, in Providence

- Pregame Lounge, in Cranston

7 Sisters La Cachimba Hookah Lounge, Tres Letras Hookah Lounge, Fish Co. Bar & Grill, and Pregame Lounge are currently closed, pending meetings with RIDOH and DBR. Additionally, all employees of these four businesses must be tested.

Thorough environmental cleaning will be required of all four establishments, in addition to the ongoing requirements for all businesses offering dining on premises. These include requirements to keep contact information for guests, screen employees and guests for symptoms of COVID-19, ensure mask wearing, and ensure social distancing.

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - http://dbr.ri.gov.

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Polo and Roosevelt Lakes in Roger Williams Park

2020-10-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Polo and Roosevelt Lakes in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Edgewood and Pleasure Lakes in Roger Williams Park remain under blue-green algae advisories. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from these waters. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Testing Site and Data Updates

2020-10-09

All State-run COVID-19 testing sites in Rhode Island will be closed on Monday, October 12th. These testing sites include all locations for Rhode Island's dedicated K-12 testing program, the Rhode Island Convention Center, the Cumberland and Newport Stop & Shop testing sites, and the Block Island Fire and Rescue Barn. Normal operations will resume on Tuesday.

Additionally, the Beat COVID/K-12 Dexter Street testing site in Pawtucket is moving to 354 Pine Street in Pawtucket. The site will be open at its current location at 71 Dexter Street on Saturday, and then moved on Sunday and Monday. It will reopen on Tuesday morning at 354 Pine Street. This site will continue to be reserved for Central Falls and Pawtucket residents and people getting tested through the K-12 testing program.

Finally, updated COVID-19 data will not be posted on Columbus Day. Rhode Island's COVID-19 data will next be updated on Tuesday, October 13th.

Seneca Snack Company Recalls Cinnamon Apple Chips

2020-10-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Seneca Snack Company is recalling Seneca Cinnamon Apple Chips and Clancy's Cinnamon Apple Chips due to possible Salmonella contamination.

This recall affects Clancy's products sold by ALDI and Seneca products sold nationwide through Amazon and Gemline. The recall extends to the following labels and package sizes:

Seneca Cinnamon Apple Chips 0.7 ounce Package

UPC: 0 18195-70140 4

Individual Package Codes: 26JUN2021

Seneca Cinnamon Apple Chips 2.5 ounce Package

UPC: 0 18195-70100 8

Individual Package Codes: 28JUN2021

Clancy's Cinnamon Apple Chips 2.5 ounce Package

Individual Package Codes: 26JUN2021, 27JUN2021

Seneca is not aware of any reports of consumer illness related to this product.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers with this product should return it for a full refund to the retail outlet where it was purchased. Consumers who want more information may call Seneca Foods Consumer Affairs at 1-800-872-1110.

COVID-19 Business Compliance Update

2020-10-01

Between September 21 and September 27, more than 200 Rhode Island businesses received perfect scores on their compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR). These inspections are intended to measure compliance with industry specific COVID-19 requirements. A list of these businesses is available online (https://dbr.ri.gov/documents/Weekly_Inspections.pdf).

Additionally, Between September 21 and October 1, ten businesses received immediate compliance, partial immediate compliance, and compliance orders for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. These businesses are listed below. Seven additional business received a notice of compliance.

Businesses are required to take steps such as ensure that employees and customers are wearing masks and practicing social distancing and designate a point of contact who will work with RIDOH on case investigations, should the need arise.

Businesses that have received immediate compliance, partial compliance, and compliance orders:

- Milano's Pizza, Providence – Immediate compliance order

- Centro de Nutricion Familiar, Providence – Compliance order

- Zona Lounge, Cranston – Compliance order

- La Casa Restaurant, Cranston – Compliance order

- Kennedy Fried Chicken, Providence – Compliance order

- Copperfield's Burger and Beer, Smithfield– Partial immediate compliance order

- Jalapeno's Kitchen, Providence – Compliance order

- Davo's Calzones and Wraps, South Kingstown – Compliance order

- 3 Flags Bakery, Central Falls – Compliance Order

- Honey Dew Donuts, Providence – Compliance order

Businesses that have since received notices of compliance:

- Countryside Liquors, Pawtucket – Compliance order (now in compliance)

- Knights of Columbus, Lincoln - Combination compliance order, Immediate compliance order (now in compliance)

- EP Weiners, East Providence – Immediate compliance order (now in compliance)

- Tres Letras Hookah Lounge, Providence – Combination compliance order,

Immediate compliance order (now in compliance)

- Ichigo Ichie Restaurant, East Providence - Combination compliance order, Immediate compliance order (now in compliance)

- La Tijera De Oro Barber Shop, Providence – Compliance order (now in compliance)

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - https://dbr.ri.gov/.

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit http://taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

Consumers Urged To Avoid Health is Wealth Products

2020-09-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Is advising consumers to avoid juices, smoothies, and sea moss gel purchased from Health is Wealth Nutrition Center located at 1674 Cranston Street in Cranston because of the potential for processing, storage, and control issues with these products. Product images are attached.

The products under investigation include:

- Health is Wealth Sea Moss Drink. This juice is sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Blackberry, Fruit Punch, Soursop Guanabana, Strawberry, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Mango, Guava Guayaba, and Tamarind. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

- Health is Wealth Sea Moss Smoothie. This smoothie is sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Pina Coloda, Peanut Punch, Soursop/Guanabana, Cinnamon Vanilla, and Mango. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

- Health is Wealth Sea Moss Gel. This gel is sold in a variety of flavors including Sea Moss Bladderwrack Aloe Vera Gel, Sea Moss Bladderwrack Gel, and Sea Moss Gel. These products are sold in 16 oz containers.

- Health is Wealth Sea Moss Protein Shakes. These shakes are sold in a variety of flavors including but not limited to Peanut and Cinnamon. These products are sold in 12oz and 16oz containers.

Inadequate processing allows for the survival of the toxin that can cause Botulism. Botulism can cause weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble speaking, swallowing, or breathing. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.

These products should be discarded.

No illnesses have been associated with these products.

Rhode Island Kicks Off Flu Vaccination Campaign

2020-09-29

At an outdoor, socially distanced media event today the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) launched a wide-ranging, months-long campaign to get 90% of Rhode Islanders vaccinated against the flu.

As Rhode Island continues to respond to COVID-19, flu shots will become available at hundreds of community clinics, schools, COVID-19 testing sites (for asymptomatic people), pharmacies, nursing homes, doctors' offices, and other sites throughout the state. Flu vaccine will lessen the chances that someone will have to deal with the serious health consequences of the flu, and it will lessen the chances that Rhode Island's healthcare system will be overburdened with both flu and COVID-19 patients in the coming months.

"While a flu vaccination rate of 90% is an ambitious goal, flu vaccination will be more important than ever this year. The simple choice to get a flu shot and make sure that your loved ones get their flu shots is a powerful step to help keep all of Rhode Island healthy and safe," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Our Health Equity Zones and other community partners throughout the state are working to make flu shots as easy and convenient as possible. This is especially true in our communities that have been hit harder by COVID-19. With the flu vaccine, we have the ability to give ourselves and our family members an extra layer of protection."

"With the current COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever this year – to protect ourselves, our families and our communities," said Executive Office of Health & Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones. "If we all do our part to get vaccinated for the flu, we can help save lives and reduce the burden on our healthcare system – where staff are working tirelessly to respond to COVID-19."

Most years, Rhode Island is one of the best vaccinated states in the country. During the 2018-2019 flu season, 60% of Rhode Islanders were vaccinated against the flu: 78% of children and 56% of adults. (A statewide vaccination rate is not yet complete for the 2019-2020 season.)

During the 2018-2019 flu season, the flu resulted in 1,032 hospitalizations and there were 39 flu-associated deaths. During the 2019-2020 flu season, when strict community mitigation measures were in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and when patterns of healthcare utilization were atypical, Rhode Island saw 950 hospitalizations and 20 flu-associated deaths. Many symptoms of the flu mirror symptoms of COVID-19. Both viruses can cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, muscle aches, and fatigue.

Rhode Island has brought 150,000 more doses of flu vaccine into the state than during years past and is prepared to purchase additional vaccine. This year's vaccine protects against two influenza A strains (including the H1N1 strain) and two influenza B strains, based on what strains experts expect to be circulating in the community. Two enhanced flu vaccines will be available for seniors, both of which help create a higher immune response.

While flu shots are important for everyone older than six months of age, they are especially important for certain people, including older adults, younger children, healthcare workers, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

After getting a flu shot, some people experience a slight ache or a low-grade fever. This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus. These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe this flu season.

Practice the three Ws:

- Wear your mask. A mask helps prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19.

- Wash your hands. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Watch your distance. Whenever possible, stay six feet away from other people who are not your household contacts.

Additional steps that people can take include:

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Additional resources:

- List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: https://www.health.ri.gov/flu. (Evening school clinics are open to the entire community.)

- Information about the flu in Spanish: http://health.ri.gov/gripe

- People with additional questions can call RIDOH's Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Mashapaug Pond

2020-09-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Mashapaug Pond in Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Edgewood and Pleasure Lakes in Roger Williams Park

2020-09-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Edgewood and Pleasure Lakes in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from these waters. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak Near Providence College

2020-09-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Providence College are responding to an outbreak of COVID-19 among off-campus students near the school. Approximately 120 cases have been identified in the last three days. RIDOH is reminding people who live in the area around Providence College (and all Rhode Islanders) to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone who develops symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

Additionally, all people in Rhode Island between 18 and 39 years of age who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested. People who do not have symptoms and who work in high-contact workplaces, such as bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms, and hair salons and barbershops, are also eligible to be tested. College students in the area who do not attend Providence College and employees of area businesses who regularly interact with Providence College students are strongly encouraged to be tested. (All Providence College students are already being tested.) Testing of asymptomatic people is done at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment, go to http://portal.ri.gov. (More information is available at the link below.)

RIDOH is taking several measures to limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the area. RIDOH is doing thorough case investigations for each case, and is doing aggressive contact tracing. RIDOH is also partnering with Providence College in its work to support students in quarantine and isolation. In addition, RIDOH has been advising the college on broader mitigation steps, such as the implementation of a temporary 'stay-at-home' directive for students.

Symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

- Cough

- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

- Fever or chills

- Muscle or body aches

- Sore throat

- Headache

- Nausea or vomiting

- Diarrhea

- Runny nose or stuffy nose

- Fatigue

- Recent loss of taste or smell

Which asymptomatic people can schedule a test for COVID-19

- High-contact workers, including but not limited to, barbers, child care workers, clergy, cosmetologists, first responders, gym and exercise trainers, healthcare professionals, personal care services (nail technicians, massage therapists, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmeticians, manicurists, body piercers, and tanning facility staff), public transit drivers, and restaurant workers.

- Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 39.

- People who recently attended a large protest or demonstration.

- Additional groups: https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/asymptomatic/

How to schedule a test for COVID-19

- People without symptoms can schedule a test by going to http://portal.ri.gov. For information about testing for people who do not have symptoms is available online. (https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/asymptomatic/)

- Testing information for people who do have symptoms is also available online (https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/).

More information about COVID-19

https://www.health.ri.gov/covid

401-222-8022

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Slack Reservoir

2020-09-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield and Johnston. The advisory was related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been present but at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations. These findings meet the advisory guidelines and support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Slack Reservoir again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Testing Program for Pre-K - 12 Now Open

2020-09-14

Rhode Island's comprehensive school testing program is now open and able to provide prompt results to any student, teacher, or staff member at any public or private Pre-K – 12 school throughout the state who needs to be tested for COVID-19.

A test can be scheduled seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. by calling 844-857-1814. This scheduling line is only for PreK – 12 students, teachers, and staff who have symptoms, or who have been directed to get a test because they were a close contact of someone who is positive. Services are available in multiple languages.

"Consistent with the strategic, aggressive approach we have taken to COVID-19 testing over the last several months, Rhode Island has developed one of the broadest, most comprehensive school testing programs in the country," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "We have the infrastructure to run 5,000 tests a day for students, teachers, and staff, which will allow us to rapidly identify cases of COVID-19 and get people into quarantine and isolation right away. This will be key to minimizing disruptions to school communities and making this academic year a success for all students and schools throughout Rhode Island."

"Getting our students back to school sends a powerful message about how important education is to Rhode Island," said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "The work our colleagues have done to organize and implement school-focused COVID testing is a powerful tool in our efforts to return students safely to their classrooms. Efforts like this allow educators to do what they do best -- teach our students."

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 will get two tests. The results of the first test, which is a rapid test, will be available the same day. A second, more definitive test (a PCR test) will also be done. The results of this second test will be available within an average of 48 hours. A person who does not have symptoms but who is being tested because they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19 will only get the more definitive PCR test.

People will be able to schedule a test at one of 14 sites throughout Rhode Island. A full list of the testing sites is available online. People can either make drive-up appointments or walk-up appointments. Appointments can be scheduled by parents, guardians, teachers, staff members, and students older than 16 years old. A parent or guardian must go to the test site with any child who is younger than 16. Instructions on how to get test results is available online in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

If a student, teacher, or staff member tests positive

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to return to school and will need to isolate for at least 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms. That person can return to school after 10 days if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine and if their symptoms have improved. If someone tests positive but does not have symptoms of COVID-19, they must isolate for 10 days after receiving their PCR test result.

People who test positive will receive these instructions directly from RIDOH. A RIDOH staff member will also do an interview over the phone as part of a case investigation. This interview will include questions about the travel history and close contacts of the person who tested positive. The case investigation will involve close coordination between RIDOH and school officials.

If a student, teacher, or staff member tests negative

Anyone who gets tested for COVID-19 should expect to be out of school or work for a period of time, even if their result is negative. If someone tests negative but was a close contact of a positive case, the person who tested negative still needs to complete their 14-day quarantine period. If the person who tested negative was not a close contact (for example, someone who was tested only because they had COVID-19 like symptoms) they can go back to school after symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medication.

Additional Resources

- More information about testing for Pre-K – 12 students, teachers, and staff is available online:

English: https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/k-12/#sites

Spanish: https://health.ri.gov/otherlanguages/spanish/diseases/ncov/testing/k-12/

Portuguese: https://health.ri.gov/otherlanguages/portuguese/covid/testing/k-12/

- More information about reopening Rhode Island's schools, district learning plans, and Pre-K-12 outbreak response protocols is available at back2schoolri.com.

- General information about testing (non Pre-K – 12) is available online:

https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/children/

- General information about COVID-19 is available online: http://health.ri.gov/COVID

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Spectacle Pond in Cranston and Elm Lake in Providence

2020-09-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston and Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park, Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from these waters. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Business Compliance Update

2020-09-04

Nearly 300 businesses in sectors such as hospitality, personal services, banking, fitness, and retail received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR).

These inspections are intended to measure compliance with industry specific COVID-19 requirements. A list of these businesses is available online (https://dbr.ri.gov/).

Additionally, in the past week, five businesses received compliance orders, three businesses received combination compliance orders and immediate compliance orders, and one business received a partial immediate compliance order for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. These businesses are listed below.

Businesses are required to take steps such as ensure that employees and customers are wearing masks and practicing social distancing and designate a point of contact who will work with RIDOH on case investigations, should the need arise.

- TVLRI Vaporizer Store, Providence – Compliance order

- Sophie's Salon, Providence – Compliance order

- Blendz Barber Shop, East Providence – Compliance order

- A to Z Liquors, Providence – Compliance order

- Omar's Barbershop, Cranston – Compliance order

- Debbie's Breakfast Place, Woonsocket – Combination compliance order and immediate compliance order

- Restaurante Montecristo, Central Falls – Combination compliance order and immediate compliance order

- Danny's Bar, Westerly – Combination compliance order and immediate compliance order

- Portside Tavern, Bristol – Partial immediate compliance order

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - https://dbr.ri.gov/

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

Blue-Green Algae Blooms in Barber Pond in South Kingstown and Blackamore Pond in Cranston

2020-09-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Barber Pond in South Kingstown and Blackamore Pond in Cranston due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Trout will not be stocked in Barber Pond this fall until the advisory is lifted. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisories will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH and RIDEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Georgiaville Pond

2020-09-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been present but at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations. These findings meet the advisory guidelines and support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Georgiaville Pond again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen. Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Business Compliance Update

2020-08-27

More than 200 businesses in sectors such as retail, fitness, and hospitality received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR).

These inspections are intended to measure compliance with industry specific COVID-19 requirements. A list of these businesses is available online.

Additionally, in the last week, five business received compliance orders for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. (These businesses are listed below.) Businesses are required to take steps such as ensure that employees and guests are wearing masks and practicing social distancing, and designate a point of contact who will work with RIDOH on case investigations, should the need arise.

Businesses can either receive a compliance order or an immediate compliance order. An establishment that receives a compliance order can remain open but will be re-inspected in 10 days to ensure that the establishment is meeting all health and safety requirements. An establishment that receives an immediate compliance order must close immediately because the violations documented represent an imminent threat to public health. When a business is generally compliant with safety regulations it can receive combination orders, which allow them to remain open but require that specific areas be closed until the establishment can comply with all safety regulations.

Compliance orders:

- Ju Sushi, Westerly

- Ocean State Body Builders, Johnston

- Crown Fried Chicken, Middletown

- Ray's Service, West Greenwich

- Broadway Express Mart, Providence

- Merrill Lounge, East Providence (combined order)

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - https://dbr.ri.gov/

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

Prima Wawona and Aldi Recalling Peaches

2020-08-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Prima Wawona and Aldi are recalling bagged and loose Wawona and Wawona Organic peaches distributed and sold between June 1 through August 19, 2020 due to possible Salmonella contamination.

Aldi has removed the affected peaches from select ALDI stores in Rhode Island and many other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. The items were also available for purchase through the company's partnership with Instacart, a grocery delivery service. The affected products and UPC codes can be found online.

Wawona is recalling peaches sold in the following supermarkets with the following product codes:

• Wawona Peaches – 033383322001

• Wawona Organic Peaches – 849315000400

• Prima Peaches – 766342325903

• Organic Marketside Peaches – 849315000400

• Kroger Peaches – 011110181749

• Wegmans Peaches – 077890490488

Prima Wawona is recalling the peaches as a precaution in connection with a Salmonella outbreak under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is suspected to have caused the illness of more than 60 people in nine states.

Salmonella is a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Aldi customers with products affected by this voluntary recall should discard those products immediately or return them to their local store for a full refund. Customers with additional questions can contact Wawona Packing Company LLC Customer Service at 1-877-722-7554.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Barney Pond in Lincoln

2020-08-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Barney Pond in Lincoln due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Business Compliance Update (English/Spanish)

2020-08-20

More than 250 businesses in sectors such as retail, fitness, and hospitality received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR).

These inspections are intended to measure compliance with industry specific COVID-19 requirements. A list of these businesses is available online (see link below).

"The business owners and employees throughout Rhode Island who are proactively implementing systems and practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 absolutely should be applauded," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The business community has a major role to play in helping keep our communities healthy and safe. These business owners are setting examples that should be followed throughout the state."

"The Department of Business Regulation thanks the vast majority of businesses who are following the rules and implementing the necessary protocols to keep our citizens safe," said DBR Director Liz Tanner. "We will continue to inspect businesses throughout the state and work with those who are not fully in compliance. It is only through your cooperation that our state can continue to safely reopen its economy and emerge from this crisis together."

Additionally, in the last week, ten business received compliance orders for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. These businesses—ranging from retail to services to hospitality—are listed below. Three of these businesses were re-inspected on August 18th, and all were found to be in compliance.

Businesses are required to take steps such as ensure that employees and guests are wearing masks and practicing social distancing, and designate a point of contact who will work with RIDOH on case investigations, should the need arise.

Compliance orders:

- 114 Express, Warren

- Migz Wireless, Central Falls

- Super 8 Motel, West Greenwich

- Oaklawn Mobile, Cranston

- Warren Super Mart, Warren

- Lenox Convenience Store, Providence

- Mahogany Shoals, New Shoreham (this business is now in compliance)

- Saver's Mart, Providence (this business is now in compliance)

- Sandy Shore Motel, Westerly (this business is now in compliance)

- Milano's Pizza, Providence (this business is now in compliance)

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - https://dbr.ri.gov/ [linkprotect.cudasvc.com [linkprotect.cudasvc.com]]

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

###

Actualizaciones del cumplimiento de regulaciones del COVID-19

Algunos negocios reciben puntajes perfectos; otros reciben órdenes de cumplimiento

De acuerdo con el grupo encargado de hacer cumplir las regulaciones del COVID-19, más de 250 negocios s en sectores de salud, hospedaje y minoristas, recibieron puntuaciones perfectas en sus inspecciones. El grupo es parte de una colaboración entre el Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH) y el Departamento de Regulación de Negocios de Rhode Island (DBR).

Estas inspecciones están encargadas de medir el cumplimiento de los requisitos COVID-19 para negocios en industrias específicas. Una lista de estas empresas se puede encontrar en nuestra página de internet.

"Los dueños de negocios y empleados en todo Rhode Island que están implementando los sistemas y prácticas para prevenir el contagio del COVID-19 deben ser aplaudidos," dijo la directora del Departamento de Salud, la doctora Nicole Alexander-Scott. "Los negocios tiene una parte importante para ayudar a mantener nuestras comunidades saludables y seguras. Estos dueños de negocios están dando ejemplos positivos que deben seguirse en todo el estado."

"El Departamento de Regulación de Negocios de Rhode Island, da sus gracias a la mayoría de los negocios que están siguiendo las reglas e implementando los protocolos necesarios para cuidar nuestros ciudadanos," dijo la directora del Departamento de Regulación de Negocios, Liz Tanner. "Continuaremos inspeccionando negocios a través del estado y trabajando con los que no están cumpliendo totalmente con las regulaciones del COVID-19. Solamente con la cooperación de todos, el estado de Rhode Island podrá reabrir su economía y juntos salir de esta crisis."

Además, en la última semana, diez negocios recibieron órdenes por no cumplir con una serie de directivas de salud pública relacionadas con el COVID-19. Estos incluyen negocios minoristas, de servicios y de hospedaje (vea la lista más abajo). Tres de estos negocios fueron inspeccionados de nuevo el 18 de agosto y todos estaban en cumplimiento de las órdenes.

Las empresas deben tomar medidas para asegurar que los empleados y clientes usen mascarillas o tapa boca y practiquen el distanciamiento social. Además, los negocios deben designar una persona de contacto que estará en comunicación con el Departamento de Salud en las investigaciones de casos, si es necesario.

Los negocios que recibieron órdenes de cumplimiento son:

- 114 Express, Warren

- Migz Wireless, Central Falls

- Super 8 Motel, West Greenwich

- Oaklawn Mobile, Cranston

- Warren Super Mart, Warren

- Lenox Convenience Store, Providence

- Mahogany Shoals, New Shoreham (Este negocio ahora está en cumplimiento de las órdenes)

- Saver's Mart, Providence (Este negocio ahora está en cumplimiento de las órdenes

- Sandy Shore Motel, Westerly (Este negocio ahora está en cumplimiento de las órdenes)

Estas órdenes de cumplimiento y todos las otras ordenes de cumplimiento están publicadas en la página de internet de DBR: https://dbr.ri.gov/

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Upper Melville Pond

2020-08-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Upper Melville (also known as Thurston) Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Signs were posted at the pond earlier this summer due to elevated cyanobacteria levels and the potential for the presence of toxins. Cyanotoxins that can harm humans and animals, along with high levels of the cyanobacteria that produce these toxins, have been detected in the most recent water sample from the pond.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Melville Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

For more information and a list of current and historical advisories, go to http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville

2020-08-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville (it spans Smithfield and Johnston town line) due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. Very high levels of microcystins were detected in the most recent water sample.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from Slack Reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

The email address above and other current and historical advisories can be accessed at this website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

Kader Exports Recalling Bags of Shrimp

2020-08-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kader Exports is recalling frozen cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The shrimp was sold in 1 pound, 1.5 pound, and 2 pound retail bags. The products were distributed nationwide from late February 2020 to mid-May 2020.

The brand names of the products are Aqua Star Reserve, Censea, Fresh Market, Kirkland, Tops, Unistar, and Wellsley Farms. Additional product details are available online.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

COVID-19 Compliance Orders Issued

2020-08-13

Rhode Island's COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force has issued compliance orders to ten businesses in the last two weeks for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR). Eight of these establishments were food businesses and two were barbershops.

In many instances, inspectors observed staff and patrons not wearing masks, and staff and patrons not practicing social distancing. Other violations included serving drinks at a bar without a physical barrier and not maintaining an employee work log (which would be used for contact tracing, in the event of a case).

Businesses can either receive a compliance order or an immediate compliance order. An establishment that receives a compliance order can remain open but will be re-inspected in 10 days to ensure that the establishment is meeting all health and safety requirements. An establishment that receives an immediate compliance order must close immediately because the violations documented represent an imminent threat to public health. When a business is generally compliant with safety regulations it can receive combination orders, which allow them to remain open but require that specific areas be closed until the establishment can comply with all safety regulations.

Compliance Orders

- Asian Bakery, in Providence

- Subway Restaurant, in Woonsocket

- Sam's Food Store, in Providence

- Grab and Go Convenience Store, in East Providence

- John's Meat Market, in Providence

- China Star III, in Providence

Immediate Compliance Order

- Rios Barber Shop, in Westerly

- Matt's on Mendon Barber Shop, in Cumberland

- Andrea Hotel, in Westerly (the business is now in compliance)

Combination Compliance Order and Immediate Compliance Orders

- Liberty Lunch, in Pawtucket

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of DBR - https://dbr.ri.gov/

To file a complaint about a business, call 401-889-5550 or visit taskforce.dbr.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Outbreak Response Playbook Released for Schools

2020-08-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) have released an Outbreak Response Playbook: Pre K - 12 guide today, providing district and school leaders with guidance on how to respond to various scenarios involving COVID-19 and their students, teachers, and staff. (See link below.)

"This Playbook provides clear guidance and structure to schools in their work to keep students, teachers, and staff as healthy and safe as possible this year when it comes to COVID-19," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The Playbook was developed using the best science and data we have on COVID-19 infection control. We will continue to put public health first and rely on the facts in making decisions that are in best interest of students, parents, and educators."

"The health and safety of our students, staff, and communities are top priorities for us, even as we work to ensure our schools get back to their core educational mission," said Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green. "This Playbook provides easy-to-use guidance that school leaders can rely on as they prepare to make school happen this year. We will continue to work with our district, charter and state-run schools to ensure they implement this guidance at the school level."

While the Playbook provides guidance for general scenarios that could arise, RIDOH and RIDE will consult closely with schools on all COVID-19-related health issues that surface to help manage those specific situations.

The Playbook outlines the symptoms of COVID-19, clarifies what should be considered a probable case of COVID-19, and defines "close contact" in a school setting. The Playbook details isolation and quarantine protocols for various scenarios, outlines testing recommendations, and includes clearance protocols for children and staff to later return to school. For example, the Playbook calls for people who meet the definition of a probable case to be sent home, isolate, and be allowed to return to school only after getting a negative COVID-19 test or completing the required isolation period after testing positive. As another example of guidance in the Playbook, schools are given recommendations on how to deal with a student or staff member who has symptoms of illness, but is not a probable case of COVID-19.

Decisions about reopening schools for in-person instruction in Rhode Island will be made considering five factors: statewide data, municipal data, testing capacity, the availability of supplies, and operational readiness. Schools will only be opened for full in-person learning if benchmarks in all of these areas are met.

More information about school reopening in Rhode Island can be found at www.back2schoolri.com [back2schoolri.com], including district, charter and state-run school reopening plans, important updates from RIDE, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

COVID-19 Testing Site on Block Island to Close for Today

2020-08-04

Due to the severe weather anticipated because of Tropical Storm Isaias, the COVID-19 testing site at the Block Island Fire and Rescue Barn will be closed today, Tuesday, August 4th. All appointments have been rescheduled for Thursday, August 6th. Other Rhode Island testing sites will continue on their regular schedules. This includes the site at the Rhode Island Convention Center, which is in the Convention Center's parking garage.

For more information on COVID-19 testing, visit http://health.ri.gov/covid/testing.

Thomson International Inc. Recalls of Red, Yellow, White, and Sweet Yellow Onions

2020-08-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Thomson International Inc. is recalling red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions shipped from May 1, 2020 through the present. The onions are being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. The onions were distributed in 5 lbs. cartons, 10 lbs. cartons, 25 lbs. cartons, 40 lbs. cartons, 50 lbs. cartons, 2 lbs. mesh sacks, 3 lbs. mesh sacks, 5 lbs. mesh sacks, 10 lbs. mesh sacks, 25 lbs. mesh sacks, and 50 lbs. mesh sacks. They were sold under the brand names Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley's Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. or products containing such onions. If you cannot tell if your onion is from Thomson International Inc., you should not eat, sell, or serve it, and you should throw it out.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections that may be linked to these onions. As of now no specific source of contamination or contaminated shipment has been identified, and FDA is also investigating other potential sources of contamination and has not yet reached a final conclusion. 396 total illnesses have been reported to date including 59 hospitalizations. (There have been no cases identified in Rhode Island.)

RIDOH Issues COVID-19 Compliance Orders

2020-07-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has issued compliance orders to ten restaurants and bars so far this week for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19. Additional compliance orders may be issued.

In many instances, inspectors observed staff and patrons not wearing masks, staff and patrons not practicing social distancing, and establishments not screening patrons for symptoms of COVID-19. Many of the establishments that were issued orders did not meet the requirements for separation at their bar areas. (Customers were seated at bar areas and were being served from behind the bar without the necessary physical barriers in place.) A full list of requirements for restaurants is available online.

"There are restaurants throughout Rhode Island that are doing a great job welcoming and serving customers in a way that is healthy and safe," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The few that are not are hurting the entire industry, jeopardizing the safety of their customers, and setting Rhode Island back in our work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As residents, business owners, and a state, we need to be more vigilant now than ever."

Restaurants and bars can either receive a compliance order or an immediate compliance order. An establishment that receives a compliance order can remain open but will be re-inspected in 10 days to ensure that the establishment is meeting all health and safety requirements. An establishment that receives an immediate compliance order must close immediately because the violations documented represent an imminent threat to public health. In some situations, restaurants and bars that were generally compliant with safety regulations received partial immediate compliance orders or combination orders which allow them to remain open but require that bar areas be closed until the establishment can comply with all safety regulations.

Compliance Orders

- Theater Tap Bar, in Pawtucket

- Pasha Hookah Lounge and Bar, in Providence

- Boulevard Grille and Cigar Lounge, in Pawtucket

Immediate Compliance Order

- Tafino Restaurant and Lounge, in Providence

Partial Immediate Compliance Orders

- PJs Pub, in Narragansett

- Morse Tavern, in Coventry

Combination Compliance Order and Immediate Compliance Orders

- Buffalo Wild Wings, in Warwick

- Fairlawn Golf Course, in Lincoln

- O'Rourke's Bar and Gill, in Warwick

- Lifestyle Nutrition, in Providence

These compliance orders and all other COVID-19 related compliance orders are posted online on the website of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (https://dbr.ri.gov/decisions/decisions_task_force.php).

RIDOH, DEM, and American Forests Launch Heat Mapping Effort

2020-07-28

As a part of ongoing efforts to better understand how extreme heat disproportionately impacts communities in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and American Forests have launched the Rhode Island Heat Watch Program, a community health mapping project.

The Rhode Island Heat Watch Program will organize community volunteers to measure heat and humidity in four Rhode Island municipalities—Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, and Providence—during four one-hour blocks between 6 a.m. and midnight on July 29th. Fourteen cities across the country are participating in similar data collection efforts. Rhode Island is the first state to collect heat distribution data during the night to reveal which areas aren't cooling off enough overnight.

"The issues of heat, health, and equity are closely intertwined," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Putting interventions into place to help communities be as healthy and resilient as possible first requires us to understand how issues like extreme heat and climate change affect areas of Rhode Island differently. The Rhode Island Heat Watch Program will build on the work our Health Equity Zones and be an important part of Rhode Island's efforts to promote equity and health at the community level."

"In urban areas nationwide, trees can help prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses by lowering temperatures and counteracting the urban heat island effect, in which darkly colored surface materials such as roads and rooftops, absorb heat and make their urban surroundings warmer," said Ian Leahy, Vice President of Urban Forestry at American Forests. "Knowing which neighborhoods are experiencing higher temperatures and which populations are being impacted disproportionately can help cities determine where trees are needed the most. Given that a 10-fold increase in heat-related deaths is expected in the eastern U.S. by 2050, the Rhode Island Heat Watch Program serves as a model for how other urban areas can prepare for and respond to extreme heat."

Over 600 people in the United States die from extreme heat each year. Heat-related illnesses happen when the body is not able to cool itself and the heat causes damage to the brain and other vital organs. Communities that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat include older adults, children, and places where median incomes are lower. Rising temperatures are exacerbated in urban areas with man-made materials that absorb sunlight and reduce green space. As a result, urban areas tend to have higher average temperatures than surrounding towns.

Volunteers will use specially designed thermal sensors mounted on cars to collect ambient air temperature and humidity data. Once data are collected, sensors are shipped to CAPA Heat Watch, an external partner who combines these data with satellite imagery to create high-resolution maps for use by Rhode Island communities and state agencies. This effort will allow data-driven heat mitigation efforts, such as urban forestry, to ensure that all Rhode Island communities have the systems and infrastructure in place to be more resilient in the face of climate change.

RIDOH Urges Precautions to Prevent Heat-related Illness

2020-07-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to protect themselves against the elevated heat indexes forecast for this weekend and the coming week with a few simple health precautions. Extreme heat can be dangerous, particularly for children, older adults, and some people with underlying medical conditions.

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:

- Drink more fluids than usual, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more fluids. Water is your best option. Limit alcohol, drinks with caffeine, and drinks with high amounts of sugar.

- Check on friends and neighbors, particularly those who are caring for young children and older adults.

- Stay out of the sun. Find a shaded area where you can sit and relax, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.

- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat if you are outside.

- Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time, take it indoors to an air-conditioned environment, or try swimming, which is a great summer exercise. If you work outside, wear sunscreen (re-apply frequently), pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.

- Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you're unable to be in an air-conditioned location.

- Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.

- Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.

People should also try to stay in air-conditioned spaces when it gets very hot. If you don't have air conditioning at home, consider going to the home of a friend or loved one who does. There are also cooling centers in Rhode Island. If you go to a cooling center or congregate in an air-conditioned space, bring a mask or cloth face-covering, maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. This can help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Heat-related illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, are of particular concern during periods of extreme heat.

- Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale or clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

- Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit), combined with hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; confusion; and losing consciousness (passing out). Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and 911 should be called immediately.

For more information about symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, see www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning [cdc.gov]. For more information about summer safety, visit https://www.health.ri.gov/seasonal/summer.

###

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston

2020-07-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

To report a bloom and view current and historical advisories, DEM's website has more information at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

###

CCRI COVID-19 Testing Site to Close on Sunday

2020-07-24

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing at the Community College of Rhode Island (Knight Campus) will cease at the end of the day on Sunday, July 26th. This testing site is shifting to the Rhode Island Convention Center, as the Rhode Island College testing site did earlier this week.

Testing at the Rhode Island Convention Center (114 West Exchange Street in Providence) is happening in the parking garage. This will allow testing to happen even during inclement weather. The testing site is a drive-up site. The access road connecting West Exchange and Sabin Streets is restricted to test site traffic and emergency vehicles only. Because of the low clearance in the garage, trailers, RVs, and other oversized vehicles cannot be accommodated at this time. The site operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tests are available by appointment only.

Like the college testing sites, the Rhode Island Convention Center testing site is for symptomatic people and certain asymptomatic people. People who are symptomatic can get a test scheduled for them by a healthcare provider. People who are asymptomatic can schedule a test if they work in a high-contact profession. Examples of people who work in high-contact professions include barbers, child care workers, clergy, cosmetologists, first responders, gym and exercise trainers, healthcare professionals, personal care services (nail technicians, massage therapists, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmeticians, manicurists, body piercers, and tanning facility staff), public transit drivers, and restaurant workers. Asymptomatic Rhode Islanders who have recently traveled to a place with an elevated positivity rate can also be tested. To schedule a test, visit portal.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Testing Site to Open at the Rhode Island Convention Center

2020-07-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that a new Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing site will open tomorrow, July 21st, at the Rhode Island Convention Center, located at 114 West Exchange Street in Providence. This site will replace the current testing site at Rhode Island College (RIC). Today is the last day of testing at RIC. The testing site at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) will also be phased out in the near future.

Testing at the Rhode Island Convention Center will happen in the parking garage. This will allow testing to happen even during inclement weather. The testing site will be a drive-up site. Signage will direct people to the site. The access road connecting West Exchange and Sabin Streets will be restricted to test site traffic and emergency vehicles only. Because of the low clearance in the garage, trailers, RVs, and other oversized vehicles cannot be accommodated at this time. The site will operate Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tests are available by appointment only.

This location change will increase Rhode Island's testing capacity. The Rhode Island Convention Center site will have capacity to do 1,500 tests a day. The RIC and CCRI sites were equipped to handle 600 tests a day each.

Like the RIC and CCRI testing sites, the Rhode Island Convention Center testing site will be for symptomatic people and certain asymptomatic people. People who are symptomatic can get a test scheduled for them by a healthcare provider. People who are asymptomatic can schedule a test if they work in a high-contact profession. Examples of people who work in high-contact professions include barbers, child care workers, clergy, cosmetologists, first responders, gym and exercise trainers, healthcare professionals, personal care services (nail technicians, massage therapists, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmeticians, manicurists, body piercers, and tanning facility staff), public transit drivers, and restaurant workers. Asymptomatic Rhode Islanders who have recently traveled to a place with an elevated positivity rate can also be tested. To schedule a test, visit http://portal.ri.gov. People can make appointments as of noon today.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH will provide a broader update on testing at Wednesday's press conference.

More information about COVID-19 testing, including information on all the different places people can get tested, is available online (https://health.ri.gov/covid/testing/).

RIDOH Licenses State's First Marijuana Sampling and Testing Laboratory

2020-07-20

As a part of the on-going process in Rhode Island to improve medical marijuana product safety and transparency, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has licensed Green Peaks Analytical as the State's first licensed marijuana sampling and testing laboratory.

To date, products sold at compassion centers in Rhode Island have been tested by cultivators or compassion centers with their own laboratory facilities, or by private, unlicensed laboratories. While some laboratories across the country are only licensed to test, Green Peaks Analytical will also collect samples directly from licensed cultivators and licensed compassion centers, to ensure that the sample's chain of custody is not broken.

"Like all other patients in Rhode Island, people who use medical marijuana deserve to have access to safe medication, and they deserve to have accurate information about that medication," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The increased oversight that RIDOH and DBR will be providing will help ensure that critical product safeguards are in place for medical marijuana patients."

Cannabinoids (e.g.,tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], cannabidiol [CBD], tetrahydrocannabinolic acid [THCA], and cannabidiolic acid [CBDA]) are chemicals found within the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids affect users by binding to specific receptors in the central nervous system. Different cannabinoids produce different effects. For example, THC is associated with psychoactive effects while CBD is associated with anti-psychoactive or THC-moderating effects. This information helps users determine which products to use and how to use them safely.

Over a six-week period, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations' (DBR) Office of Cannabis Regulation will gather feedback from Green Peaks Analytical, cultivators, compassion centers, and the patient community about this process. With this information, DBR will establish a time frame by which all medical marijuana products will be required to have potency totals that have been verified by a licensed laboratory on their product labels.

RIDOH and DBR will worktogether with licensed laboratories, using a phased approach,to build capacity so that future certification can include testing for contaminants such as pesticides, metals, or solvents.

113 Rhode Islanders Receiving Updated COVID-19 Test Results

2020-07-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has been made aware by a private laboratory of 113 false positive COVID-19 test results for Rhode Islanders. This means that these 113 people were told that their results were positive when they were actually negative.

Located in New York, this private laboratory is a partner laboratory of East Side Clinical Laboratory. These 113 tests were not run at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories.

RIDOH and East Side Clinical Laboratory have been working to contact these individuals and their contacts. All Rhode Islanders who have been tested for COVID-19 should assume that their test result is accurate unless they have been contacted and directly told otherwise.

The original (false positive) results for these people were reported between July 9th and July 14th. The 113 samples were part of a larger batch with samples from other states. In doing quality control the laboratory identified issues with the accuracy of the results in this batch. The laboratory performed an internal investigation and concluded that initial sample handling in the lab was the reason for the false positives. Also included in this batch were samples for 82 Rhode Islanders whose positive results were confirmed upon retesting. Eight Rhode Islanders are being re-swabbed so new tests can be rerun.

The historical numbers on RIDOH's data webpage will be updated to reflect these changes. (Rhode Island's count of total positive cases will only be adjusted down for the number of people of these 113 who had received a positive result for the first time. If someone had received an initial positive result before receiving this second, false positive result, that person is still considered a case.)

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Stafford Pond in Tiverton

2020-07-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising the public to avoid contact with the water in Stafford Pond in Tiverton. This advisory is being issued because high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, have been detected in the pond.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with these ponds, who experience symptoms, should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with water that is under an advisory should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

Stafford Pond is a source of public water for the Stone Bridge Fire District in northern Tiverton as well as parts of the North Tiverton Fire District. Before being delivered to customers, the water is treated to remove harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria. The Stone Bridge and North Tiverton Fire Districts follow all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report a bloom and view current and historical advisories, DEM's website has more information at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

Rhode Island to Launch Expanded Serology Testing Effort

2020-07-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will be coordinating a second, expanded round of serology testing in the coming weeks to better understand the prevalence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among people in certain high-contact professions in Rhode Island. This effort is in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Rhode Island was one of three sites selected across the United States for participation in this serology testing effort, along with Detroit and New York City.

Starting July 17th, first responders (police, fire, and emergency medical services), Rhode Island National Guard members, RIDOH staff, correctional facility workers, and hospital and nursing home staff will be able to schedule a test online. Testing will be voluntary. Results will be made available to participants approximately four days after they are tested.

Serology testing looks for proteins in the blood called antibodies, which are produced in response to the presence of a virus. Serology testing tells us whether someone was previously exposed to a virus and helps us understand the prevalence of a virus in a community and the state. RIDOH will be looking for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

"Serology testing is one part of a strategic, comprehensive approach to measuring the impact of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, and is critical to inform our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus," said Philip Chan, MD, MS, the Consultant Medical Director of the RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medical Services. "Rhode Island is already a national leader in PCR-based diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Supplementing what we learn from diagnostic testing with antibody testing is important to understand how COVID-19 is spreading in the state and to support people and communities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19."

Most testing sites will be located at or near hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, first responder facilities, and public safety agencies. People will get information about their testing site when they schedule a test.

In May, in an initial round of serology testing, 5,000 randomly selected Rhode Island households received invitations to be tested. A seroprevalence of 2.2% was found, meaning that 2.2% of people who were tested had been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Higher seroprevalences were seen among Hispanic Rhode Islanders and African American Rhode Islanders.

To participate in this serology testing effort, someone must:

- Be currently working as a first responder (police, fire, or emergency medical services), Rhode Island National Guard member, RIDOH employee, correctional facility worker, or a hospital and nursing home staff member in Rhode Island. (Employee ID will be required to participate).

- Not have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test within the last two weeks, and

- Have a valid mobile phone number or email address to receive test results.

To schedule a test, visit FirstSeroSurveyRI.com [firstserosurveyri.com]. For more information about this serology testing effort, people can see the Frequently Asked Questions document that RIDOH has developed, or they can call Quest Diagnostics at 833-670-0253. Quest Diagnostics is the laboratory that will be analyzing the samples collected.

Serology testing does not indicate whether someone is immune to COVID-19. We are still learning whether the presence of antibodies protects someone from future infection, and if so, for how long. Therefore, it is important that people who have antibodies continue to take measures to prevent the spread of illness.

- When people are in public, wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- Practice social distancing (whenever possible, maintain a six-foot distance from other people in public)

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

- If you are sick, stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

General information about COVID-19 is available at http://health.ri.gov/covid

Boil Water Notice Issued for Phil and Ann's Sunset Motel Water System Customers

2020-07-09

Phil and Ann's Sunset Motel in Charleston, RI is required to issue a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials.

Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at https://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/ (see link below).

Phil & Ann's Sunset Motel collected a sample in the water system on July 6, 2020 that showed a presence of coliform bacteria, which was confirmed by additional samples collected June 8, 2020. One of those additional samples showed the presence of E. Coli bacteria. A boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Gilbert Barnes at 401-364-3321 and glbbar6@aol.com.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2020-07-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Georgiaville Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins. Owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

The email address above and other current and historical advisories can be accessed at this website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

FDA Issues Warning About Hand Sanitizer Products

2020-07-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers not to use hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV because of the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol).

The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) has recommended that Eskbiochem remove its hand sanitizer products from the market because of the potential contamination. Following the FDA recommendation, two distributors of Eskbiochem products, Saniderm Products and UVT Inc., are issuing a voluntary recall of Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer. These products are packaged in 1-liter plastic bottles and labeled with "Made in Mexico" and "Produced by: Eskbiochem SA de CV."

The UVT hand sanitizer is labeled with lot number 0530 and an expiration date of 04/2020.

The Saniderm Products hand sanitizer is labeled with lot number 53131626 and "Manufactured on April/1/22."

Some products are sold under different names, such as All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, and Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer. A full list of products manufactured by Eskbiochem is available online. (See link below)

Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Persons who use these products on their hands are at risk for negative outcomes. However, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. The FDA is currently investigating contamination of hand sanitizer products.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.

Consumers should continue to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

The FDA has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that have tested positive for methanol contamination. A full list of hand sanitizer labels for products that have either been found to contain methanol, are being recalled by the manufacturer or distributor, are made at the same facility as products in which the FDA has tested and confirmed methanol contamination is available online.

FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers, and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information as possible to identify the product):

- Complete and submit the report online (see link below); or

- Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.

Updates to Long-term Care and Assisted Living Facility Visitation Policy

2020-07-03

Long-term care and assisted living facilities will be allowed to welcome visitors again next Wednesday, July 8th, provided that they abide by strict infection control measures to keep residents, staff, and family members safe, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing today.

Last month, RIDOH provided guidance to facilities on how to develop safe visitation plans. Roughly two weeks ago, as facilities continued to work on their plans, RIDOH allowed facilities to start communal dining and communal activities again. Facilities that do not have visitation plans completed and approved by July 8th will be required to implement a standard Visitation Plan for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Residences developed by RIDOH. Among other things, the standard plan states that:

- Visits will be limited to only those essential to the resident's physical and emotional well-being and care.

- All visits must be scheduled in advance. Visits will be allowed for 30-minute increments.

- Facilities must actively screen everyone for fever and symptoms of COVID-19 before they enter.

- Facilities must keep a daily log with names and contact information for all visitors.

- Outdoor visits are preferred. If a visit must occur inside the facility, the visit shall be restricted to the resident's room or other area specifically designated for visits. If a resident's room is used for visitation, only one visitor per resident at a time is allowed in the resident's room.

- Regardless of the location of the visit, visitors must maintain a six-foot distance from staff and residents.

- All visitors must wear a cloth face covering.

- All visitors shall perform hand hygiene upon entry to the facility or to the outside visitation area or before entering the resident's room.

While RIDOH has provided general guidance to facilities, and has developed a standard visitation plan for facilities without their own plans, all facilities are different. Some facilities may take different approaches, based on the uniqueness of their layout or resident community.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 59 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 16,991. RIDOH also announced one additional COVID-19 associated fatality. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 960. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online. (See below.)

Key messages for the public

- More information about the reopening process is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Fresh Express Recalls Salad Products

2020-06-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fresh Express is recalling salad products that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrot ingredients due to a possible health risk from Cyclospora.

The recalled items were distributed to select retail stores in many states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, between June 6th and June 26th.

The recalled items are clearly marked with the letter "Z" at the beginning of the product code (located in the upper right-hand corner of the front of the package). Products containing the ingredients iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and/or carrots and displaying the Product Code Z178, or a lower number, are recalled.

Some Fresh Express salad products are sold under different brand names, such as Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Signature Farms, and Wholesome Pantry. A full product list is available online. (See link below.)

Cyclosporiasis is an illness that affects the intestines and is caused by the Cyclospora parasite. People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue. If you think you may be infected with Cyclospora, please contact your healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall or requests for refunds may contact the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center at (800) 242-5472, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Rhode Island to Move to Phase 3 Tuesday, Governor Extends Executive Orders

2020-06-29

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided details today on the state's response to COVID-19.

After announcing that Rhode Island will move into Phase 3 on Tuesday, June 30th, Governor Raimondo laid out the following guidance for Phase 3:

- Social gatherings: Social gatherings can be no larger than 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors. For social gatherings like weddings where there is a licensed caterer involved (which makes the setting more like a restaurant) gatherings can be as large as 50 people indoors or up to 100 people outdoors.

- Public events: Public events can be up to 125 people indoors or up to 250 people outdoors. Any organizers planning to host a group of more than 100 people will need to submit plans to Commerce RI.

- Indoor settings: All indoor settings operating at a square footage capacity can increase up to one person per 100 square feet, provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance. All indoor settings currently operating at a percent capacity cap can still increase up to 66% capacity provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance. This includes places like offices and restaurants. Seated venues can open at up to 66% capacity, and free-flowing venues can open at 100 square feet per person, provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance.

- Travel: Rhode Island will implement a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to Rhode Island from any state with 5% or greater positivity rate. (Positivity rates are calculated using the average daily positivity rate for the last seven days.) As an exception, people will not have to quarantine if they have had a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours. (If someone is tested after arriving in Rhode Island and gets a negative result, that person can stop quarantining.) The list of states with a percent positive rate of 5% or higher will be published today on RIDOH's website and will be updated weekly.

The following executive orders will be extended to August 3rd:

- Face coverings: Face coverings must be worn in public—both indoors and outdoors—whenever six feet of social distance cannot be maintained. Exceptions are made for children under two years of age and anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering.

- Telemedicine: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care, and mental and behavioral health care conducted over the phone or by videoconference. Reimbursement rates for providers must be the same as reimbursement rates for in-office visits.

- Disaster declaration: The state of emergency declaration ensures that Rhode Island has access to all the necessary resources to support our response to this pandemic.

- Firearms: In keeping with a request from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association, the Governor has extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.

- Quarantine: People must follow the State's quarantine and isolation guidance.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 16 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 16,764. RIDOH also announced six additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 946. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- More information about the reopening process is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Willow Lake in Roger William Park

2020-06-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Willow Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Willow Lake and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island, including other ponds in the Roger Williams Park. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Almy Pond

2020-06-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Almy Pond in Newport due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Almy Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Increase in Overdose Deaths Identified in the Early Months of 2020

2020-06-23

Preliminary data indicate that Rhode Island saw a significant increase in accidental drug overdose deaths in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in years past, State officials are announcing today.

Although data for January, February, and March of 2020 are still considered provisional, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) anticipates that between 93 and 95 people will have died of accidental drug overdoses during this period. This represents roughly a 22% increase in accidental drug overdose deaths compared to the same time period in 2019. (See data below.) This number of accidental overdose deaths would be the most for a quarter on record in Rhode Island.

Although the factors driving this increase are still being investigated, one factor is the presence of extremely lethal synthetic opioids, such as carfentanil, in Rhode Island. The number of overdoses involving more than one substance has also increased.

"Illicit drugs have always been dangerous, but right now they are more deadly than ever," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "If you do use drugs, do not use alone, and make sure that your friends and family have naloxone available. Steps like these can save a life and give someone an opportunity to take the first step on their own personal journey of recovery. There is hope for everyone because recovery is absolutely possible for everyone."

Dr. Alexander-Scott and Kathryn Power, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), are the co-chairs of Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

"The COVID-19 crisis has made it more challenging for people with substance use disorder to stay connected to life-saving resources and support," said Kathryn Power, Director of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). "Polysubstance use, including the use of stimulants like methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack-cocaine, are also on the rise. It is even more critical to leverage the collaborative efforts of Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force to address this emerging trend."

After peaking in 2016, Rhode Island's annual fatal drug overdose numbers have been trending downward modestly. In 2016, 336 people died of accidental drug overdoses. In 2019, 308 people died of accidental drug overdoses.

The Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan Update focuses on the core strategies of prevention, rescue, treatment, and recovery, as well as cross-cutting areas of harm reduction and racial equity. The Task Force continues to meet monthly on the second Wednesday of each month and Zoom meetings are open to the public. Task Force Work Groups meet virtually on a monthly basis and always welcome new volunteers.

How can people get help?

Rhode Island's treatment and recovery resources are still available online, over the phone, or in-person to support people with substance use disorder.

- BH Link, Rhode Island's 24/7 behavioral health hotline, 401-414-LINK, connects callers to trained professionals who can provide confidential counseling, referrals, and support services.

- People can go to BH Link's drop-in center in-person to get connected to support at 975 Waterman Avenue in East Providence.

- People who are experiencing opioid withdrawal can connect with a healthcare provider over the phone by calling Rhode Island's Buprenorphine Hotline,401-606-5456. Callers can learn about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options and make a plan for continued treatment and recovery support through a Rhode Island Center of Excellence. Rhode Island Centers of Excellences are specialty centers that use evidence-based practices and provide treatment and the coordination of care to individuals with moderate to severe opioid use disorder.

- Fire stations in Providence, Newport, and Woonsocket are "Safe Stations." This means that they are open every day to help people in crisis get connected to a peer recovery support specialist and treatment and recovery support services.

- More information about drug overdose prevention is available at preventoverdoseri.org [preventoverdoseri.org]. This includes information about naloxone (sometimes called Narcan). This is a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose. In Rhode Island, you can get naloxone at your local pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor. When you buy naloxone at a pharmacy, the pharmacist can show you how to use it.

Data

Rhode Island's accidental drug overdose death data from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020 should be finalized in the coming weeks, as toxicology results are still pending for some March cases.

Accidental Overdose Deaths in Quarter One

2020 – 93 to 95 (provisional)

2019 – 77

2018 – 66

2017 – 89

2016 – 87

2015 – 81

2014 – 79

Total Accidental Overdose Deaths

2020 – 129 *

2019 – 308

2018 – 314

2017 – 324

2016 – 336

2015 – 290

2014 – 240

* Because of the time lag in confirming drug overdose deaths, this number should not be used to do to-date comparisons.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-06-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 49 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 16,213. RIDOH also announced 11 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 876. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Ground Beef Products Recalled

2020-06-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Lakeside Refrigerated Services is recalling 42,922 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The raw ground beef items were produced on June 1, 2020. The following products are subject to recall:

- 1-lb. vacuum packages containing "MARKETSIDE BUTCHER ORGANIC GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF" and a use or freeze by date of 07/01/20 and lot code P-53298-82.

- 1-lb. vacuum packages containing four ¼ lb. pieces of "MARKETSIDE BUTCHER ORGANIC GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF PATTIES" and a use or freeze by date of June 27, 2020 and lot code P-53934-28.

- 3-lb. vacuum packages containing three 1 lb. pieces of "MARKETSIDE BUTCHER ORGANIC GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF 93% LEAN / 7% FAT" and a use or freeze by date of 07/01/20 and lot code P53929-70.

- 1-lb. tray packages containing four ¼ lb. pieces of "THOMAS FARMS GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF PATTIES 85% LEAN / 15% FAT" and a use or freeze by date of 06/25/20 and lot code P53944-10.

- 4-lb. tray packages containing 10 ¼ lb. pieces of "THOMAS FARMS GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF PATTIES 80% LEAN / 20% FAT" and a use or freeze by date of 06/25/20 and lot code P53937-45.

- 1-lb. vacuum packages containing four ¼ lb. pieces of "THOMAS FARMS GRASS-FED GROUND BEEF PATTIES 85% LEAN / 15% FAT" and a use or freeze by date of 06/27/20 and lot code P53935-25.

- 1-lb. vacuum packages containing "VALUE PACK FRESH GROUND BEEF 76% LEAN / 24% FAT" and a use or freeze by date of 07/01/20 and lot code P53930-18.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 46841" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider. E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact the Lakeside Processing Center Call Center at (856) 832-3881.

Governor Expands Early Warning Testing System, Announces Landlord Challenge

2020-06-12

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided details today on the state's response to COVID-19.

- Testing: As part of Rhode Island's Early Warning Testing System, asymptomatic restaurant workers and bus drivers can now receive free testing. This represents an expansion of Rhode Island's Early Warning Testing System. Earlier this week, testing had been opened for asymptomatic people in the following high-contact occupations: hair professionals, nail artists, gym employees, tattoo artists, massage therapists, and child care workers. In addition, any Rhode Islander who attended a large protest or demonstration last weekend can (and should) get tested, even if they do not have symptoms. Eligible Rhode Islanders should sign up for a test at http://Portal.RI.Gov or call RIDOH Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 401-222-8022.

- Landlord Challenge: The state is allocating $500,000 to provide financial incentives for landlords to rent to housing-insecure or homeless Rhode Islanders. Landlords will receive a $2,000 signing bonus for the first unit that they make available to serve a household experiencing homelessness, and an additional $500 for every additional unit. They will also be eligible for as much as $2,000 per unit to support move-in upgrades like minor renovations and repairs. Interested landlords should call the United Way at 211.

- Transparency Portal: The state launched a new website dedicated to tracking coronavirus spending (http://www.transparency.ri.gov/covid-19/)

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 84 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,947. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 833. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Additionally, RIDOH announced the results of a serology testing effort today. Serology testing tells us whether someone has antibodies for a particular virus. This means that serology testing can tell us whether someone was previously exposed to a virus. As a part of this effort, 5,000 households in Rhode Island were randomly selected to participate. Households were mailed an invitation to be tested at Stop and Shop stores around the state. Testing was done between May 5th and May 22nd.

The seroprevalence—or presence of antibodies—was approximately 2.2%. This means that approximately 2.2% of those tested had been exposed to the COVID-19. There were wide variations in the presence of antibodies between different races and ethnicities. The seroprevalence among those tested who identified as Caucasian was .9%, compared to 8.2% among Hispanic Rhode Islanders and 5.2% among African American Rhode Islanders.

Serology testing does not tell us whether someone is immune to future illness with COVID-19. We do not yet know if the presence of antibodies protects someone from future infection. This is still being researched. Therefore, it is important that people who were found to have antibodies continue to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, washing their hands, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Announces Goal for In-Person Learning This Fall, Updates for SNAP and Rhode Island Works Recipients

2020-06-10

Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and Angélica Infante-Green, the Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) provided details today on the state's response to COVID-19.

The Governor announced that all school districts are aiming to return to in-person learning on August 31st. The state's approach includes the adoption of a statewide calendar for all public school districts to use during the 2020-2021 academic year. RIDE is working with RIDOH to develop a continuum of school-reopening scenarios, which balance prioritizing the health and safety of school communities with providing in-person instruction as soon as possible. RIDE will be providing guidance to districts, charter schools, and state-run schools next week to help them develop their own individual back-to-school plans. Those plans will be submitted to RIDE for review and implementation support.

Schools will be ready to conduct distance learning throughout the school year if students become sick, are quarantined, or are otherwise unable to attend school for an extended period of time. RIDE will continue to work with local education agencies (LEAs, which include districts, charters, and state-run schools) to review statewide plans and coordinate with local education leaders on implementation.

The state is planning to provide financial support to districts as they implement their individual reopening plans. There will be a focus on equity, including a prioritization of resources for communities with higher rates of COVID-19. Support will include additional funding from the CARES Act to offset increased costs LEAs will incur, such as increased transportation and cleaning costs. For more information, visit RIDE's COVID-19 web page.

The Governor also announced that, for the first time, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are now able to select and pay for their groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and participating Walmart stores. For more details, visit http://dhs.ri.gov.

DHS also recently received approval to issue a Rhode Island Works emergency payment to families currently receiving these RI Works benefits. This payment is to help offset expenses that may have occurred during this pandemic. The $1.6M through the CARES Act will help 3,700 Rhode Island Works families and is a one-time payment for families who were eligible in either April or May and are receiving benefits in June. The funds will be put on parents' EBT cards on June 19th. For more details, visit http://dhs.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 66 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,756. RIDOH also announced four additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 812. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

Keep your groups consistent and small.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Detail Plans for Early Warning Testing System

2020-06-08

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided details today on Rhode Island's Early Warning Testing System, which will inform the state's immediate response efforts and inform data modeling and forecasting for the weeks and months to come.

As part of the Early Warning Testing System, specific groups of high-contact workers who are asymptomatic can now be tested at no cost at a Rhode Island National Guard testing site (located at Community College of Rhode Island or Rhode Island College). To schedule a test, someone who is in one of these groups can go to http://portal.ri.gov. Alternatively, people can call RIDOH at 401-222-8022 to schedule a test. The asymptomatic workers who can schedule tests are:

- Hair professionals

- Nail artists

- Gym employees

- Tattoo artists

- Massage therapists

- Child care workers

In addition to people in these groups, any Rhode Islander who attended a large protest or demonstration this weekend can (and should) get tested, even if they do not have symptoms. People who attended a large protest or demonstration can schedule a test by going to http://portal.ri.gov or calling 401-222-8022.

The Early Warning Testing System is the third of three facets to Rhode Island's approach to testing. The first facet is Symptomatic Testing. Anyone with symptoms in Rhode Island can get tested, regardless of their profession or work situation. The second facet of Rhode Island's approach to testing is Outbreak Rapid Response. This entails using testing as a tool to respond within hours of multiple cases discovered in places like congregate care settings, workplaces, and other high-density areas.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 51 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,642. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 799. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-06-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 113 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,441. RIDOH also announced 16 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 772. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

As Governor Raimondo shifts from doing COVID-19 press briefings five days a week to three days a week, RIDOH will move from posting COVID-19 data online seven days a week to five days a week. RIDOH will continue to process and monitor data trends over the weekend. On Mondays, a comprehensive data update will include numbers from over the weekend.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

Keep your groups consistent and small.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-06-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 107 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,236. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 742. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-06-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 101 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,112. RIDOH also announced 12 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 732. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

- Keep your groups consistent and small.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-06-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 67 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 14,991. RIDOH also announced two additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 720. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online. (See link below)

Key messages for the public

• Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com [reopeningri.com].

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.

• Keep your groups consistent and small.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Rhode Island to Begin Phase 2 Monday, June 1st

2020-05-29

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Today the Governor announced that Rhode Island will officially move into Phase 2 on Monday, June 1st. This decision was guided by the four key metrics the Governor had previously said would guide decisions about further reopening: hospital capacity, new hospitalizations, rate of spread, and doubling rate of hospitalizations (see attached).

Businesses that are prepared to reopen Monday should:

• Visit ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] and review both the Phase 2 general business guidelines and the guidance documents specific to their individual sector.

• Complete their Covid-19 control plan. Templates are available on the ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] website.

The Governor also announced that in-person nursing home and assisted living visitation will continue to be suspended in Phase 2.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 122 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 14,635. RIDOH also announced 16 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 693. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor Raimondo Announces New Plans for Phase 2, New Funding for Housing Relief Program

2020-05-28

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Guidance for personal services, restaurants, and youth sports reopenings in Phase 2 will be available today on ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com].

The Governor also announced that the state will be making available an additional $5 million in funding for the Housing Help RI emergency rental assistance fund. This money is available to lower income renters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and are at immediate risk of homelessness. Those who qualify can receive a grant of up to $5,000 to support past due rent payments and other fees. For information, go to HousingHelpRI.com [housinghelpri.com] or call 211.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 124 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 14,494. RIDOH also announced 22 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 677. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Announces Virtual Forums for Businesses

2020-05-26

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Rhode Island Commerce and RIDOH will be holding virtual forums for businesses this week. Following the discussion, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. The sessions are as follows:

• Gyms and fitness studios: Wednesday, 10 a.m.

• General businesses: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.

• Personal services (Hair, Nails, Massage Therapists, Etc.): Thursday, 10:30 a.m.

• Restaurants: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.

The Dairy Farmers of America, a national dairy cooperative, and its New England farm family members are donating 4,300 gallons of milk to families in need in a milk drive-up event at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27th, starting at 9 a.m. The Farmers Feeding Families event is co-sponsored by Vanguard Renewables with participation from Guida's Dairy, the State of Rhode Island, City of Pawtucket, the PawSox, Station Row Apartments, Performance Physical Therapy, Ocean State Job Lot, the Guild Pawtucket, and Schroder's Deli and Catering. The limit will be two gallons of milk per car or walk up participant.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 73 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 14,210. RIDOH also announced 13 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 634. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor Raimondo Extends Travel Restrictions and Gathering Size Limits Through Phase 1, Unveils Plans for Phase 2 of Reopening

2020-05-22

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

The Governor signed an executive order extending all current directives – including the five-person limit on social gatherings, the mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to Rhode Island from another state, and all of the current business and restaurant restrictions – until June 1st.

The Governor also announced new guidance for Phase 2:

• Social gatherings: The social gathering size will be 15 people.

• Travel: Domestic restrictions will largely lift. The 14-day quarantine will only be in place for people returning to Rhode Island from an area still under stay-at-home order or another similar type of restriction.

• Restaurants and Retail: Indoor dining will be allowed at up to 50% capacity. Capacity restrictions for non-critical retail will be relaxed and malls will be allowed to reopen.

• Offices: Those who can work from home should continue to do so. Businesses will be allowed to bring one third of their workforce back to the office.

• Haircare and Personal Services: Hair services including barbershops, salons, and hair braiders will all be able to reopen with capacity restrictions. In addition, many other close-contact services – nailcare, waxing, tanning, massage, and tattooing – will also be able to reopen under new restrictions.

• Gyms and Fitness Studios: Gyms and fitness studios will be able to reopen with restrictions. Group fitness classes will also be allowed to resume.

• Outdoor entertainment and recreation: Some outdoor activities will be allowed to resume. This includes things like the zoo and outdoor areas like public gardens and parts of historical sites.

For more information on what to expect in Phase 2, visit reopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com].

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 170 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 13,736. RIDOH also announced 23 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 579. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Update on the State's Response to COVID-19

2020-05-21

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Summer camps and youth programs: Today the Governor announced new regulations and guidelines for summer camp and summer youth programs. These programs will allowed to begin in-person operations starting June 29. For a full list of regulations and guidance, visit reopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com].

• Congregate Setting Support Team: At the end of April, the state launched a new Congregate Setting Support Team to support nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes in their response to COVID-19. The team includes personnel from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), RIDOH, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Department of Labor and Training (DLT), the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) and the Rhode Island National Guard. In the past three weeks, they have been contacted by 44 different homes representing more than 3,000 Rhode Islanders. In each of these requests for assistance, a Rapid Needs Assessment was performed by a clinical team member. In addition, the team has helped congregate care facilities implement a number of COVID-19 safeguards.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 189 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 13,571. RIDOH also announced 18 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 556. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Update on the State's Response to COVID-19

2020-05-20

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Houses of worship: Today the Governor announced that houses of worship, when they begin reopening the weekend of May 30th, will be limited to 25% of their overall capacity. This decision was made in consultation with faith leaders across Rhode Island.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 209 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 13,356. RIDOH also announced six additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 538. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Unveils CRUSH COVID RI, State's One-Stop Pandemic Response App

2020-05-19

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• CRUSH COVID RI: Today the Governor announced the first version of CRUSH COVID RI, the state's pandemic response mobile app with a privacy-first focus. CRUSH COVID RI provides Rhode Islanders with easy access to all of the resources required during the public health crisis, including a location diary that helps users identify the people and places they are in contact with and a symptom checking survey. All Rhode Islanders are encouraged to use the CRUSH COVID RI app and take an active role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. CRUSH COVID RI app is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Visit http://health.ri.gov/crushcovid to learn more.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 134 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 12,951. RIDOH also announced 26 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 532. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Raimondo Announces Limited Beach Reopening on Memorial Day, Updated Guidance for Churches and Hair Salons

2020-05-18

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• State Beaches: East Matunuck State Beach and Scarborough State Beach will reopen on Memorial Day, May 25th, in a limited capacity. Bathrooms and concessions will be closed, and reduced parking will be enforced. The reopening of all beaches, including bathrooms and concessions, is planned for the beginning of Phase 2.

• Churches: The state is targeting allowing in-person faith services the weekend of May 30th. Guidelines will be available on ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] later this week.

• Hairdressers: The state is in the process of developing guidelines for hair salons and barbershops to begin reopening in Phase 2. Today the Governor announced that Rhode Island and Connecticut are coordinating timelines for reopening these businesses in early June.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 121 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 12,795. RIDOH also announced seven new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 506. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Details Metrics for Moving Between Phases of Reopening

2020-05-15

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

The Governor laid out four different metrics, in addition to the state's operational response, that officials are tracking as they consider moving between phases of reopening.

• Hospital capacity: If the state continues to see less than 70% of ICU and non-ICU beds filled by COVID-19 patients, that is an indicator that it is safe to continue moving forward. However, if 85% or more of these beds are filled, either in overall hospital capacity or specifically in the ICU, it may be time to scale back.

• Hospitalizations: Right now, Rhode Island is consistently seeing fewer than 30 new COVID-19 related hospitalizations per day. If that trend continues, that is an indicator that reopening can move forward. But if that number is consistently above 50, it may signal a need to go back.

• Rate of spread: This is measured using the "R value," or the "effective reproduction rate." This is how many people are infected by each infected person. If the R value continues to be around 1.1 or lower, then it will be safe to think about moving into the next phase. If the R value gets to 1.3 or higher Rhode Island may have to move back a phase.

• Doubling rate of current hospitalizations: Currently, hospitalizations are stable or declining. If the state starts seeing a doubling within twenty days or less, that will be an indicator that it may be time to put restrictions back in place.

The Governor also announced that she will be holding an Older Adults Facebook Town Hall on Thursday, May 21, at 11 a.m. with Secretary Robertson, the U.S. assistant secretary for Aging; Secretary Womazetta Jones of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Office of Healthy Aging Director Rose Jones; and several community advocates. Older adults and caregivers can submit questions through the Governor's Facebook and Twitter pages or by writing to communications@governor.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 203 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 12,219. RIDOH also announced 11 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 479. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Raimondo Provides Update About Summer Programs, Public Libraries

2020-05-14

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Summer programs: The state plans to allow summer camps and other youth summer programs to operate in person—under new, strict regulations—starting June 29th. A full list of regulations and guidance will be available on reopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] next week.

• Libraries: During Phase 1, many Rhode Island libraries are offering curbside pickup of preordered library books. Services at local public libraries may vary. In Phase 2, many libraries will start offering limited, touchless browsing in designated areas of the library, while curbside pickup will continue. Some libraries will start offering limited access to public computers. All-in-library services will be provided in accordance with state regulations for social distancing, mask-wearing, and cleaning. More information is available on OLIS.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 181 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 12,016. RIDOH also announced six new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 468. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Raimondo Announces Support for Small Businesses, New Testing Sites

2020-05-13

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Small business support: The state will be distributing 500,000 masks and disinfectant solution to Rhode Island businesses through chambers of commerce and industry associations. These supplies will be available to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, including retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, manufacturers, and others. Starting next week, businesses will be able to pick up a month's supply of face coverings as well as a voucher for a gallon of disinfectant that can be purchased from any Rhode Island Ocean State Job Lot store. To obtain these supplies, businesses must show they've completed their COVID-19 Control Plan. Templates are available on ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com]. For more information about supplies and to find a list of participating chambers and business associations, visit CommerceRI.com [commerceri.com].

• Laptops: Thanks to a generous donation from the Microsoft Corporation, Commerce RI will be distributing 500 laptops to Rhode Island small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. The state will prioritize small businesses that are owned by people of color, women, veterans, or lower/moderate income individuals. Applications are available on CommerceRI.com [commerceri.com] in both English and Spanish and are due on May 26th. Additionally, Microsoft has donated another 500 new laptops to support the state's education needs. These laptops will go to schools and districts with an identified need for devices, as well as to Rhode Island College, and to support adult learners.

• New testing sites: This week, the state launched a new testing site at the Rhode Island Free Clinic in Providence and tripled the testing capacity in Woonsocket. The Governor also announced that the state has added two more locations to do diagnostic testing and serology testing on randomly selected Rhode Islanders to help gauge the prevalence of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. Both of these locations are in Providence (on Manton Ave and West River Street). They are in addition to the four original locations in North Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston, and Newport. These sites are only open to Rhode Islanders who have received a written invitation from RIDOH.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 221 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 11,835. RIDOH also announced 18 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 462. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Provides Update on Workforce Stabilization Fund, Extension of Free Mobile Hotspot Service

2020-05-12

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Workforce Stabilization Fund: A few weeks ago, the Governor announced a Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund that would make available $8.2 million to provide temporary bonuses to low-wage frontline workers. Employers have applied to be a part of this program through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. As of today, more than $6 million in payments have already been made to providers, which will then be passed on to employees. This funding is expected to benefit more than 10,300 workers at more than 160 facilities who all make less than $20 an hour.

• Mobile Hotspots: In March, Governor Raimondo announced that all households that have a Smart Phone with a WiFi hot spot feature and have cell phone service from the four most common providers in Rhode Island – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint – would be able to activate the hot spot feature for free with no activation fees, usage fees, or overage fees. That policy was originally only in effect until May 13th. As of today, all four carriers have extended the service to June 30th – through the end of the school year.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 164 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 11,614. RIDOH also announced 14 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 444. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Announces Plan to Reopen Restaurants for Outdoor Dining Only on May 18th

2020-05-11

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Starting Monday, May 18th, restaurants will be able to begin limited outdoor dining in addition to their take-out, delivery, and drive-through operations. Restaurants will be required to operate under the following new regulations, among others:

• Dining will be by reservation only and groups may not exceed five people, in accordance with guidance on social gathering.

• Tables must be at least eight feet apart or separated by barriers, and no more than 20 tables will be allowed in any outdoor space.

• One-time-use paper menus, digital menus, or chalkboard menus will be recommended.

• Condiments and utensils will either be single-use or sanitized between uses.

• All high-traffic areas will have to be frequently cleaned. Tables and chairs will be sanitized in between parties.

• All employees must wear face coverings, and all customers must wear face coverings when they are not eating.

• Self-service food stations like buffets and salad bars will be prohibited.

• Cashless and contactless payment methods will be encouraged. Pens and payment stations will be frequently cleaned.

• For now, no valet services will be allowed. Customers will be asked to park their own cars.

The complete guidance will be available tonight on ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com].

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 176 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 11,450. RIDOH also announced eight new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 430. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Announces Partnership with Summer, Temporary Utility Relief

2020-05-09

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

• Summer: Governor Raimondo announced today that Summer, a social enterprise that assists student loan borrowers, is partnering with Rhode Island to provide free student loan assistance for all residents financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. As a certified B Corp, Summer is the leading resource for borrowers to simplify and save on their student debt––offering cutting-edge tools and a dedicated team of student loan experts to find, compare, and enroll in dozens of loan assistance and forgiveness programs. Rhode Island residents can now access Summer's digital platform free of charge to receive customized loan savings recommendations here. Summer and Rhode Island's partnership is directed at borrowers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

• Utility: Earlier this week, the Public Utilities Commission voted to extend an order that all regulated utilities--electric, gas, water, sewer--cannot be shut off or sent to a collection agency through May 31. This applies to both residential and non-residential customers.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 210 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 10,989. RIDOH also announced 19 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 418. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Signs Executive Order Officially Lifting Stay-At-Home Order, Gives RIDOH Authority to Enforce Public Health Directives

2020-05-08

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today signed an executive order officially lifting Rhode Island's stay-at-home order. The order gives the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) the ability to enforce public health guidelines and business regulations, including by levying fines against individuals or businesses.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 249 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 10,779. RIDOH also announced 11 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 399. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Announces Stay-at-home Order will Lift Saturday, Extends Executive Orders

2020-05-07

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced that Rhode Island's stay-at-home order will lift this Saturday, May 9th.

Phase 1 will begin with the following restrictions:

• Non-critical retail stores will reopen with capacity limits.

• Elective medical procedures resume under safety guidelines.

• Everyone who can work from home, should work from home. Offices will be permitted to start allowing people to come and go on a very limited basis.

• Some state parks will reopen with limited parking.

Tomorrow, the Governor will issue a new executive order extending the ban on social gatherings of five people until May 22nd. In addition, the following orders will extend through May 22nd:

• Domestic Travel: Anyone coming to Rhode Island from any other state for a non-work-related purpose by any mode of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days. This restriction will not apply to anyone traveling for medical treatment or to obtain necessities like groceries, gas, or medication.

• Restaurant dine-in: Restaurants, bars, and cafes will remain closed to dine-in service. Wine and beer can still be sold with take-out orders. In addition, starting Saturday, restaurants and bars will be allowed to sell mixed drinks in sealed containers.

• Businesses closures: Recreation and entertainment businesses will remain closed. This includes theaters, cinemas, bowling alleys, concert venues, museums, and zoos. Close-contact businesses will also remain closed. This includes gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios, hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, and tattoo parlors.

In addition, the following executive orders will be extended to June 5th:

• International Travel: Anyone coming to Rhode Island from outside of the country must self-quarantine for 14 days.

• Quarantining: Anyone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus by a lab test or by a doctor who has assessed symptoms must isolate until cleared based on guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

• Gun Permits: In keeping with a request from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association, the state has extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.

• Telehealth: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care and mental and behavioral health care.

In Phase 1, places of worship will be allowed to reopen for groups of five only. Drive-in services are allowed as long as people remain in their cars. Funerals will be allowed to have a maximum of 10 people, as long as they are appropriately socially distanced. More guidance for religious settings will be available on ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] tomorrow.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH announced 325 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 10,530. RIDOH also announced 18 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 388. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Raimondo Provides Testing Update, New Guidance for Businesses

2020-05-06

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today provided an update on the state of COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island and announced an ambitious goal to test 10,000 Rhode Islanders a day by July.

She also outlined the state's comprehensive testing strategy:

• Ensure rapid testing of all symptomatic people. This will involve expanding the number of testing sites in Rhode Island as well as the state's mobile testing capacity.

• React quickly to outbreaks. The plan calls for an outbreak response team on the ground within four hours of multiple cases discovered in places like congregate care settings, workplaces, and other high-density areas. This team will also conduct rapid testing of any contacts who may have been exposed.

• Create an early warning system by testing groups of asymptomatic individuals. The state needs to be able to test comprehensively in high-risk settings like nursing homes or group homes. The state will also perform cyclical testing for other high-risk populations, such as healthcare workers and first responders. Early warning testing sites will be set up at high-contact workplaces and other community settings. The state will work with schools, universities, and private sector partners to set up early warning testing for their own populations. And representative sampling will allow the state to better understand community spread.

Regulations for businesses in Phase 1 are now available on www.ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com]. Businesses will be required to certify that they've met a checklist of requirements. That includes developing a COVID-19 plan explaining how the requirements will be met and how potential cases or outbreaks would be handled in coordination with the Department of Health. Visit Visit www.ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com] to learn more.

COVID-19 Data Update

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 272 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 10,205. Rhode RIDOH also announced 15 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 370. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Raimondo Details Plan for Phase 1 of Reopening: New Face Coverings Guidance, DMV to Reopen Some In-Person Operations

2020-05-05

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today provided more details on Phase 1 of the Rhode Island's plan to reopen the economy today.

• Executive order: The Governor signed an executive order directing everyone in a public place – whether indoors or outdoors – to wear a cloth face covering. The only exceptions are for children younger than two years of age and anyone whose health would be negatively affected by wearing a face covering. The order goes into effect Friday.

• State government: In the first phase of reopening, state customer services—including HealthSourceRI, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT)—will continue to serve the public through call centers and online services. However, the state is planning to open more in-person services at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by appointment only in Phase 1.

More details on the plan to safely reopen Rhode Island's economy can be found here.

COVID-19 Data Update

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 281 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 9,933. Rhode RIDOH also announced 14 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 355. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Raimondo Details Plans for Phase 1: Retail, Restaurants to Operate Under New Regulations

2020-05-04

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today provided more details on Phase 1 of the state's plan to reopen the economy.

• Retail: Non-critical retail stores that have been closed will be allowed to reopen in-person operations, including for limited in-person browsing. Pre-ordering and in-store pick-up will still be encouraged as the safest option. Retailers will be able to have one person browsing for every 300 square feet of space. Every staff member and customer will need to wear a mask at all times.

• Offices: Everyone who can work from home should continue to work from home. In the meantime, employers should begin taking steps immediately to prepare for eventually bringing more employees back into the office.

• Restaurants: Later in phase 1, limited outdoor in-person seating options at restaurants will be allowed.

• Healthcare: In phase 1, anyone who has deferred healthcare needs, including well-visits and specialty care should call their primary care provider. Telehealth is still the best option if possible.

• Congregate Care: Visitation restrictions for nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living centers will continue.

More details can be found here: https://www.reopeningri.com/resource_pdfs/REOPENINGRI_Phase-I_Testing_the_Water-05.04.20.pdf [reopeningri.com]

COVID-19 Data Update

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 175 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 9,652. Rhode RIDOH also announced 21 new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 341. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

State Unveils New Models, Rental Assistance Available for Lower Income Rhode Islanders

2020-05-02

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Modeling: Today the state released two new models that show COVID-19's trajectory in Rhode Island over the past month and potential scenarios for the next two weeks regarding hospitalizations. (See link below.)

The models indicate two significant shifts in the hospitalization rate in Rhode Island. The growth curve shifted around April 2nd, two weeks after the state's first business closures (for restaurants and bars) were announced. The growth curve shifted again around April 14th from more linear growth to growth that is closer to a plateau. This second shift happened roughly two weeks after a stay-at-home order was issued for Rhode Island. The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott spoke about two possible scenarios for the next two weeks: one a gradually decreasing plateau, the other a more traditional bell curve.

• Rental assistance: Rhode Island has made $1.5 million in emergency rental assistance available to low-income renters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and are at immediate risk of homelessness. Those who qualify can receive a grant of up to $5,000 to support past due rent payments and other fees. Requirement information and details are available at HousingHelpRI.com [housinghelpri.com] or by calling 211.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 327 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 9,289. Rhode Island also has 17 new fatalities to announce. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 296. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Plan Announced for Phased Reopening of Parks; RIDOH Updates COVID-19 Data

2020-05-01

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

Those updates included the announcement that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will be reopening state parks in a graduated manner during the first phase of reopening Rhode Island's economy. While DEM will be staggering park openings, reducing the size of parking areas and restricting hours of operation and activities to prevent crowds, many diverse and varied outdoor spaces will be open for Rhode Islanders to safely enjoy while adhering to public health guidance on gathering and social distancing. DEM hopes to reopen all parks by the end of May. A second phase will involve the saltwater beaches. DEM's announcement is available online (see link below).

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 341 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 8,962. Rhode Island also has 13 new fatalities to announce. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 279. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Rhode Island Releases COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines for Hospitals

2020-04-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) issued Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines for acute care hospitals today, which are intended to ensure an equitable and just allocation of patient-care resources, should a scarcity arise. (See link below.)

These Guidelines, which could be implemented during any public health emergency, are not currently in effect. Rhode Island hospitals are currently below capacity and are not experiencing any shortages that would trigger the implementation of these Guidelines. These Guidelines would only be implemented when all other surge strategies are exhausted and no other regional resources are available. The swift construction of temporary surge or "alternate hospital sites" in Rhode Island as a part of the State's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response provide another buffer from the need to implement these plans, should Rhode Island experience a surge in the near future. The Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines would only be implemented in a hospital in Rhode Island at the direction of RIDOH.

The Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines are supported by several key medical ethical principles, including duty to care, duty to steward resources, and distributive justice. Using these principles, clinical judgment, clinical information, and objective triage tools, facilities would be empowered to make patient care decisions based on medical status and likely outcome.

These Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines were developed in partnership with the acute care hospitals throughout the state, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, and many other partners throughout the state and the region.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 374 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 8,621. Rhode Island also has 15 new fatalities to announce. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 266. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

RIDOH and hospitals are now using an updated COVID-19 reporting tool. This allows for more streamlined, systematic, electronic submissions. The prior reporting system was developed in the first days of the pandemic in Rhode Island was very labor intensive. It focused on reports and reviews of medical records for patients who are hospitalized because of COVID-19 like illness. The new reporting system will bring consistency to hospitals' reports. Rhode Island is continuing to develop its systems for tracking and responding to COVID-19, including its data systems, as the scope of the public health emergency has broadened.

Using this new system, there are 339 patients with COVID-19 currently hospitalized in Rhode Island. The historical numbers will be adjusted to fit this new system.

In addition to the data shift resulting from the reporting change, RIDOH is looking closely at hospitalization data to determine whether activity from around the holidays or enhanced screening at hospitals are impacting the numbers.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-29

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Large events: While public health guidance around the exact number of people allowed to gather will change in the coming months, the Governor today made clear that it is highly unlikely that groups of more than 50 people will be able to gather at any point this summer. She recommended that anyone planning an event with more than 50 people through the summer cancel, postpone, or find a way to celebrate virtually instead.

• HealthSourceRI: Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for coverage as part of HealthSourceRI's special enrollment period. However, anyone who has recently gone through a "qualifying life event," including losing a job, will always have a 60 day window from the date of the qualifying event in which they can seek new coverage. To learn more, go to HealthSourceRI.com [healthsourceri.com].

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 321 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 8,247. RIDOH also announced 12 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 251. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-28

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Healthcare: Yesterday the Governor signed an executive order to relax onerous regulations and eliminate barriers to care during this crisis. The order includes the following protections through May 27th:

o Medications: Insurers cannot make changes to what drugs are covered unless the changes benefit patients.

o Provider Referrals: Insurers are required to relax the referral process to allow for more time and leniency. No referrals are necessary for telehealth.

o Prior Authorization: In-patient hospital and rehabilitation, long-term care and telemedicine in-network services cannot be suspended because an individual doesn't have prior authorization. In addition, no prior authorization is needed for testing or treatment of COVID-19.

o Behavioral Healthcare: No referrals or other benefit review approvals are required for a patient to access needed mental and behavioral health care.

• DMV: The state is now giving 90-day extensions on expirations set for May. Expiration dates in May are now extended to August. This applies to all licenses, registrations, inspections, permits, and temporary plates.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 218 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 7,926. RIDOH also announced six additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 239. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see link below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Unveils "Reopen RI" Framework for Reopening Economy

2020-04-27

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

The Governor unveiled her framework for safely reopening Rhode Island's economy. The plan consists of three phases:

• Phase 1 - Testing the waters: In the first phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to seeing friends and family again. The stay at home order will be lifted, but social gatherings will be limited to 10 people. Older adults (people 65 and older) and those with underlying health conditions will be able to go to work and to get food or medicine. But in accordance with federal public health guidance, vulnerable individuals will be strongly encouraged to otherwise stay home. Masks, vigilant hand-washing, and increased cleaning must remain in place. And everyone who can work from home should still work from home. All activities must account for strong social distancing guidelines of remaining 6-feet apart.

• Phase 2 - Navigating our way: In the second phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to more businesses reopening and restrictions being further relaxed. Expanded childcare options will be available under strict public health guidelines. More restaurants, retail and close-contact businesses like hair and nail salons may open. Additional recreational options will likely return, but restrictions will remain. Social gathering limits will increase to 15 people. Guidance for older adults (people 65 and older) and those with underlying health conditions will remain unchanged from phase one. Masks, vigilant hand-washing and increased cleaning must remain in place. Offices will ease capacity restrictions allowing more people to come in, but many people will still work from home. All activities must account for strong social distancing guidelines of remaining 6-feet apart.

• Phase 3 - Picking up speed: In the third phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to seeing more of their families and friends. Social gatherings will be limited to 50 people. Offices, restaurants, retail and other businesses will lift some of the tightest restrictions to allow more people in at one time but will need to operate under long-term safety guidelines. Older adults (people 65 and older) and those with underlying health conditions will no longer be strongly encouraged to stay home. These individuals will be reminded to exercise significant caution in public. Masks, vigilant hand-washing and increased cleaning must remain in place. Working from home will still be encouraged where possible but more people will return to the workplace. All activities must account for strong social distancing guidelines of remaining 6-feet apart.

For more details, visit ReopeningRI.com [reopeningri.com].

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 269 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 7,708. RIDOH also announced seven additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 233. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-04-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) posted updated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) data online today. Rhode Island has 310 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 7,439. RIDOH also announced 11 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these 11 people, one person was in their 50s, four people were in their 70s, one person was in their 80s, and five people were in their 90s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 226. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see link below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State Response to COVID-19

2020-04-25

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Arts: Today the state launched a new website, RIArts.org [riarts.org], to connect artists with available resources and provide Rhode Islanders with an up-to-date list of virtual performances happening in the state. The Governor also unveiled an inspirational image called the "R.I. Angel of Hope and Strength" created by Shepard Fairey, RISD graduate, renowned artist and founder of the Obey brand. The image is available for free download on RIArts.org [riarts.org].

• Spanish translation: As of this week, the full video of the daily press briefings will be available in Spanish on the Governor's Facebook page every evening.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 430 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 7,129. RIDOH also announced 13 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 215. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see link below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State Response to COVID-19

2020-04-24

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Serology testing: Earlier this week, the state received a shipment of 20,000 antibody tests that are now going through the validation process. In the coming weeks, the state will work with experts at Brown University and the Rhode Island Blood Center to test a random population sample and collect information about the prevalence of the virus in Rhode Island. In the meantime, RIDOH is creating a Rhode Island COVID-19 Testing and Validation Task Force to help analyze and draw conclusions from this data when it is available. The Task Force will be co-chaired by Dr. Angela Caliendo and Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, two Lifespan physicians.

• Workforce stabilization: Today, the Governor announced a new Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund for private providers. For the next month, this fund will provide temporary pay increases for low-wage frontline workers at eligible Medicaid-funded residential facilities. Employers can apply to the Office of Health and Human Services starting next week.

• Banking pledge: More than 20 financial institutions in RI have pledged the following relief to their residential borrowers:

o A 90-day grace period for all residential mortgage payments for individuals impacted by COVID-19, with the opportunity to request additional relief

o An agreement to not report late payments to credit reporting agencies for residential borrowers who take advantage of this relief

o A 60-day moratorium on initiating residential foreclosures and evictions; and

o An agreement to waive mortgage-related late fees. More information can be found here. https://dbr.ri.gov/documents/Financial_Institution_Pledge.pdf

• Rental assistance: Starting next Thursday, the state will be making available $1.5M in rental assistance for low income Rhode Islanders across the state. Details and information on how to apply will be announced in the coming days.

• Violence Prevention: Next Thursday at 11 a.m., Governor Raimondo will be joined by Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Langevin, Congressman Cicilline, Attorney General Neronha, members of the Cabinet and representatives from the advocate community for a Violence Prevention Facebook Town Hall. Rhode Islanders can submit their questions on Facebook or anonymously by emailing communications@governor.ri.gov.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 437 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 6,699. RIDOH also announced 13 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 202. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor Announces Extension of Distance Learning

2020-04-23

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Distance learning: Today, the Governor announced that school buildings will remain closed and distance learning will continue through the end of the school year in June.

• Helpline: Parents looking for support as their students engage with distance learning can access a new helpline through the Rhode Island Department of Education and Highlander Institute at 904-414-4927. More information can be found here [highlanderinstitute.org [highlanderinstitute.org]].

• Kids Press Conference: Next Thursday, April 30 at 1PM, Governor Raimondo will hold a second Kids Press Conference. Students can submit questions for the Governor here. [https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSebN3b7fdFPKu5MmdXawyeG2Cj-Q7SngXzcdZY0Bn0o5B4Rug/viewform [docs.google.com]]

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 412 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 6,256. RIDOH also announced 8 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these eight people, four were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 189. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] [ridelivers.com [ridelivers.com]] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Announces Self-Checker Tool, New Walk-Up Testing Site

2020-04-22

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Self-checker tool: Today, the state launched the Rhode Island COVID-19 Self-Checker: a web-based, mobile friendly tool that will help Rhode Islanders make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care and testing. Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to partner with Diagnostic Robotics to adopt this proven system for the coronavirus crisis. The Rhode Island COVID-19 Self-Checker is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The tool asks a series of questions related to symptoms, potential exposures, and other risk factors and will help users make decisions about when to seek care and testing. It also offers tips related to prevention, testing, quarantine, and isolation. The guidance offered through the Self-Checker is based on CDC guidelines and has been customized to connect Rhode Islanders with local information and resources.

• Memorial Hospital testing site: The state is opening a new walk-up site at the location of the former Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. This site will serve in conjunction with the drive-up respiratory clinic that's already operational at the former Memorial site. Appointments for testing are required. Anyone in Pawtucket experiencing COVID symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath – who is looking to be tested at this walk-up site should call 401-CARE-NOW.

COVID-19 Data Update

Rhode Island has 365 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 5,841. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these 10 people, eight were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 181. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor Provides Updates on PPE, Field Hospitals, and Frontline Housing

2020-04-21

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): In the past two weeks alone, Rhode Island has received shipments totaling more than 1.5 million surgical masks, 90% of which have come from the private market. That brings the state's total on hand to nearly 2 million surgical masks. This will allow healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care centers, and sites that are serving as Respiratory Clinics to change out surgical masks on a daily basis.

• Field hospitals: Over the weekend, work on the field hospitals at the Rhode Island Convention Center and the former Citizens building in Cranston was completed, adding almost 1,000 beds to the state's capacity.

• Frontline housing: The state has partnered with Brown University to provide free single-occupancy dormitory housing to frontline workers. Brown has made more than 700 rooms available to the state for free. This program is specifically for medical personnel, first responders, members of public safety and congregate care and home care workers. This is not for people who have tested positive for coronavirus or have related symptoms. Workers who are interested in accessing the free housing option should contact their employer.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH posted updated COVID-19 data online today. Rhode Island has 394 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 5,500. RIDOH also announced 16 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 171. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-20

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) today.

The Governor began outlining her vision for safely reopening Rhode Island's economy. For weeks, a team of experts on the Governor's "New Normal" workstream have been exploring how and when this process can begin. To guide these decisions, the Governor announced today a series of indicators that measure the state's readiness to reopen. The six key indicators are as follows:

• Has the rate of spread continued to decrease?

• Does the state have the capacity to quickly identify community spread on an ongoing basis before a major outbreak occurs?

• Does the state have necessary supports in place for vulnerable populations, and for anyone in quarantine?

• Does Rhode Island's healthcare system have the capacity and the PPE to handle future surges?

• Do businesses, schools, child care facilities, faith leaders, and recreational spaces have plans for long-term social distancing?

• Is the state prepared to reimpose measures, or reclose certain sectors of the economy, if it becomes necessary?

The Governor also announced that the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently granted Rhode Island the authority to issue Pandemic-EBT benefits (P-EBT) to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and non-SNAP households with one or more children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced price meals at school due to COVID-19 school closures. For households receiving SNAP benefits, the additional benefits will be added to their existing EBT cards. Households not currently receiving SNAP benefits will receive a new P-EBT card in the mail with benefits automatically added and a personal identification number (PIN) and setup instructions. More information can be found here.

COVID-19 Data Update

RIDOH posted updated COVID-19 data online today. Rhode Island has 339 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 5,090. RIDOH also announced five additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these people, one person was in their 60s, one person was in their 80s, and three people were in their 90s. All five of these people lived in congregate living settings. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 155. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see link below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-04-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) posted updated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) data online today. Rhode Island has 230 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 4,706. RIDOH also announced 13 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these 13 people, two people were in their 60s, four people were in their 70s, four people were in their 80s, and three people were in their 90s. Of these 13 people, 11 people lived in congregate living settings. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 150. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (see link below).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State Response to COVID-19

2020-04-18

Date: April 18, 2020

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Garden centers: Starting tomorrow, big box stores that include garden centers are required to close open browsing and shopping options within their garden centers. Garden center sales will be temporarily limited to pickup, delivery, and appointment options – as is the case for free-standing garden centers.

• Masks: Earlier this week, the Governor signed an executive order issuing clear direction about face coverings. The following directives take effect today:

o All employees of customer-facing businesses, office-based businesses, manufacturers, nonprofits and construction workers must wear cloth face coverings when they are at work.

o Additionally, all customer-facing businesses must take steps to remind customers to wear face coverings.

o The only exceptions are for anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any children under 2 years old.

• The RI Artist Relief Fund: The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), in cooperation with the Rhode Island Foundation and the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, announced the Rhode Island Artist Relief Fund today. Created to provide grants to RI artists who are in financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the fund has awarded $126,030 in grants to support 253 Rhode Island artists. The Governor encouraged anyone in a position to donate to the fund to visit https://www.artistcommunities.org/arf [artistcommunities.org]. For more information, visit https://risca.online/grants/artistrelieffund/ [risca.online].

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 317 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 4,491. RIDOH also announced 19 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One person was in their 30s, 2 people were in their 50s, 3 people were in their 60s, 4 people were in their 70s, 7 people was in their 80s, and 2 people were in their 90s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 137. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Wearing a cloth face covering does not negate the need to observe social distancing requirements. We must do both to help reduce the spread of COVID-19: as of today, wear cloth face coverings and continue to respect and follow the 6-foot distancing standard.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State Response to COVID-19

2020-04-17

Date: April 17, 2020

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Workers Compensation: Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, which insures 12,000 Rhode Island businesses, will be allowing frontline healthcare workers to file for workers compensation under the presumption that they contracted the virus in the course of doing their jobs – and will expedite those claims. This includes doctors, nurses, EMTs, home health aides and others.

• Testing for vulnerable populations: The state is implementing a cyclical testing program for all nursing homes to be tested every 7-10 days. This involves delivering swabs to nursing homes and picking up samples the next day. Mobile testing for outbreaks will be deployed to hot spots.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 372 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 4,177. There were 13 additional fatalities. One person was in their 50s, 2 people were in their 60s, 7 people were in their 70s, one person was in their 80s, one person was in their 90s and one was more than 100 years old. Rhode Island's total number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 118. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Unveils Rhode Island Modeling Projection, EmployRI Job Site

2020-04-17

Date: April 16, 2020

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Modeling: The Governor unveiled the state's modeling projection for coronavirus hospitalizations through mid-May. The model can be found on RIDOH's website.

• EmployRI: The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Skills for Rhode Island's Future and Commerce have re-launched a state job-seeking platform to help connect Rhode Islanders with nearly 2,000 open jobs. Many of the jobs posted are frontline positions in the fight against COVID-19. Jobseekers can visit www.EmployRI.org [employri.org] to find jobs as well as other important resources including information on unemployment insurance, resume tips and other COVID-19 updates. Employers looking to hire quickly can post jobs on EmployRI for free and dedicated specialists at SkillsRI will facilitate matches with qualified candidates.

• COVID-19 Specialty Nursing Home: To support Rhode Island's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket is being established as a COVID-19 Specialty Nursing Home. Oak Hill Center will be a central facility to accept patients who are being discharged from the hospital and who are COVID-19 positive but no longer require acute-level care. This strategy allows COVID-19 positive patients leaving the hospital to receive specialized rehabilitation and step-down, post-acute care while reserving hospital beds for patients who need acute-level care. Current Oak Hill Center residents who do not have COVID-19 symptoms will be located in a separate unit of the facility. Residents at other nursing homes who have COVID-19 will remain at their current nursing homes.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 309 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 3,838. RIDOH also announced 18 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Seven people were in their 70s, seven people were in their 80s, and four people were in their 90s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 105. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Unveils New Data Dashboard, RI Havens Resource

2020-04-15

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Data dashboard: The Governor unveiled a new data dashboard on RIDOH's website (http://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19). The dashboard will be updated daily at noon.

• RI Havens: RIHavens.com [rihavens.com] is a new website that connects those in need of a safe space to quarantine with hotel rooms across the state offered at significantly discounted rates – some as low as $25 a night. The website is part of a wider effort to meet the basic needs of all Rhode Islanders in quarantine and isolation during this pandemic.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 278 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 3,529. RIDOH also announced seven additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Four of these people were in their 80s; two of these people were in their 90s; and one of these people was older than 100. Of these seven people, six were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 87. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online (http://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19).

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Provides Updates on Cloth Masks, Health Insurance Enrollment

2020-04-14

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

- Face coverings: The Governor signed an executive order clarifying the state's directives around cloth face coverings. Beginning Saturday:

All employees of customer-facing businesses, office-based businesses, manufacturers and nonprofits, must wear cloth face coverings when they are at work.

Business must provide face coverings for their employees. Face coverings can include scarves, bandanas, and other homemade and non-factory-made masks.

Additionally, all customer-facing businesses must take steps to remind customers to wear face coverings. That means they should be putting up signs at the door reminding customers to wear a face covering inside.

The only exceptions from these rules are for anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any children under 2 years old.

- Health insurance: The Governor announced that HealthSourceRI is extending their special open enrollment period through April 30. Rhode Islanders looking to purchase coverage should visit www.healthsourceri.com [healthsourceri.com].

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 275 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 3,251. RIDOH also announced seven additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these people, two were in their 60s, two were in their 70s, and three were in their 80s. Of these seven people, three people were residents at nursing homes and one person was a resident at a group home. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 80. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: http://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19

Key messages for the public

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update

2020-04-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that Rhode Island has 311 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This brings Rhode Island's count to 2,976. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Of these 10 people, eight were nursing home residents. The age breakdown for these 10 people was as follows:

- 2 of these people were in their 50s.

- 1 of these people was in their 70s.

- 6 of these people were in their 80s, and

- 1 of these people was in their 90s.

A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last day that that person was in isolation. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Testing and Data Updates

2020-04-12

Because of the wind and heavy rain forecast for Monday, April 13th, all outdoor coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing sites in Rhode Island will be closed tomorrow. This includes testing sites at:

• URI in South Kingstown;

• CCRI in Warwick;

• Rhode Island College in Providence;

• Rhode Island Hospital in Providence;

• Kent Hospital in Warwick;

• Newport Hospital in Newport;

• Westerly Hospital in Westerly

• CVS Rapid Testing Site in Lincoln; and

• Respiratory Clinics with outdoor tents.

Healthcare providers should not make any additional appointments for Monday, April 13th. Any patient with an existing appointment for Monday, April 13th, will be automatically rescheduled to Tuesday, April 14th, at the same time.

COVID-19 Data Update:

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing 316 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 2,665. RIDOH is also announcing seven additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. These people were in their 60s (two people), 70s (two people), 80s (two people), and 90s (one person). Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 63. Currently, 201 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Rhode Island. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online at https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19

Key messages for the public:

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Data Update for April 11th

2020-04-11

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), provided an update today on Rhode Island's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) data. Rhode Island has 334 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 2,349. RIDOH also announced seven additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of the people who passed away was in their 50s. One person was in their 60s. The other five people were in their 80s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 56. Currently, 183 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Rhode Island. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Provides Updates on Unemployment Insurance and Other Elements of COVID-19 Response

2020-04-10

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Unemployment Insurance: The Governor signed an executive order yesterday ensuring that individual businesses that have closed as a result of COVID-19 will not be penalized for their workers accessing unemployment insurance. This order also allows for data sharing between state agencies. Rather than seeking individual tax records on a case-by-case basis, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) will have access to the records of every person that has applied, speeding up their ability to process claims. It also allows for recent DLT retirees to rejoin state service and help process claims, without having to sacrifice their pensions. This will allow experienced workers to immediately help speed up processing.

• Domestic Violence: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and all of its member agencies are open, as are domestic violence shelters. Rhode Islanders seeking help can call the 24/7 confidential hotline at 1-800-494-8100. Services are provided in English and in Spanish. While courts are closed for non-essential business including evictions, they are open for all domestic violence matters.

• RIPTA: As of today, RIPTA will be limiting capacity on all busses to no more than 15 passengers to allow for more space. They're also asking all passengers to use cloth face coverings when out in public. Starting next week, RIPTA will be filling gaps on delivery routes for Meals on Wheels.

The Governor also clarified eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance. As a general rule, Rhode Islanders can collect unemployment insurance only if they have been laid off or have had their hours reduced. In the CARES Act, the federal government expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits – called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – for two specific groups of individuals:

• The self-employed and those who are sole proprietors, like hairdressers and gig economy workers, and

• Individuals who have COVID-19, have been quarantined or have been told by a doctor to self-quarantine because they are high risk, or are the only person available to care for a child or loved one who cannot stay home alone because the place they received care is closed due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 288 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 2,015. RIDOH also announced six additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of these people was in their 60s, four were in their 90s, and one was in their 100s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 49. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online at http://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19

Key messages for the public:

• Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

• The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

• Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

• When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

• Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

• Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Update on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-09

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Governor signed an executive order today that clarifies Rhode Island's requirements around quarantine and isolation:

- Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 – either by a laboratory test or through symptom assessment by a healthcare provider – must self-isolate. People in isolation must stay at home and stay in isolation for at least seven days. Additionally, someone needs to be fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, and all their symptoms need to have resolved completely before they can come out of isolation.

- People in quarantine must distance themselves from others, including at home. These people should monitor themselves for symptoms.

- Anyone who has been in close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they present symptoms or not.

RIDOH is developing regulations including a series of fines to ensure compliance with quarantine and isolation requirements. The state is also working to issue guidance for local law enforcement to ensure that quarantine and isolation directives are followed.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 277 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 1,727. RIDOH also announced eight additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. These people ranged in age from their 20s to their 90s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 43. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online. https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Update on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-08

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

- Courts: The courts have extended their closure for all non-essential business--including residential and commercial evictions--through May 17th.

- Contact tracing: The state has partnered with SalesForce, a global software company, to make the contact tracing process more efficient. SalesForce is creating a secure database that will allow RIDOH and the National Guard to do contact tracing more efficiently and effectively. SalesForce is also creating a platform for physicians to order tests for patients at the National Guard testing sites.

- Job Lot: Starting today, Job Lot is making free fabric available to all Rhode Island residents to make our own fabric face coverings. Every Job Lot has a display set up and they have enough free fabric for 1 million masks.

The Governor reiterated that everyone should wear a cloth face covering when in public. (These are different than medical grade masks, such as N95s, which should be reserved for healthcare workers.) A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. A cloth face cover could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves or T-shirts. Cloth face covers are not substitutes for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when ill.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 220 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 1,450. RIDOH also announced five additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Three of these people were in their 70s. One person was in their 80s and one person was in their 90s. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 35. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Extends Restrictions to May 8th

2020-04-07

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Today the Governor announced that she plans to extend the following executive orders until May 8th:

- Gatherings: All gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.

- Restaurant dine-in: Restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed to dine-in service. They will be allowed to sell wine and beer with take-out orders.

- Business closures: Public recreation and entertainment businesses (e.g., theaters, cinemas, bowling alleys, museums, zoos, etc.) as well as all close-contact businesses (e.g., hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, gyms, yoga studios, etc.) will remain closed.

- Travel: Anyone returning to Rhode Island from domestic or international travel by any mode of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days.

- Open Meetings Act: The Governor has suspended the provision of the Open Meetings Act that prohibits meetings taking place by phone or video conferencing. All meetings must still allow for public access.

- Telehealth: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care and mental and behavioral health care.

- Gun Permits: In keeping with a request from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association, the Governor has extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.

Several other closures will extend indefinitely:

- The Rhode Island State House is closed to visitors.

- Nursing homes, hospitals, and the ACI are not allowing visitors.

- State parks and beaches are closed.

- All state-based customer services (for example, services from the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and Health Source RI) – will remain online only.

- The DMV is open by appointment only. All road tests are suspended indefinitely.

- Casinos are closed.

In addition, the Governor signed an executive order ensuring that hospitals provide data to the state regarding supplies, patients being treated for COVID-19, and testing. This order ensures the state will have the most accurate information available as it seeks to procure additional supplies to respond to this crisis. The Governor noted that hospitals have been great partners throughout this response and have already been providing data to RIDOH regularly.

Finally, the Governor also urged Rhode Islanders to sign up for a free account on www.NextDoor.com [nextdoor.com]. On their platform, Rhode Islanders can offer help to their neighbors or request help for things like grocery shopping and dog walking.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 147 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 1,229. RIDOH also announced three additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Two people were in their 70s and one person was in their 90s. All three were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 30. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Announces COVID-19 Testing Partnership with CVS Health

2020-04-06

Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that Rhode Island has entered into a partnership with CVS Health to make free, rapid COVID-19 tests available to Rhode Islanders, doubling the state's testing capacity. Tests using the new Abbott ID NOW system will be provided by-appointment at a new drive-through testing site at Twin River Casino in Lincoln. This testing site will be able to perform approximately 1,000 tests per day.

Rhode Island and Georgia are the only two states in the country to be launching this new partnership today. Healthcare providers from MinuteClinic, CVS's retail medical clinic, are overseeing the testing. Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 can sign up for a test at www.cvs.com [cvs.com].

The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of the following: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea.

As Rhode Island has ramped up its testing capacity, Governor Raimondo announced last week that tests are now available for all Rhode Islanders who are experiencing symptoms. COVID-19 testing had previously been limited to certain populations who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 and to Rhode Island's critical infrastructure workforce.

Separate from testing through CVS Health at Twin River Casino, Rhode Islanders who have symptoms can still call their healthcare providers to coordinate testing for COVID-19. People can also call urgent care centers. A number of urgent care centers and primary care providers in Rhode Island have set up separate areas that serve as Respiratory Clinics, meaning they are specifically evaluating patients suspected of having COVID-19. While these Respiratory Clinics are in specific areas just for those patients, urgent care centers are still open to see patients who need other services in their usual locations. Additional information about testing in Rhode Island is available at: https://www.health.ri.gov/covid/testing

COVID-19 Data Update

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that Rhode Island has 160 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 1,082. RIDOH also announced two additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. These people were in their 80s and their 90s. Both people were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 27. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Provides Update on State's Response to COVID-19

2020-04-05

Governor Gina M. Raimondo provided an update today on Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. While reiterating the importance of social distancing in big box retail stores, she asked that Rhode Islanders who see individuals or businesses failing to comply report their concerns to the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

COVID-19 Data Update

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that Rhode Island has 116 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 922. RIDOH also announced eight additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. These people ranged in age from their 60s to their 90s. Of these eight people, seven were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 25. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on COVID-19 Data, Testing

2020-04-04

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update today on the state's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

All Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are urged to call a healthcare provider to coordinate a test. The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island had previously been limited to the members of certain priority populations who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 or who are members of Rhode Island's critical infrastructure workforce.

The Governor also announced that starting tonight the State House will be lit red for the next week to honor the first responders on the frontlines of this crisis.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 97 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 806. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced three additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Two individuals were in their 80s, and one was in their 90s. One of these individuals was a nursing home resident. That brings Rhode Island's number of fatalities to 17. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Announcements Made on Surge Locations, Face Covers, and Other Topics

2020-04-03

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) made several coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) announcements today.

- Surge locations: Rhode Island is setting up surge sites to provide hospital-level care at the Rhode Island Convention Center, the former Citizens Bank building on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston, and the former Lowe's building at Quonset. Once complete, these sites will be staffed and equipped with the medical resources needed to treat more than 1,000 people.

- Cloth Face Covers: Dr. Alexander-Scott encouraged Rhode Islanders to consider wearing cloth face covers when in public. A cloth face cover is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the lower face. A cloth face cover could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves or T-shirts. (Face covers are different than N95 facemasks. People in the general public should not be purchasing or hording medical grade masks, such as N95s.) The primary role of a cloth face cover is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face covers are not substitutes for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when ill.

- Childcare: The state will continue to suspend childcare licenses through the month of April.

- Mental Health: The Governor announced the establishment of a $5 million COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. The funding is made available by local insurance companies as a result of a state compliance review and will be dedicated to fund nonprofit organizations working to address Rhode Islanders' behavioral health needs resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Nonprofits who think they can help with these services can apply for funding through the Rhode Island Foundation beginning April 6. Adults seeking mental or behavioral health support should call BH Link at 414-LINK. For services for children, call Kids Link 855-543-5465.

- Testing: All Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are urged to call a healthcare provider to get scheduled for a test. The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island had previously been limited to the members of certain priority populations who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 or who are members of Rhode Island's critical infrastructure workforce.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 54 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 711. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced two additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of these individuals was a nursing home resident. That brings Rhode Island's number of fatalities to 14. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

COVID-19 Testing Expanded to All Symptomatic Rhode Islanders

2020-04-02

With Rhode Island's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing capacity now expanded, all Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to call a healthcare provider to get scheduled for a test. It is critical that people who are experiencing symptoms also self-isolate and have as little contact with others as possible.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. People with COVID-19 have experienced a range of different symptoms. As we learn more about the virus, we know that some people with COVID-19 have only experienced one or two mild symptoms.

Currently, a person can only be tested for COVID-19 in Rhode Island if testing is ordered by a healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call an urgent care center. Call first before going to a healthcare facility (unless it is an emergency).

The expanded approach of testing all people with symptoms represents a significant change. COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island had previously been limited to the members of certain priority populations who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 (such as nursing home residents), or who are members of Rhode Island's critical infrastructure workforce (such as healthcare workers). This increase in testing capacity gives Rhode Island the opportunity to test more people with symptoms and to get a better idea of how much virus is circulating in Rhode Island.

The expanded number of tests that Rhode Island can now process are being run at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories and at several hospital and private laboratories.

COVID-19 Data Update

An additional 91 Rhode Islanders have tested positive for COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's total to 657. Rhode Island also has two additional COVID-19 associated fatalities, bringing Rhode Island's fatality total to 12. Both individuals were females, one in her 80s and one in her 90s. A full data summary for Rhode Island is available online: https://health.ri.gov

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).

- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.

- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com] for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- Through April 13th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness.

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Raimondo Provides Several COVID-19 Updates

2020-04-01

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today made several announcements today about the state's response to COVID-19.

- RI Delivers: Today the state launched RI Delivers, Rhode Island's connection to help for those living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. This service will ensure that Rhode Islanders in quarantine will have what they need to safely remain home and monitor their symptoms. Connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups are featured at www.RIDelivers.com [ridelivers.com]. For additional information, residents can call 2-1-1.

- Small Business Loan: The Governor announced that the state launching a short-term bridge loan program for restaurants and small businesses (up to 10 employees). This program was developed in partnership with the Local Initiative Support Corporation and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. It's funded by $1M from Commerce's Small Business Loan Fund and $1M from Bank Newport. To be eligible, the business must have first applied for the federal SBA emergency disaster loan. Businesses can apply starting Friday through the LISC website. You can also call 521-HELP.

- Family Court: The Governor also clarified guidance regarding visitation for parents who have joint custody of their children. In all cases, Family Court order are to be followed. If either parent feels a modification to visitation is warranted, they must discuss the issue and come to a resolution together. If a resolution cannot be reached, Family Court is open to deal with emergencies only. Anyone with questions should contact a family law attorney or RI Legal Services.

Data

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 77 new cases of COVID-19. Rhode Island now has 566 COVID-19 cases. Two additional COVID-19-associated fatalities were also announced, bringing Rhode Island's total to 10. One person was a female in her 50s. The other person was a male in his 70s. Both individuals had underlying medical conditions. A full data summary is available online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/.

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate. The people who live with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. If you need to get food or pick up medicine, call a loved one or neighbor who can run that errand for you.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.

- Healthcare workers should not be doing to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- Through April 13th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness.

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Several COVID-19 Updates

2020-03-31

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole, Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) made several announcements about the state's response to COVID-19.

- State parks and beaches: As of this Friday, April 3rd, state beaches and parks in Rhode Island will be closed. Campground openings will be postponed until at least May 1st. More information about this announcement is available online.

- Masking of healthcare workers: All healthcare workers in all hospitals and nursing homes (as well as home health workers) should be wearing masks at all times when engaged in direct patient care. RIDOH has been working, and will continue to work, with facilities on strategies to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE).

- Expanded testing: Testing had previously focused on healthcare workers (including EMS), hospitalized patients, and people who live in congregate living settings (such as nursing homes). With three additional remote swabbing sites ("drive-through testing sites") now operational Rhode Island is expanding testing to three additional populations: people who are older than 65, people with underlying medical conditions, and critical infrastructure workers (such as police officers and firefighters). To be tested someone must have symptoms. If someone in one of these groups has symptoms that they think need medical care, they should call their doctor. Someone cannot be tested in Rhode Island without being directed to a testing site by their doctor.

- Business help: The Rhode Island Superior Court is rolling out a new program to assist businesses that have been significantly disrupted by this virus. Normally, businesses that can't pay their bills are sold and their assets are divided by creditors. This new program will enable attorneys and accountants to work with business owners so that they can continue to operate, access capital like disaster assistance, and pay their debts incrementally – all under Court-supervised protection from lawsuits. This program will give qualifying businesses vital protection so that they can get back on their feet after this crisis is over. More information can be found on the Court's website.

The Governor also repeated her call for trained medical and behavioral health professionals not currently working full time to sign up as volunteers at www.RIresponds.org.

Data

Additionally, Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 86 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 488. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced four additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of these individuals was a male in his 60s, and one person was a female in her 80s. The two other people were a male and a female, both in their 70s.This brings Rhode Island's total for COVID-19 associated fatalities to eight. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate. The people who live with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. If you need to get food or pick up medicine, call a loved one or neighbor who can run that errand for you.

- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Avoid close personal contact with other people in public at all times.

- Healthcare workers should not be doing to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).

- Through April 13th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness.

- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

*Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

*Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

*Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

*Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

*Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Director Dr. Alexander-Scott Make Education Announcements

2020-03-30

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole, Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) made several announcements today relating to education.

- Distance learning: Citing the success of the first week of distance learning across the state and the necessity of continuing to implement social distancing measures, Governor Raimondo announced that Rhode Island will continue distance learning through the month of April.

- WiFi: To ensure that all Rhode Island students have access to WiFi necessary for distance learning at home, the Governor today announced that all households that have a smart phone with a WiFi hot spot feature and have cell phone service from the four most common providers in our state – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint – will be able to activate the hot spot feature for free. There will be no activation fee, no usage fee, and no overage fee. This policy will last until at least May 13.

- April Reading Challenge: The Governor is asking Rhode Island students to read every single day in the month of April – all 30 days. The state will work with nonprofits, public libraries and some generous companies to distribute books to students who need them. More information is available online. (See link below)

- Kids Press Conference: This Thursday, the Governor will be joined by Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green and Dr. Alexander Scott for a special press conference for kids. Students can fill out a google form to submit their questions or leave a voicemail with their questions. Information is being distributed to teachers and will also be available on the Governor's social media channels this afternoon. (See link below)

Data

Additionally, Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 114 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 408. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced Rhode Island's fourth COVID-19 associated fatality. This most recent fatality was a male in his 70s. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. If you need to get food or pick up medicine, you need to call a loved one or neighbor who can run that errand for you. Respecting and following quarantine rules will help Rhode Island try to ensure that there are enough hospital beds when there is a surge of patients who are ill with COVID-19.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing.

- Through April 13th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- Avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider and should not go out. If you have any symptoms at all, you should isolate at home. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Announces New Travel Restrictions, DMV Extension

2020-03-29

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today made several announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

• Domestic Travel: Starting today, Rhode Island will have highway signs directing all out-of-state drivers to pull over at information stations on the southern border with Connecticut. State police will ensure that anyone planning to stay in Rhode Island knows that they're required to quarantine for 14 days. National Guard members will ask drivers to provide their contact information to be passed on to the Department of Health.

• Child Care: Effective tomorrow, the state is suspending all childcare licenses until April 4. Rhode Island has partnered with Care.com [care.com] to increase childcare access to Rhode Islanders. In addition to providing 90 days of free, premium access to their website, Care.com [care.com] has created portals specifically for frontline workers and caregivers in Rhode Island. Starting today, frontline workers looking for child care can visit www.care.com/rineed [care.com] to find a local caregiver. Rhode Island residents interested in becoming caregivers can visit www.care.com/rigive [care.com] to register. Potential caregivers are subject to Care.com [care.com]'s extensive background and safety checks. While child care services are not typically free of charge, the Rhode Island portal gives residents the ability to waive their fees and volunteer as caregivers, providing additional support to frontline workers.

• Medicaid: Rhode Island Medicaid will be suspending all terminations and quarterly income verifications for the duration of this emergency.

• DMV: Rhode Islanders will have a 90-day extension on expirations for March or April. This goes beyond the original 30-day extension announced weeks ago and will apply to all licenses, registrations, inspections, permits, and temporary plates.

The Governor announced today that Rhode Island has 55 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 294.

Data

Rhode Island COVID-19 data is available online.

• Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 294

• Number of Rhode Islanders who had negative test results: 2,840

• Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 1,000.

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

• Barrington – 6

• Bristol – 5

• Burrillville – 7

• Central Falls – fewer than 5

• Charlestown – fewer than 5

• Coventry – 6

• Cranston – 31

• Cumberland – 8

• East Greenwich – fewer than 5

• East Providence – 13

• Exeter – fewer than 5

• Foster – fewer than 5

• Glocester – fewer than 5

• Hopkinton – fewer than 5

• Jamestown – fewer than 5

• Johnston – 7

• Lincoln – fewer than 5

• Little Compton – fewer than 5

• Middletown – 6

• Narragansett – fewer than 5

• New Shoreham – 0

• Newport – 6

• North Kingstown – 8

• North Providence – fewer than 5

• North Smithfield – fewer than 5

• Pawtucket – 14

• Portsmouth – fewer than 5

• Providence – 63

• Richmond – 0

• Scituate – fewer than 5

• Smithfield – 5

• South Kingstown – 8

• Tiverton – 5

• Warren – fewer than 5

• Warwick – 16

• West Greenwich – 0

• West Warwick – 6

• Westerly – 6

• Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Please note that determination of some places of residence are still pending.

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized: 35

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Announce Stay-At-Home Order and New Travel Restrictions, Limit Gatherings to Groups of Five; Mandatory quarantine extended to anyone who has traveled to Rhode Island from another state

2020-03-28

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made several announcements about the State's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

* Stay At Home: The Governor has issued a stay-at-home order until April 13. This means that all Rhode Islanders should stay home unless getting food, medicine, gas, or going to work.

* Domestic travel: Earlier this week, the Governor ordered anyone coming to Rhode Island from New York by any mode of transportation to quarantine for 14 days. Today, the Governor expanded upon that order. Executive Order 20-12 entitled "Tenth Supplemental Emergency Declaration – Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers from New York State" is hereby repealed in its entirety.

* Starting immediately, any person coming to Rhode Island by any mode of transportation after visiting another state for a non-work-related purpose must self-quarantine for 14 days. This restriction will not apply to public health, public safety or healthcare workers.

* Realtors and hotel operators are directed to include quarantine requirements for any out-of-state renters in their rental agreements.

* Commuters: Those who are able to work from home should do so, and anyone commuting in and out of the state for work should remain in their home when not at work.

* Gatherings: Starting immediately, all gatherings of more than 5 people are banned. Individuals should be interacting with the same people every day to minimize the risk of spread. This order does not apply to healthcare workers in a workplace setting, public transportation or office buildings. However, people must practice social distancing at all times.

* Businesses: Starting Monday, all non-critical retail businesses must shut down their stores. This includes clothing stores and gift shops. A full list of businesses that must close their in-person operations can be found here. This does not impact restaurants or bars, which are still allowed to open for takeout or delivery only.

Dr. Alexander-Scott also clarified that Rhode Islanders under quarantine should not leave their homes for any reason.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 36 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 239.

Data

Rhode Island COVID-19 data is available online.

* Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 239

* Number of Rhode Islanders who had negative test results: 2,541

* Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500.

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

* Barrington – 6

* Bristol – fewer than 5

* Burrillville – 7

* Central Falls – fewer than 5

* Charlestown – fewer than 5

* Coventry – 5

* Cranston – 27

* Cumberland – 7

* East Greenwich – fewer than 5

* East Providence – 10

* Exeter – 0

* Foster – fewer than 5

* Glocester – fewer than 5

* Hopkinton – fewer than 5

* Jamestown – fewer than 5

* Johnston – 5

* Lincoln – fewer than 5

* Little Compton – 0

* Middletown – 6

* Narragansett – fewer than 5

* New Shoreham – 0

* Newport – 5

* North Kingstown – 8

* North Providence – fewer than 5

* North Smithfield – fewer than 5

* Pawtucket – 11

* Portsmouth – fewer than 5

* Providence – 59

* Richmond – 0

* Scituate – fewer than 5

* Smithfield – 5

* South Kingstown – 8

* Tiverton – 5

* Warren – fewer than 5

* Warwick – 14

* West Greenwich – 0

* West Warwick – 5

* Westerly – 5

* Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized:

* 29

Data notes:

* As the volume of cases increases, RIDOH may move to providing abbreviated data updates daily and more detailed data updates weekly.

* The number of COVID-19 patients in a city or town should not be used to draw any conclusions about relative risk in different cities and towns. All Rhode Islanders should continue to take all the COVID-19 precautions that have been shared by RIDOH.

Key messages for the public

* If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

* If you are ordered to quarantine, that means you are ordered to stay inside. If you need to get food or pick up medicine, you need to call a loved one or neighbor who can run that errand for you. Respecting and following quarantine rules will help Rhode Island try to ensure that there are enough hospital beds when there is a surge of patients who are ill with COVID-19.

* Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

* Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

* Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online at https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/about/foodsites/index.php.

* Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CD at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/index.html [cdc.gov] .

* People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

* People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

* Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

** When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

** Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

** Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

** More information is available from CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fhigh-risk-complications.html [cdc.gov].

** People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

* Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

** Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

** Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

** Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

** Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

** Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Rhode Island Department of Health Reports State's First Deaths from COVID-19

2020-03-28

PROVIDENCE – Two persons with underlying medical conditions are the first Rhode Islanders to die from COVID-related illness, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) confirmed today. One individual in their 80s died Friday, March 27, at night and the other individual in their 70s died today.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, will comment on the deaths at today's media briefing at 1 PM. RIDOH will not be releasing any additional information about the deaths.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Extend Regulations, Announce New SNAP Benefits

2020-03-27

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made several announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The following orders are extended until April 13:

- Gatherings: All gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited everywhere.

- Work from home: Anyone who can work from home is required to do so.

- Restaurant dine-in: Restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed to dine-in service. They will be allowed to sell wine and beer with take-out orders.

- Business closures: Public recreation and entertainment businesses (theaters, cinemas, bowling alleys, museums, zoos) as well as all close-contact businesses (hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, gyms, yoga studios) will remain closed.

The following orders are extended until April 25:

- Domestic and international air travel: Anyone returning to Rhode Island from domestic or international travel by plane must self-quarantine for 14 days.

- New York travel: Anyone returning to Rhode Island after traveling to New York state by any mode of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days.

- Contact tracing: Members of the National Guard will be present at TF Green, train stations and bus stops collecting contact information to be shared ONLY with the Department of Health so they can keep track of who you may have been in contact with.

The following orders are extended until May 8:

- Open Meetings Act: We have suspended the provision of the Open Meetings Act that prohibits meetings taking place by phone or video conferencing.

- Telehealth: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care and mental and behavioral health care.

- Gun Permits: In keeping with a request from the RI Police Chiefs' Association we have extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from 7 days to 30 days.

The Governor also made the following updates:

- Casinos are closed indefinitely;

- The State House is closed to visitors indefinitely;

- Nursing homes and hospitals are not allowing visitors until further notice; and

- All state-based customer services will remain online only until further notice. The DMV is open by appointment only.

The Governor also made several announcements about the SNAP program in Rhode Island. The federal government has given Rhode Island the authority to distribute additional emergency benefits to many SNAP-eligible Rhode Islanders for as long as the state is in a declared state of emergency. Approximately half of all SNAP recipients will receive additional funds, which will be first administered on April 1. The state is also delaying the recertification deadline for families who receive SNAP or cash assistance. Rhode Islanders who were due to reapply in March or April will be given a six-month extension to ensure continuation of their benefits during this crisis.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 38 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 203.

Data

Rhode Island COVID-19 data is available online.

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 203

- Number of Rhode Islanders who had negative test results: 2,306

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

Barrington – 5

Bristol – fewer than 5

Burrillville – fewer than 5

Central Falls – fewer than 5

Charlestown – fewer than 5

Coventry – 5

Cranston – 21

Cumberland – 7

East Greenwich – 0

East Providence – 9

Exeter – 0

Foster – fewer than 5

Glocester – 0

Hopkinton – fewer than 5

Jamestown – fewer than 5

Johnston – 5

Lincoln – fewer than 5

Little Compton – 0

Middletown – 6

Narragansett – fewer than 5

New Shoreham – 0

Newport – 5

North Kingstown – 8

North Providence – fewer than 5

North Smithfield – fewer than 5

Pawtucket – 9

Portsmouth – fewer than 5

Providence – 57

Richmond – 0

Scituate – fewer than 5

Smithfield – fewer than 5

South Kingstown – 8

Tiverton – fewer than 5

Warren – fewer than 5

Warwick – 11

West Greenwich – 0

West Warwick – fewer than 5

Westerly – 5

Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized:

- 28

Data notes:

The number of negative test results increased significantly between yesterday and today because RIDOH is now counting the negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories and at private and hospital laboratories. Outside laboratories do not normally report negative test results to RIDOH. The previous negative totals were only for the State Health Laboratories. The positive and negative totals are now cumulative numbers for all laboratories testing for Rhode Islanders.

As the volume of cases increases, RIDOH may move to providing abbreviated data updates daily and more detailed data updates weekly.

The number of COVID-19 patients in a city or town should not be used to draw any conclusions about relative risk in different cities and towns. All Rhode Islanders should continue to take all the COVID-19 precautions that have been shared by RIDOH.

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider.

- These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Announce New Travel Restrictions, Help for Small Businesses

2020-03-26

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made several announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

- Travel from New York: Today the Governor signed an executive order mandating that anyone who has traveled to New York by any form of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. This applies to anyone who has been in New York in the past 14 days and going forward.

- Small business support: Rhode Island small business owners can now receive 45 minutes of free tech support via teleconference or over the phone. This service has been coordinated by Rhode Island Commerce and is being staffed by volunteers from some of Rhode Island's leading tech companies. Starting tomorrow, these experts will be available to help small business owners set up equipment to work from home, shift to online meetings and help with document management and security. Rhode Islanders can visit Commerce's website or call 521-HELP to get started.

The Governor also reassured Rhode Islanders that contact information collected from travelers in order to monitor quarantining will not be used for any purpose or be shared with any state or federal agency other than the Department of Health.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 33 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 165.

Data

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 165

- Updated number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories as of 3/25 (this is an amendment to yesterday's press release): 1,262

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories as of 3/26: 1,366

- Number of people for whom tests are pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 138

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,250

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by sex:

- Females: 78

- Males: 87

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by age:

- 0-19: 6

- 20-29: 28

- 30-39: 30

- 40-49: 30

- 50-59: 38

- 60-69: 19

- 70-79: 12

- 80-89: 0

- 90 and older: 2

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

- Barrington – fewer than 5

- Bristol – fewer than 5

- Burrillville – fewer than 5

- Central Falls – fewer than 5

- Charlestown – 0

- Coventry – fewer than 5

- Cranston – 18

- Cumberland – 5

- East Greenwich – 0

- East Providence – 9

- Exeter – 0

- Foster – fewer than 5

- Glocester – 0

- Hopkinton – fewer than 5

- Jamestown – fewer than 5

- Johnston – 6

- Lincoln – fewer than 5

- Little Compton – 0

- Middletown – 6

- Narragansett – fewer than 5

- New Shoreham – 0

- Newport – 5

- North Kingstown – fewer than 5

- North Providence – fewer than 5

- North Smithfield – fewer than 5

- Pawtucket – 7

- Portsmouth – fewer than 5

- Providence – 51

- Richmond – 0

- Scituate – fewer than 5

- Smithfield – fewer than 5

- South Kingstown – 7

- Tiverton – 0

- Warren – fewer than 5

- Warwick – 8

- West Greenwich – 0

- West Warwick – fewer than 5

- Westerly – fewer than 5

- Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized:

- 23

Data notes:

- As the volume of cases increases, RIDOH may move to providing abbreviated data updates daily and more detailed data updates weekly.

- The number of people in quarantine has decreased because the quarantine periods for two large groups ended.

- City and town numbers between 1 and 4 are listed as "fewer than five" for patient privacy reasons.

- The number of COVID-19 patients in a city or town should not be used to draw any conclusions about relative risk in different cities and towns. All Rhode Islanders should continue to take all the COVID-19 precautions that have been shared by RIDOH.

- Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)

 

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

###

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Announce New Guidelines for Large Retailers

2020-03-25

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today announced new guidelines issued by the Department of Business Regulation for retailers and grocers as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

As of 5PM tomorrow, all retailers and grocers must:

- Allow no more than 20% of stated fire capacity in the store at a time;

- Require staff to count the number of customers entering and exiting the store and enforce limits;

- Clearly mark 6' spacing in lines and other high-traffic areas. Stores should consider posting signage or using ropes to direct customers and to limit bottlenecks/encourage flow in high-density areas of stores;

- Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers;

- Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout;

- Designate employee(s) to ensure the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC are followed;

- Discontinue self-serve foods and product sampling; and

- Offer exclusive hours for those in high-risk populations, including seniors, where stores will restrict entrance to maintain 10% of fire capacity.

Larger grocery stores and retailers with more than 25,000 square feet are encouraged to offer pickup and/or delivery options.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has eight additional cases of COVID-19. Five of these individuals are males, and three are females. They range in age from their 30s to their 60s. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 132.

Data

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 132

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 1,339

- Number of people for whom tests are pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 181

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 3,000

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by sex:

- Females: 66

- Males: 66

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by age:

- 0-19: 6

- 20-29: 22

- 30-39: 24

- 40-49: 24

- 50-59: 28

- 60-69: 15

- 70-79: 11

- 80-89: 0

- 90 and older: 2

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

- Barrington – fewer than 5

- Bristol – fewer than 5

- Burrillville – fewer than 5

- Central Falls – fewer than 5

- Charlestown – 0

- Coventry – fewer than 5

- Cranston – 11

- Cumberland – fewer than 5

- East Greenwich – 0

- East Providence – 8

- Exeter – 0

- Foster – fewer than 5

- Glocester – 0

- Hopkinton – 0

- Jamestown – fewer than 5

- Johnston – fewer than 5

- Lincoln – fewer than 5

- Little Compton – 0

- Middletown – 5

- Narragansett – fewer than 5

- New Shoreham – 0

- Newport – fewer than 5

- North Kingstown – fewer than 5

- North Providence – fewer than 5

- North Smithfield – fewer than 5

- Pawtucket – 5

- Portsmouth – fewer than 5

- Providence – 42

- Richmond – 0

- Scituate – fewer than 5

- Smithfield – fewer than 5

- South Kingstown – 7

- Tiverton – 0

- Warren – fewer than 5

- Warwick – 7

- West Greenwich – 0

- West Warwick – 0

- Westerly – fewer than 5

- Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized:

- 15

Data notes:

- City and town numbers between 1 and 4 are listed as "fewer than five" for patient privacy reasons.

- The number of COVID-19 patients in a city or town should not be used to draw any conclusions about relative risk in different cities and towns. All Rhode Islanders should continue to take all the COVID-19 precautions that have been shared by RIDOH.

- Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Make Child Care Announcements

2020-03-24

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

- Care.com [care.com]: Rhode Island has partnered with Care.com [care.com] to increase child care access for frontline workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to providing 90 days of free, premium access to their website, Care.com [care.com] has created portals specifically for frontline workers and caregivers in Rhode Island. Starting today, frontline workers looking for child care can visit www.care.com/rineed [care.com] to find a local caregiver. Rhode Island residents interested in becoming caregivers can visit www.care.com/rigive [care.com] to register. Potential caregivers are subject to Care.com [care.com]'s extensive background and safety checks. While child care services are not typically free of charge, the Rhode Island portal gives residents the ability to waive their fees and volunteer as caregivers, providing additional support to frontline workers.

- Regulations for child care facilities: The Governor also announced that DHS has promulgated emergency regulations for Rhode Island child care providers that choose to remain open during this crisis. To the extent possible, child care facilities must operate under new mandatory conditions.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 18 additional cases of COVID-19. Among these 18 people, individuals reported travel to a number of domestic locations, including Colorado and Oregon. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 124.

Data

Rhode Island COVID-19 data is available online.

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 124

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 1,143

- Number of people for whom tests are pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 196

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 3,000

Data notes:

- Gender, age, and county breakdowns are not included in today's update. Because some results came in later than usual, RIDOH needs additional time to do follow-up with patients.

- Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Announce Domestic Travel Restrictions, New Primary Date

2020-03-23

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

- Domestic travel: Beginning 7 a.m. Tuesday, anyone returning to Rhode Island by plane (with the exception of public safety, health care professionals and pilots) must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. The Governor also reiterated that Rhode Island residents who work in another state must work from home if possible. Rhode Island businesses with employees who are residents of another state must make every attempt to let those employees work from home.

- Primary: Today the Governor will sign an executive order moving the date of the Rhode Island primary to June 2 for what will likely be a primarily mail ballot election.

The Governor also reiterated that all recreation and entertainment facilities as well as close-contact businesses must close their in-person operations by 5 p.m. today. This includes theaters, cinemas, sporting events, bowling alleys, gyms, fitness centers, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors.

The Governor announced today that Rhode Island has 23 additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from their 20s to their 90s. Among these 23 people, individuals reported travel to a number of domestic locations, including New York, New Jersey, and Utah. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 106. Of Rhode Island's 106 cases, 47 cases involved recent travel (33 domestic, 14 international). The travel histories of 15 additional people are being investigated. (These 15 people are a part of the 106 total.)

Data

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 106

Distribution by county:

Bristol County: 4

Kent County: 7

Newport County: 10

Providence County: 75

Washington County: 10

Distribution by age:

0-9: 2

10-19: 4

20-29: 17

30-39: 18

40-49: 19

50-59: 21

60-69: 12

70-79: 11

80-89: 0

90 and older: 2

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 1,120

Number of people for whom tests are pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 77

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 3,000

Data notes:

- Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)

- The county level data has been adjusted slightly from previous days based on updated address information received from patients.

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

- Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Community Meetings Postponed

2020-03-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is postponing the two community meetings that had been scheduled for this week (3/24 and 3/25) to gather input on access to healthcare services in the areas around the site of the former Memorial Hospital. The meetings are being postponed in accordance with current health guidance in Rhode Island on gatherings and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). RIDOH will send an announcement about updated plans for gathering feedback on this issue from the community.

Governor, RIDOH Provide Updates on State Actions During COVID-19 Crisis

2020-03-22

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today made several announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

• Groups: Today the Governor reiterated that Rhode Islanders should avoid any non-essential gathering, and no gatherings should have more than 10 people. This is more than a guideline – it is a public health directive that is critical to keep Rhode Islanders safe.

• Businesses: The Governor signed an Executive Order today directing all recreation and entertainment facilities to close their in-person operations. This includes theaters, cinemas, sporting events, bowling alleys and others. The Executive Order will also order the closure of any close-contact businesses like gyms, fitness centers, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors. These businesses must be closed by 5PM tomorrow.

• Army Corps of Engineers: The Governor announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is sending a team to Rhode Island tomorrow to evaluate existing facilities for their potential as alternate care locations. She emphasized that she is working to ensure this does not become necessary, but is continuing to plan for all possibilities.

The Governor also reiterated on her call today for any business with medical supplies to visit this link bit.ly/covid19-msd [bit.ly] and see how they can help provide assistance to the State's efforts, and she reminded all Rhode Islanders that tomorrow is the first day of distance learning in all Rhode Island schools.

The Governor announced today that Rhode Island has 17 additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from their 20s to their 70s. Of these 17 people, two are hospitalized. RIDOH is investigating each case. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 83.

Data Updates

• Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 83

o Bristol County: 6

o Kent County: 7

o Newport County: 9

o Providence County: 52

o Washington County: 9

• Number of people who had negative test results: 932

• Number of people for whom tests are pending: 216

• Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,750

Key messages for the public

• If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

• Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

• Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

• Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online (https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/about/foodsites/index.php).

• Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/index.html [cdc.gov]).

• People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

• Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

o When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

o Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

o Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

o More information is available from CDC.

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

o Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor, Dr. Alexander-Scott Provide Updates on State Regulations During COVID-19 Crisis

2020-03-21

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today made several announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Health insurance: HealthSource RI has opened a special enrollment period to allow Rhode Islanders to purchase coverage through April 15. In addition, HealthSource RI always offers a special enrollment period of 60 days for anyone who loses a job or changes jobs for any reason. Rhode Islanders with questions or those looking to enroll should visit here.

Takeaway wine and beer: Last night, the Governor signed an Executive Order allowing restaurants and bars in Rhode Island to include wine and beer with their to-go orders.

Gun permits: Responding to feedback from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association regarding the current strain on their resources, the Governor yesterday signed an Executive Order extending from seven to thirty days the time period in which police departments can conduct background checks for firearm purchases.

Governor Raimondo also reiterated that gatherings are restricted to 10 people or fewer. All gatherings that are non-essential, even if they are below the 10-person limit, should be cancelled or postponed.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 12 additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from their 20s to their 70s. Of these 12 people, three are hospitalized. RIDOH is investigating each case. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 66.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 66

Bristol County: 5

Kent County: 7

Newport County: 8

Providence County: 37

Washington County: 9

Number of people who had negative test results: 862

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 290

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Governor Activates National Guard, Extends Rhode Island Tax Filing Deadline Ten additional cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island

2020-03-20

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today made several important announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

National Guard: This morning, the Governor activated the Rhode Island National Guard. This action will allow 1,000 Guardsmen and Guardswomen to train civilian medical personnel, staff call enters, distribute food and necessities to the most vulnerable and perform a number of other critical functions.

Tax filing deadline: Rhode Island is moving the 2019 state tax filing and payment deadlines back to July 15. This is consistent with changes made at the federal level and affects both the personal income tax and the business corporation tax.

Governor Raimondo also reiterated the importance of seeking appropriate mental and behavioral health care during this time. Rhode Islanders in recovery or those currently struggling with substance use disorders should visit https://preventoverdoseri.org/covid-19/ [preventoverdoseri.org] for helpful resources. Any Rhode Islander experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis should call BH Link 401-414-LINK (5465) or visit their 24-HOUR/7-DAY triage center located at: 975 Waterman Avenue East Providence, RI 02914.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has ten additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from a pediatric case to a person in their 70s. All ten of these people are recovering at home. RIDOH is investigating their illness sources. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 54.

The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will provide another update to reporters tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m. This will be a remote press conference, meaning that the Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will respond to questions that reporters submit electronically. This is being done in accordance with RIDOH's guidance on limiting gatherings. The press conference will be streamed live on the Governor's Facebook page.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 54

Bristol County: Fewer than 5

Kent County: Fewer than 5

Newport County: 8

Providence County: 30

Washington County: 8

Number of people who had negative test results: 800

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 247

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Eviction Processing Suspended During Crisis, Rhode Islanders Encouraged to Report Price Gouging

2020-03-19

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today made several important announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

- Evictions: State courts will not process any residential or commercial evictions for the next thirty days. Payment and filing deadlines have also been extended past April 17. Public housing residents with questions can contact Rhode Island Legal Services at 274.2652 x123. Tenants in private rental housing can call the Rhode Island Center for Justice at 401-491-1101.

- Price Gouging: Rhode Islanders who suspect price gouging or COVID-19 scams should contact the Attorney General's Office. Price gouging is illegal in Rhode Island. Businesses are prohibited from increasing the price of any essential commodity to an "unconscionably high price" immediately before or during a declared state of emergency. Rhode Islanders who notice price gouging or scams should contact the Attorney General's consumer protection team at (401) 274-4400 or fill out an online complaint. (https://riag.wufoo.com/forms/q1851amb1bdd4d5 [riag.wufoo.com])

- Donations of Supplies: Over the last several days, organizations have contacted the State about laboratory supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) that they would like to donate. Rhode Island has set up an online form to get information about these donations. People who have already contacted the State about donations are still encouraged to use this form: bit.ly/covid19-msd [bit.ly]

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has eleven additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from their 20s to their 60s. RIDOH is investigating their illness sources. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 44.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 44

Bristol County: Fewer than 5

Kent County: Fewer than 5

Newport County: 6

Providence County: 23

Washington County: 7

Number of people who had negative test results: 654

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 140

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Public Schools to Transition to Distance Learning for Two Weeks, Governor Announces New Directives Regarding Telehealth and Utility Services

2020-03-18

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today made several important announcements about the state's response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

- Schools: The next two weeks - from Monday, March 23rd through Friday April 3 - will be distance learning weeks for all public schools in Rhode Island. During this time, school buildings will be closed to students, but school will be taking place remotely in homes across the state. After two weeks, the Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will reevaluate the situation and make a new determination.

- Telehealth: Today the Governor signed an executive order directing health insurers to follow previously announced instructions to cover visits conducted over the phone and online during this crisis. This order for an expansion of Telemedicine coverage will apply to primary and specialty care, as well as mental and behavioral health care.

- Utilities: The PUC has issued an emergency order mandating that all regulated utilities not terminate services at this time. The state has also directed utilities to stop sending past due accounts to collection agencies and is encouraging non-regulated utilities to do the same. If service is terminated, Rhode Islanders should call their utility provider. If the provider is unable to help, customers should call the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers at 401-780-9700.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has ten additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from their 20s to their 70s. RIDOH is investigating their illness sources. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 33.

Additionally, Dr. Alexander-Scott made announcements that pertain to healthcare provider licensing practices in Rhode Island. If someone holds a valid license in good standing in another state, that person will be able to get a 90-day temporary license to practice in Rhode Island. This is applicable for physicians, APRNs, mental health counselors, pharmacists, and many other health professions. This temporary license can be renewed one time. There will be no cost to obtain the license or for the one-time renewal. RIDOH is also extending the expiration dates for any of these professionals whose license is set to expire in the next 90 days.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 33

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 540

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 334

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Rhode Island Foundation and United Way, Microsoft Providing Support to Rhode Islanders

2020-03-17

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today announced that several local and national organizations are offering free services to Rhode Islanders during the coronavirus public health crisis.

The Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island have launched a fund to support local nonprofit organizations on the front line of COVID-19 response efforts. The two organizations jointly established the COVID-19 Response Fund, quickly raising more than $1.5 million in initial contributions from individual and corporate donors. Gifts to the fund, in any amount, can be made with Rhode Island Foundation or United Way of Rhode Island. The two organizations will work jointly to provide financial support for organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 response who are working to serve vulnerable Rhode Islanders.

Microsoft has agreed to provide their Office 365 E1 program for free for six months to all employers. The Office 365 E1 program includes web-based Microsoft Office applications, resources to support telecommuting such as meetings and instant messaging, as well as remote file sharing. Microsoft is offering this service nationally only to businesses managed by a Microsoft account rep that haven't activated other Microsoft Office 365 trials in the past. But for Rhode Island, Microsoft has agreed to lift all restrictions on this offering. Microsoft is also offering a free online version of Office with email, video conferencing, customized hub for class teamwork with Microsoft Teams, compliance tools, and information protection to schools and students. Learn more here.

In addition, Governor Raimondo announced that the SBA has approved Rhode Island's request for disaster declaration. Rhode Island businesses will now be able to access funds up to $2 million per business to help them meet their operating expenses. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela [disasterloan.sba.gov]. Applicants may also call SBA's Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Businesses can also call Commerce's small business hotline 521-HELP with any questions.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has two additional cases of COVID-19. One individual is a man in his 50s. He has a recent travel history to many different locations, including Germany and the United Kingdom. The second case is a woman in her 40s. RIDOH is working to determine the origin of her illness. These individuals are both at home and are recovering. Rhode Island's case count is now 23.

Additionally, Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that all oral healthcare providers should suspend nonessential, non-urgent dental care for the next 21 days. This is in line with guidance from the American Dental Association. RIDOH will revisit this guidance in three weeks.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 23

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 403

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 305

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)

Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

State Services, Public Meetings Moving to Online and Phone Only; Rhode Islanders Encouraged to Avoid DMV

2020-03-16

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today announced that customer-facing services at the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and HealthSource RI will be moving to online and telephone-only services until further notice. This includes all new applications, renewals, or changes in benefits. Individuals who need to drop off paper applications will be able to do so without speaking with a customer service representative.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced earlier today that licensing road tests will be cancelled through the end of the week. In addition, beginning tomorrow, all DMV satellite offices will be closed. (Closures of the satellite locations in Westerly and Warren has previously been announced).

The Cranston DMV will also be suspending personal driver license and registration services through the end of the week. To ensure customers are not penalized for the actions we are taking to further protect health and safety, the DMV will be extending any driver licenses and registrations scheduled to expire by 30 days. Through the end of this week, the Cranston DMV will be providing only the following limited services: dealer appointments, adjudications, and commercial drivers licenses. Rhode Islanders are encouraged not to go to the DMV this week unless absolutely necessary.

Beginning next Monday, March 23, the DMV will begin taking clients for all services by appointment only. Please check the DMV website to confirm an appointment before visiting the DMV next week.

Finally, this afternoon the Governor will sign an Executive Order allowing all Rhode Island public entities to conduct meetings online or over the phone and extending the timeline for public records requests. The Attorney General's Office worked with the Governor's team and other stakeholders on identifying these appropriate temporary measures for both the Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act to ensure that government can continue to operate as openly and transparently as possible. The Attorney General's Office will continue to serve as a resource for guidance and advice regarding these statutes going forward.

Data updates

These numbers are also available online.

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 21

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 308

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 149

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,300. (This number includes approximately 1,700 people from Cranston High School West.)

Testing, including confirmatory testing, in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories.

Key messages for the public

- Most people who may get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and can recover at home.

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Restaurants and Bars to Offer Delivery and Take-Out Only, Gatherings Limited to 25 People

2020-03-16

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today announced that, effective tomorrow and continuing through March 30th, there will be no on-premise food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only. The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott also directed all Rhode Islanders not to host or attend gatherings of 25 people or more.

"This is a critical time in the state's response, and I know this decision is difficult for small business owners across the state," said Governor Raimondo. "We know that this action will slow the spread of the virus and help save lives. I appreciate the sacrifices everyone is continuing to make, and I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to protect public health while also protecting businesses and workers throughout Rhode Island."

The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott were joined today by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who echoed these recommendations for the City of Providence.

"I ask that everyone stay home, follow the recommendations the City and the State have issued and do their part to protect our community," said Mayor Jorge Elorza. "Unfortunately, that means no bars on St. Patrick's Day and no group outings to some amazing restaurants. I want to thank the members of our businesses community who have adapted during trying times and express how sensitive we are to the impact these circumstances have on our city. Our number one priority right now is limiting the spread of this virus."

Businesses looking for resources or information should visit Commerce RI's COVID-19 webpage (see link below). The Department of Labor and Training (DLT) has worked to increase the flexibility of the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and unemployment Insurance (UI) programs, including waiving the seven-day minimum amount of time and previously required medical certification. Affected businesses with questions on Unemployment Insurance, Paid Sick and Safe Leave, or other work-related programs should contact DLT by emailing dlt.covid19@dlt.ri.gov or calling (401) 462-2020.

The announcement of these measures is coming as Rhode Island today announced one additional case of COVID-19 involving a woman in her 40s. This woman has been hospitalized but is in stable condition.

RIDOH is currently investigating the source of her illness.

As a reminder, beginning today, free "grab and go" meals will be available for Rhode Island kids. These meal sites will be open throughout the next week as schools across the state are closed. All sites are open and free for anyone age 18 or younger. There are no ID or residency requirements, but the child must be present. Schools cannot give a meal to an adult on behalf of a child. Visit the Food Sites for Schoolchildren page for an updated list of meal sites. New sites are still being added, so please check back or contact your school district or charter school for more options.

The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will provide additional updates to reporters about Rhode Island's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Conference Room 2A at the Department of Administration.

Data updates

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 21

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 308

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 149

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,300. (This number includes approximately 1,700 people from Cranston High School West.)

Testing, including confirmatory testing, in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories.

Key messages for the public

- Most people who may get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and can recover at home.

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Child Care Centers Directed to Be Closed, State Working with Communities to Provide Student Meals During School Break; No new additional cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island since yesterday

2020-03-15

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced new guidance directing all child care centers in Rhode Island to close, effective tomorrow. She also announced that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has been working with local school districts to make "grab and go" meals available to students who need them while schools are closed this week.

"We need everyone to continue following the 'gold standard' for protection from coronavirus," Governor Raimondo said. "Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands often. If you don't feel well, call your healthcare provider rather than going to their office. If your workplace has closed and you're now home, avoid all nonessential crowds."

At a noon press conference at the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, the Governor announced that there are no new positive COVID-19 cases since yesterday. "This is a welcome pause, but we expect that it is just a pause. These coming weeks are critical," she said.

Data updates

These numbers are also available online.

• Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 20

• Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 271

• Number of people for whom tests are pending: 117

• Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,300. This number includes approximately 1,700 people from the Cranston High School West who have been instructed to self-quarantine.

Testing, including confirmatory testing, in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories.

Any day care employee or other Rhode Island worker impacted by a business closure can apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI), or Unemployment Insurance (UI). DLT is waiving the seven-day minimum amount of time that claimants must be out of work to qualify for these benefits as a result of COVID-19. Visit the DLT website for information.

Additionally, beginning tomorrow, free "grab and go" meals will be available for Rhode Island kids. These meal sites will be open throughout the next week as schools across the state are closed. All sites are open and free for anyone age 18 or younger. There are no ID or residency requirements, but the child must be present. Schools cannot give a meal to an adult on behalf of a child. Visit the Food Sites for Schoolchildren page for an updated list of meal sites. New sites are still being added, so please check back or contact your school district or charter school for more options.

Key messages for the public

• Most people who may get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and can recover at home.

• If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

• Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

• Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

• Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

• People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

• Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

o When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

o Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

o Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

o More information is available from CDC.

• People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

• Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

o Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

New Insurance Initiatives Announced as Part of COVID-19 Response

2020-03-14

Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that new guidance has been issued to health insurers related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and that HealthSource RI is opening a special enrollment period to allow Rhode Islanders to purchase coverage. Both of these measures are intended to ensure access and continuity of care during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

"As we continue to respond to COVID-19, we are doing everything possible to make sure people can access the care they need, while doing it in a way that minimizes exposure for the healthcare workers who are critical to our response," said Governor Raimondo. "While these measures are being taken at the state level, it is critical that people continue taking personal health measures such as staying home when sick and avoiding large crowds."

These announcements are being made as the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing six additional presumptive positive COVID-19 cases. Four of those individuals are males. Two of them are females. Their age range is from someone in their 30s to someone in their 70s. Because these results came in late last night, RIDOH is still investigating each case. However, it is known that at least three of these individuals reported recent travel: two separate domestic trips, and one trip to Lisbon. All six people are recovering at home.

Governor Raimondo and Rhode Island Health Commissioner Marie Ganim announced today new guidance for health insurers, which includes instructions to:

- Update telemedicine policies to include telephone-only services for primary care and behavioral health providers.

- Ensure testing and screening for COVID-19 can be done without prior authorization and without any cost to the patient.

- Cover prescription refills even if the prescription has yet to run out, provided that the prescription itself would remain valid beyond the refill date. This will allow people to shelter in place, while ensuring that they have adequate supplies on hand for continuity of care and medication compliance.

- Work to remove barriers to access to services related to COVID-19 that may delay necessary care, including requirements for specialist referrals and prior authorizations.

- In the event a federally-approved vaccine becomes available for COVID-19, cover the cost of the immunization for all enrollees.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, health insurers should continually assess their readiness, plan for network adequacy challenges, make any necessary adjustments, and keep their providers and subscribers informed. The complete list of instructions for health insurers is attached.

Additionally, HealthSource RI is opening a special enrollment period to allow Rhode Islanders to purchase coverage. The special enrollment period will be open from this coming Monday through April 15.

On Friday, Governor Raimondo announced that school vacation week in Rhode Island is being moved from April to the week of March 16th. During this time, teachers and other school staff are urged to remain local. The change in school vacation week is to limit spread of COVID-19 while allowing schools and districts to work with the Rhode Island Department of Education on their distance learning plans. It will also allow schools and districts to prepare to make meals available to at-risk students where possible, in the event we need to move to distance learning. Schools should also use next week to clean and disinfect all surfaces in their buildings. A decision will be made at the end of next week about what to do the following week.

Data updates

These numbers are also available online.

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 20

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 198

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 57

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 600

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Broad Measures Announced to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission in Rhode Island

2020-03-13

As Rhode Island continues to respond to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced a set of broad measures today intended to limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. These measures pertain to schools, nursing homes, and anyone who has traveled internationally in the last 14 days.

The announcement of these measures is coming as Rhode Island is announcing an additional nine cases of COVID-19. These people include four males and five females. There are three pediatric cases and six adult cases. While the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is still investigating each of these cases, we know that four unrelated trips were involved: travel to Europe, travel to the Bahamas, travel to Jamaica, and regional travel (to Massachusetts).

All of these people are recovering at home, except for one person who is recovering in their nursing home. This person is in isolation there. Staff are using appropriate personal protective measures and strict infection control measures.

"Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is Rhode Island's highest priority right now and we are all coming together to put all of our resources toward reaching that goal," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "I have to thank my entire Cabinet for working around the clock on this to ensure that the measures we are putting in place will help prevent further spread of the disease and protect all Rhode Islanders. We have been preparing for this, and our extensive planning efforts are serving us well. We all have a role to play in this, and I thank everyone for doing their part."

Governor Raimondo announced today that:

School vacation week in Rhode Island is being moved from April to the week of March 16th. During this time, teachers and other school staff are urged to remain local. The change in school vacation week is to limit spread of COVID-19 while allowing schools and districts to work with the Rhode Island Department of Education on their distance learning plans. It will also allow schools and districts to prepare to make meals available to at-risk students where possible, in the event we need to move to distance learning. Schools should also use next week to clean and disinfect all surfaces in their buildings. A decision will be made at the end of next week about what to do the following week.

All people who have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days (and going forward) are being urged to self-quarantine. That means not going to work, not going to school, and staying home.

All Rhode Islanders are being urged to avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).

Nursing home administrators have been directed to not allow any visitors (unless they are essential to the care of a resident). Additionally, nursing home administrators have been directed to continue actively screening staff, vendors, and all other people who enter facilities for illness and COVID-19 risks (for example, travel history or exposure to someone under investigation for COVID-19).

Childcare facilities are urged to remain open at this time.

"As I said earlier in the week, now is the time for us to use all of the strategies we have available to us to curb the spread of disease," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We realize that for this to work, we are all going to have to sacrifice, and we must do it consistently, together. We understand fully that social distancing and following these measures creates challenges for us all, yet these are the best methods we have to contain the spread of disease. By following this guidance, which is based on proven science, we can help protect our whole community, and especially our older adults and our most vulnerable populations."

Data updates

These numbers are also available online. (See link below)

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 14

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 142

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 29

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 500

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

2020 Census Kicks Off in Rhode Island

2020-03-12

Beginning this week, every household in Rhode Island will receive a notice by mail to complete the 2020 Census. Rhode Island receives $3.8 billion in federal funding each year based on census results. These funds support healthcare, schools, roads, housing, the environment, and many services and programs in communities across the state.

"We have one chance to make sure that everyone in Rhode Island is counted in 2020, and we must get it right," said Director of Health and Rhode Island Complete Count Committee Co-Chair Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The information collected during the census assigns billions of dollars in federal funding for critical public services that make up one-third of our state budget. Rhode Island is counting on every household to fill out the census and help us support healthy communities across our state."

"We are going to great lengths to ensure that everyone is counted in the 2020 census," said Central Falls Mayor and Rhode Island Complete Count Committee Co-Chair James Diossa. "A complete count helps ensure fair representation in Congress, enforcement of civil rights, and planning for Rhode Island's future. Filling out the census is easy, confidential, and helps our community in so many ways. This is our chance—let's make it count."

Filling out the census takes only a few minutes and can be done online (my2020Census.gov [my2020census.gov]), by phone, or by mail. One person in each household must complete the census questionnaire form and provide information about everyone who lives there. If a household has not yet received their notice, it will be coming in the next few weeks. Census participation is safe, secure, and private. Federal law prohibits the US Census Bureau from sharing personal information with anyone for any reason.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo established the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee through Executive Order to help ensure that the 2020 US Census does not undercount important populations in Rhode Island. Rhode Island outreach efforts include community outreach grants supported by the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund (a program administered by the Rhode Island Foundation), and a multilingual, multimedia media campaign that includes broad communication intended for the general public and targeted communication focused on hard-to-count populations.

Every 10 years, the US Census Bureau counts every person living in the United States. The last US Census was conducted in 2010. A "test census" was previously conducted in Providence County in 2018. That was not the actual 2020 Census. Anybody who participated in the test census in Providence County in 2018 must respond again when they receive their notice for the 2020 Census.

To learn more about the 2020 Rhode Island census, visit RICensus2020.com.

New Guidance Issued for Large Events in Rhode Island

2020-03-11

As a part of on-going efforts to limit or prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Rhode Island, Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), issued updated guidance today regarding large events.

This guidance is in line with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This guidance is intended to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and to protect people at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults and people with underlying health conditions. Steps to limit large events are most effective at preventing the spread of disease when implemented before a community is seeing widespread transmission. This guidance will be revisited in two weeks.

"I am asking for the partnership and support of people who are organizing large events," said Governor Raimondo. "In accordance with the best science from CDC, I am asking that certain events be cancelled or postponed. I know that this is an inconvenience. I am enormously appreciative of everyone's patience as all of us – government, the business community, and all Rhode Islanders – work together to keep Rhode Island healthy and safe."

Updated guidance (see link below)

Do not organize or attend events that will be attended by 250 people or more. This recommendation is specific to organized events at which people will be concentrated for sustained periods of time, such as parties, sporting events, and parades. This recommendation does not pertain to the normal school day for students and to workplaces, as long as 250 or more people are not closely concentrated (within six feet of each other) for sustained periods of time.

Do not organize events that will be attended by large numbers of older adults. (CDC's current guidance is for organizations that serve high-risk populations to consider canceling events of more than 10 people. Older adults are a high-risk population.) At any event that older adults will attend, verbally screen people for illness, provide hand sanitizer, ensure that people are washing their hands regularly, and ensure that people are not closely concentrated for sustained periods of time.

Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending events, regardless of the number of people at the event. Additionally, those messages should urge older adults to not attend events.

Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies, including soap in restrooms, hand sanitizer, and tissues.

Develop flexible refund policies for participants. Create refund policies that permit participants the flexibility to stay home when they are sick, need to care for sick household members, or are at high risk for complications from COVID-19.

These recommendations are posted online. While these recommendations are important, all communities are unique and will need to weigh all the factors involved in making decisions about whether to cancel events.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is issuing additional guidance for school leadership. This guidance includes recommendations on school assemblies, cleaning schedules, ways to ensure social distancing in schools, and visitation policies. No broad school closures are envisioned at this time.

Data updates

These numbers are also available online.

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 5

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 94

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 8

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 270

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by CDC. Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

If you have traveled anywhere internationally (or anywhere overnight in the U.S.) in the last 14 days, monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

For people who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan, in addition to monitoring yourself for symptoms, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

RIDOH's State Health Laboratories Identifies Two Additional Cases of COVID-19

2020-03-10

Two additional cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been identified through testing at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s State Health Laboratories. These are Rhode Island's fourth and fifth cases. These results are considered presumptive positive cases until they are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first individual is a female in her 50s. Her recent travel history includes travel to Egypt. The second individual is a female in her 30s. The source of this person's infection is currently unknown. That is being investigated. This second individual is a healthcare worker at a Rhode Island hospital. Both individuals are recovering at home.

As with all COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island, extensive contact tracing is being done for these cases. All people who have had direct, face-to-face contact with these people are being instructed to self-quarantine.

Data updates

These numbers are also available online (see link below).

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 5

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 58

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 24

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 270 (RIDOH is sharing an approximate number because this number is subject to change regularly)

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by CDC. Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally (or anywhere overnight in the U.S.) in the last 14 days, monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

- For people who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan, in addition to monitoring yourself for symptoms, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC.

People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

All Rhode Islanders Urged to Take COVID-19 Prevention Measures

2020-03-07

As the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) continues to prepare for and respond to the international outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Rhode Islanders are being strongly urged to take a number of measures to prevent the spread of viruses. These personal prevention measures are critical complements to the efforts being taken at the state level to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island.

"We know we will have community transmission of COVID-19 in Rhode Island at some point. It is critical that people stay home if they are sick or have been directed to stay home, and it is critical that we all do things like wash our hands regularly and avoid close personal contact, like handshakes, in public," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This is a situation that is evolving rapidly at the international and national levels. We have been preparing for weeks at the Rhode Island Department of Health, but we need the partnership of all Rhode Islanders to help keep our state healthy and safe."

Key Guidance and New Efforts

- If you have traveled anywhere internationally (or anywhere overnight in the U.S.) in the last 14 days, monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

- For people who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan, in addition to monitoring yourself for symptoms, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home. On March 5th Governor Gina M. Raimondo issued a directive for State employees to not come to work if they traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan in the last 14 days.

- The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has set up a COVID-19 Assistance Line and email address (401-462-2020; dlt.covid19@dlt.ri.gov). They are intended to provide support to people regarding COVID-19 and employment issues. The phone line is staffed Monday to Friday during business hours.

- Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. This message is important for faith communities, among other groups, that will be gathering this weekend and going forward. Additional guidance is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

- Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC's guidance for people older than 60 years of age:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

More information is available from CDC (see link below).

- On Friday RIDOH officials held a call with the leadership of nursing homes throughout Rhode Island to discuss enhanced measures to protect residents. Facilities have been instructed to:

Restrict visitor hours.

Not allow people to visit if they are younger than 18 years of age or are feeling sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, chills, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath.

Actively screen staff, visitors, vendors, and all other people who enter facilities for illness and COVID-19 risks (i.e., travel history, or exposure to someone under investigation for COVID-19). People who have traveled internationally in the last 14 days will be asked to not enter facilities.

Only allow residents to leave for medical appointments (as opposed to nonessential appointments, such as an appointment with a hairdresser or a visit to a family member). This policy is to keep residents safe by preventing a person from getting ill and bringing an illness back into the facility. In special circumstances, exceptions can be made from this policy, given the importance of mental and emotional health to the overall wellness of older adults. Families should work with nursing home administrators regarding special circumstances.

- On Friday Governor Raimondo sent a letter to school leadership and higher education leadership reiterating her strong recommendation to cancel upcoming organized international trips.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 3

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 30

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 12

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 250

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

General messages for the public

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.

There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.

People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).

Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

RIDOH's State Health Laboratories Identifies Third Case of COVID-19

2020-03-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s State Health Laboratories has confirmed an additional presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This person is a female in her 60s. She is at home with mild symptoms. This person was tested because she was symptomatic and had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 in New York in late February.

This case is considered a presumptive positive case until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Extensive contact tracing is being done on this case. All people who have had direct, face-to-face contact with this person are being instructed to self-quarantine. People who had contact with an asymptomatic person who is now self-quarantining (but does not have COVID-19) are considered low risk. (In other words, a contact of a contact is considered low risk.)

Contact tracing includes children and adults associated with Smithfield Avenue Nursery in Pawtucket, where this person works. Initial studies of COVID-19 indicate that the virus does not affect children as severely as adults.

This case is Rhode Island's third confirmed positive or presumptive positive case of COVID-19. A man in his 40s and a teenage girl who both went on a trip to Italy in mid-February as part of a Saint Raphael Academy group tested positive. (This count of two does not include another adult who went on the trip and who tested positive but is considered a Massachusetts case because she is a Massachusetts resident. Additionally, a staff member from Achievement First Academy in Providence who went on the trip was tested, but her results were negative.)

Additional updates

- RIDOH officials held a call with the leadership of nursing homes throughout Rhode Island today to discuss enhanced measures to protect residents. RIDOH asked all facilities to, as of tomorrow morning or sooner:

Restrict visitor hours.

Not allow people to visit if they are younger than 18 years of age or are feeling sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, chills, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath.

Actively screen staff, visitors, vendors, and all other people who enter facilities for illness and COVID-19 risks (i.e., travel history, or exposure to someone under investigation for COVID-19). People who have traveled internationally in the last 14 days will be asked to not enter facilities.

Only allow residents to leave for medical appointments (as opposed to nonessential appointments, such as an appointment with a hairdresser or a visit to a family member). This is a way to limit the possibility that a resident will get ill and bring that illness back into the facility.

As a state with COVID-19 cases, Rhode Island has received an immediate $500,000 dollars in federal funds to support public health response actions such as epidemiological work, laboratory work and supplies, risk communications support, and other activities related to public health emergency operations. Additional federal appropriations are being considered.

Data updates

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 3

This number does not include a Massachusetts resident who the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported as having a presumptive positive test result. This individual went on the Saint Raphael Academy trip to Italy in mid-February.

Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 17

Number of people for whom tests are pending: 13

Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 210 (RIDOH is sharing an approximate number because this number is subject to change regularly)

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.

There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.

People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).

Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Community Meetings Scheduled on Healthcare in Pawtucket and Central Falls

2020-03-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls are organizing two public meetings to gather community input on next steps to ensure access to healthcare services in the areas around the site of the former Memorial Hospital.

The input gathered at the meetings will build upon the recommendations made in an independent report that analyzed the impact of the closure of Memorial Hospital in 2018 on these communities, and on the state's healthcare system as a whole. The report, which was required in RIDOH's decision to allow Care New England to close the hospital, was submitted to RIDOH in February. It is available online (see link below).

The dates, times, and locations of the meetings are:

- Tuesday, March 24th at 6 p.m. at Jenks Jr. High (350 Division St, Pawtucket, RI 02860)

- Wednesday, March 25th at 6pm at Central Falls City Hall Council Chambers (580 Broad St, Central Falls, RI 02863)

The report included a number of significant findings. These included that the closure of Memorial Hospital's emergency department reduced access to emergent/urgent care services for residents in the hospital's service area (including Pawtucket, Central Falls, and a portion of Cumberland) and reduced access to emergency mental health and substance use services. The authors of the report also identified measurable impacts of the closure on other hospitals in the state.

The report calls on a state-led collaborative to take steps to mitigate these impacts. The collaborative will include residents, RIDOH, Care New England (which operated Memorial Hospital), major healthcare providers serving the impacted communities, municipal leaders, insurers, other state agencies, community leaders, the local Health Equity Zone (HEZ), community-based organizations, and philanthropic organizations.

Community and stakeholder input will build upon a series of initial, foundational recommendations made in the report. Those recommendations include having this collaborative:

- Help ensure access to affordable emergent/urgent care that is linked to primary care within the

service area;

- Expand access to affordable, integrated primary care within the service area; and

- Enhance access to affordable substance use disorder services for service area residents.

The report also called on Care New England to take a number of steps. Those steps include promoting their healthcare campus on Brewster Street in Pawtucket or at another location that maintains access to affordable primary care and specialty services within the impacted communities. Care New England was also called upon to maintain their walk-in clinic on the site of the former hospital to ensure walk-in coverage.

At the end of 2017, RIDOH approved Care New England's application to close Memorial Hospital in a decision that included conditions aimed at addressing immediate needs in the areas of emergency medical response capacity, primary care, and health at the community-level. Among other steps, Care New England was required to:

- Expand operations at its Family Care Center and Internal Medicine Clinic to open a walk-in clinic in Pawtucket.

- Provide $300,000 to Pawtucket and $200,000 to Central Falls each year for two years to offset emergency medical services costs associated with transporting patients to other hospitals.

- Put in place a transportation plan for patients and patients' families so that individuals with non-emergency chronic conditions won't have to incur additional costs associated with traveling to receive services that are only offered at another hospital.

- Maintain Memorial Hospital's Family Care and Internal Medicine Centers in Pawtucket at their former hours and staffing levels.

- Invest $100,000 annually in the Pawtucket and Central Falls HEZs.

The 2020 report on the impacts of the closure of Memorial Hospital was developed by John Snow, Inc.

New COVID-19 Response Measures Announced for Rhode Island

2020-03-05

Governor Gina M. Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and the Rhode Island Department of Administration (DOA) announced today a set of broad measures to help limit or prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Rhode Island.

"All of the COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island at this point are associated with one trip to Italy. However, because this is an evolving global public health situation, we are putting in place a number of additional preparedness and response initiatives," said Governor Raimondo. "We are taking extensive measures to ensure the health and safety of all Rhode Islanders."

At a press event this morning, the following response measures were announced by Governor Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH:

- Workplace Policy: To help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, all State employees who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan in the last 14 days and going forward are being instructed to remain at home until 14 symptom-free days have passed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed Travel Health Notices on these countries because they are experiencing sustained or community transmission of COVID-19.

(Following federal guidance, all travelers from China are already self-quarantining for 14 days and are self-monitoring for symptoms with public health supervision. Starting today, federal guidance is expanding to include Iran in this program.) State employees who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan are being directed to contact RIDOH.

- To help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, RIDOH is encouraging employers throughout Rhode Island to, if possible, ask employees who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Japan in the last 14 days and going forward to remain at home until 14 symptom-free days have passed since their return to the US.

- Enhanced response: To ensure that RIDOH is coordinating as closely as possible with CDC officials managing the COVID-19 response at the national level, a five-person team from the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) has been embedded at RIDOH. EIS is a long-standing, globally recognized fellowship program, renowned for its investigative and emergency response efforts. This unique opportunity will help CDC understand the unique needs of Rhode Islander and bolster the State's response efforts.

- Visitation policies: To help protect the public, RIDOH has worked with healthcare facility partners to develop a policy to limit visitors in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. This policy restricts people from visiting staff or patients if they are younger than 18 years of age or if they are sick. The policy also includes steps and guidance for further limiting visitation, should that become necessary. RIDOH has developed posters to help facilities communicate about this policy.

- Testing: We are utilizing multiple options for places people can go for specimen collection if they need to be tested, including non-healthcare settings. RIDOH will direct people to these locations for specimen collection as needed. Samples will be sent to the RIDOH State Health Laboratories for testing.

- Public Information: To keep the public as informed as possible, RIDOH has established a dedicated COVID-19 Hotline to answer general questions about COVID-19. That number is 401-222-8022. After 4:30 p.m., anyone with questions about COVID-19 should call 211. Additionally, people can write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov or visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid

Data updates

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 2

This number does not include a Massachusetts resident who the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported as having a presumptive positive test result. This individual went on the Saint Raphael Academy trip to Italy in mid-February.

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 17

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 8

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 200 (RIDOH is sharing an approximate number because this number is subject to change regularly)

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.

- There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.

- People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).

- Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

COVID-19 Data Updates; Media Availability Scheduled

2020-03-04

Media Availability

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), will be available tomorrow (March 5th) at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room 2A at the Department of Administration (1 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908) to provide updates on Rhode Island's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A Spanish interpreter will be available.

Data updates

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 2

This number does not include a Massachusetts resident who the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported as having a presumptive positive test result. This individual went on the Saint Raphael Academy trip to Italy in mid-February.

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 11

- Number of people for whom tests are pending: 7

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 200 (RIDOH is sharing an approximate number because this number is subject to change regularly)

Testing in Rhode Island is being done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Confirmatory testing is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results are considered 'presumptive' if they still need to be confirmed by the CDC.

Key messages for the public

- Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.

- If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.

- There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.

- People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).

- Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Case Announced in Mass. has R.I. Connection

2020-03-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public that a third individual associated with the Saint Raphael Academy trip to Italy in mid-February has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Because this individual is a Massachusetts resident, this testing was done by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This person was a female in her 20s. She is recovering at home. This individual is considered a presumptive positive case because the result is pending confirmation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is coordinating the contact tracing for this individual and communicating very closely with RIDOH.

There are now four individuals associated with the trip to Italy: a male in his 40s, a teenage girl, a female in her 30s whose test result is pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories (she is a staff member at Achievement First Academy in Providence who chaperoned on the trip), and this most recent case.

General COVID-19 updates

- Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket remains closed.

- CDC has confirmed the presumptive positive result obtained at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories for the man in his 40s who was announced as Rhode Island's first presumptive positive case over the weekend.

- CDC confirmation is still pending on the second presumptive positive case (the teenage girl from Saint Raphael Academy who is recovering well).

- The result on the tests from the second adult who traveled to Italy from Saint Raphael Academy are still pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. (This individual is a woman in her 30s who was a staff member at Achievement First Academy in Providence.) These results are anticipated this evening.

- Achievement First Academy Hartford (Providence) and Garfield (Cranston) campuses were closed today for cleaning but are expected to open tomorrow.

- Meadowbrook Farms School in East Greenwich was closed today. This was because the sibling of a student developed symptoms after recently returning from a trip abroad. However, the family member who is a student at Meadowbrook Farms School does not have symptoms. The school closed for cleaning out of an abundance of caution.

Data updates

- Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 2

(One of these results has been confirmed by CDC, and one is pending CDC confirmation. These numbers do not include a Massachusetts resident who the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported as having a presumptive positive test result.)

- Number of tests pending at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 4

- Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 6

- Total number of people who have been tested at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories: 12

- Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island as a part of Rhode Island's COVID-19 response: approximately 60 (RIDOH is sharing an approximate number because this number is subject to change regularly)

Key messages for the public

- There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.

- People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).

- Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.

- Testing can only be done on individuals who have symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms or history of travel can lead to inaccurate results.

- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

- People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit https://www.health.ri.gov/covid or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.

- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

RIDOH Announces Second Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Case; Testing a Third Individual

2020-03-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s State Health Laboratories have identified a second presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and a separate person has been tested for COVID-19 today. The presumptive positive case is a teenager. She is at home with mild symptoms. The adult being tested is in her 30s and is also at home with mild symptoms.

These two individuals went on the same trip to Europe in mid-February as the male in his 40s who RIDOH announced this morning as Rhode Island's first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Saint Raphael Academy, which organized the trip to Europe in mid-February, will be closed for the remainder of this week. The adult whose test results are still pending is a staff member at Achievement First Academy, which has two campuses, one in Providence and one in Cranston. Achievement First Academy Hartford (Providence) and Garfield (Cranston) campuses will be closed for two days, pending the results of the staff member's tests. (The result is expected tomorrow, and the school is closing for an additional day to do environmental cleaning.)

All 38 of the people who went on this trip will be self-monitoring for symptoms at home for 14 days with public health supervision. They have been instructed to not go to school or work and to remain at home for these 14 days.

"All three people went on the same trip to Italy," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "This is precisely why we are being so aggressive in identifying contacts, ensuring monitoring, and testing people who are symptomatic."

Outreach to the people who were in direct contact with any of these three individuals is on going. These direct contacts will be self-monitoring for symptoms at home for 14 days with public health supervision. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is managing contact tracing for people on the return flight that these three individuals took back to the United States.

Because human coronaviruses most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.

- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

- Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.

If you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19 and you have symptoms of the disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath) reach out to your healthcare provider and call ahead before going to a healthcare facility. The healthcare provider or facility will work closely with RIDOH.

There have been more than 60 US cases of COVID-19 confirmed. Globally, more than 80,000 cases have been confirmed. CDC reported the first US fatality on February 29th.

RIDOH is coordinating with other State agencies and community organizations to support anyone doing self-quarantining to ensure that people who are remaining at home have the support services they need. This includes support with everyday needs, such as prescriptions and groceries. The organizations that have offered support include agencies throughout the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Rhode Island Food Bank, the American Red Cross, and other members of Rhode Island's Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

The additional preparedness steps that RIDOH has taken include:

- Establishing an Incident Command System response, which is how RIDOH and other State agencies organize to prepare for (or respond to) an urgent situation that requires extensive coordination. It includes staff from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and Rhode Island Commerce. It also includes staff from RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Center for Public Health Communication, among other areas of RIDOH.

- Regularly communicating with RIDOH's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Advisory Committee (IDEAC) to track any clinical and epidemiological developments related to COVID-19. (IDEAC is a group of infectious disease physicians throughout Rhode Island that provides guidance to RIDOH leadership on emerging infectious disease matters.)

- Maintaining a robust system to receive and follow up on illness reports from Rhode Island healthcare providers.

- Regularly sending to local healthcare providers summaries of the national situation, criteria to guide evaluation of patients, and guidance on specimen collection, testing, and reporting.

- Coordinating closely with healthcare facilities and emergency medical services (EMS) providers to ensure their preparedness.

- Communicating regularly to community partners, such as schools, faith leaders, and municipal officials.

More information about COVID-19 is available in multiple languages at http://health.ri.gov/covid. People with questions about COVID-19 can call 401-222-8022.

First Presumptive Positive Case of COVID-19 Identified at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories

2020-03-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing the state's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The person is in their 40s and had traveled to Italy in mid-February. RIDOH is coordinating closely with the hospital where this person is currently being treated and all infection control protocols are being followed.

"The Rhode Island Department of Health has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have a structure in place to, to the best of our ability, limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. We fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low. However, everyone in Rhode Island has a role to play in helping us prevent the spread of viruses, just like the flu. It is very important that people wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they are sick."

Outreach to the people who were in direct contact with this individual has already begun, with extensive efforts underway to ensure that they undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision (quarantine). This individual's immediate family members have been self-quarantining at home since it was determined that, based on this person's travel history and symptoms, the individual met the criteria to be evaluated for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is managing contact tracing for people on this person's return flight to the United States.

This individual had limited travel in Rhode Island since returning from Italy. This person had not returned to their place of work since returning from Italy.

The science continues to evolve and what we know about this virus is subject to change. However, the latest guidance from CDC is that risk of asymptomatic transmission is very low. (The main way the virus spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing.) If someone is not exhibiting any symptoms there is no need to change your daily routine.

In the past few weeks, RIDOH's State Health Laboratories worked to develop the capacity to perform testing for COVID-19 virus. In response to an urgent need, the State Health Laboratories expedited the final steps of implementation to run the test that identified this first case of COVID-19 in Rhode Island this weekend. Previously, all testing for COVID-19 was done at CDC. At this time, each presumptive positive test result must still be confirmed by the CDC Laboratories. This might change in the coming days.

Because human coronaviruses most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.

- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.

If you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19 and you have symptoms of the disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath) reach out to your healthcare provider and call ahead before going to a healthcare facility. The healthcare provider or facility will work closely with RIDOH.

There have been more than 60 U.S. cases of COVID-19 confirmed. Globally, more than 80,000 cases have been confirmed. CDC reported the first U.S. fatality on February 29th.

RIDOH continues to be notified by the federal government of asymptomatic travelers who are coming to Rhode Island after having been in China in the previous 14 days. These people are doing self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days and are limiting their movement locally. (Passengers who have symptoms or who are coming from Hubei Province are not coming to Rhode Island. They are being quarantined domestically near the international airport where they landed.)

RIDOH is coordinating with other State agencies and community organizations to support anyone doing self-quarantining to ensure that people who are remaining at home have the support services they need. This includes support with everyday needs, such as prescriptions and groceries. The organizations that have offered support include agencies throughout the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Rhode Island Food Bank, the American Red Cross, and other members of Rhode Island's Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

The additional preparedness steps that RIDOH has taken include:

- Establishing an Incident Command System response, which is how RIDOH and other State agencies organize to prepare for (or respond to) an urgent situation that requires extensive coordination. It includes staff from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and Rhode Island Commerce. It also includes staff from RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Center for Public Health Communication, among other areas of RIDOH.

- Regularly communicating with RIDOH's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Advisory Committee (IDEAC) to track any clinical and epidemiological developments related to COVID-19. (IDEAC is a group of infectious disease physicians throughout Rhode Island that provides guidance to RIDOH leadership on emerging infectious disease matters.)

- Maintaining a robust system to receive and follow up on illness reports from Rhode Island healthcare providers.

- Regularly sending to local healthcare providers summaries of the national situation, criteria to guide evaluation of patients, and guidance on specimen collection, testing, and reporting.

- Coordinating closely with healthcare facilities and emergency medical services (EMS) providers to ensure their preparedness.

- Communicating regularly to community partners, such as schools, faith leaders, and municipal officials.

More information about COVID-19 is available in multiple languages at http://health.ri.gov/covid. People with questions about COVID-19 should call 401-222-8022.

Director of Health Provides Updates on Coronavirus Disease 2019, Seasonal Illnesses

2020-02-27

Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), provided an update to reporters today on preparedness efforts underway in Rhode Island related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and discussed general steps people can take to help prevent the spread of seasonal illnesses like the flu.

"Rhode Island has been taking extensive preparedness steps over the last several weeks as the COVID-19 situation has continued to evolve internationally," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "Although the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low and there have been no confirmed cases in our state, everyone can contribute to our preparedness work by taking simple, everyday steps to limit the spread of viruses. Those steps include washing your hands regularly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you are sick."

Some of the same steps that can help prevent the spread of coronaviruses can also help prevent the spread of other viruses, such as the flu and norovirus. While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, a lot of flu is circulating here right now. The preparations to protect yourself and your loved ones against coronavirus are the same steps people should already be taking to protect against the flu. This flu season in Rhode Island there have been more than 650 flu-related hospitalizations and 11 flu-related deaths.

All Rhode Islanders should:

- Get your flu shot. Flu shots are your best protection against the flu, and they help protect the friends and loved ones around you who may be more at risk of getting very sick because of the flu, such as pregnant women, infants, and older adults. Flu vaccine can also help people avoid flu-related hospitalizations. This allows hospitals to focus on patients with more severe illnesses.

- Wash your hands regularly. When washing your hands, use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Stay home from work or school when you are sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. Facemasks are generally used to prevent sick people from getting other people sick.

Business owners can also take a number of steps to create healthy workplaces. They should:

- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay out of work until they are free of:

fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer),

signs of a fever,

and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.

- Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible.

- If possible, maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.

- Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees. Employers can do this by displaying posters that encourage cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene.

- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.

Additional guidance for business owners from the CDC is available online. (See link below.)

Since late December there have been more than 80,000 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed and more than 2,700 fatalities worldwide. The vast majority of these cases and fatalities have been in China. As of February 26, there have been 59 U.S. cases. That figure includes travel-related cases, cases of person-to-person spread, and people repatriated from China and other areas of the world.

Given the global dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is possible that Rhode Island could have a case in the near future. While RIDOH is reminding Rhode Islanders about the health measures they can take to help prevent the spread of virus in the community, Rhode Island is continuing to coordinate with the federal government to limit of prevent the spread of COVID-19. RIDOH is coordinating a process to ensure that anyone who has been in China in the previous 14 days is self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days and is limiting their movement. (People in this situation are being instructed to not attend work or school, and to avoid public places and gatherings for 14 days.) Once 14 symptom-free days pass since someone's last potential exposure to COVID-19, there is no longer a health concern about that person getting sick or spreading the illness.

RIDOH is partnering with federal officials to implement this monitoring program, which started on February 3, 2020. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is routing all flights carrying people who have traveled to China within the last 14 days through one of 11 U.S. airports designated to receive and screen travelers. People returning from Hubei Province, which is the center of the outbreak in China, are not continuing their travel; they are being quarantined domestically near the international airport where they landed. People coming from other areas of China are being screened for symptoms at their U.S. arrival airport. People who are symptomatic are being isolated near their arrival airport. People who are not coming from Hubei Province and who are not symptomatic are continuing to their final destinations.

For those whose destination is Rhode Island, RIDOH is notified of their arrival and is coordinating with these travelers so that they understand the self-monitoring guidance and guidance on how to seek medical care if it is needed. 26 people have been a part of this self-monitoring process in Rhode Island since early February. There are currently six people doing self-monitoring (however, the monitoring period for three of those people is ending today).

RIDOH is coordinating with other State agencies and community organizations to ensure that people who are remaining at home after traveling from China have the support services they need. This includes support with everyday needs, such as prescriptions and groceries. The organizations that have offered support include agencies throughout the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Rhode Island Food Bank, the American Red Cross, and other members of Rhode Island's Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

In addition to coordinating the process for returning travelers, RIDOH has taken a number of other preparedness steps. They include:

- Establishing an Incident Command System response, which is how RIDOH and other State agencies organize to prepare for (or respond to) an urgent situation that requires extensive coordination. It includes staff from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM). It also includes staff from RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Center for Public Health Communication, among other areas of RIDOH.

- Regularly communicating with RIDOH's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Advisory Committee (IDEAC) to track any clinical and epidemiological developments related to COVID-19. (IDEAC is a group of infectious disease physicians throughout Rhode Island that provides guidance to RIDOH leadership on emerging infectious disease matters.)

- Maintaining a robust system to receive and follow up on illness reports from Rhode Island healthcare providers.

- Regularly sending to local healthcare providers summaries of the national situation, criteria to guide evaluation of patients, and guidance on specimen collection, testing, and reporting.

- Coordinating closely with healthcare facilities and emergency medical services (EMS) providers to ensure their preparedness.

- Communicating regularly to community partners, such as schools, and municipal officials.

More information about COVID-19 is available in multiple languages at http://health.ri.gov/covid

Coronavirus Preparedness and Coordination On-Going in Rhode Island

2020-02-20

As efforts are on-going at the federal level to respond to the international coronavirus situation, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is continuing to take extensive preparedness measures locally. These include coordinating closely with other State agencies, community organizations, healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, schools, and colleges and universities, among numerous other partners as a part of readiness planning and to provide education, guidance, and support.

Since late December there have been more than 75,000 cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (or COVID-19) diagnosed and more than 2,000 fatalities. The vast majority of these cases and fatalities have been in China. There have been 15 confirmed cases in the United States. There have not been any confirmed cases in Rhode Island.

"We are not seeing widespread community transmission of the virus in the United States. The risk level for Rhode Islanders right now remains low," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "However, this is an evolving situation. For that reason, we have been taking extensive, comprehensive preparedness steps for several weeks and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."

Given the global dynamics of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak, it is possible that Rhode Island could have a case in the near future. This is why RIDOH is coordinating a process, in accordance with federal guidance, to ensure that anyone who has been in China in the previous 14 days is doing self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days and is limiting their movement locally. (People in this situation are being instructed to not attend work or school, and to avoid public places and gatherings for 14 days.) Once 14 symptom-free days pass since someone's last potential exposure to Coronavirus Disease 2019, there is no longer a health concern about that person getting sick or spreading the illness.

RIDOH is partnering with federal officials to implement this monitoring program, which started on February 3, 2020. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is routing all flights carrying people who have traveled to China within the last 14 days through one of 11 U.S. airports designated to receive and screen travelers. People returning from Hubei Province, which is the center of the outbreak in China, are not continuing their travel; they are being quarantined domestically near the international airport where they landed. People coming from other areas of China are being screened for symptoms at their U.S. arrival airport. People who are symptomatic are being isolated near their arrival airport. People who are not coming from Hubei Province and who are not symptomatic are continuing to their final destinations.

For those whose destination is Rhode Island, RIDOH is notified of their arrival and is coordinating with these travelers so that they understand the self-monitoring guidance and guidance on how to seek medical care if it is needed.

"People are not traveling to Rhode Island from China if they are coming from the area where the outbreak is centered, and they are not coming to Rhode Island from China if they have symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "Many of the travelers from China are not of Chinese origin. They are international business people. It is important that we all remember that someone's race or ethnicity is not a risk factor for Coronavirus Disease 2019."

RIDOH is coordinating with other State agencies and community organizations to ensure that people who are remaining at home after traveling from China have the support services they need. This includes support with everyday needs, such as prescriptions and groceries. The organizations that have provided support include agencies throughout the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Rhode Island Food Bank, the American Red Cross, and other members of Rhode Island's Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

In addition to coordinating the process for returning travelers, RIDOH has taken a number of other preparedness steps. They include:

- Establishing an Incident Command System response, which is how RIDOH and other state agencies organize to prepare for (or respond to) an urgent situation that requires extensive coordination. It includes staff from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM). It also includes staff from RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Center for Public Health Communication, among other areas of RIDOH.

- Regularly communicating with RIDOH's Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Advisory Committee (IDEAC) to track any clinical and epidemiological developments related to Coronavirus Disease 2019. (IDEAC is a group of infectious disease physicians throughout Rhode Island that provides guidance to RIDOH leadership on emerging infectious disease matters.)

- Maintaining a robust system to receive and follow up on illness reports from Rhode Island healthcare providers.

- Regularly sending to local healthcare providers summaries of the national situation, criteria to

guide evaluation of patients, and guidance on specimen collection, testing, and reporting.

- Coordinating closely with healthcare facilities and emergency medical services (EMS) providers to ensure their preparedness.

- Communicating regularly to community partners, such as schools, faith leaders, and municipal officials.

Because human coronaviruses most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses.

- Get your flu shot and encourage the people around you to do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including Coronavirus Disease 2019. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

More information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 is available in multiple languages at http://health.ri.gov/covid

Blendtopia Products Recalled

2020-02-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Blendtopia Products is recalling 29,078 cases of 7-ounce frozen Blendtopia brand Superfood Smoothie Kits because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The smoothie blends affected include: Blendtopia brand "Glow", "Detox", "Energy", "Immunity" and "Strength" Superfood Smoothie Kits. The impacted product is labeled as "Best By July 2021, Best By Oct 2021, and Best By Nov 2021". The products were distributed nationwide, including in Rhode Island, and are sold at select retailers and through online sales.

The company discovered the issue through its quality control processes. There have been no reports of sickness or illness to date associated with this recall.

Consumers who have affected products should not consume them and discard them immediately or return them to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions should contact the company at: 1-844-260-8181 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm MT or email at support@blendtopia.com

Nuts n' More LLC. Recalls Plain Peanut Butter Spread Because of Possible Health Risk

2020-02-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Nuts n' More LLC. of East Providence is recalling 4143 jars of plain Peanut Spread because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria species. (An image of one product label is attached and a description of the jar is below.)

Plain Peanut Spread was distributed to locations in VA, AZ, MA, RI, ME, AL, IN, and FL, as well as in Canada and the UK.

This recall is a result of potential Listeria species in a finished product found through routine testing. The company has ceased the production and distribution of this product as the State of Rhode Island and the company continue their investigation. Testing of the product was performed by a 3rd Party Laboratory. This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No complaints of illness have been reported to date.

Consumers who have purchased Nuts 'N More Plain Peanut Spread Lot PB91 are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at questionsl@nuts-n-more.com.

Jar Description:

Nuts 'N More – Plain Peanut Spread

LOT PB91 (Lot and Exp. Located on the lid)

EXP 03/04/2021

16 oz plastic jar

RIDOH Monitoring Novel Coronavirus Situation, Taking Preparedness Measures

2020-01-28

As federal health officials continue to monitor the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new form of coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is continuing to coordinate closely with healthcare providers throughout Rhode Island.

This coordination has included maintaining a robust system to receive and follow-up on illness reports from Rhode Island healthcare providers. RIDOH has also regularly sent to local healthcare providers summaries of the national situation, criteria to guide evaluation of patients, and guidance on specimen collection, testing, and reporting. Finally, RIDOH has established a Novel Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate the preparedness steps being taken throughout the Department. It includes leadership from the State Health Laboratories, the Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and the Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, among other areas of RIDOH.

Healthcare providers have been instructed to evaluate patients for possible novel coronavirus infection if they have a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness (such as cough or difficulty breathing), and if they have traveled to Hubei Province, China (which includes Wuhan) in the two weeks before symptom onset (or if they had close contact with a person who is being evaluated for coronavirus).

"The CDC believes the risk right now for people in the United States to be low. It is also important for people to remember that someone's risk is closely tied to their recent travel history, and the travel histories of their immediate contacts. Someone's nationality alone is not a risk factor for coronavirus," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "RIDOH is taking these steps with healthcare providers throughout the state to ensure that we are ready to respond to this evolving situation. Preparedness and collaboration are core functions of public health."

Given the similarities between coronavirus symptoms and flu symptoms, and given that a lot of flu is currently circulating in Rhode Island, RIDOH has followed-up on individual illness reports. However, there have not been any confirmed cases of this new form of coronavirus in Rhode Island.

This new coronavirus strain that public health officials are currently responding to has only occurred in people since December 2019. To date, there have been five cases diagnosed in the United States and several thousand cases diagnosed internationally (the majority of them in China). Experts are still learning about the range of illness from this form of coronavirus. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.

Chinese officials report that person-to-person spread of coronavirus is occurring in China. Person-to-person spread in the United States has not yet been detected. Officials are still learning more about how the novel coronavirus is spreading in China. However, because human coronaviruses most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses:

- Get your flu shot and encourage the people around you to do the same.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The CDC has taken a number of steps in response to coronavirus. This has included developing a diagnostic test to detect this virus in clinical specimens and conducting entry screening of passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan, China to five major airports in the United States: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York City (JFK), and San Francisco (SFO). Enhanced screening measures are also in place at 20 other airports. Finally, the CDC is now recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans. Recent examples of this include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Updated information about novel coronavirus is available online at http://health.ri.gov/ncov.

Bat from Portsmouth Tests Positive for Rabies

2020-01-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting the public that a brown bat found in the Common Fence Point section of Portsmouth earlier this week has tested positive for rabies. Because rabies is a fatal disease, anyone who may have had contact with this animal is urged to contact RIDOH as soon as possible.

The bat was discovered by an onlooker on January 11th between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the intersection of Massachusetts Boulevard and Anthony Road in Portsmouth. The bat, which was acting sickly, was surrounded by a crowd of observers. On January 14th the bat was submitted by a Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist to RIDOH's State Health Laboratories for rabies testing. (Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialists are permitted by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).) The positive rabies test was confirmed on January 15th.

Anyone who may have had direct contact with the bat should immediately call RIDOH's Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 401-222-2577 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) or 401-276-8046 after hours for treatment guidance. RIDOH should also be contacted if a pet may have come into contact with this bat.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies treatment must be started as soon as possible after exposure.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by state law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pets prevents them from contracting rabies and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies through their pets.

RIDOH and DEM make the following recommendations to prevent rabies:

- Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination.

- Avoid all contact with and do not feed stray or free-roaming domestic animals.

- Avoid all contact with and do not feed wild animals.

- Do not feed your animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats.

- Protect your pets by always maintaining control; walk dogs on a leash or let them play in a fenced yard, and do not let pets wander unsupervised.

- Report all animal bites to your city/town's animal control officer.

- Securely cover all garbage cans so wild animals cannot scavenge for food.

For more information, visit https://www.health.ri.gov/diseases/rabies

Public Comment about Drinking Water Infrastructure Projects

2020-01-10

Going forward, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will post all public notices related to Rhode Island's State Revolving Loan Fund online at https://www.health.ri.gov

The State Revolving Loan Fund is a program that RIDOH administers to assist public water systems in ensuring safe drinking water. It provides a financing mechanism for infrastructure projects. The money in the fund is federal capitalization grant money.

Notices will remain online for 30 days, during which time interested parties can provide public comment by contacting Carlene Newman at Carlene.Newman@health.ri.gov, Rhode Island Department of Health, 3 Capitol Hill, Room 209; Providence, RI 02908-5097.

The public was previously notified in print about opportunities to provide comment.

RIDOH to Hold Public Hearing on Flavored E-Cigarette Regulations

2020-01-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will hold a public hearing on January 7th to gather comment on proposed regulations on the sale of flavored electronic nicotine-delivery system (ENDS) products (sometimes called e-cigarettes) in Rhode Island.

As a part of efforts to protect young people from the health consequences of ENDS use, RIDOH promulgated emergency health regulations in October banning the sale of flavored ENDS products. Emergency health regulations remain in effect for 120 days, and can be renewed for another 60 days, before they lapse. The proposed regulations on which RIDOH will be gathering comment next week would establish this ban in Rhode Island's standard, standing regulations. Specifically, it would prohibit the distribution or sale (or the possession with intent to distribute or sell) flavored ENDS products to consumers in Rhode Island.

The public hearing will take place on January 7th at 4 p.m. at RIDOH in the auditorium on the lower level. RIDOH's address is 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908.

People can submit written or oral comments at the hearing on January 7th. Additionally, written comment can be submitted until January 26, 2020 to: Paula Pullano; Rhode Island Department of Health; 3 Capitol Hill, Room 410; Providence, RI 02908-5097; Paula.Pullano@health.ri.gov.

2019 News

Widespread Flu Activity Prompts Healthcare Worker Masking Requirement

2019-12-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that the flu is now "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and many other healthcare facilities to wear masks during direct patient contact.

"The masking requirement helps protect healthcare workers from catching the flu, and helps protect patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccination is the single best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu. Getting vaccinated today will still provide you with months of protection."

Unvaccinated healthcare workers must wear masks when involved in direct patient contact at the types of facilities listed below. Examples of direct patient contact are entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities. The requirement also applies to all licensed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) practitioners who have not been vaccinated against the flu.

Widespread is the highest tier in the five-tier system used to measure flu activity. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and many other states throughout the country are also currently experiencing widespread flu.

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which the masking regulation applies are:

• Adult day care programs

• Assisted living facilities

• CVS Minute Clinics

• Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers

• Free-standing emergency care facilities

• Home care providers

• Home nursing care providers

• Hospice providers

• Hospitals

• Kidney treatment centers

• Nursing facilities

• Organized ambulatory care facilities

• Physician ambulatory surgery centers

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the most appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including flu when the symptoms are not so severe. Going to an emergency department for a case of the flu with symptoms that are not severe will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Cases of the flu with symptoms that are not severe are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. RIDOH has information and lists online for urgent care facilities, as well as for community health centers and other express care facilities in the state.

Some cases of the flu, however, should be treated in an emergency department. Warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. In addition to healthcare workers, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, younger children, people over the age of 50, nursing home or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions (such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems). Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

For general health questions, contact the Health Information Line: 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711 or visit http://www.health.ri.gov

Trader Joe's Egg Salad and Potato Salad Recalled

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Bakkavor Foods USA is recalling Trader Joe's Egg Salad and Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Potato Salad with "USE BY" date codes up through and including 12/27/19 because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

This recall is taking place due notification by Almark Foods of Gainesville, GA that they supplied certain lots of Broken Egg Whites products in 20-pound pails which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and its association with a Listeria monocytogenes foodborne illness investigation.

Products were distributed to Trader Joe's retail stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and many other states. The products come in plastic cups and trays with SKU numbers printed on the labels and "USE BY" date codes applied to top or bottom of the containers. Consumers should discard the product immediately or return it to their point of purchase for a full refund. Customers with questions may contact Bakkavor Foods at (855) 312-7504, Monday through Friday 8:00P.M. - 5:00P.M. PST.

Almark Foods Recalling Hard-Boiled Egg Products

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Almark Foods is recalling all hard-boiled eggs manufactured at the company's Gainesville, Georgia facility, including all retail, pillow pack, pouch pack, frozen diced, and protein kit products, due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, a Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

On December 18, 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified Almark Foods that the company's Hard-Boiled and Peeled eggs in pails manufactured at the Gainesville facility may be associated with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has been linked to several reported illnesses and one reported death. A more recent FDA sample from the facility also matched the outbreak strain, suggesting the possibility that the strain may have remained present in the facility.

Almark is recalling all product packaged for the retail market manufactured at its Gainesville plant that remains within shelf life. This includes product with "Best If Used By" dates up through March 2, 2020. Almark has also temporarily suspended all production at its Gainesville plant. A full product list if available online. (See link below.)

The affected product can be identified by viewing the printed "Best If Used By" date coding on the product package. If the "Best If Used By" code starts with the prefix "G", the product was manufactured at the company's Gainesville, Georgia facility and is subject to this recall. Products with the prefix "N" or "Y" are not subject to this recall. For Protein Kit products, consumers are advised to check the code on the actual egg package within the kit.

RIDOH and DEM Lifting Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2019-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are lifting the recreational advisories that have been in place for a number of water bodies throughout Rhode Island because of blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria).

The advisories are being lifted for Paradise Pond in Middletown, Sisson Pond in Portsmouth, Slack Reservoir in Smithfield-Johnston, Pond Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, Almy Pond in Newport, Elm Lake in Providence, JL Curran Resevoir in Cranston, Mashapaug in Providence, Pleasure in Providence, Roosevelt in Providence, and Melville in Portsmouth. An advisory is still in place for Watson Reservoir in Little Compton, where there are still visual signs of a cyanobacteria bloom.

These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining daylight, and they signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter or spring. Seasonal monitoring for cyanobacteria in 2019 is finished, but the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Rhode Islanders Cautioned Against Using Certain Decorative Products on Foods

2019-12-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising home and commercial bakers to avoid using luster dust products to decorate cakes and other food items unless the products are specifically manufactured to be edible. A "non-toxic" label does not indicate that a product is edible.

The shiny decorations on top of cakes, cupcakes, and candies are commonly made using a decorating powder called luster dust. Luster dust is a term to describe a wide range of decorative powders which can be glittery, a shimmery color, or a metallic shade such as gold and bronze. Other names to describe these products include twinkle dust, sparkle dust, highlighter, shimmer powder, pearl dust, and petal dust.

Nationally, bakeries and home bakers have used these non-edible products on baked goods, thinking that a "non-toxic" label indicates that they are safe to eat. Some non-edible luster dust products labeled as "non-toxic" have been found to contain high levels of lead, copper, and other heavy metals. In 2018, an investigation due to illnesses in Rhode Island found that a "non-toxic" luster dust applied to a cake was made almost entirely of copper powder. Consuming luster dusts may lead to illness which varies based on the heavy metal and may include vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, kidney damage, neurological complications, and developmental delays.

Many luster dusts are sold online and in craft and bakery supply stores. A variety of online instructional videos, blogs, and articles also promote the use of these glitters and dusts to decorate foods such as cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops.

If you are buying a baked good, talk to your bakery about the types of decorative products that they use. When in doubt, ask to see the labels of the decorative products to ensure they are edible.

Some glitters and dusts are edible and are produced specifically for use on foods. Most edible glitters and dusts state "edible" on the label. Additionally, companies that make edible glitters and dusts are required by law to include a list of ingredients on the label.

For more information on determining if a luster dust is edible is available online. (see link below)

RIDOH Urges Flu Shots for People Not Yet Vaccinated

2019-12-12

With states in New England and across the country seeing elevated levels of flu activity over the last several weeks, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders who have not yet been vaccinated that flu shots are your best protection against the flu.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, and more than a dozen other states are now reporting widespread flu, which is the highest tier in the five-tier system used to measure flu activity. The flu in Rhode Island is currently regional (the tier just short of widespread). To date, there has been one flu-related death and 24 flu-related hospitalizations in Rhode Island this flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, there were 39 deaths and 1,032 hospitalizations associated with the flu.

"After getting a flu shot, it usually takes someone roughly two weeks to start developing the antibodies that provide protection against the flu. For people who have not been vaccinated and who plan to get together with family and friends for the holidays, now is the perfect time to get vaccinated," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "A flu shot can help you avoid serious illness, doctor visits, missed work, or missed school, and it can also help you keep the people you love healthy and safe by reducing the spread of the flu."

Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. Vaccination is particularly important for certain people, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma or diabetes). Even if someone is vaccinated and still gets sick, a flu shot can reduce the severity of that person's illness.

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the most appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including flu when the symptoms are not so severe. Going to an emergency department for a case of the flu with symptoms that are not severe will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Cases of the flu with symptoms that are not severe are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. RIDOH has information and lists online for urgent care facilities, as well as for community health centers and other express care facilities in the state. (Link below)

Some cases of the flu, however, should be treated in an emergency department. Warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Another common illness this time of year is norovirus, sometimes called the "stomach bug." Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause people to have extreme stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea for 24 to 48 hours. It spreads when people get tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in their mouth. This can happen by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus; or if an infected person vomits in a public space.

Steps that people should take to keep themselves and communities healthy and safe from the flu, norovirus, and other viruses include:

- Get vaccinated against the flu. By being vaccinated now, you can still get several months of protection.

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough into your elbow. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water regularly, especially right after using the toilet or changing diapers, taking or giving someone else medicine, and before eating or preparing food.

- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs frequently.

- Stay out of work or school if you are sick. If you become sick with a flu-like illness, you should not go back to work or school until you have not had a fever for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

- If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, stay home until after those symptoms clear completely. Sick workers in restaurants and other food service occupations, schools, child care centers, healthcare facilities, must not return to work for 48 hours after symptoms abate.

White Castle Recalling Certain Frozen Burgers

2019-12-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that White Castle is recalling certain frozen six-packs of cheeseburgers, hamburgers, jalapeno cheeseburgers, and certain 16-packs of hamburgers and cheeseburgers because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

The recall impacts products on shelves at select retailers with best by dates ranging from 04 Aug 2020 to 17 Aug 2020. Any product with these dates is being removed from shelves. Any product with a best by date before or after these dates is not included in the recall. Lot codes and other information about the recalled products is available online. (See link below)

To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.

Customers who may have purchased any of the products are urged to dispose of them or return them to the store where they were purchased for an exchange or full refund. Customers with questions can call White Castle at 1-800-843-2728.

Wild Harvest Flour Being Recalled

2019-12-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that UNFI is recalling certain five-pound bags of its Wild Harvest Organic All-Purpose Flour because of the potential presence of E. coli.

The product is unbleached flour with a Code of AA BEST IF USED BY 010820 CC 15:58 and UPC Code 711535509158.

E. coli can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections in infants, older people, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. The most common symptoms of E. coli are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, which develop within three or four days of eating contaminated food. The illness usually lasts about a week and most people recover without treatment.

To date, no illness reports have been associated with this recall.

Consumers should check their pantries and dispose of this product, if they have it. Consumers with questions should contact UNFI at 855-423-2630.

Fuji Food Products Recalled

2019-12-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fuji Food Products, Inc. is recalling ready to eat sushi, salads, and spring rolls because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were distrusted in several states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They were sold under the brand names Trader Joe's and Okami. To date, no illnesses have been associated with these products.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The problem was discovered in their Brockton Massachusetts facility by a routine inspection conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company has ceased production and distribution of their products in this facility as FDA and the company continue their investigation.

The products are packed in plastic trays with clear lids and the sell-by dates are on the labels. Consumers who have purchased any of these products should dispose of them.

A complete product list is available online (see link below). Consumers with questions should call 1-888-667-1504.

RIDOH Embraces "Undetectable = Untransmittable" HIV Prevention Model

2019-12-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that it is joining other state health departments and organizations worldwide in supporting the international HIV prevention campaign Undetectable = Untransmittable, also known as U=U.

U=U describes the scientific consensus that people living with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy daily and have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners. Routine HIV testing and timely treatment for those who are HIV positive is central to Rhode Island's work to preventing further HIV transmission and ending the HIV epidemic. This concept is known as "treatment as prevention."

"Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy, regardless of who they are, who they love, or where they live. Unfortunately, for too long factors like stigma and discrimination have been barriers to health for too many people," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This campaign is about replacing stigma with science. By taking their medication daily, a person living with HIV can have a long, healthy life without any fear of transmitting HIV to their partner."

"Twenty years ago, we learned treatment would save lives. Today we know that it also prevents transmission to others," said Rhode Island native Bruce Richman, Executive Director of Undetectable = Untransmittable. "This is a gamechanger that underscores the need for everyone to have access to treatment to stay healthy and stop new transmissions."

RIDOH's endorsement of the U=U campaign was announced this morning by RIDOH Consultant Medical Director Philip A. Chan, MD at a World AIDS Day event in Pawtucket, sponsored by the Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition. The Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition is an umbrella organization of community groups, service providers, and state agencies that are working together to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through education, advocacy, partnerships, and public awareness.

Rhode Island measures its HIV progress using the benchmarks of the International 90 90 90 Campaign, which Providence and Rhode Island joined in 2015. This is a campaign to ensure that, by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their status; to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV are engaged in care; and to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV have viral suppression. As of 2018, Rhode Island has met the first target (92.3% of people living with HIV know their status). However, the targets for having people engaged in care and achieving viral suppression in Rhode Island have not yet been met.

In the last 10 years, there has been an overall reduction in the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Rhode Island. There were 73 new cases diagnosed in 2018, compared to 117 in 2009. In addition to stigma and discrimination, other community level factors that impact HIV rates and health outcomes for people living with HIV including housing, employment, and community level support.

Rhode Island's work on the community level factors that affect health is bolstered by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides access to HIV/AIDS medications, outpatient healthcare services, oral healthcare, health insurance premium and cost-sharing assistance, housing services, medical nutrition therapy, food bank/home delivered meals, mental health counseling, case management, transportation to medical appointments, and emergency financial assistance. RIDOH and EOHHS partner closely in overseeing HIV work at the state level in Rhode Island.

The theme of the 2019 World AIDS Day is Communities Make the Difference. This theme has prompted organizations across the globe to highlight the efforts of communities in responding to the AIDS epidemic in terms of leadership and advocacy. More information about the Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition and the organizations that participated in Rhode Island's World AIDS Day event is available online.

Additional resources:

- Rhode Islanders can learn more about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment options and find health services by visiting health.ri.gov/hiv.

- RIDOH's RIghtTime sexual health app (righttimeapp.com) offers people information, resources, and videos on sexual health topics like healthy relationships; prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV/STDs; sexual health and family planning services and locations; where to find free condoms; information on birth control options; PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post exposure prophylaxis), which are medications to prevent HIV, and much more.

- Information about how to access free condoms in Rhode Island can also be found at health.ri.gov/findcondoms. It is very important for sexually active people to use condoms. Condoms are the best way to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, which continue to surge in Rhode Island and nationwide.

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed the treatment as prevention model. More information from the CDC on this model is available online - https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html

Make Health A Part of Your Thanksgiving

2019-11-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) encourages Rhode Islanders to take steps to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

Handling and preparing your food properly can help keep you and your family safe. Be sure to:

- Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. This is especially important if you have been handling raw meat.

- Thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible. Washing turkey before cooking is not recommended.

- Keep raw meat and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.

- Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check and place it in the thickest part of the food.

- Cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.

- After eating, debone the turkey as soon as possible and divide it into smaller portions to cool quickly under refrigeration.

Try to eat as healthy as possible. To avoid extra calories:

- Eat smaller portions.

- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

- Don't fill up on snacks.

- Consume alcohol in moderation, if you are going to be drinking.

- Make sure that you have a designated driver, if you are going to be drinking and traveling.

The holidays can sometimes be stressful. To help avoid becoming too stressed, be sure to:

- Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.

- Ease your obligations, especially if you are piling activities and tasks onto an already full plate. Don't worry about disappointing the people in your life if you cannot be at a certain event or prepare a special dish.

- Put down your phones, get away from the television, and do something interactive with family and friends. Good examples are playing a board game, playing cards, or taking a walk.

- Focus conversation on the positive aspects of your life and what makes you thankful.

Consumers Urged to Avoid Romaine Lettuce from Salinas, California

2019-11-22

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are advising people to not eat romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas, California growing region. The CDC and FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce harvested from this growing region.

This advisory pertains to all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California, including whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes which contain romaine (including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad). If romaine lettuce has "Salinas" on the label in any form (whether alone or with the name of another location) do not eat it. If you have romaine lettuce at home that is not labeled with a growing region, don't eat it, and throw it away. To date, 40 cases and 28 hospitalizations have been associated with this outbreak. There are no known illnesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut associated with this outbreak.

Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Salinas, California growing area does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically and greenhouse-grown romaine also do not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from sources outside Salinas, California.

More information is available online from the CDC and the FDA. (See links below.)

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators should not serve romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing area. If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region and harvest date, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it. If you are unable to determine the source of your romaine lettuce, the product should be sent back to your supplier or thrown away.

Restaurants and retailers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that food handlers wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

- Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators regularly.

- Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store food.

- Wash hands with hot water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

- Regular, frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Boil Water Notice Removed for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association Customers

2019-11-22

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown was notified by RIDOH on 11/22/19 that the boil water notice issued to its customers can be removed. RIDOH required this boil water notice on or around 11/14/19 because of the presence of E. coli in the water system.

For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials. Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/.

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Lucky House Restaurant

2019-11-22

The Lucky House restaurant in Ashaway (Hopkinton) is required to issue a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water system. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials.

Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/ (see link below).

Lucky House collected a sample in the water system on November 19, 2019 that had E. coli present, which was confirmed by additional samples collected November 21, 2019. A boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Danny Zeng at 401-595-0036.

RIDOH Taking Action to Address Antibiotic Resistance

2019-11-21

As a part of ongoing efforts to reduce the improper prescribing of antibiotics and prevent the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is planning a new round of healthcare provider education.

This educational campaign is being launched in the wake of a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week that underscores the need for continued improvement in infection prevention and antibiotic prescribing practices nationwide. According to Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Antibiotics save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health threats we face today. Antibiotic resistance does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply. Some resistant bacteria can be hard or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.

RIDOH will be sending targeted educational materials to the top 10% of antibiotic prescribers in Rhode Island. RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning (AMSEC) Task Force is also continuing its partnership with CDC to educate all Rhode Islanders about how to Be Antibiotics Aware and encourage the proper use of antibiotics. Public health officials throughout the country are taking similar measures to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week.

"Improving the way we prescribe and take antibiotics can help keep us healthy now, help fight antibiotic resistance, and ensure that lifesaving antibiotics will be available for the future," said AMSEC Chair Kerry LaPlante, Pharm.D., FCCP, a Professor at the University of Rhode Island's College of Pharmacy. "Patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare facility administrators all have a role to play in making Rhode Island antibiotics aware."

Despite the challenges that persist, the CDC report also indicated progress in fighting antibiotic resistant infections. Since 2013, prevention efforts have reduced deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections by 18 percent overall and by nearly 30 percent in hospitals. The AMSEC Task Force is working with Rhode Island healthcare providers and facilities to improve infection prevention practices.

CDC and RIDOH advise patients and their families to use antibiotics only when necessary. This will further reduce antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs, as well as protect patients from side effects. The Be Antibiotics Aware initiative educates the public about when antibiotics are needed, when they are not, how to take antibiotics appropriately, and potential side effects of antibiotics.

"When someone takes the time out of their day to go to the doctor, they want to walk out with a prescription that is going to make them feel better. But antibiotics are not always the answer," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "In fact, they can sometimes make things even worse. By taking antibiotics when not appropriate, people put themselves at risk for serious side effects while also undermining our ability to use antibiotics as a life-saving tool for future generations."

CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and families to:

- Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. When antibiotics aren't needed, they won't help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.

- Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about alternatives to antibiotics.

- While your body fights off a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest can help you feel better.

- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.

- Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.

- Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.

- Do not share prescription medications.

More information and videos can be found at health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

In addition to these educational efforts, RIDOH helped promote Drug Take Back Day on October 26, 2019 as part of the Department's Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge commitment. The event was coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). The Drug Take Back Day event resulted in 4,778 pounds of unused or expired medications, including antibiotics and prescription painkillers, being properly disposed of at 55 locations statewide, including pharmacies and police stations. For a list of locations that accept unused and expired prescription medications for safe disposal, visit https://preventoverdoseri.org/get-rid-of-medicines/.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association Customers

2019-11-14

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown is required to issue a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in one of the wells that serves the water supply. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by their water supply officials.

Additional information can be found on the RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality website at http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/.

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association collected a sample at each well on November 12, 2019. E. coli bacteria was present in Well #1 and absent in Well #2. An additional sample will be collected in the distribution system today.

The boil water order will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH notifies the water system officials that the boil water notice can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Three Bodies of Water

2019-11-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton, Sisson Pond in Portsmouth, and Paradise (Nelson's) Pond in Middletown because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should avoid recreation and not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these waters. Since pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink from or swim in these waters. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with untreated water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in or have otherwise been in contact with the affected waters who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with waters with blue-green algae should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

While Watson Reservoir is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water, it is not currently being used to deliver drinking water to customers. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a blue-green algae bloom is present, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any surface water at any time is not recommended.

Sources maintained by Newport Water that are treated to become drinking water may come from nine different surface reservoirs or ponds: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience cyanobacteria blooms. Most blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

Cyanobacteria blooms also occur in other waterbodies in the State. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Smoked Salmon Recalled

2019-11-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mill Stream Corp. (Sullivan Harbor Farm) of Hancock, Maine is recalling ten lots of Cold Smoked Salmon because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

The smoked salmon products were sold and distributed in several states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The products sold were through retail, wholesale and online orders.

The recalled product was sold between March 6, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in vacuum sealed packages in the following sizes: whole salmon side, 2 lb., 1 lb., 8 oz., and 4 oz. The affected product is marked with the following lot numbers marked on the back of the packages: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, 7066.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Consumers with questions should contact the company at 207-266-0621, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm EST.

New Data Reveal Alarming Rise in Vaping By Rhode Island High School Students

2019-11-07

The percentage of Rhode Island high school students who report frequent use of vaping products almost tripled in the last two years, and one-in-two Rhode Island high school students now report having tried vaping, according to new data released today by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

According to RIDOH's 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 10.2% of high school students now report frequent use of "electronic vapor products." In 2017, 3.7% of high school students reported frequent use. ("Frequent use" is use on 20 or more days in the 30 days before the survey.) The 2019 YRBS indicated that 48.9% of high school students have ever vaped. Additionally, 30.1% of high school students in 2019 reported that they currently vape. In 2017, 20.1% of Rhode Island high school students reported current use. ("Current use" is use at least once in the last 30 days.) The YRBS is conducted every two years by RIDOH.

"These numbers are a wake-up call for all of us," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Electronic cigarettes are dangerous. They're also responsible for getting more teenagers addicted to nicotine every year, primarily because of products that come in candy-like flavors. That's why I took action this September. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids."

On September 25, Governor Raimondo signed an Executive Order directing RIDOH to issue emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products, and flavors are the primary reason youth report using e-cigarettes. RIDOH issued emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored ENDS products on October 4. The ban is still in place. (On November 5, a Superior Court judge ruled against a request for a restraining order to temporarily block the ban.)

Governor Raimondo's Executive Order also called on RIDOH to convene a Vaping Advisory Committee. That group first met on October 30. It includes healthcare providers, public health professionals, students, school officials, people in the business community, and many others. The group's charge is to monitor state and national vaping developments and provide recommendations on next steps related to vaping to promote public health.

RIDOH staff have been in the community conducting compliance checks and educating retailers about the ban. This face-to-face education in the community complements the communication that RIDOH sent directly to retailers and posted online. RIDOH has also developed a guide for businesses on the ban on flavored ENDS products.

"Every young person in Rhode Island deserves the chance to grow up healthy," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "To make this possible, we have to act on e-cigarettes now. Our history with traditional, lit cigarettes tells us that targeted, aggressive policies aimed at keeping kids safe can have dramatic impacts on rates of youth use. While putting policies in place related to flavored products, we're working hard to let people know that there are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island for quitting. Help is available today at no cost."

The percentage of middle school students who have ever vaped was 16.4 in 2019, compared to 15.7 in 2017. In 2019, 6.5% of middle school students reported current use of electronic vapor products.

Health risks to young people from vaping include nicotine addiction and learning and memory issues. Nicotine is extremely harmful to the developing brain. Other health issues include lung illnesses, heart problems, injuries resulting from battery explosions, and accidental childhood nicotine poisonings. High school students who vaping are four times more likely to smoke lit cigarettes in the future.

Teenagers who are addicted to vaping nicotine can use the Truth Initiative's This Is Quitting text-based app. They should text HOPE4RI to 88709. Separately, the Rhode Island Nicotine Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW/1-800-784-8669) is ready to support any Rhode Islanders older than 13 years old who want help quitting smoking or vaping. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is available at no charge to any Rhode Islander 18 and older, regardless of insurance status.

The YRBS is a collaboration between the CDC, RIDOH, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). The survey is implemented through anonymous questionnaires in Rhode Island public schools. These most recent data were collected between January 2019 and May 2019.

Other topics covered by the YRBS include obesity, physical activity and nutrition, mental health, sexual health, unintentional injuries and violence, and alcohol and drug use. RIDOH is still analyzing the data in these areas. These additional data will be released in the coming weeks.

The YRBS is one of three youth school surveys conducted in Rhode Island. RIDE administers SurveyWorks annually, which is a school climate survey of students in grades 3-5 and 6-12, and parents and teachers. BHDDH conducts the RI Student Survey every other year with middle and high school students. These three surveys together help policy makers, school administrators, social service workers, and public health professionals understand trends in the health behaviors of young people across the state and to create health-related policies that will impact those behaviors.

Mann Packing Co. Recalls Vegetable Products

2019-11-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mann Packing Co. is recalling a series of vegetable products sold to select retailers throughout the United States. The recall is a response to a notification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled products include broccoli florets, vegetable trays, green beans, and cauliflower. A full product list with product details is available online. The recalled products have "Best If Enjoyed By" date of October 11, 2019 to November 16, 2019.

To date, public health officials have not reported any illness associated with these products. Mann Packing is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who believe that they are in possession of any of the products affected by this recall should dispose of them.

For any inquiries or comments, consumers should call 1-844-927-0707 or email consumers@mannpacking.com

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville

2019-11-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Slack Reservoir in Greenville (which spans Smithfield and Johnston town line) due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. Very high levels of microcystins were detected in water samples taken from the Little Beach area near Terrance Drive. Visual monitoring found another likely blue-green algae bloom in the Green Lake area of the reservoir.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also should not ingest water or eat fish from Slack Reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

New Statewide Initiative Addresses Maternal Depression and Related Behavioral Health Needs

2019-11-04

To help perinatal care providers meet the behavioral healthcare needs of pregnant and postpartum women in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Center for Women's Behavioral Health (CWBH) at Women & Infants Hospital have partnered to create the Rhode Island Maternal Psychiatry Resource Network (RI MomsPRN).

This new statewide program provides real-time psychiatric teleconsultation services for healthcare providers, who can call 401-430-2800, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The telephone service is staffed by a team of perinatal behavioral health experts from CWBH, including a resource and referral specialist, perinatal psychiatrist, and perinatal psychologist. They are available to help with diagnosis, treatment planning, and medication management for pregnant and post-partum patients.

"We want to make sure that all babies, moms, and families in every ZIP code in Rhode Island have an equal opportunity to be healthy," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The most common medical complication of childbirth is depression. It is crucial that we equip healthcare providers in Rhode Island with the tools and resources they need to support women during this critical phase. Connection is everything."

An estimated 20% of Rhode Island women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy. Depression symptoms in the perinatal period can range from a sad mood and loss of interest in activities to feelings of worthlessness, problems in concentrating or making decisions, and changes in eating or sleep. There is also growing evidence that perinatal substance use is increasing. Routine screening for maternal depression and related behavioral health needs throughout the perinatal period is a recommended best practice and results in better outcomes for mother and child.

"Perinatal mood and substance use disorders are highly treatable," said Director of CWBH Margaret Howard, PhD. "Rhode Island is fortunate to have a robust community of perinatal mental health experts, unique programming at CWBH, and services at the Day Hospital at Women & Infants. However, there is still a need for more specialized providers. RI MomsPRN is designed to build provider capacity in treating mild to moderate cases of perinatal mood complications and to prioritize specialty resources for high-risk women with more complex conditions."

The RI MomsPRN team can also help identify community-based resources, such as mental health care, recovery services, support groups, and other case-dependent resources for pregnant and postpartum patients. This program is funded by a five-year grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration and draws on the successful outcomes of Rhode Island's PediPRN Program at the Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital that helps pediatricians manage children's psychiatric needs.

To learn more about RI MomsPRN phone consultation service for healthcare providers, visit http://www.womenandinfants.org/services/behavioral-health/ri-momsprn.cfm

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $650,000 with 1% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents included in this news release were prepared by RIDOH and the CWBH and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Tips for a Healthy and Safe Halloween

2019-10-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding Rhode Islanders about safety precautions they should take tomorrow if they will be celebrating Halloween.

Be Careful when Trick or Treating

- Use sidewalks instead of walking in the street.

- Carry a flashlight to help yourself see and be seen.

- Remind children that they should never enter homes or apartments unless accompanied by an adult.

- Be aware of obstacles on lawns, steps, and porches, especially candle-lit jack-o-lanterns that may brush against a child's costume.

- Consider using face paint instead of a mask. This can help children see better and avoid dangerous objects such as cars and tripping hazards.

Be a Responsible Driver

- Drive slowly in residential neighborhoods.

- Watch for trick-or-treaters at intersections, medians, and on curbs.

- Enter and exit driveways carefully.

Continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites

This has been a higher-than-average risk year for mosquito-borne diseases, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), in southeastern New England. Rhode Island is still considered to be in mosquito season until the first hard frost of the year, which all of Rhode Island has not had yet. (A hard frost is when temperatures are below 32 degrees for three consecutive hours.) For that reason, Rhode Islanders who will be outdoors on Halloween should continue to take mosquito bite prevention measures. Those include:

- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

- Using EPA-approved bug spray with at least 20% DEET. (Information on bug repellant with other types of active ingredients that are also effective is available below.) People should not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin.

- Putting mosquito netting over baby carriages.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips.

Great Value Pork Sausage and Turkey Sausage Patty Products Recalled

2019-10-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that approximately 6,500 pounds of Great Value pork sausage patty products and turkey sausage patty products are being recalled because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. Great Value products are sold at Walmart stores.

The ready-to-eat pork and turkey sausage patty items were produced on April 19, April 27, May 7, and May 9, 2019. The following products are subject to recall:

- 24.92-oz. packages containing "Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties" with use by date of 10/16/19 and lot code 1091971894.

- 24.92-oz. packages containing "Great Value Fully Cooked Original Breakfast Turkey Patties" with use by date of 10/24/19 and lot code 1171971897.

- 35.6-oz. packages containing "Family Size Great Value Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Patties" with use by date of 11/03/19 and lot code 1271972894 or use by date 11/05/19 and lot code 1291972894.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. M2206T or P-2260T" printed on the package. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Consumption of ready-to-eat food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Questions about this recall can be directed to George's Prepared Foods' Customer Care Line at (800) 471-9665.

Boil Water Notice Issued for 1195 Putnam Pike LLC Customers

2019-10-09

The 1195 Putnam Pike LLC in Chepachet has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The two businesses located in the building served by this water system are Aegean Pizza and The Computer Store, and the two businesses serve approximately 155 people daily.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.

1195 Putnam Pike collected a sample on October 7, 2019, that was positive for E. coli bacteria. In addition, two samples collected in the distribution system were positive for total coliform bacteria (an indicator that disease-causing organisms such as E. coli could be present) on October 8, 2019.

The boil water advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

• Fever higher than 101.5° F, measured orally

• Blood in the stool

• Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

• Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

• Diarrheal illness that lasts more than three days

Customers with questions should contact Saad Souleiman at 401-568-2725 or 401-243-5200.

Emergency Health Regulations Ban the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes in Rhode Island

2019-10-04

In response to Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Executive Order last week on the public health epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) promulgated today, October 4, 2019, emergency health regulations banning the sale of flavored electronic nicotine-delivery system (ENDS) products in Rhode Island.

"I'm deeply concerned about the rapid increase and effects of e-cigarette use among youth. That's why in Rhode Island we're taking action to ensure that companies can no longer market these products with colorful packaging and candy-based flavors," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "This is a public health crisis, and the regulations announced today will help to protect our kids' health."

The use of ENDS products among young people has become a public health epidemic in Rhode Island. Approximately one in five (20%) high school students in Rhode Island reports regularly using an ENDS product, and 15% of middle school students report having experimented with them. A majority of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products, including mango, cucumber, vanilla, cherry, mint, and cotton candy. Most youth e-cigarette users first start using e-cigarettes with a flavored product, and flavors are the primary reason youth report using e-cigarettes.

Health risks to young people from e-cigarette use include nicotine addiction, learning, memory, and mental health problems, lung illnesses, heart problems, injuries resulting from battery explosions, and accidental childhood nicotine poisonings. High school students who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke lit cigarettes in the future.

"We know that youth in all communities and in all populations are impacted by this public health epidemic," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "And we want to prevent youth from immediate nicotine health harms and from becoming cigarette smokers in the future."

Teens addicted to vaping nicotine can use the Truth Initiative's This Is Quitting text-based app. Text HOPE4RI to 88709.

The regulation banning the manufacture, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of, flavored ENDS products takes effect immediately. Compassion centers, which offer THC-based vaping products to registered medical marijuana patients, and licensed cultivators are exempt from this ban. Compassion centers and licensed cultivators registered with the State of Rhode Island are already highly regulated by RIDOH and the Department of Business Regulation. RIDOH will consider taking further action regarding THC-based vaping in conjunction with the advice of the Vaping Advisory Committee being formed pursuant to Governor Raimondo's Executive Order.

These emergency health regulations are in place for 120 days and can then be extended for an additional 60 days. The standard process for promulgating non-emergency health regulations will then be followed.

RIDOH conducted extensive community outreach before promulgating these regulations. That outreach included discussions with the business industry, healthcare providers, community partners, other State agencies, prevention and cessation advocates, parents, youth, and members of the General Assembly.

RIDOH staff has been working closely with staff on the free quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW/1-800-784-8669) to assure they are ready to support any Rhode Islander, age 13 and older, who wants help to quit smoking or vaping. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available at no charge to any Rhode Islander age 18 and older, regardless of insurance status. NRT should not be used in combination with e-cigarettes.

Dealers and distributors must self-certify, at the time of initial application and every renewal application that none of the electronic nicotine-delivery system products they make, sell, or provide to consumers in Rhode Island are flavored electronic nicotine-delivery system products. Enforcement of these emergency regulations will be an interagency effort using existing inspection processes and resources.

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-1-57, any distributor or dealer who sells, offers for sale, or possesses with intent to sell, electronic nicotine-delivery system products to consumers in the State of Rhode Island, without the appropriate license, shall be fined in amounts set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-1-58. Compassion centers and licensed cultivators registered with the State of Rhode Island under R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 21-28.6 are exempt from this ban.

###

E.A. Sween Announces Product Recalls Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

2019-10-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that E. A Sween Company is recalling multiple products because of a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.

Tip Top Poultry, Inc., recently issued a recall, and they are an ingredient provider to two of E.A. Sween's suppliers, The Suter Company, Inc. that provides chicken salad products and Baja Foods LLC that provides burritos, to the company. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not received any reported illnesses related to this organism. RIDOH's Center for Food Protection has confirmed that the recalled product was distributed in Rhode Island.

Retailers have been instructed to remove affected products from store shelves and inventory immediately. Customer partners with questions are asked to call our Customer Service hotline at 1-800-328-8184 and select #6 for information and refund instructions.

Affected product could have been delivered in the Continental US, Hawaii and Guam through convenience stores and grocery and mass retail outlets. Consumers may return the affected product to the store where it was purchased for a full refund or exchange.

Two Rhode Island Cases Added to National Investigation into Vaping and Lung Injury

2019-10-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reporting that two Rhode Island cases are now included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into lung injury associated with e-cigarette use, or "vaping."

Both individuals experienced symptom on set in early September and were hospitalized. Both individuals were discharged from the hospital after approximately one week and are recovering. One was in the 18 to 24-year-old age range. The other person was in the 25 to 35-year-old age range. These cases are not linked. Products were obtained from both individuals and were submitted to RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. The State Health Laboratories are coordinating submission to the FDA for testing.

The specific chemical exposures causing lung injury associated with vaping have not yet been identified. Given the unknowns about this lung injury cluster, the CDC is reporting the number of cases in each state using the single designation "confirmed and probable cases." Rhode Island's two cases are among these "confirmed and probable cases."

"While we do not yet know what exactly is causing people to become ill across the country, we do know that these lung injuries are serious, and in some instances even fatal," said Director of Heath Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "E-cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women should never vape, and any adult who vapes should strongly consider not doing so until we know more. There are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island to help people quit using e-cigarettes. Help is available today at no cost."

Anyone in need of support for quitting smoking or vaping should contact their healthcare provider or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Rhode Island teens can text the Tobacco Free Rhode Island promo code HOPE4RI to 88709 to access This Is Quitting, a new Truth Initiative text-based service for youth.

In August, the CDC and the FDA announced a nationwide investigation into non-infectious severe lung injury among patients who had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices. As of October 2nd, there have been 805 cases reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. (This figure does not yet include Rhode Island's two cases. CDC data are updated weekly.) Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states. There have been no deaths in Rhode Island. All patients have a history of vaping. The latest findings from the investigation suggest that products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) play a role in the outbreak. THC is a component in cannabis.

RIDOH has been communicating regularly with Rhode Island healthcare providers about the national investigation. Those communications have included instructions on how to report suspect cases. RIDOH held a conference call today to provide updates to physicians likely to encounter lung injury associated with vaping.

Most patients in the national investigation have experienced respiratory symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Some patients have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Other symptoms have included fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks.

Anyone with trouble breathing or chest pain should seek immediate medical attention. Anyone concerned about their health after vaping should contact a healthcare provider.

E-cigarette products should not be bought off the street, and they should not be modified. People should not use e-cigarette products containing THC.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. Parents should talk to their children about these and other dangers of e-cigarette use. The Office of the Surgeon General has guidance online for parents at e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.

Additional information from RIDOH about vaping can be found online: http://health.ri.gov/healthrisks/tobacco/about/teentargeting

Rhode Island Department of Health Kicks Off Annual Flu Vaccination Campaign

2019-10-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) launched Rhode Island's annual flu immunization campaign today in collaboration with community partners, including East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) and members of the East Providence Health Equity Zone (HEZ) community collaborative. Dr. Ailis Clyne, Medical Director of RIDOH's Division of Community Health and Equity, discussed the dangers of the flu and the importance of flu shots for everyone older than six months of age. Flu vaccinations were also made available to event attendees.

"Year in and year out, a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. Limiting the spread of the flu by getting a flu shot is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu," said Dr. Clyne. "Flu shots are safe, effective, and easy to get in cities and towns across Rhode Island! Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are places in Rhode Island where you can get vaccinated for free, like the public flu clinics that opened this week at schools across the state."

Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone older than six months of age, flu shots are especially important for certain people. They include the elderly, healthcare workers, younger children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

In addition to Dr. Clyne, the event at EBCAP was attended by EBCAP's Chief Medical Officer and 2019 Rhode Island Childhood Immunization Champion Sarah Fessler; EBCAP's Vice President of Family Development Rita Capotosto; and members of the East Providence HEZ Collaborative, including its Project Director Albert Whitaker.

"Why do healthcare providers recommend that almost everyone should get a flu shot every year? Because every year, up to 80,000 people In the United States die of complications of influenza," said Dr. Fessler. "Influenza is a preventable disease, and your best protection is the flu shot."

The flu is a serious virus that can even be deadly. Last year, the flu sent 1,032 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 39 deaths.

During the 2018-2019 flu season. Rhode Island had the highest vaccination coverage rate among adults (56.3%) in the nation, and the second highest coverage rate among children (78.0%).* However, RIDOH is working to increase Rhode Island's vaccination rate for the 2019-2020 flu season. A list of evening flu clinics that are located at schools and are open to the entire community is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors' offices, and pharmacies.

After getting a flu shot, some people experience a slight ache or a low-grade fever. This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus. These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week. You absolutely cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe this flu season.

- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

- RIDOH recently awarded funding to East Providence to establish a new Health Equity Zone (HEZ). As the backbone organization for the HEZ, EBCAP's primary responsibility will be to support East Providence residents in identifying and leading initiatives to improve their health and wellness.

"East Bay Community Action Program is honored to have been chosen as the backbone agency for the East Providence Health Equity Zone," said Capotosto. "We have received strong support from community members, and we will continue to engage a broad and diverse array of residents, city leaders, business owners, community groups, and religious organizations to ensure that all stakeholders who wish to be involved in building the HEZ have an opportunity to do so. East Bay Community Action Program is in a unique position to facilitate this process, given its long-standing leadership role as a health, education and social service provider in the city. East Providence is a city with many strengths, and we are excited to build upon those strengths as we collaborate with others to determine a health and wellness-focused action plan."

The East Providence HEZ will hold a vaccination clinic on November 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East Bay Family Health Center, 100 Bullocks Point Avenue, East Providence.

More information is available online:

- List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: health.ri.gov/flu

- Information about the flu in Spanish: health.ri.gov/gripe

- Information about Health Equity Zones: health.ri.gov/hez

- People with additional questions can call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Whole Foods Market Recalling Dorset Cheese

2019-10-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Whole Foods Market stores in the northeast are recalling Dorset cheese because of a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenesis an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.

The affected product was sold at Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The affected product was cut and wrapped in plastic with a Whole Foods Market scale label, identifiable by PLU code 97776 with sell-by dates through 10/30/2019.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Customers who purchased this product at Whole Foods Market can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, or 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

Roland Foods Red Lumpfish Caviar and Black Lumpfish Caviar

2019-09-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Roland Foods is recalling its red and black lumpfish caviar products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The Red Lumpfish Caviar and Black Lumpfish Caviar, sold in glass jars, were distributed nationwide to retailers and foodservice distributors across the United States. The UPC code is located on the back of the label, under the bar code. A full product list is available online (see below).

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing found that the product experienced a processing issue.

Production and distribution of the product has been suspended as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company continue their investigation. Consumers with questions can call 1-800-221-4030 ext. 222.

Two Additional Human EEE Cases Diagnosed in Rhode Island

2019-09-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are announcing that two additional Rhode Islanders have been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this year. Rhode Island's total case count for human EEE cases for 2019 is now three. These cases were confirmed by tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The two people whose diagnoses are being announced today have both been discharged from the hospital and are recovering. Based on the time of symptom onset, it is believed that both people contracted EEE in late August. The first person is a child younger than 10 years old who lives in Coventry. The second person is in their 50s from Charlestown. On September 9th, the first person who was diagnosed with EEE this year in Rhode Island passed away. That person lived in West Warwick. All three people contracted the illness before areas of critical risk for EEE were aerially sprayed with pesticide between September 8th and September 10th.

In addition to these human diagnoses, EEE was confirmed in a deer from Exeter this week.

"This has been a year with significantly elevated EEE activity, and mosquitoes will remain a threat in Rhode Island until our first hard frost, which is still several weeks out," said RIDOH's Deputy Director Ana Novais. "Personal mosquito-prevention measures remain everyone's first defense against EEE. If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If you are going to be out, long sleeves and pants are very important, as is bug spray."

"Spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease but if does not eliminate the risk completely," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Personal protection always is essential to further minimize the risk, and we hope that Rhode Island's #FightTheBite campaign helps raise public awareness about how important it is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."

DEM and RIDOH are considering the next steps in Rhode Island's EEE response. Those steps could include additional aerial spraying based on information about human cases, cases in other mammals, mosquito activity, and findings in neighboring states. Broad and targeted notification will be done in advance of any additional aerial spraying.

The four critical risk areas that were previously sprayed were (1) an area in northern Rhode Island (parts of Burrillville, North Smithfield, and Woonsocket); (2) parts of Westerly, Hopkinton, and Charlestown; (3) all of West Warwick and parts of Coventry, Cranston, Scituate, Warwick, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich; and (4) all of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and North Providence and parts of Providence, East Providence, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland.

To date this year, EEE has been detected by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories in six mosquito pools: two from Central Falls, three from Westerly, and one from Block Island. Additionally, one horse from Westerly has tested positive for EEE. RIDOH and DEM had previously announced that two deer had tested positive for EEE (one from Coventry and one from Richmond). A third deer from Exeter has been diagnosed this week. Deer, like horses, cannot transmit EEE to humans. However, they are an indication that infected mosquitoes are present in the area and people need to continue to take precautions.

All Rhode Islanders are urged to continue to #FightTheBite by taking mosquito-prevention measures until the first hard frost of the year (typically mid to late October in Rhode Island).

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Consumers Advised to Avoid Carancis Bread Products

2019-09-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public to not consume any products manufactured by Dupras Baking Co. of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Dupras makes rolls and bread products and sells them under the brand name Carancis.

This advisory is being issued due to potential contamination of foods produced at Dupras' location. The problem was discovered on September 12, 2019 while RIDOH staff were performing an inspection. Evidence of rodents and insanitary conditions was observed. Consumers are asked to check their homes and dispose of any Carancis products made by Dupras.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

Mosquito Spraying Planned for a Second Night in Areas of Critical EEE Risk

2019-09-09

The dispersal of aerial mosquito treatments in four areas that state officials have determined to be at critical risk for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus will continue Monday night after a successful first phase of the spraying plan Sunday night.

On Sunday night and early Monday morning, spraying was done in all of West Warwick and parts of Coventry, Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich; as well as all of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and North Providence and parts of Providence, East Providence, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland. Spraying in northern Rhode Island (parts of Burrillville, North Smithfield, and Woonsocket) was not completed on Sunday night due to falling temperatures. (The effectiveness of spraying is limited when the temperature falls below 58 degrees.) Spraying in these northern areas, and parts of southern Rhode Island (parts of Westerly, Hopkinton, and Charlestown) is planned for tonight. Spraying will start at dusk tonight and will be completed by 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will provide more details on the timing when the flight plan is finalized. A link to a map with the areas that have been sprayed, and that will be sprayed, is below.

EEE is a rare, but serious illness that spreads when people are bitten by infected mosquitoes. On August 30th the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state's first human case of EEE since 2010 in an individual in their 50s from West Warwick. At that time, it was announced that this individual was in critical condition. This individual passed away on September 8th. This was Rhode Island's first fatal human EEE case since 2007.

Two mosquito detections of EEE have occurred in Central Falls and two have occurred in Westerly. A horse was also diagnosed with EEE in Westerly. In addition, several EEE cases and positive mosquitoes have been detected in Connecticut and Massachusetts, some in areas that border Rhode Island. Generally, spraying in Rhode Island is occurring in four-mile radiuses around positive samples and cases.

The pesticide that is being applied, Anvil 10+10, is being used at very low concentrations. Spraying will not occur over fish hatcheries, certified organic farms, surface drinking water supplies, and other open water bodies and coastal areas. Massachusetts officials used the same product in recent aerial spraying in Bristol, Plymouth, Worcester, and other counties. Anvil is registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for this use.

The product being sprayed is being used at very low concentrations. No adverse health risks are expected with its use for mosquito control. Nonetheless, while spraying is occurring, it is best to err on the side of caution and limit time outdoors and keep windows closed. It is generally good for people to limit their exposure to pesticides. More information on health and spraying is available here. For FAQs on the impact of spraying on pets and livestock, click here.

Personal mosquito prevention measures remain everyone's first defense against mosquito-borne illnesses, such as EEE. All Rhode Islanders (both people who live in areas being sprayed, and people who live in areas not being sprayed) are urged to continue taking these measures until the first hard frost of the year (typically mid to late October in Rhode Island).

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Little Pond in Warwick

2019-09-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Little Pond (also known as Sandy Pond) in Warwick due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Little Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH Confirms First Human Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE); DEM Ramps up Mosquito Testing and Control Measures

2019-08-30

Today the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the state's first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a person over the age of 50 from West Warwick. This is the first human case of EEE in Rhode Island since 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which performs the EEE testing, notified RIDOH today of the positive result.

This announcement comes a day after the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issued an announcement about a horse in Westerly that had tested positive for the disease. Over the past few weeks, mosquitoes carrying the disease have been found in Westerly and Central Falls. This is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases in southeastern New England. Massachusetts has announced four human cases of EEE and seven cases in horses. Connecticut also has found EEE and West Nile Virus in mosquitoes and two cases in horses.

"In Rhode Island, we have confirmed EEE in both a horse and a human, which indicates that there is a high risk for transmission of disease to humans through mosquito bites," said Ana Novais, Deputy Director of RIDOH. "EEE is a rare, but very serious disease. We strongly recommend that people everywhere in Rhode Island protect themselves and their families by using insect repellent, minimizing outdoor exposure at dusk and dawn, and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors at those times. People must also reduce opportunities for mosquitoes to breed by eliminating standing water around their homes."

To respond to the elevated risk, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is adding traps to capture and test more mosquitoes statewide. Typically, DEM sets between 25 and 30 traps in Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Exeter, Warwick, Cranston, Johnston, Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, East Providence, Barrington, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, Portsmouth, and Newport. DEM will add traps in West Warwick and the northern Rhode Island communities of Burrillville, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, and Cumberland. This step will allow scientists from DEM and the University of Rhode Island to optimize other response measures, such as the aerial spraying of pesticide, to continually assess mosquito species, volume, and infection and, working with RIDOH, minimize the risk of further human disease.

The state will target eliminating both mosquito larvae - small organisms just hatched from eggs living in freshwater bodies - and adult biting mosquitoes. Larvicide is a targeted approach to killing the larvae before they mature. It often consists of applying a naturally occurring bacteria in solid granule form from a helicopter onto mosquito breeding grounds such as swamps. For example, because of Chapman Swamp's history as a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry EEE, the Town of Westerly has applied a larvicide called Bti in the swamp since 1997. It is an environmentally friendly product and does not pose a risk to human health.

The state is taking all necessary preparations for conducting aerial spraying to kill adult biting mosquitoes. RIDOH and DEM are actively evaluating options and will continue to provide updates. The state will release a spraying schedule before any spraying occurs.

Previous recommendations from RIDOH are still in effect. On Monday of this week, RIDOH recommended to schools and municipal leaders that games, practices, and other outdoor activities scheduled to occur during early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated to an indoor venue. The "smart scheduling" of events is intended to help minimize the risk of mosquito bites for players, coaches, and spectators. RIDOH recommends that smart scheduling stay in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends in mid-October (after the first hard frost).

In addition to following this smart scheduling recommendation, there are other measures that Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

Protect yourself

• Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

• At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

• Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

• Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

• Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

• Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

• Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly.

• Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

• Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

• Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Best practices for horse owners

Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:

• Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect.

• Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk, or during the night when mosquitoes are most active.

• Insect-proof facilities where possible and use approved repellents frequently.

• Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated, you should consult with your veterinarian.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

Consumers Advised to Avoid Unsealed Food from We Share Hope

2019-08-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to avoid eating food products that are not commercially sealed from We Share Hope of Warren and East Providence, RI because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Various food products were distributed to soup kitchens and food pantries in Rhode Island and possibly other states or may have been purchased at the We Share Hope facility at 624 Main Street, Warren. No one should purchase or obtain food from the Warren or East Providence facilities until further notice. These products were distributed from a facility that previously had environmental samples that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. At this time, there have not been any reports of illnesses associated with these products.

When consumed in food, Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who have purchased or received any products that were not commercially sealed from We Share Hope are urged to properly dispose of them, and to thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize any surfaces that may have come into contact with these products.

Listeria monocytogenes can spread from one surface to another. Thoroughly wash food preparation surfaces by scrubbing with warm, soapy water. Rinse off soapy water and sanitize all surfaces. You can make your own sanitizer by combining 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach to one 1 quart of water, flooding the surface and letting it stand for 10 minutes. Then rinse with clean water. Let surfaces air dry or pat them dry with fresh paper towels.

RIDOH Recommends 'Smart Scheduling' For Outdoor Activities

2019-08-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommended to schools and municipal leaders today that games, practices, and other outdoor activities scheduled to occur during early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated to an indoor venue. The 'smart scheduling' of events is intended to help minimize the risk of mosquito bites for players, coaches, and spectators.

This year in Rhode Island there have been two findings of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were trapped in Central Falls. There have been no findings of West Nile Virus (WNV) in mosquito samples in Rhode Island this year. People can get EEE virus or WNV when they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and at dusk.

This is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases in southeastern New England. There have been a number of positive EEE and WNV mosquito pools in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts has announced four human cases of EEE, including one death. There have been multiple findings of both EEE and WNV in mosquitoes from eastern Connecticut.

EEE is a rare, but serious disease. In some cases, it can lead to swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Cases of EEE that do not involve encephalitis can result in symptoms including chills, fever, and malaise. WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. Most people with WNV do not have any symptoms. However, in some instances it can lead to conditions affecting the central nervous system.

RIDOH recommends that smart scheduling stay in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends mid-October (after the first hard frost).

There are other measures that all Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

Protect yourself

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

- Clean your gutters and down spouts so that they can drain properly.

- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management also remind Rhode Islanders to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when traveling to Zika-affected countries. Pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant should not travel to countries with active transmission of Zika.

CDC and FDA Investigating Cluster of Pulmonary Illnesses and E-cigarette Use

2019-08-26

August 26, 2019--The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a cluster of pulmonary illnesses possibly related to e-cigarette use, or "vaping."

From June 28, 2019 to August 22, 2019, 193 possible cases have been reported in 22 states, including Connecticut. One adult death has been reported. No cases have been reported in Rhode Island. Most illness reports have been for adolescents and young adults.

In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases involved mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea and fatigue as well. Many patients have reported vaping cannabis products, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) oils. THC and CBD are found in marijuana.

Rhode Islanders who experience difficulty breathing or chest pain should seek immediate medical attention.

"There are still some unknowns when it comes to e-cigarettes, but one thing is very clear: e-cigarettes are not safe, particularly for young people and for pregnant women," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "In addition to being unhealthy, teenagers often transition from using e-cigarettes to traditional, lit cigarettes-the deadliest of all tobacco products. Free resources are available for Rhode Islanders of any age who are looking for help quitting e-cigarette use."

If you are using e-cigarettes and are looking for help quitting, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free resources. Additionally, parents should talk to their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. The Office of the Surgeon General has guidance online for parents.

Although Rhode Island has not had any reported cases, RIDOH has sent a communication to healthcare providers with an overview of the national situation, a description of symptoms, and instructions on how to report cases.

While some cases are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the illnesses. Investigators have not identified any specific product or compound that is linked to all cases. The FDA is working with CDC and state health officials to gather information on any products or substances used.

Young people should not use vaping or e-cigarette products of any kind. The long-term health impacts for children and teenagers using these products are unknown. Patients with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems should seek medical care.

* This press release was originally published August 26, 2019. The resource links listed below were updated on September 12, 2019.

Rhode Island Seeing Increase in Non-Fatal Overdoses

2019-08-21

In light of recent increases in opioid overdose-related emergency department visits, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is cautioning all Rhode Islanders that law enforcement is reporting an increase in the circulation of counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl.

Hospitals in Rhode Island are required to report all suspected, non-fatal opioid overdoses within 48 hours to RIDOH. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) review weekly opioid overdose data and issue a warning to first responders and city and town leadership in a region if that region's weekly overdose threshold has been exceeded. (Weekly thresholds are based on historic overdose data and population data.) Rhode Island's threshold as a whole is 42 overdoses per week.

Between August 12th and August 18th, there were 44 reports of suspected, non-fatal opioid overdoses in Rhode Island. The statewide average for opioid overdose-related emergency department visits for the first six months of 2019 has been 31 per week. Of the 44, there were 18 opioid overdoses in Providence, where the overdose threshold is 16. There were eight reported opioid overdoses in the region that includes Cranston, West Warwick, and Coventry. The threshold for this region is eight overdoses.

While RIDOH has noted these increases, Rhode Island law enforcement agencies have reported an increase in the circulation of counterfeit pills in the illegal drug market. These counterfeit pills are sold illegally and look identical to opioid prescription pain medications (such as Percocet®, OxyContin®, and Vicodin®), and may contain lethal amounts of illegally-made fentanyl. Twenty-one of the 44 people who overdosed received initial toxicology screenings. Of those 21 people, 19 were positive for fentanyl.

"There is no such thing as a clean drug. When you use an illegal drug, you never know what substance or substances you are putting into your body. One pill can kill," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "If you think someone is overdosing, no matter what drug you believe they took, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Rhode Island's Good Samaritan Law protects people who call to get help for someone they think is overdosing."

People who use drugs should:

- Reach out and get help. Treatment and recovery support services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and Spanish through BH Link. To get help for yourself or a loved one, call the BH Link Crisis Hotline at 401-414-LINK (5465), or go to the BH Link Walk-In Center located at 975 Waterman Avenue, East Providence.

- Carry the overdose reversal medicine naloxone. Naloxone is available at every Rhode Island pharmacy, and it is as easy to administer as a nasal spray.

- Never use drugs alone.

In 2018, 72% of all Rhode Island drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl. Fentanyl is colorless and odorless. You cannot tell if pills or other forms of drugs contain illegally-made fentanyl by looking at them or tasting them. Illegally-made fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

Grained Salmon Caviar Recalled

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Awers is recalling Grained Salmon Caviar 95g (Sockeye Salmon Caviar) with "BEST BEFORE OCT 07 2020" because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention. Grained Salmon Caviar 95g was distributed in California, New York, Oregon, Washington and product may have further distributed to other states and Canada.

Product is packed in a metal tin with Cyrillic lettering. The tin is green, with red and white writing with an easy open pull lid. The "BEST BEFORE OCT 07 2020" is printed on the bottom on the tin. No illnesses have been reported to date.

The product was reviewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and sent to a lab for testing. The analysis showed a lower than normal salt content, which can foster an anaerobic environment which is necessary to breed the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. No Clostridium botulinum bacteria was detected in product.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Carbuncle Pond in Coventry and Additional Bodies of Water

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advise people to avoid contact with Carbuncle Pond in Coventry because of potential risks from blue-green algae. The advisories that RIDOH and DEM have issued for several other bodies of water in Rhode Island are still in place. These bodies of water are:

- Almy Pond in Newport

- Sisson Pond in Portsmouth

- JL Curran Reservoir in Cranston

- Mashapaug Pond in Providence

- Melville Ponds in Portsmouth

- Polo Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Japanese Gardens in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Pleasure Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

- Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

With the exception of Deep Spring Lake, the ponds in Roger Williams Park are all interconnected. Visitors should remain alert for potential bloom conditions in any area of the park.

Samples collected from Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield indicate that blue-green algae are currently at low levels, but the public is advised that conditions may change quickly and that waters that are cloudy, green or with surface scums should be avoided.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended. Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted. It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Central Beach Fire District Customers

2019-08-16

The Central Beach Fire District in Charlestown has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The water system serves approximately 166 homes.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously, for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See link below.)

Central Beach Fire District collected a sample from Well #2 on 8/15/2019 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. In addition, several samples collected in the distribution system were positive for total coliform bacteria (an indicator that disease-causing organisms such as E. coli could be present) on 8/13/2019 and 8/15/2019. Well #2 has been turned off until it can be inspected and disinfected and bacteria samples come back absent. Well #1, which is absent of E. coli bacteria but contains total coliform bacteria, will supply the water system. Residents should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil water advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

- Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally

- Blood in the stool

- Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)

- Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

- Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Vincent Reppucci at 646-355-8880.

Health Advisory for Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews

2019-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public to not feed Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews packed for BJ's Wholesale Club with lot codes G1 0319 and G1 3548 to their pets.

This advisory is being issued due to the potential presence of Salmonella, which was discovered during sampling of these products at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. This advisory is limited to these specific lot codes. Consumers who have purchased these products should dispose of them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are now advising people to not buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets as a result of an ongoing multistate Salmonella outbreak. People can get sick after handling the treats or caring for dogs who ate the treats. Dogs might get sick after eating them. For more information about Salmonella infections linked to contact with pig ear dog treats is available online (link below).

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. If you have symptoms of a Salmonella infection talk to your healthcare provider.

Product Information

Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews, 30 ears

- Package Lot Number - G1 3548

- Best If Used By Date - December 2021

Berkley Jensen Pig Ears Dog Chews, 30 ears

- Package Lot Number - G1 0319

- Best If Used By Date - January 2022

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Roger Williams Park Ponds and Additional Bodies of Water

2019-08-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advise people to avoid contact with Polo Lake and the Japanese Gardens in Roger Williams Park in Providence because of potential risks from blue-green algae. Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield and Carbuncle Pond in Coventry are currently being investigated for potential blue-green algae blooms The ponds are not under advisories at this time, but the public is asked to avoid any waters that are cloudy and green, or that have surface scum.

The advisories that RIDOH and DEM have issued for several other bodies of water in Rhode Island is still in place. These bodies of water are:

• Almy Pond in Newport

• Sisson Pond in Portsmouth

• JL Curran Reservoir in Cranston

• Mashapaug Pond in Providence

• Melville Ponds in Portsmouth

• Pleasure Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

• Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

• Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence

With the exception of Deep Spring Lake, the ponds in Roger Williams Park are all interconnected. Any area of the park's waters could develop a bloom, and visitors should avoid any areas that are green and discolored.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended. Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted. It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

Consumers Warned to Not Drink Miracle or Master Mineral Solution Products

2019-08-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that they should not drink products marketed as Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, or other sodium chlorite products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received many reports that these products, sold online as "treatments," have made consumers sick.

The FDA first warned consumers about the products in 2010. However, they are still being promoted on social media and sold online by many independent distributors. In addition to Miracle and Master Mineral Solution, other product names are Miracle Mineral Supplement; MMS; Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol; and Water Purification Solution (WPS). When mixed according to package directions, they become a strong chemical that is used as bleach.

Some distributors are making false-and dangerous-claims that Miracle Mineral Supplement mixed with citric acid is an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial liquid that is a remedy for autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, flu, and other conditions. There is no research showing that these products are safe or effective for treating any illness.

Websites selling Miracle Mineral Solution describe the product as a liquid that is 28 percent sodium chlorite in distilled water. Product directions instruct people to mix the sodium chlorite solution with a citric acid, such as lemon or lime juice, or another acid before drinking. In many instances, the sodium chlorite is sold with a citric acid "activator." When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent. Both sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide are the active ingredients in disinfectants and have additional industrial uses. They are not meant to be swallowed by people.

The FDA has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products. In general, the more concentrated the product, the more severe the reactions.

If anyone has a negative reaction to one of these products, they should consult a healthcare professional immediately.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Seven Waterbodies, Including Three in Roger Williams Park due to Blue-green Algae

2019-08-09

The Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management advise people to avoid contact with seven waterbodies because of potential risks from blue-green algae. These include:

Almy Pond, Newport

Sisson Pond, Portsmouth

JL Curran Reservoir, Cranston

Mashapaug Pond. Providence

and the following lakes within Roger Williams Park in Providence:

Pleasure Lake

Roosevelt Lake

Elm Lake

Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Note that Sisson Pond is a drinking water source maintained by Newport Water. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended.

Newport Water may deliver treated drinking water from nine potential surface reservoirs or pond sources including: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Sisson Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Most algae blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

# # #

• For general health questions, contact the Health Information Line: 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711 or visit http://www.health.ri.gov

• View previous RIDOH press releases and announcements

• Like us on Facebook

• Follow us on Twitter - @RIHEALTH

• Order printed material

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Georgiaville Pond

2019-08-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisory was put in place because of high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae has been present but at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations.

Blue-green algae conditions can change quickly, and it is possible that blooms may affect Georgiaville Pond again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov

Lennox Recalling Pig Ears Dog Treats

2019-07-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Lennox is recalling its Natural Pig Ears dog treats because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products.

The recalled products affected where shipped to nationwide distributors and retail stores from November 1, 2018 to July 3, 2019. The product comes in an 8-pack branded pouch under UPC 742174 995163, 742174994166 or packaged individually shrink wrapped under UPC 0385384810, and 742174P35107. All UPC codes are located on the front label of the package. Individually shrink-wrapped packages may be labelled with "Lennox" or without brand information.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

To date, Lennox is aware of cases of human illness related to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak in which several people identified Lennox pig eat treats as the brand they purchased. Individually shrink-wrapped product tested by FDA tested positive for Salmonella. Lennox's pig ears are also sold bulk unwrapped.

Consumers who have purchased the product and have proper receipt may return product or contact 800-538-8980 Monday to Friday 9-5 PM or contact us at usaoffice@lennoxpets.com for refund and additional information.

RIDOH Advancing Viral Hepatitis Efforts

2019-07-26

As states across the country respond to hepatitis A outbreaks and steep increases in the number of new hepatitis C infections, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) continues to advance several strategies to prevent new cases and eliminate viral hepatitis in Rhode Island.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its ability to process nutrients, filter blood, and fight infections is decreased. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. Many people living with hepatitis B and C, which can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, and liver cancer, do not know they have it because often there are no symptoms. Hepatitis A does not cause chronic (ongoing) infection.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when people consume food or water that has been contaminated by the fecal matter of an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread when body fluids (such as semen or blood) from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enter the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection drug equipment.

"There are many factors in our communities that contribute significantly to viral hepatitis, including homelessness and unstable housing, lack of access to employment opportunities, and stigma and discrimination," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "To effectively address viral hepatitis, we need to get at these underlying determinants of health, and make sure that every community in Rhode Island is supporting health and wellness. Everyone in Rhode Island deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive."

With World Hepatitis Day approaching on July 28th, RIDOH has several initiatives in place to help prevent hepatitis transmission in Rhode Island. They include:

- Convening a Hepatitis A Task Force to implement a Statewide action plan to prevent an outbreak, given the hepatitis A outbreaks in other states (including Massachusetts). The work of the Task Force has included organizing 27 clinics this year, in partnership with the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps, to vaccinate people at high risk of contracting hepatitis A, such as people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. Approximately 850 people have been vaccinated at these clinics in 10 different municipalities (Providence, Cranston, Newport, Westerly, Woonsocket, Middletown, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Central Falls, and Richmond). Vaccination efforts will continue through August in additional cities and towns, including East Providence, West Warwick, Pawtucket, Bristol, and Warwick.

- Launching a multimedia campaign encouraging Baby Boomers to "Get Checked for Hep C." Most people in the United States who are living with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 and Baby Boomers have a 1 in 30 chance of infection.

- Providing brand new needles and other injecting equipment along with harm-reduction counseling for people who inject drugs, in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. This work is done in partnership with ENCORE, Rhode Island's needle-exchange program, which is administered by AIDS Care Ocean State.

- Supporting the Rhode Island Department of Corrections' work to enhance hepatitis C screening among inmates with a history of injection drug use at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). A $50,000 funding award from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is helping advance this work (in addition to other initiatives in Rhode Island).

- Revisiting the core components of Rhode Island's strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis C, given recent medical advances that have made elimination a viable goal for Rhode Island. The plan is a collaborative effort among RIDOH, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services' Medicaid Program, and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. One outcome of this work is that Rhode Island's Medicaid program now covers hepatitis C medication for all Rhode Island Medicaid beneficiaries living with the disease.

Since a new wave of hepatitis A outbreaks were identified in the United States in 2016, 25 states have reported a total of 22,295 cases; 13,184 hospitalizations; and 216 deaths. There have not been any outbreak-associated hepatitis A cases in Rhode Island. However, viral hepatitis remains a serious health concern here. In 2014, among Rhode Islanders, there were 102 known deaths associated with hepatitis C. This represents a five-fold increase when compared to the previous decade, and mirrors national trends. While Baby Boomers are particularly at risk for hepatitis C, the virus has also begun to affect younger Americans as the opioid crisis has worsened.

All Rhode Islanders are invited to support viral hepatitis elimination by attending a 'C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C' on Saturday, August 3rd. Festivities and performances will begin at 7 p.m. at WaterFire Basin. Free, rapid hepatitis C screening will be available. The event is being organized by RI Defeats Hep C, with support from RIDOH and other organizations.

More information about viral hepatitis, free hepatitis C community testing sites, and a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s viral hepatitis risk assessment may be found at health.ri.gov/hep and health.ri.gov/hepc.

RIDOH Urges Precautions to Prevent Heat-related Illness

2019-07-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) urges all Rhode Islanders to take certain precautions over the coming days to keep themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors safe during the extreme heat.

"Extreme heat can be a serious health concern for anyone. However, extreme heat can be particularly dangerous for younger children, older adults, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "With the temperatures that are forecast for the next few days, people should be checking on each other, staying well hydrated, limiting their exposure to the heat, and watching for signs of heat-related illness."

To protect yourself and your family from heat-related illness, take the following precautions:

- Drink more fluids than usual, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar.

- Check on friends and neighbors, particularly older adults and those who are caring for young children.

- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don't have air conditioning at home, see the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA)'s list of cooling centers (Link below).

- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat if you must be outside.

- Limit outdoor activities, especially at mid-day. If you exercise outdoors, move your workout to a morning or evening time.

- If you work outside, wear sunscreen, pace your activity, stay hydrated, and check on co-workers.

- Take cool showers or baths to cool down, particularly if you're unable to be in an air-conditioned location.

- Avoid turning on your oven, if possible. It will make your house hotter.

- Never leave young children or pets in parked cars, even with the windows down.

- If you have special healthcare needs, consider enrolling in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER). Enrolling in RISNER lets police, fire, and other first responders in your community better prepare for and respond to your needs during an emergency. When enrolling in the registry, a person provides information about their healthcare needs (for example, information about mobility issues, information about a visual or hearing impairment, information about the use of a life support system, such as a respirator). For more information or to enroll, visit health.ri.gov/emregistry or call 211/RI Relay 711.

About heat exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, or clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. Individuals who have symptoms of heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, loosen clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to help cool the body down. Seek medical attention if vomiting begins, or if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

About heat stroke:

Heat stroke symptoms include high body temperature (above 103 degrees F) combined with hot, red, dry, or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. 911 should be called immediately. Individuals experiencing heat stroke symptoms should also be moved to a cooler environment. Apply cool cloths or place the person into a cool bath to lower body temperature. Fans and ice packs can also be used to cool someone. Ice packs should be placed on the neck, under the armpit, or in the groin area (because these are the areas where large arteries are closest to the surface of the skin).

More information about heat stroke and heat exhaustion is available online, as are additional summer safety tips.

Bison Burgers and Ground Bison Recalled

2019-07-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Northfork Bison Distributions is recalling bison burgers and ground bison because they have the potential to be contaminated with E. coli: O121 and O103.

This form of E. coli may cause diarrheal illness. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious damage and even death. Illnesses have been reported in association with this recall.

Pictures of the labels are available online (see below).

The institutions that have bison burgers and ground bison in their inventories with production dates from February 22, 2019 to April 30, 2019 should contact their distributor for a full refund. For retail outlets, the bison burgers in question have an expiration date up to October 8th, 2020, and can be clearly identified by their blue boxes with the Northfork Bison logo. Consumers who have purchased these bison burgers are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Hummus Products Recalled Because of Listeria Concerns

2019-07-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Pita Pal Foods is recalling certain hummus products due to Listeria monocytogenes concerns.

The products were made between May 30, 2019 and June 25, 2019. They were sold under the brand names Bucee's, Fresh Thyme, Harris Teeter, Lantana, Lidl, Pita Pal, Reasor's, Roundy's, Schnucks, and 7-Select. A full product list with UPCs and Use By dates is available online (see below). These products were distributed nationwide.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. No illnesses have been reported to date for these products. The company is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

Consumers who have purchased recalled products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at products@pitapal.com.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2019-07-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from Georgiaville Pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with these ponds and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Rhode Islanders Urged to Take Precautions in Potter Pond

2019-07-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising members of the public to take precautions when in Potter Pond in South Kingstown after five people were treated in the emergency department over the past three days for jellyfish stings.

Patients' symptoms and their descriptions of the jellyfish suggest that they could have been stung by clinging jellyfish (Gonionemus vertens). This is a species that can have a very powerful sting.

People wading through the pond, especially near aquatic vegetation, should wear boots or waders, and protective clothing. Clinging jellyfish are not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas. They tend to attach themselves to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays, coastal ponds, and estuaries. These are not areas where people regularly swim.

Clinging jellyfish are difficult to spot in water. Adult clinging jellyfish are about the size of a dime and are marked with an orange-brown cross on their transparent bodies. They have sticky pads on their tentacles that allow them to cling to seagrasses and seaweeds.

Last year, RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) received reports about clinging jellyfish in Point Judith Pond in South Kingstown and the Narrow River in Narragansett. They also have been found on Long Island and throughout New Jersey.

People react differently to stings from clinging jellyfish. Symptoms range from no discomfort to severe pain, redness at the sting site, and respiratory and/or neurological problems. Symptoms last roughly three to five days. If someone is stung by a clinging jellyfish, they should:

- Put white vinegar on the sting site to stop any remaining stinging cells.

- Remove any remaining tentacles with fine tweezers. Be sure to wear gloves to prevent additional stings to your hands.

- Soak the skin in hot water (110° - 113°F) or take a hot shower for 20-45 minutes.

If symptoms do not go away or pain gets worse, contact a healthcare provider.

Pet Supplies Plus Recalling Pig Ear Products

2019-07-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising pet owners that Pet Supplies Plus is recalling bulk pig ear products due to the potential for Salmonella contamination. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

The bulk pig ears were distributed to locations in more than two dozens states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The bulk pig ears were stocked in open bins. Prepackaged branded pig ears are not included in this recall.

Symptoms of Salmonella include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that aging bulk pig ear products in a Pet Supplies Plus store tested positive for Salmonella.

Simmons Farm Recalling Certain Cheese Products

2019-07-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Simmons Organic Farm is recalling all flavors and sizes of Chevrie goat cheese and cow's milk cheddar dated on or after June 1, 2019 because of potentially improper pasteurization. Simmons Organic Farm is located in Middletown, Rhode Island.

All products were sold at the farm in Middletown, at the Hope Street Farmers Market in Provbidence, and at Aquidneck Growers Market. People who purchased these products are urged to discard them.

The issue was identified on July 2nd during a routine inspection.

At this time there have been no reports of illnesses.

Pasteurization of milk helps prevent foodborne illnesses, including tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, scarlet fever, and listeriosis. While most healthy people recover from foodborne illnesses in a short time, some people may develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life-threatening.

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include:

- vomiting

- diarrhea

- abdominal pain

- fever

- headache

- body aches

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Melville Pond

2019-07-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Melville Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Melville Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Growers Express Recalls Multiple Fresh Vegetable Products

2019-07-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Growers Express is recalling several select fresh vegetable products, including packaged varieties of butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, and a butternut squashed based veggie bowl. This recalling was issued because these products could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were distributed to numerous states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The product being recalled in Rhode Island is Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Spirals. A full list of the products being recalled by state is available online (see link below). Most of the affected products are labeled with a "Best If Used By" Date of June 26 - June 29, 2019.

There are no reported illnesses associated with this recall.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who purchased any of these products are urged not to consume them and to throw the products away.

Rhode Islanders Advised to Not Eat Papayas from Mexico

2019-06-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers to not eat any whole, fresh papayas from Mexico. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent out an alert with the same message for consumers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

This alert is connected to an investigation of on outbreak of Salmonella. Sixty-two people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Uganda have been reported from eight states, including one case in Rhode Island. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 14, 2019 to June 8, 2019. Most illnesses have occurred since April 2019. Twenty-three people have been hospitalized. No deaths attributed to Salmonella have been reported.

People should throw away papayas from Mexico, even if some of them were eaten and no one has gotten sick.

Additional guidance:

- Do not eat fruit salads or other mixes that include papayas from Mexico.

- If you aren't sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don't eat the papaya. Throw it out.

- Wash and sanitize places where papayas were stored: countertops and refrigerator drawers or shelves.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection:

- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

- The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

- In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.

- Children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Anyone who experiences the symptoms of Salmonella after eating papaya should contact their healthcare provider.

Cities and Towns Examine Local Overdose Prevention and Response Plans

2019-06-25

Municipal officials, first responders, and treatment and recovery specialists were among the more than 300 people from throughout the state who gathered today to learn from the overdose prevention and response work happening in Rhode Island's cities and towns.

Convened by Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the Community Overdose Engagement Summit: Bending the Curve, highlighted locally responsive overdose plans developed by 34 Rhode Island municipalities. The local plans align with the Task Force's overarching strategic plan. These local plans were developed by communities to respond to their specific resources, strengths, and challenges. They were supported by grant funding from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and were informed by community-level data compiled, analyzed, and shared by RIDOH.

"The overdose epidemic affects every community in our state, and it's critical that we focus prevention and recovery efforts both at the state and local level," said Governor Raimondo, who attended the event. "Some of the most effective strategies in this fight have come from the front lines-from first responders, harm reduction workers and behavioral health specialists in individual communities. My administration is committed to working with local leaders and experts to prevent overdoses and save lives in every city and town in Rhode Island."

The event was also attended by Tom Coderre, Senior Advisor to Governor Raimondo; Rebecca Boss, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH); and Ana Novais, the Deputy Director of RIDOH.

Examples of initiatives in cities' and towns' local overdose response plans include:

• Richmond's and Hopkinton's municipal officers partnered with the Rhode Island State Police on the Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) Initiative to learn techniques on post-overdose outreach.

• Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Little Compton's fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel trained in Mental Health First Aid with a Bradley Hospital staff member and implemented Safe Stations on Aquidneck Island. Safe Stations helps connect people in crisis to local treatment and recovery support services.

• Providence collaborated with the non-profit organization Project Weber/RENEW (http://www.weberrenew.org/) to conduct outreach in areas of the city where overdoses most commonly occur. Peer recovery specialists from Project Weber/RENEW distributed hundreds of safer drug use resources, such as sterile syringes and fentanyl test strips, to individuals at higher risk for overdose.

"The overdose crisis is a local crisis," said Michelle McKenzie, Director of Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention (PONI) at The Miriam Hospital. "Communities need data and support to implement programs we know can prevent overdoses and save lives in the neighborhoods we serve every day. That is what our Street Outreach and Safer Drug Use/Harm Reduction work in Providence is all about, and that is what the Community Overdose Engagement Summit is all about."

After seeing our number of drug overdose deaths increase for almost a decade, Rhode Island has started to make some progress. The state saw a 6.5% reduction in overdose deaths in the last two years (336 in 2016, versus 314 in 2018).

In addition to municipal officials, first responders, and treatment and recovery specialists, attendees included pharmacists, behavioral health counselors, family and youth substance use prevention organization members, and representatives from Rhode Island's Centers of Excellence, Health Equity Zones (HEZs), and Regional Prevention Coalitions.

Cities and towns first started working on local overdose prevention and response plans in 2017 at the first Community Overdose Engagement Summit. RIDOH made grant funding of up to $5,000 available to the 25 municipalities that started creating plans at that time. Those municipalities were: Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, East Providence, Exeter, Hopkinton, Little Compton, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Westerly, and Woonsocket.

The nine additional cities and towns that have since developed local overdose plans are Cranston, East Greenwich, Glocester, Johnston, Lincoln, Middletown, New Shoreham, North Providence, and Smithfield.

Additionally, 20 cities and towns from the first cohort applied for and received additional funding from RIDOH to further focus on one of their main initiatives.

A video that highlights the innovative work of five Rhode Island municipalities that developed comprehensive overdose response plans is available online. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jMtLUTBVgA&feature=youtu.be)

The data used to inform the local overdose prevention and response plans were compiled and analyzed by RIDOH using reports from emergency departments and hospitals in Rhode Island. Emergency departments are required to report suspected opioid overdoses to RIDOH within 48 hours. RIDOH, BHDDH, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center use these weekly data to monitor increases in opioid overdose activity. (The Rhode Island Fusion Center is a law enforcement partnership.) Alerts about increases in overdose activity within a seven-day period are sent to local leaders, first responders, treatment providers, and other community stakeholders.

RIDOH and DEM Remind Rhode Islanders About Algae Blooms

2019-06-21

With the weather turning warmer and recreational activities on Rhode Island's lakes, ponds, and rivers increasing, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding everyone to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms on these bodies of water.

Harmful algae blooms caused by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are characterized by shades of bright to dark green and may have dense, floating algal mats on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Increased temperatures, slow moving water, and excessive amounts of nutrients cause the cyanobacteria to grow quickly and can create colonies of growth called a bloom. Harmful algae blooms are capable of producing toxins, which have the potential to negatively impact humans and animals.

During a harmful algae bloom, all recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from affected bodies of water. Pets should not be allowed to drink or swim in this water.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing blue-green algae include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. If you come into contact with water affected by a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water.

People who have had contact with water with algae blooms and who experience the symptoms described above should contact a healthcare provider and call RIDOH at 401-222-7727 to report illness associated with a blue-green algae bloom.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

UNFI Recalling Woodstock Frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers

2019-06-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that UNFI is recalling its 10-ounce packages of Woodstock frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The product comes in a 10-ounce plastic package marked with a UPC code 4256301714, lot #60B, and a best by date of April 2020 stamped on the back of the package.

This lot of frozen red peppers is being recalled after routine surveillance sampling at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories found that a sample of this product was positive for Listeria monocytogenes. At this time, there have not been any reports of illnesses associated with this recall.

When consumed in food, Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers who have purchased 10-ounce packages of Woodstock frozen Organic Grilled Red Peppers with the indicated lot code above, are urged to dispose of the product properly and to contact the company at ResponseTeam@bluemarblebrands.com with any questions.

RIDOH Helps Prepare Long-Term Care Facilities with Evacuation Exercise

2019-06-19

To help nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other long-term care facilities prepare for and respond to a natural disaster, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island (HCRI) conducted evacuation exercises at facilities throughout the state yesterday and today.

At 113 facilities and communities, residents or volunteers playing the parts of residents had their personal items and medications packed and were moved to holding areas where they waited to be transported to receiving facilities. Although rare, the evacuation of a healthcare facility is a complex event requiring significant coordination within the municipality and the State. The exercise involved staff from the nursing homes and assisted living communities, local police and fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, emergency management agencies, RIDOH, and HCRI.

"Preparedness is a core function of public health," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "We have carefully studied previous evacuations, such as one related to the Aquidneck Island gas outage earlier this year, and are incorporating lessons learned. Our aim is to help facilities and the State as a whole be as prepared as possible to support residents, patients, and employees in advance of our next emergency."

Annual evacuation exercises are designed to test the Rhode Island Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan, which helps nursing homes and assisted living communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Initiated in 2013 following Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, Rhode Island's Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan provides a network of support for nursing homes and assisted living communities that allows them to efficiently share resources and receive displaced residents following a facility's or community's evacuation.

Within the past year, the Rhode Island Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan has been used to support an assisted living community evacuation due to loss of air conditioning during a heatwave, a partial nursing home evacuation due to a burst pipe, and the nursing home and assisted living community evacuation from St. Clare Home-Newport during the Aquidneck Island gas outage in January.

"We recognized that the training and exercises that we conducted as part of the Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan were so important when we had to evacuate our facility," said Mary Beth Daignault, the Administrator at St. Clare Home-Newport. "The staff had the opportunity to fill out the forms and practice the processes just months before we had to perform them in a real-world event. This week's exercise reinforced the lessons we learned and will help us continue to grow and improve."

The Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island is a forum for healthcare organizations, public health, EMS, and emergency management agencies to develop a networked plan for interaction and collaboration in disaster-related planning, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts that address Rhode Island's healthcare system. Previous years' exercises have focused on one or two nursing homes and assisted living communities evacuating, while the other facilities and communities accepted their residents. In 2018, the scenario was designed so that each facility and community had the opportunity to test its procedures for evacuation, instead of receipt of residents. Based on the lessons learned from the real-world evacuations, the exercises conducted this week once again forced the evacuation of each facility and community to allow them to build on lessons learned from the 2018 exercises and to emphasize the processes that needed more attention during the real-world evacuations.

RIDOH, the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island, and RPA (a Jensen-Hughes company that provides fire and emergency management consultation services) helped plan the exercise.

Pillsbury Bread Flour Being Recalled

2019-06-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that certain Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour products are being recalled due to a potential presence of pathogenic E. coli.

The following products are affected:

- UPC code - 0 5150020031 5; Lot code - 8 342; Use-by date - JUN 08 2020

- UPC code - 0 5150020031 5; Lot code - 8 343; Use-by date - JUN 09 2020

Approximately 4,620 cases of impacted Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour were distributed to a limited number of retailers and distributors across the following 10 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The severity of E. coli infections vary among people and often include several symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. People usually develop symptoms and get sick three to four days after ingesting the germ, and most recover within a week. In some cases, individuals may develop a serious illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly individuals, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to foodborne illness. If you feel ill or are at all concerned about an illness, please contact your physician.

People who have the affected product in their homes or businesses should not consume it. It should be discarded or returned to the retail location it was purchased from for a refund.

There have been no reports of illnesses associated with this product. Hometown Food Company has been informed by ADM Milling Co., that certain wheat used to make these two lots of Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour has been linked to E. coli illnesses associated with other flour products produced at the ADM mill in Buffalo.

Flour is made from wheat, which is a raw product that is minimally processed. Flour is not a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried and cooked recipes, and these heating processes, along with proper handling, ensure the safety of consuming flour. All surfaces and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should wash their hands after handling flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour.

King Arthur Flour Recalling Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2019-06-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that King Arthur Flour, Inc. is recalling 14,218 cases of 5 lb. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour due to the potential presence of Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli).

The recalled Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (5 lb.) was distributed through retailers and distributors nationwide. The products affected by this recall have the following "best used by" dates and lot codes:

BEST USED BY 12/07/19 LOT: L18A07C

BEST USED BY 12/08/19 LOTS: L18A08A, L18A08B

BEST USED BY 12/14/19 LOTS: L18A14A, L18A14B, L18A14C

E. coli causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with King Arthur flour.

Consumers who have any of these affected products should not consume them and should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for credit or refund.

Consumer should remember that flour is not ready-to-eat, and anything made with flour must be baked before eating. Consumers are also reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Food Safety Precautions

2019-06-07

With the summer approaching, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to help keep themselves and their family members healthy and safe by taking certain precautions when storing and preparing food.

"Healthy eating is not only about choosing nutritious foods, but also about eating foods that are manufactured, stored, and prepared safely," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "It is going to be a beautiful weekend in Rhode Island. If your plans include barbecuing or sharing a meal with family and friends in any other way, there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe."

Rhode Islanders should remember to:

- Thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom and before any food preparation.

- Thoroughly cook meat, such as hamburgers and chicken. Do not wash poultry (just thoroughly cook it). Washing poultry tends to spread Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other dangerous bacteria.

- Not prepare food for others if you are sick with a gastrointestinal illness (sometimes called a "stomach bug").

- Not let food sit out at room temperature if it requires temperature control. Food that requires temperature control should be refrigerated as soon as possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have declared June 7th as World Food Safety Day. This is the first time this declaration has been made. Globally, an estimated 600 million people (almost 1 in 10 people in the world) fall ill after eating contaminated food every year and 420,000 people die every year because of contaminated food. Children younger than 5 years old carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden.

Whole Foods Market Recalling Basil and Tomato Pesto

2019-06-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Whole Foods Market stores in the northeast are recalling the retailer's specialty made in-house basil pesto and specialty made in-house sundried tomato pesto because the products may contain undeclared milk and tree nuts (walnuts and pine nuts). People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to these allergens run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The products were available in individual clear plastic containers and on antipasti bars with sell-by dates from June 7, 2019 - June 26, 2019. The specialty basil pesto was sold by the pound and can be identified by the PLU code beginning with 255926, and the specialty sundried tomato pesto was sold by the pound and can be identified by the PLU code beginning with 256009. Both sell-by dates and PLU codes are printed on the product scale labels. All affected products have been removed from store shelves. One allergic reaction has been reported to date. The issue was discovered after a customer alerted the store.

The pesto products were sold between May 17, 2019 and June 4, 2019 at 41 Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Customers who purchased this product at Whole Foods Market can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, or 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

ADM Milling Co. and ALDI Recall All Purpose Flour from Northeastern US: RIDOH Contributes to Multi-State Investigation

2019-05-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that ADM Milling Co. and ALDI have recalled five-pound bags of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour sold at retail locations in the northeastern United States because it may be contaminated with E. coli.

This is an update to a previous press announcement made by RIDOH. On May 22nd, RIDOH advised people to not eat flour from five-pound bags of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour with lot code L18A02B and a "best if used by" date of December 02, 2019. This product was sourced from an ADM Milling Co. production facility in Buffalo, N.Y. and was distributed to select ALDI stores in 11 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. The Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour affected by the ADM Milling Co. recall is sold in a 5 lb. bag with the following UPC code: 041498130404. Out of an abundance of caution, ALDI has recalled all "best if used by" dates and all lots of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour products produced by ADM Milling Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. from store shelves in these states. People are now advised to not consume this flour.

This advisory has been expanded because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections likely linked to flour. Seventeen cases have been reported in eight states, including one case in Rhode Island.

Investigators with RIDOH's Center for Food Protection collected records and flour samples at a bakery where an ill person reported eating raw dough. Records indicated that the bakery used Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour from ALDI. The outbreak strain was isolated at the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from an unopened bag of Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour collected at the bakery. Whole genome sequencing results showed that the E. coli strain identified in the Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour sample was closely related genetically to the E. coli strain identified in ill people in several states. The food source of the E.coli strain cultured from the remaining cases remains under investigation.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week. However, some people may develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly people, individuals who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness. Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying, or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter. More information about the risks of consuming raw dough is online at https://www.cdc.gov/features/no-raw-dough/index.html.

Health Advisory About Baker's Corner Flour

2019-05-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising people to not consume flour from five-pound bags of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour packed for ALDI with lot code L18A02B and a "best if used by" date of December 02, 2019.

This advisory is being issued because of the potential presence of E. coli, which was discovered during testing of a five-pound bag of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. This advisory only affects this one lot code of Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Baker's Corner flour are not affected. Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product.

Product information:

- 5 lb. Baker's Corner All Purpose Flour

- Package Lot Number - L18A02B

- Best If Used By Date - 12/02/19

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week. However, some people may develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. Young children, elderly people, individuals who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness. Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying, or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.

Karawan Brand Tahini Recalled

2019-05-17

A recall has been issued for Karawan brand Tahini sold in 16-ounce jars and 39-pound buckets that were imported from Palestine between December 2018 and January 2019. These products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Karawan brand Tahini was directly distributed to New York and Texas. Distributors then shipped the product to Massachusetts and Virginia. Specific information on how to identify the product includes:

a. Name of product: Tahini

b. Brand name: Karawan Tahini

c. Unit size: Jar: 450g (15.87oz) and Buckets: 17kg (599.6 oz)

d. Storage conditions: No refrigeration storage needed.

e. Expiration Date (s): Two years from the production. The expiration date is located on the lid of the containers.

Four illnesses have been reported to date.

This recall has been initiated due to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene laboratory results from two samples of Karawan brand tahini testing positive for Salmonella. Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC has ceased the importation and distribution of the product as FDA and Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

Consumers who have purchased Karawan brand tahini are urged to destroy it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC at 305-570-9050, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

RIDOH Announces New Health Equity Zones

2019-05-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that it is expanding support and funding to three new communities to establish Health Equity Zones. East Providence, Cranston, and Providence's West End neighborhood were chosen through a competitive process that drew nearly 20 applicants from communities across the State. These new communities will share approximately $1.4 million in funding with seven existing Health Equity Zones receiving support to continue their work in local communities.

RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 80% of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

"We are thrilled to expand our Health Equity Zones initiative to additional Rhode Island communities," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "With plans for strong mentorship from existing Health Equity Zones, these communities are taking the forces that shape their health and well-being into their own hands. I can't wait to see what they accomplish over the next few years as we continue to lift up this initiative as a national model of how such an infrastructure led by community members can create the conditions needed for every person to thrive."

Each successful application was submitted by a municipal or nonprofit, community-based organization that will serve as the "backbone agency" for the local Health Equity Zone. These agencies, which include East Bay Community Action Program, Comprehensive Community Action Plan, and West Elmwood Housing Corporation, will facilitate a community-led process to organize a collaborative of community partners, conduct a needs assessment, and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the obstacles to health and well-being in local neighborhoods. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure that communities ground their work in public health principles and best practices, so that measurable outcomes are reached and evaluated.

Existing Health Equity Zone Collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, educators, business leaders, health professionals, transportation experts, and people in many other fields who are coming together to address the most pressing health concerns in their neighborhoods.

The initial year-long contract period will begin in approximately July 2019 and may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods based on HEZ performance outcomes evaluated and based on the availability of funds.

To learn more about how to partner with RIDOH to support the Health Equity Zone model in Rhode Island, write to: Ana.Novais@health.ri.gov.

Rhode Island Teens Kick Butts with Zombie Walk and State House Rally

2019-05-02

Dressed as zombies representing smokers risen from the dead, dozens of Rhode Island teenagers held a Kick Butts Day Zombie Walk at the Rhode Island State House today to warn the living about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use.

The event culminated with a rally where the teens called on leaders to resist tobacco and vaping industry practices that target youth, to raise the minimum legal age for all tobacco product sales to 21, and to support communities working to prevent tobacco-related disease and deaths. The teens were joined by Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Gustavo Torres from the national Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

"We're standing up to the vaping and tobacco industry to say 'raise the age or we'll rage!' to stop selling and pushing your unsafe e-cigarettes and vaping devices to kids and teens," said Thyandra Martinez, a senior who attends West Warwick High School. "Big Tobacco is lining up teens as 'new customers' with candy-flavored e-cigarettes and vaping, even though nicotine can ruin our brains, our education, and our lives. Don't be fooled, underage teens! Vape is not the answer, smoking causes cancer!"

"E-cigarettes are highly addictive and they are very dangerous, especially for young people," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "I commend every one of these teenagers for stepping up and fighting back. We need to follow their lead and do everything we can to prevent youth tobacco and e-cigarette use, with a focus on the vulnerable communities where companies continue to push their shameless marketing tactics most aggressively. Every person in every community in Rhode Island deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy, without marketing harmfully targeting their community."

In Rhode Island, 20% of high school teens reported current use of e-cigarettes in 2017 according to the State's Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) facilitated by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

The human brain continues forming important connections until roughly 26 years of age. Nicotine exposure for kids, teens, and young adults can "prime" the brain for addictions to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, stunt brain growth, and cause problems with learning, memory, mood, impulse control, and decision-making, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. The FDA recently began to investigate links between e-cigarette use and seizures after receiving reports involving primarily teens and young adults.

Despite state and federal laws that prohibit sales to people younger than 18 years of age, tobacco addiction is primarily established during adolescence, followed by early adulthood. Ninety percent of adult smokers first light up as a kid or teen, and less than 1% begin smoking after age 26.

An estimated 16,000 more teenagers alive today in Rhode Island will one day die from smoking-related illnesses. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature death in the United States and Rhode Island. Over the last three years, 12 states have passed tobacco-to-21 laws to address this issue, including Massachusetts and Maine.

"For decades, Big Tobacco has skirted laws and carved out loopholes to market and sell to young people because they understand the science of how teen brains grow and how lifelong customers first get addicted to nicotine," said Gustavo Torrez of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "Not surprising, the cigarette and e-cigarette industries in recent years have joined forces, and we now see that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke deadly lit cigarettes. More can be done to protect youth from the growing predatory tobacco industries, and that's why we're seeing many more states and cities raising the tobacco sale age to 21 and banning kid-friendly, candy-like flavored tobacco products."

Kick Butts Day activities are held nationally and are sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to showcase teen creativity that demonstrates how tobacco and nicotine use can quickly addict young people, harm brain development, cause chronic disease, disfigure, and kill.

Teens also took to social media to get their messages out more widely, using hashtags #iKickButts, #RIEndGame, and #BeTheFirst. Four teen groups also continued to share the home-grown videos they had produced for a Tobacco Free Teen Alliance PSA Challenge. The PSA challenge winners were: Best Overall Winner - West Warwick Public Schools STAAND Chapter; Fan Favorite Winner - East Bay Regional Coalition; and Runners Up - AS220-Providence and Blackstone Valley Region-Central Falls.

Free support is available to quit smoking. The Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline provides counseling by phone, nicotine replacement products, online and digital support tools, local referrals, and more. In addition to adult smokers, teens who use e-cigarettes or nicotine in any form may also call the Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline for free age-appropriate quit counseling and other support. All services are supported by RIDOH. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669).

The Rhode Island "Kick Butts Day Zombie Walk" was sponsored by the RIDOH Tobacco Control Program, Office of Rural Health, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, in partnership with Tobacco Free Teen Alliance from the following communities: Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, East Providence, Providence (AS220), West Warwick, Warren, Woonsocket, and more.

Flu No Longer Widespread in Rhode Island

2019-04-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has alerted healthcare providers that the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, which means that healthcare workers who have not been immunized against the flu are no longer required to wear surgical masks during direct patient contact.

The flu had been declared widespread in Rhode Island on January 2, 2019. 'Widespread' is the highest tier in the five-tier system that RIDOH uses to categorize flu activity in the state.

"Although the flu is no longer widespread in Rhode Island, it is still present in the state. Anyone who has not been vaccinated yet should be vaccinated as soon as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "When you get a flu shot, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also protecting the ones you love by preventing the spread of the flu. Year in and year out, flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu."

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone older than 6 months of age. It is especially important for healthcare workers, pregnant women, senior citizens, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma.

The flu spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another person. The flu may also spread when people touch something covered with infected droplets and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Beyond vaccination, there are other measures that Rhode Islanders should take prevent the spread of the flu. They include:

- Hand washing often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

- Coughing or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

RIDOH Launches New Opioid Public Awareness Campaign

2019-04-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today launched Over the Dose RI, a multi-channel education campaign designed to reduce the misuse and abuse of opioid pain medications by Rhode Islanders ages 18 to 50. The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of Governor Gina Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The campaign is closely aligned with the Task Force's Strategic Plan to reduce overdose deaths.

The campaign is adapted from Over the Dose VT, a successful, data-driven campaign developed by Rescue Agency Public Benefit for the Vermont Department of Health. Educational content features information on the risks of opioids, how they affect the body, and how they interact with substances like alcohol.

The campaign includes social and digital media as well as a website, OvertheDoseRI.org, which uses simple language to explain the science of opioid dependence, addiction, and withdrawal. An animated video Public Service Announcement (PSA) and educational modules motivate user-engagement by introducing interactive elements.

"Opioids are appropriate medication for some people in certain situations. But for most people, non-opioid pain management alternatives are much safer and are just as effective," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Our aim is to empower people to be informed participants in the decision-making process about how to manage their pain, and how to heal as safely as possible."

Non-opioid pain management alternatives include (but are not limited to) chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Formative research conducted for Over the Dose VT and Rescue Agency revealed that high-risk young adults ages 18 to 25 perceived opioids as carrying little to no risk for occasional, recreational use because they did not know what opioids are or how opioids could harm them. Research participants believed that overdoses only happen in extreme cases; some participants did not perceive the serious consequences of mixing opioids with other substances.

Over the Dose RI aims to expand this educational messaging to Rhode Islanders up to age 50. The paid social media and digital campaign uses interest-based targeting and dynamic content to capture a wide range of audiences.

The Over the Dose RI social and digital media campaign will continue through mid-June 2019. Ads will run on Facebook and Instagram, which have been selected for their reach to 18 to 50-year-olds. The strategic social media campaign will direct people to OvertheDoseRI.org [health.us5.list-manage.com] and to resources on the State's overdose data dashboard and website, PreventOverdoseRI.org [health.us5.list-manage.com].

Rhode Islanders can call the 24/7 crisis hotline - 401-414-LINK (5465) - to learn more about statewide treatment and recovery support services for opioid use disorder. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are available to help answer questions and offer connection to local resources.

FDA Reports Some E-cigarette Users Are Having Seizures

2019-04-03

The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) has become aware that some people who use e-cigarettes have experienced seizures, with most reports involving young people.

The FDA and poison control centers receive voluntary adverse experience reports about tobacco products. After examining reports between 2010 and early 2019, the FDA determined that there were 35 reported cases of seizures mentioning use of e-cigarettes within that timeframe. Due to the voluntary nature of these case reports, there may be more instances of seizure in e-cigarette users than have been reported.

Seizures have been reported among first-time e-cigarette users and experienced users. In a few situations, e-cigarette users reported a prior history of seizure diagnosis. A few reported cases indicated seizures in association with use of other substances such as marijuana or amphetamines. Seizures have been reported as occurring after a few puffs or up to one day after use. Most of the self-reported data that the FDA has received does not contain any specific brand or sub-brand information about the e-cigarette.

The FDA is seeking more information about seizures following e-cigarette use to identify common risk factors and understand if any e-cigarette product attributes such as nicotine content or formulation may contribute to seizures. If you or someone you know experiences any unexpected health or safety issues with any tobacco product, please report it through the online Safety Reporting Portal.

Rhode Islanders should recognize the wide range of symptoms that may be associated with e-cigarette use. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known health effects. Nicotine is highly addictive, and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Additionally, nicotine is very dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies.

Parents, teachers, and other concerned adults should be aware that many youth are using e-cigarettes that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see. Youth and young adult users should also be aware that some e-cigarettes (also called vapes) can contain high levels of nicotine, even as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes. Teens who vape may end up addicted to nicotine faster than teens who smoke. Vapes may be used more frequently because they are easier to hide and may expose users to more nicotine. There are no safe tobacco products.

Seizures result from sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Though often associated with convulsions in which a person's entire body shakes uncontrollably, not all seizures show full-body shaking. Other possible signs of seizures include a lapse in awareness or consciousness, which may look like a person is staring blankly into space for a few seconds or suddenly stops moving. The person may or may not fall down. Most seizures end in a few seconds or minutes, and the person may seem fine, sleepy, confused or have a headache afterwards. If you think a person is having a seizure, call 911 and seek immediate medical help. For exposures with less serious visible effects or if you have questions, call poison control at 800-222-1222.

Teens, parents, and others who use e-cigarettes should ask their doctor or counselor about age-appropriate, safe, and effective treatment for nicotine addiction or call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). The Rhode Island Smoker's Helpline can provide free quit support from trained tobacco treatment specialists, guidance for parents, and referrals to local tobacco cessation services.

Media Advisory: Rhode Island's Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative Kicks Off Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Photo-documentary Event at the State House

2019-04-03

On Friday, April 5th at 3:00pm, the Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative will host a free event at the State House to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event will showcase Rhode Island native, Kate Ryan's Signed, X, a photographic documentary of the lives of survivors of sexual violence. Ryan, a New York City-based human rights journalist and photographer, will be featured as a discussion panelist alongside other survivors, advocates, and local artists.

Young adults, parents, and adults who work with young people are encouraged to attend and learn about the prevalence of sexual violence and intimate partner violence are in Rhode Island, and to make a personal connection by reading survivors' candid stories, which reveal the long-term and rippling impacts of sexual violence.

From depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to substance use disorders and other addictions, these are issues that all communities face. Attendees can expect to gain a deeper understanding of trauma, ways that they can more effectively support survivors, and how to prevent sexual violence. Survivors may also find it helpful to see that they are not alone in their healing from the trauma of sexual violence.

The event was organized by the RI Cross-Campus Learning Collaborative, a group of sexual violence prevention staff from 11 Rhode Island colleges, with support from Day One and the Rhode Island Department of Health. It is sponsored by The Deborah DeBare Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, administered by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and established by the Rhode Island General Assembly (R.I.G.L. § 12-29-12).

This event is free, open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. Please register at https://bit.ly/2K1vEgJ.

WHO

-State Representative Theresa Tanzi

-Kate Ryan, NYC-based human rights journalist and photographer, and creator of the Signed, X project

-Jane Johnson, co-owner of SurvivorsSpeakRI, a legislative advocacy and education organization

-Melina Freeman, leader of the RI Student Collaborative for Sexual Violence Prevention

-Somali DaSilva, domestic violence and housing advocate, Sojourner House

WHERE

Rhode Island State House

State Room

82 Smith St, Providence, Rhode Island

WHEN

April 5, 2019

3 p.m. (Panel to begin at 3:45 p.m.)

Additional resources for sexual violence:

Rhode Island Student Collaborative: https://riscinitiative.wixsite.com/risc

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/prevention.html

Rhode Island Department of Health: http://www.health.ri.gov/violence/about/sexual/

Day One: https://www.dayoneri.org

RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ricadv.org/

PFAS Sampling to Start on Select Water Systems in Rhode Island

2019-03-21

As a part of efforts to ensure the health and safety of Rhode Island's drinking water supply, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and researchers from Brown University will begin sampling at approximately 50 water systems throughout the state next week to collect data on a group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a variety of products and applications that are resistant to water, grease, or stains, including non-stick cookware, carpets, upholstered furniture, clothing, and food packaging. The majority of PFAS have been phased out in the United States because of concerns about health effects. Examples of facilities that have the potential to still contain these chemicals due to use or disposal include industrial factories, airports, firefighting facilities, and landfills.

"Sampling for PFAS is one of the many forms of rigorous, frequent testing that is done on Rhode Island's water supply," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Although exposure to PFAS from everyday consumer products is common, research suggests that prolonged exposure at high levels may be unhealthy for some people. This water sampling initiative will help us identify any sources of PFAS in Rhode Island and partner with water systems to ensure that customers are notified and treatment plans are put in place right away."

The sampling to start next week is a follow-up to previous rounds of sampling. Between 2013 and 2015, all public water systems in Rhode Island serving more than 10,000 people were tested for PFAS. In 2017, RIDOH and Brown sampled 41 smaller public water systems and licensed child care facilities near potential sources of PFAS after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the health advisory for these chemicals. These additional 50 systems are being tested to further assess the situation in Rhode Island and because new information is available about potential sources of PFAS. States throughout the country have done, and are doing, similar sampling. The data gathered will help state and local agencies (such as RIDOH, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and town planners) understand the occurrence of these chemicals in Rhode Island.

In previous rounds of sampling, one water system in Rhode Island exceeded the EPA health advisory level. (This water system - Oakland Association, located in a section of Burrillville - is in the process of connecting to a municipal water system.) PFAS was detected in 11 other public water systems, but at levels below the EPA's health advisory level.

The water sampling to start next week will take place through June for public wells and licensed child care facility wells located within a half mile of a fire station and for all schools that are stand-alone public water systems that have not yet been sampled. In addition, re-sampling will occur at water systems serving over 10,000 people.

Two specific types of PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA or PFOS, or a combination of PFOA and PFOS. Before 2016, the health advisory level had been 200 ppt for PFOA and 400 ppt for PFOS.

Researchers are still learning about the health effects of exposure to PFAS. However, the EPA's health advisory levels are developed to include a margin of protection to prevent exposure to water at levels that could be harmful to more vulnerable populations. Scientists believe that pregnant women and children could be more vulnerable to PFAS. Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS at levels higher than the health advisory level could result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants. Other potential health effects are cancer and damage to the liver, immune system, and thyroid.

With the support of federal resources, RIDOH is funding the sample analysis. Sampling will be conducted by researchers from the Brown University Superfund Research Program (more information at the link below) in collaboration with Texas Tech University and RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality. The samples will be tested by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. These Brown University staff and graduate students have been trained in the specific protocol for collecting the water samples.

Raw Turkey Products Recalled

2019-03-15

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Butterball, LLC is recalling 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

The prepacked raw ground turkey was produced on July 7, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC codes 22655-71555 or 22655-71557 represented on the label.

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71556 represented on the label.

- 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71546 represented on the label.

- 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC codes 22655-71547 or 22655-71561 represented on the label

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "Kroger GROUND TURKEY FRESH 85% LEAN - 15% FAT" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC code 111141097993 represented on the label.

- 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing "FOOD LION 15% fat ground turkey with natural flavorings" with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 3582609294 represented on the label.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. P-7345" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide.

Federal officials and officials in Wisconsin have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund illnesses involving five case patients from two states. Wisconsin collected three intact Butterball brand ground turkey samples from a residence where four of the case patients live. The case patients and ground turkey Salmonella Schwarzengrund isolates are closely related, genetically.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

These products could be frozen and in consumers' freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions should call (800) 288-8372.

Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose Flour Being Recalled

2019-03-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the Hometown Food Company is recalling two lot codes of its five-pound bags of Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose Flour because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Roughly 12,245 cases of impacted products were distributed through retailers and distributors nationwide. Only 'Best If Used By Dates' APR 19 2020 and APR 20 2020 are impacted. More details about the recalled products are available online [see link below]. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

There have been no reports of any illnesses associated with this recall.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Flour is made from wheat that is minimally processed. Flour should not be considered a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried, and cooked products, and these heating processes ensure the safety of flour with proper handling. All surfaces and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should wash their hands after handling flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. If you think you became sick from a food containing flour as an ingredient, call your healthcare provider.

New EMS Data Indicate Continued Need for Community Naloxone Use

2019-03-11

New Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) data indicate that more than a third of the opioid overdose calls to which Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded in Rhode Island in 2018 occurred in public places. Public health leaders are again urging all Rhode Islanders who are comfortable doing so to carry naloxone, the overdose reversal medication.

The data, published on March 1, 2019 in the Rhode Island Medical Journal, indicate that 34.2% of the opioid overdoses that EMS responded to in 2018 occurred in public places. That figure was 29.6% in 2016. Examples of public places include streets, parking lots, restaurants, stores, and beaches.

"Naloxone can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island, and it is as easy to use as nasal spray," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We are starting to make some progress in addressing the drug overdose crisis. However, as this report demonstrates, this is a changing epidemic. With so many overdoses happening in everyday places, and sometimes in plain sight, everyone can play a role in preventing overdoses and saving lives."

For the first 10 months of 2018, Rhode Island saw a 6.1% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths, compared to the first 10 months of 2017. A total of 324 Rhode Islanders died due to drug overdose in all of 2017. Rhode Island's 2018 overdose data should be finalized in the coming weeks, as toxicology results are still pending for many of the deaths that occurred in November and December.

"When someone overdoses on an opioid, they need help immediately. If naloxone is administered quickly, it can reverse the overdose effects, usually within minutes," said Jason Rhodes, MPA, AEMT-C, Chief of the Center for Emergency Medical Services at RIDOH. "By carrying naloxone and using it when it is needed, everyone has the ability to be a first responder and save a life."

A Good Samaritan law in Rhode Island protects people from legal liability if they are making a good faith effort to assist a person in a medical emergency, including a suspected overdose.

The lead authors of the study published in the Rhode Island Medical Journal were Leanne Lasher, MPH, the Program Manager of Opioid Overdose Surveillance at RIDOH; Jason Rhodes, MPA, AEMT-C, Chief of the Center for Emergency Medical Services at RIDOH; and Samara Viner-Brown, MS, Chief of the Center for Health Data Health Data and Analysis and Public Health Informatics at RIDOH.

Governor Gina Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force distributed more than 16,000 naloxone kits in 2018, more than double the number in 2017. The steps taken to expand naloxone availability throughout Rhode Island include:

- Partnering with outreach organizations and peer recovery specialists to get naloxone to people at highest risk. Examples of outreach organizations include The Providence Center's Anchor Recovery Mobile Outreach Recovery Efforts (MORE), Project Weber/RENEW, AIDS Care Ocean State's ENCORE Needle Exchange Program, and Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES).

- Implementing a new regulation that requires prescribers of controlled substances to co-prescribe naloxone to patients who are at a higher risk of overdose.

- Working with city and town law enforcement to make naloxone available to all officers.

- Funding (through an RIDOH mini-grant) the development of NaloxBoxes, a mountable container that includes naloxone and all the necessary life-saving supplies to reverse a suspected overdose. Rhode Islanders can go online to locate public NaloxBoxes (see link below).

Governor Raimondo's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force is co-chaired by Dr. Alexander-Scott, Director Rebecca Boss of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), and Tom Coderre, Senior Advisor to Governor Raimondo.

The data in the article were compiled as a result of updated regulations for EMS agencies that were enacted in January 2019. EMS professionals now must upload patient care reports from EMS incidents within two hours of completing a call. RIDOH is working to create a real-time automated overdose outbreak detection system with web-based dashboards and alerts.

The complete article, titled Identification and Description of Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose Using Rhode Island EMS Data, 2016-2018, is available online (see link below).

Thrive Market Recalling Nut Butters

2019-01-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Thrive Market is recalling all unexpired lots of the Thrive Market brand nut butters listed below due to the potential for contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

- Thrive Market Organic Creamy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Non-GMO Creamy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Crunchy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Non-GMO Crunchy Almond Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

- Thrive Market Sesame Tahini

- Thrive Market Creamy Cashew Butter

- Thrive Market Organic Coconut Butter

- Thrive Market Sunflower Butter

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in pregnant women, young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

These products were distributed nationwide through Thrive Market's ecommerce subscription service to its members, as well as other online retailers.

These products should be thrown away. Consumers with questions should write to help@thrivemarket.com

Rhode Islanders Urged to Seek Medical Care in the Most Appropriate Setting

2019-01-28

With Rhode Island seeing increases in cases of the flu and other seasonal viruses, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to seek medical care in settings where they will be most appropriately treated. People who do not need emergency care should avoid going to emergency departments.

Many illnesses and injuries do not require an emergency department visit, including routine cases of the flu in people who are not at risk of developing flu-related complications from underlying medical conditions. These cases of the flu are often more quickly (and just as effectively) treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility than in an emergency department. However, some people are more likely to get complications from the flu that should be treated in an emergency department. A list of those at high-risk of developing flu-related complications can be found on the website of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see link below). Emergency warning signs of flu sickness that indicate a need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. A full list of emergency warning signs of flu sickness in infants, children, and adults can be found on the CDC's website (see link below).

If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider can give you guidance about the next best step for you or your child, and most offices have physician on-call after hours. RIDOH has a list of primary care providers online (see link below).

"Emergency departments are perfect for emergency situations. If someone is experiencing a serious health issue, they should absolutely call 911 or go to an emergency department right away. However, emergency departments treat patients with the most serious health issues first, which means that people with less severe conditions may experience long waits," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Keep the phone number for your primary care provider handy and know where your nearest urgent care facility is. An urgent care facility, or other type of express care facility is often a more convenient, less expensive option."

RIDOH has information and lists online [health.us5.list-manage.com] for urgent care facilities, community health centers, and other express care facilities in the state.

Examples of health issues that are often better treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility include:

- Less severe cases of the flu

- Back pain

- Minor cuts

- Sore throats

- Low-grade fevers

- Most cases of norovirus

Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach illness that can cause people to have extreme vomiting or diarrhea for 24-28 hours. Norovirus is found in the stool and vomit of an infected person and can spread by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus; or if an infected person vomits in a public space.

Other steps that people should take to keep themselves healthy and safe from the flu, norovirus, and other viruses include:

- Get vaccinated against the flu. The flu is in Rhode Island every year through the end of the spring. By being vaccinated now, you can still get several months of protection.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.

- Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.

- After an episode of illness that involves vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or a solution made by adding 5-25 tablespoons of household bleach to one gallon of water.

- If you have norovirus, do not prepare food for other people until three days after your symptoms clear.

For more information, people can call 401-222-5960 or visit http://www.health.ri.gov

Baby Spinach Recall Affects Prepared Food Items from Whole Foods

2019-01-25

In response to a recall by Satur Farms, Whole Foods Market is recalling various prepared foods items containing baby spinach because of a potential contamination of Salmonella. The products being recalled in Rhode Island include:

- Chicken Florentine Panini

- Golden Beet & Tangerine Salad

- Locavore Cheese Steak Wrap

- Mediterranean Stuffed Salmon

- Quinoa with Dark Leafy Greens

- Roasted Vegetables Panini

- Salad Spring Berry Power

- Smoked Turkey with Apple & Cheddar Sandwich

- Spinach and Vegetable Quinoa Salad

- Spinach Ravioli Salad with Lemon, Tomato, and Parmesan

- Strawberry Balsamic Quinoa

- Tofu Shawarma Wrap

- Turkey Avocado Sandwich (Turkado Sandwich)

- Turkey with Spinach & Feta Sandwich

- Vegan Spinach Almond Ricotta Pizza

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Recalled products should be thrown away. Customers who purchased these products can bring a valid receipt into stores for a full refund. Consumers with additional questions can call 1-844-936-8255.

RIDOH Calls for Proposals to Build Healthy, Resilient Communities

2019-01-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is soliciting proposals from qualified municipalities and non-profit community-based organizations to expand its Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative to additional communities. RIDOH will distribute approximately $1.4 million through this funding opportunity. Existing Health Equity Zones, and new communities seeking to create Health Equity Zones, can both apply for funding.

RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to eighty percent of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

"Every Rhode Islander, in every ZIP code, should have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, in the healthiest community possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "A key feature of our Health Equity Zone initiative is that it puts the community's voice front and center, since residents understand the challenges facing their communities the best. Public health leaders across the country are highlighting Health Equity Zones as a national model and a novel approach to funding and delivering public health services by building leadership capacity and effective coordination of communities to sustain long-term system and policy improvements. We are thrilled to expand this opportunity to additional communities here in Rhode Island."

Rhode Island currently has nine Health Equity Zones in communities across the State. Existing Health Equity Zone Collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, business people, transportation and planning experts, youth-serving organizations, educators, health professionals, and people in many other fields who are coming together in their distinct communities to address the most pressing concerns in their neighborhoods.

"What makes our HEZ strong is that it's a collaborative effort with more than 40 agencies involved who provide insight and expertise - it's not one organization doing the work," says Linda Weisinger, Executive Director of Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCFD), a non-profit community development organization in the Pawtucket-Central Falls Health Equity Zone. "As a team, we are much stronger, more productive and work with each other to achieve concrete goals that work for our neighborhoods."

The Harvest Kitchen Cafe in Pawtucket serves as one example of this work in action. "The Harvest Kitchen Cafe has blossomed with the support of the HEZ," said Jen Stott, Harvest Kitchen Program Director. "Through PCFD we have the perfect location for our local foods Cafe and culinary job training program for youth, and the HEZ partnerships have provided resources for continued success. Our HEZ partner at Southside Community Land Trust is a source of fresh produce through their new local community gardens. Catering opportunities and collaborative learning opportunities for our trainees from supportive community partners like Agnes Little Elementary allow us to tap into programs like the Pawtucket Homework Diner. These collaborations allow Harvest Kitchen to operate successfully and create healthy food options in an area where there had been little choice. This important community hub would not have become this successful without the HEZ bringing together many partners to get it done."

Through a collaborative process, funded communities will conduct a needs assessment to build and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the factors that keep people in their neighborhoods from achieving their full potential. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure communities implement the HEZ model in line with core public health principles.

Letters of intent from communities seeking to create new Health Equity Zones are due by February 1, 2019. Full proposals from all applicants are due to the State by March 15, 2019. The initial contract period will begin in approximately July 2019 and continue for one year. Contracts may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods, similar to the previous four years, based on vendor performance and the availability of funds.

To learn more about RIDOH's Health Equity Zone initiative, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/hez [health.us5.list-manage.com].

General Mills Recalling Unbleached Flour

2019-01-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that General Mills is recalling five-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached Flour with a 'better if used by' date of April 20, 2020. The recall is being issued because of the potential presence of Salmonella which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product.

This voluntary recall includes the following code date:

Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose 5LB Flour

Package UPC: 000-16000-19610-0

Recalled Better if Used by Date: 20APR2020KC

Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product affected by this recall. Consumers who have had to discard products covered by this recall may contact General Mills Consumer Relations at 1-800-230-8103 or visit www.generalmills.com/flour [health.us5.list-manage.com].

This recall only affects this one date code of Gold Medal Unbleached Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are not affected by this recall.General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product.

Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration [health.us5.list-manage.com] (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. Salmonella is killed by heat through baking, frying, sauteing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

RXBAR Recalls Certain Varieties of Bars Due to a Potential Undeclared Peanut Allergen

2019-01-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that RXBAR is recalling certain varieties of bars because they may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have peanut allergies run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.

Varieties being recalled are:

- RXBAR: Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Sea Salt, Coconut Chocolate, Coffee Chocolate, Mango Pineapple, Maple Sea Salt, Mint Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Pumpkin Spice

- RXBAR Kids: Apple Cinnamon Raisin, Berry Blast, Chocolate Chip

UPC codes for all recalled products are available online (see link below). No other RXBAR flavors or RXBAR products are affected by the recall.

RXBAR identified the potential for peanut in two varieties - Chocolate Sea Salt and Coconut Chocolate - in December and initiated a recall of those varieties. The recall is being expanded out of an abundance of caution after recent consumer reports regarding allergic reactions to additional varieties.

People who have purchased affected product and who have peanut allergies should discard the product and contact their local retailer or RXBAR for replacement or a full refund. Consumers can contact the RXBAR consumer service team at info@rxbar.com or 1-312- 624-8200.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for the Village on Chopmist Hill in Glocester

2019-01-04

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Village on Chopmist Hill in Glocester has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online (see the link below).

RIDOH Cautions about Potential Risks of Traveling Abroad for Medical Care

2019-01-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Islanders to be mindful of the potential risks associated with traveling to another country for medical care.

Rhode Island hospitals have seen an increase in the number of Rhode Islanders who have traveled to other countries for medical procedures and returned with serious, antibiotic-resistant infections that require months to years of treatment. These infections have been associated with wounds that are painful, slow to heal, and often require draining. Such infections can also lead to permanent disfigurement.

Although people travel to many countries to receive medical care, several patients with recent complications had procedures done in the Dominican Republic. Common procedures associated with traveling for healthcare include breast augmentation, abdominoplasty (tummy tucks), liposuction, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose jobs), oral surgery, and heart procedures.

Some people opt to have procedures done abroad because they are less expensive in other parts of the world, or because they prefer to have procedures done in their home countries.

"There are talented doctors who provide quality care in every country. However, various factors can sometimes make traveling for a procedure risky," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "When it comes to procedures that are done for the sake of appearance, instead of to treat health needs, it's often not worth the risk. But if someone does need to have a procedure done in another country, they should first have a conversation with a local healthcare provider to understand the issues that could arise."

The challenges associated with medical tourism could include:

- Varied standards of care in different countries;

- Healthcare providers abroad not having your complete medical records;

- Medications being counterfeit or of poorer quality;

- Risk of blood clots related to flying after surgery;

- Varied standards regarding the sterility of equipment used for medical procedures;

- Antibiotic resistance, which is higher in many other countries; and

- Communication issues. (Receiving care at a facility where you do not speak the language fluently increases the chances that misunderstandings will arise about your care.)

Although the RIDOH discourages Rhode Islanders from traveling to other countries for elective medical procedures, people who are still considering getting medical procedures abroad should:

- Consult a local healthcare provider at least four to six weeks before the trip to discuss general information for healthy travel and to learn about specific risks related to the procedure.

- Ask a local healthcare provider to check the qualifications of the providers who will be doing the procedure and the credentials of the facility where the procedure will be done.

- Have a written agreement with the healthcare facility defining what treatments, supplies, and care are covered by the costs of the trip.

- Determine ahead of time how you will communicate with your doctor and other people who are caring for you (if you are not a native speaker).

- Bring copies of your medical records that include the lab and other studies done related to the condition for which you are obtaining care and any allergies you may have.

- Bring copies of all your prescriptions and a list of all the medicines you take, including their brand names, generic names, manufacturers, and dosages.

- Arrange for follow-up care with your local healthcare provider before you leave.

- Before planning vacation activities, such as sunbathing, drinking alcohol, swimming, or taking long tours, find out if those activities are permitted after surgery.

- Get copies of all your medical records before you return home.

More information is available online from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - see link below.

Flu Activity Prompts Healthcare Worker Masking Requirement, Health Department Reminds Rhode Islanders of the Best Settings for Care

2019-01-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that the flu is "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the State's requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals and many other types of healthcare facilities to wear masks during direct patient contact.

"The masking requirement helps protect healthcare workers from catching the flu, and helps protect patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccine is the single best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu. Getting vaccinated today will provide you with months of protection."

Unvaccinated healthcare workers must wear masks when involved in direct patient contact at the types of facilities listed below. Examples of direct patient contact are entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities. The requirement also applies to all licensed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) practitioners who have not been vaccinated against the flu.

RIDOH uses five tiers to categorize flu activity in Rhode Island: no activity, sporadic activity, local activity, regional activity, and widespread activity.

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which the masking regulation applies are:

- Adult day care programs

- Assisted living facilities

- CVS Minute Clinics

- Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers

- Free-standing emergency care facilities

- Home care providers

- Home nursing care providers

- Hospice providers

- Hospitals

- Kidney treatment centers

- Nursing facilities

- Organized ambulatory care facilities

- Physician ambulatory surgery centers

RIDOH is also reminding Rhode Islanders about seeking medical care in the appropriate setting. Many types of illnesses and injuries usually do not require an emergency department visit, including less severe cases of the flu. Going to an emergency department for a less severe case of the flu will likely result in a long wait because emergency departments prioritize more serious injuries and illnesses. Less severe cases of the flu are often more quickly treated by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility.

However, some cases of the flu should be treated in an emergency department. Emergency warning signs that indicate that someone with the flu does need to go to the emergency department include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest; and having flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. If someone is not sure if they need to go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider. A primary care provider will be able to provide guidance about the next best step. (Most offices have physicians on-call after hours.)

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. In addition to healthcare workers, vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, younger children, people over the age of 50, nursing home or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions (such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems). Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

2018 News

Jennie-O Recalling Raw Ground Turkey Products

2018-12-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales is recalling 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be contaminated with Salmonella. The raw ground turkey items were produced on October 22, 2018 and October 23, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 3-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 and 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with "Use or freeze by" dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 3-lb. packages of "Jennie-O Ground Turkey 85% LEAN | 15% FAT" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 2.5-lb. packages of "Jennie-O Ground Turkey 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
  • 3-lb. packages of "STATER BROS. 85% LEAN | 15% FAT ALL NATURAL Ground Turkey" with a "Use or freeze by" date of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. P-579" inside the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection or on the side of the tray. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Federal and state health officials have been conducting traceback activities for a sample of Jennie-O brand ground turkey in an intact, unopened package from a case-patient's home. The patient tested positive for Salmonella and the samples from the case-patient and from the ground turkey are closely related genetically.

This investigation is part of a larger effort related to an illness cluster involving 216 case-patients in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Patients have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different stores, handling raw turkey pet food and/or raw turkey, or working with live turkeys or living with someone who handled live turkeys.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their healthcare provider.

All consumers should safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume raw poultry product that has been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean? Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate? Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook? Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill? Refrigerate food promptly.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Hormel Consumer Engagement, at (800) 621-3505. Media with questions regarding the recall can contact Media Relations at, media@hormel.com or (507) 434 6352.

Del Monte Fiesta Corn Recalled

2018-12-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Del Monte Foods is recalling 64,242 cases of Fiesta Corn Seasoned with Red & Green Peppers due to under-processing. This under-processing could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens, which could lead to life-threatening illness.

The products subject to recall are 15.25-ounce (432g) cans with the UPC number 24000 02770 printed on the label. The product will also have one of the following "Best if Used By" dates stamped on the bottom of the can:

  • August 14, 2021
  • August 15, 2021
  • August 16, 2021
  • September 3, 2021
  • September 4, 2021
  • September 5, 2021
  • September 6, 2021
  • September 22, 2021
  • September 23, 2021

The product was distributed to multiple distributors and retail locations in 25 states, including Connecticut. No reports of illnesses have been associated with these products to date. No other production codes or products are affected by this recall.

If consumers have any product with the indicated UPC code and "Best if Used By" dates, they should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. Consumers with questions may contact the company by calling 1-800-779-7035.

RIDOH and RIDEM Lift Remaining Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2018-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are lifting the remaining blue-green algae advisories for bodies of water in Rhode Island. Recent visual surveys of locations under advisory found that there were no blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Advisories are lifted for the following bodies of water:

  • Little Compton: Watson Reservoir
  • Middletown: Gardiner Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond, Roger Williams Park (Japanese Gardens, Roosevelt Lake)
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds

These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining daylight, and they signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter/spring season. Seasonal monitoring for cyanobacteria in 2018 is finished, but the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Tris Pharma Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, Due to Potential Higher Concentrations of Ibuprofen

2018-12-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health is alerting consumers that Tris Pharma, Inc. has voluntarily recalled three lots of Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, to the retail level. The recalled lots of the product have been found to potentially have higher concentrations of ibuprofen.

Adverse effects that may be experienced are nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, or more rarely, diarrhea. Tinnitus, headache and gastrointestinal bleeding are also possible adverse effects. To date, Tris Pharma, Inc. has not received any reports of adverse events related to the lots of product that are the subject of this recall and there have been no reports of related illness in Rhode Island.

The product is used as a pain reliever/fever reducer and was packaged in 0.5 oz. bottles sold at Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, and Family Dollar Services, Inc. For a listing of the recalled lots and photos of the packaging, view the recall from Tris Pharma .

Wholesalers and retailers of the product should stop further distribution of the affected lots of Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP (NSAID) 50 mg per 1.25 mL, which are being recalled.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Tris Customer Service at 732-940-0358 (Monday through Friday, 8:00am ET- 5:00pm PT) or via email at Customer Service Email . Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this drug product.

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of the product lots subject to this recall may be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

Regular Mail or Fax: Download form www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Achdut Recalls Multiple Brands of Tahini

2018-11-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Achdut is recalling its Tahini products of all packages and sizes produced from April 7, 2018 to May 21, 2018 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recalled Tahini was distributed internationally in retail stores and through mail orders.

The tahini products are Tahini, Whole Tahini, Organic Tahini and Seasoned Tahini. Container sizes: 15oz, 16oz, 17.6oz, 635 oz (428g, 454g, 500g, 18Kg), with lot numbers 18-097 to 18-141 or with expiration dates April 7th to May 21st 2020. The brand names of the products are: Achdut, Baron's, S&F, Pepperwood, Soom and Achva.

Achdut is collaborating with health officials in connection with a positive finding of Salmonella in a US import sample of Achdut Tahini linked to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by FDA and public health officials. Consumers who purchased this product should discard it, or return it to the place of purchase.

Update from FDA on Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce

2018-11-28

Based on new information, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have narrowed their warning to consumers. (Initial warning issued November 20.)

Consumers, retailers, and restaurants should not serve romaine lettuce from the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. If the romaine lettuce is not labeled with a harvest growing region and harvest date, do not buy, serve, sell, or eat it. If you are unable to determine the source of your romaine lettuce, the product should be thrown away.

Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.

FDA recommends consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake

2018-11-28

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for tMr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake in Chepachet (Glocester) has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for The Village on Chopmist Hill

2018-11-26

The Village on Chopmist Hill, located at 40 Hemlock Drive in Glocester, has proactively issued precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. The Village on Chopmist Hill will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at The Village on Chopmist Hill will be evaluated by an RI licensed Certified Operator. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the corrective actions. The boil notice will not be lifted until corrective actions occur, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Kevin Kitson at 401-567-8888.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester

2018-11-23

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown

2018-11-23

The Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for the Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Make Health A Part of Your Thanksgiving

2018-11-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) encourages Rhode Islanders to take steps to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

Handling and preparing your food properly can help keep you and your family safe. Be sure to:

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food. This is especially important if you have been handling raw meat.
  • Thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey and other raw meats if possible. Washing turkey before cooking is not recommended.
  • Keep raw meat and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.
  • Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.
  • Cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles, and sausage, should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F. Use a food thermometer to check and place it in the thickest part of the food.
  • Cook the stuffing separately from the turkey to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.
  • Debone the turkey as soon as possible and divide it into smaller portions to cool quickly under refrigeration.

Try to eat as healthy as possible. To avoid extra calories:

  • Eat small portions.
  • Don't add extra butter or salt.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Don't fill up on snacks.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation, if you are going to be drinking.
  • Make sure that you have a designated driver, if you are going to be drinking and traveling.

The holidays can sometimes be stressful. To help avoid becoming too stressed, be sure to:

  • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
  • Ease your obligations, especially if you are piling activities and tasks onto an already full plate. Don't worry about disappointing the people in your life if you cannot be at a certain event or prepare a special dish.
  • Put down your phones, get away from the television, and do something interactive with family and friends. Good examples are playing a board game, playing cards, or taking a walk.
  • Focus conversation on the positive aspects of your life and what makes you thankful.

CDC Advises Consumers, Retailers, and Restaurants to Discard All Romaine Lettuce

2018-11-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting consumers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to not eat any romaine lettuce, and is advising retailers and restaurants to not serve or sell any romaine lettuce. The CDC is putting out this alert as it investigates a multi-state E. coli outbreak. To date, 32 cases and 13 hospitalizations have been associated with the outbreak.

Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick. This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad.

If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association

2018-11-16

The Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association in Charlestown has issued a boil water notice to its customers because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply. The water system serves approximately 112 homes. The neighboring Central Beach Fire District is not affected by this boil water advisory.

All water used for consumption is required to be boiled vigorously, for at least one minute. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See link below.)

Quonochontaug East Beach Water Association collected a sample from Well #1 on 11/15/2018 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. This well has been turned off until it can be inspected and disinfected and bacteria samples come back absent. Well #2, which is absent of bacteria, will supply the water system. Residents should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The health advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) approves the boil advisory to be lifted.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Bob Pompei at 401-741-4042.

Pictsweet Company Recalls Steam'ables Asparagus Spears

2018-11-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Is advising consumers that the Pictsweet Company has recalled 1,872 cases of Pictsweet Farms 8-ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recall affects only Pictsweet Farms 8-ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears identified by UPC code 0 70560 97799 9 with production codes beginning with the following six digits: 2138XD and a "BEST BY AUG 1, 2020."

No illnesses have been reported to date and no other Pictsweet Farms products are impacted by this recall.

The states in which the product was distributed are as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The company initiated this recall after it was notified by the manufacturer that product suspected of containing Listeria monocytogenes was inadvertently shipped to The Pictsweet Company.

Consumers who have purchased Pictsweet Farms 8 ounce Steam'ables Asparagus Spears with the code listed above may contact our consumer affairs line at 1-800-527-0986 from 9am to 5pm Central Standard Time, Monday – Friday or return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Ground Turkey Products Recalled

2018-11-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales is recalling 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be associated with an illness outbreak of Salmonella.

The raw ground turkey products items were produced on September 11, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT" with "Use by" dates of 10/01/2018 and 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 85% LEAN | 15% FAT" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.
  • 1-lb. packages of "Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY" with a "Use by" date of 10/02/2018.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "P-190" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been conducting traceback activities for a sample of Jennie-O brand ground turkey in an intact, unopened package from a case-patient's home. The patient tested positive for Salmonella Reading and the sample from the ground turkey matches the outbreak strain.

CDC has been investigating an illness cluster involving 164 case-patients in 35 states. Patients have reported eating different types and brands of turkey products purchased from many different stores, handling raw turkey pet food and/or raw turkey, or working with live turkeys or living with someone who handled live turkeys. There have been no illnesses in Rhode Island.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

All consumers should safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume raw poultry product that has been cooked to a temperature of 165°F. Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four guidelines to keep food safe:

  • Clean? Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate? Separate raw meat from other foods.
  • Cook? Cook to the right temperature.
  • Chill? Refrigerate food promptly.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Chimera Inc.(Davis Mobile Home Park) in Glocester

2018-11-09

Chimera Inc. (Davis Mobile Home Park), located at Everson Drive in Glocester, is issuing a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Chimera Inc. will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Chimera Inc. will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Anthony Salvatore at 401-783-4538.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake in Glocester

2018-11-08

A boil water advisory is in place for Mr. Z's Restaurant by the Lake at 2400 Putnam Pike Chepachet (Glocester) because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

Customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The water system collected a routine coliform bacteria sample on 11/5 that was positive for total coliform bacteria. One of four repeat samples collected on 11/6 was positive for E. coli bacteria. RIDOH will be inspecting the water system on Friday 11/9. The health advisory will remain in effect until RIDOH and the water system investigate the source of the bacteria, the water system completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.).

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water system and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Nikolas Zarokostas at 401-680-3132.

Update on Blue-Green Algae Advisories

2018-11-07

Health advisories that were put in place for several bodies of water earlier this year have been lifted, while others remain in place, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) announced today. Rhode Islanders had been advised to avoid contact and recreational activities on these bodies of water because of blue-green algae blooms. Blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals.

The health advisories on the following bodies of water have been lifted:

  • Cranston: Blackamore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond, Omega Pond, Ten Mile River, Turner Reservoir
  • Greenville (Smithfield-Johnston): Slack's Reservoir
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Providence: Roger Williams Park (Pleasure Lake, Willow Pond, Edgewood Pond)
  • Warwick: Little Pond

Health advisories remain in place for these waterbodies:

  • Little Compton: Watson Reservoir
  • Middletown: Gardiner Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond, Roger Williams Park (Japanese Gardens, Roosevelt)
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds
  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.

The public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water, or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.

Seasonal cooling and declining daylight are expected to cause blue-green algae to subside.

During the week of December 3rd, RIDEM plans to re-visit waterbodies under continued advisory. If blue-green algae have subsided, a status update will be issued at that time.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Duncan Hines Cake Mix Being Recalled Due to Potential Presence of Salmonella

2018-11-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that several varieties of Duncan Hines cake mix are being recalled because of a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix. The positive finding may be connected to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While it has not been definitively concluded that this product is linked to the outbreak and the investigation is still ongoing, Conagra (Duncan Hines' parent company) is recalling Duncan Hines Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti, and Classic Yellow cake mix out of an abundance of caution.

Five occurrences of illnesses due to Salmonella are being researched by CDC and FDA as part of this investigation. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked. Consumers are reminded not to consume any raw batter. Cake mixes and batter can be made with ingredients such as eggs or flour which can carry risks of bacteria that are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw batter products, to follow baking instructions, and to never eat raw batter.

The products covered by this recall were distributed for retail sale throughout the U.S., including Rhode Island.

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and to return them to the store where originally purchased. Consumers with questions should call 1-888-299-7646 or visit www.duncanhines.com.

Rhode Island Leads the Nation for Childhood Flu Vaccination; Sees Decline Among Adults

2018-11-01

Rhode Island children had the highest flu vaccination coverage rate in the country during the 2017-2018 flu season, an increase of two percentage points from the previous season, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, Rhode Island also saw a decrease in the flu immunization rate for adults during this period.

"Flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself against the flu," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "The flu can have serious health consequences for anyone, including young, otherwise healthy adults. Getting our adult flu vaccination rate as high as our childhood flu vaccination rate is critical to preventing flu-related hospitalizations and deaths in Rhode Island. When someone gets a flu shot, they are not only protecting themselves. They are also protecting the people they love by preventing the spread of the flu at home. We all have a role to play in keeping those around us and our community healthy and safe."

During the 2017-2018 flu season, 76% of Rhode Island children were vaccinated against the flu, compared to the national average of 58%. Among adults, Rhode Island had a 44% flu vaccination rate, compared to the previous year, when 51% of adults were immunized against the flu. Younger adults (people from 18 to 49 years of age) had the lowest flu vaccination rate among all adults. The year-to-year decrease in Rhode Island mirrors a national trend. Between the 2016-2017 flu season and the 2017-2018 flu season, the national flu vaccination rate for adults decreased from 43% to 37%.

Last flu season was the most severe that Rhode Island has experienced in almost a decade. The flu sent 1,390 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 60 deaths, compared to 1,216 hospitalizations and 33 deaths the previous year. The CDC estimates that last flu season, 960,000 people were hospitalized and 79,000 people died because of the flu.

Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. Vaccination is particularly important for the elderly, young children, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer).

Rhode Islanders can get vaccinated at a doctor's office, a school or community clinic, or a pharmacy (adults only). For a list of school clinics, visit health.ri.gov/flu or health.ri.gov/gripe (Spanish).

These data were gathered through the National Immunization Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The coverage rates produced by the National Immunization Survey and BRFSS are estimates. Because a random sample of telephone numbers is taken, these rates have a margin of error. Due to statistical uncertainty (i.e. sampling error) in the estimates, Rhode Island's true vaccination rates may be slightly higher or lower.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Michaels Shell Station/Food Mart and Deli in Charlestown

2018-10-26

A boil water advisory is in place for Michael's Shell Station at 5680 Post Road in Charlestown because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

Customers should not drink any water from the faucets. The deli in the station is required to boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers and the deli can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The station collected a routine coliform bacteria sample on 10/22 that was positive for E. coli bacteria. Two of four repeat samples collected on 10/24 were positive for total coliform bacteria. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will be inspecting the water system on Monday 10/29. The health advisory will remain in effect until RIDOH and the water system investigate the source of the bacteria, the water system completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.).

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact Paul Fazio at 401-322-1889.

Jenny Craig Chicken Products Recalled Due to Possible Contamination

2018-10-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that SK Food Group is recalling 174,207 pounds of Jenny Craig chicken wrap products that contain vegetables that may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The frozen, fully cooked chicken wrap items were produced on various dates from Oct. 15, 2017 through Oct. 15, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

4.5-oz. plastic packages containing "Jenny Craig Chicken Wrap with BBQ Sauce," with lot codes WO0096753S10, WO0097880S10, WO0098216S10, WO0098565S10, WO0098923S10, WO0100691S10, WO0100692S10, WO0101746S10, WO0101861S10, WO0102176S10, WO0102469S10, WO0102758S10, WO0103920S10, WO0104247S10, WO0104353S10, WO0104615S10, WO0104995S10, WO0106312, WO0106312S10, WO0106945S10, WO0107556S10, WO0108694S10, WO0108695S10, WO0096753S02, WO0097880S02, WO0098216S02, WO00982416S02, WO0098565S02, WO0098923S02, WO0100691S02, WO0100692S02 and WO0101746S02.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 45367" or "EST. 20552" stamped on the product centerfold. These items were shipped directly to consumers through catalog sales in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The problem was discovered on Oct. 14, 2018, when SK Food Group received notification that the vegetables used in the production of their chicken wrap products were being recalled by their vegetable supplier due to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella concerns.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some people, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, people outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. People in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers and members of the media with questions regarding the recall can contact Steve Sposari, SK Food Group CEO, at (206) 957-6225.

Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products Being Recalled

2018-10-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Bakkavor Foods USA is recalling 795,261 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products that contain an onion ingredient that may be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The ready-to-eat meat and poultry items were produced from Sept. 27, 2017 through Oct. 15, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 16-oz. plastic-wrapped with paperboard sleeve packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "BBQ STYLE CHICKEN ARTISAN PIZZA," with "Use By" dates from 01/07/19 through 04/11/19 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "CHICKEN SAUSAGE, EGG WHITE and CHEESE BREAKFAST BURRITO," with "Use By" dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 8-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing HARRIS TEETER FRESH FOODS MARKET DELI-BAKERY brand "BACON, EGG and CHEESE BURRITO," with "Use By" dates from 01/24/18 through 10/25/18 (inclusive) printed on the case packaging.
  • 10-oz. butcher-paper wrapped packages containing "TRADER JOE'S CARNITAS WITH SALSA VERDE Burrito," with "Use By" dates from 10/08/17 through 10/24/18 (inclusive) printed on the retail packaging.

The products subject to recall bear establishment numbers "EST. 19198," "P-19198," "EST. 46937" or "EST. 45335," inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The problem was discovered on Oct. 16, 2018, when Bakkavor Foods USA received notification that the onion used in the production of their ready-to-eat meat and poultry products was being recalled by their onion supplier due to Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella concerns. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, people outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact the Bakkavor Foods USA Corporate Recall Line at 1-855-312-7504. Members of the media with questions regarding the recall can contact Shawn Stevens, Bakkavor Foods USA's media representative, at (262) 271-1522.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton and Gardiner Pond in Middletown

2018-10-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Watson Reservoir in Little Compton and Gardiner Pond in Middletown because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

Health advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies:

  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond, Blackmore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond, Ten Mile River, and Omega Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds, Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Roosevelt, Willow, Edgewood, and Pleasure Lakes, Japanese Gardens (all in Roger Williams Park), Mashapaug Pond
  • Rumford: Turner Reservoir
  • Smithfield-Johnston: Slack Reservoir
  • Warwick: Little Pond

People should avoid recreation and not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these waters. Since pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink from or swim in these waters. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with untreated water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with the affected waters who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with waters with blue-green algae should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

While Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond are drinking water sources maintained by Newport Water, they are not currently being used to deliver drinking water to customers. Newport Water's primary goal is to provide safe drinking water for all of its customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a blue-green algae bloom is present, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink. Drinking untreated water from any surface water at any time is not recommended.

Sources maintained by Newport Water that are treated to become drinking water may come from nine different surface reservoirs or ponds: St. Mary's Pond, Sisson Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, South and North Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond located on Aquidneck Island, Nonquit Pond in Tiverton, and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton. While RIDOH and RIDEM are now issuing a public health advisory for Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond, Newport Water's other water supply ponds also routinely experience cyanobacteria blooms. Most blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.

Newport Water needs all residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island and in Tiverton and Little Compton to help protect these valuable drinking water supplies. State law prohibits both people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted.

Cyanobacteria blooms also occur in other waterbodies in the State. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

Boil Water Advisory in Place for Prudence Island (Portsmouth) Water District

2018-10-05

A boil water advisory is in place for the Prudence Island Water District because E. coli bacteria was found in the water supply.

A list of streets that are affected is available at the link below. The entire water district is affected by the boil water advisory. Residents on private wells or on Prudence Park Water Coop are not affected. As many as 700 residents are impacted by this boil water advisory.

Customers should boil vigorously, for at least one minute, all water used for consumption. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water. These recommendations pertain to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Additional guidance is available online. (See related links below.)

The water district collected repeat samples on Monday, October 1st. Three of these samples were positive for total coliform. The health advisory will remain in effect until the water system investigates the source of the bacteria, completes corrective actions including disinfection of the water system, collects three consecutive days of absent bacteria samples, and RIDOH approves the boil advisory to be lifted. (The three days of sampling doesn't start until after disinfection, flushing, and any other corrective action is completed.)

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems. The EPA has set a drinking water standard for E. coli to reduce the risk of these adverse health effects. Under this standard, drinking water must be free of these bacteria for water to be consumed from a system.

A healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally
  • Blood in the stool
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days

Customers with questions should contact the water district at 401-285-6192 or info@pih2o.org.

Public Health, Healthcare Leaders Kick Off Annual Flu Vaccination Campaign

2018-10-05

Coming off the most severe flu season that Rhode Island has seen in almost a decade, public health and healthcare leaders launched the state's annual flu vaccination campaign today with reminders about how critical flu shots are for everyone six months of age and older.

"A flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and the ones you love against the flu. When you get a flu shot you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people in your life by limiting the spread of the flu. This is especially important if you spend time with younger children or the elderly, who are more susceptible to the effects of the flu," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford a flu shot, there are places in Rhode Island where you can get vaccinated for free. Earlier this week, public flu clinics opened at schools throughout the state and clinics will be happening in different cities and towns for the next two months. Flu shots are safe, effective, and easier to get than ever before."

Last year, the flu sent 1,390 Rhode Islanders to the hospital and resulted in 60 deaths (compared to 1,216 hospitalizations and 33 deaths the previous year). Rhode Island saw more flu during the 2017-2018 flu season than during any flu season since the 2009-2010 season, when the state experienced the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Although doctors recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older, flu shots are especially important for certain people. They include the elderly, healthcare workers, younger children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions. Examples of chronic medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

The event at the West Warwick Senior and Community Center was attended by Ana Novais, Executive Director of RIDOH; Jeanne LaChance, President/CEO of Thundermist Health Center; James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO of Care New England; Latha Sivaprasad, MD, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital; Kimberly O'Connell, VP and Chief Strategy Officer for South County Health; and John Holiver, CEO of CharterCARE Health Partners.

"Thundermist Health Center is proud to partner with the Rhode Island Department of Health and West Warwick Health Equity Zone to kick off flu vaccinations in Rhode Island," said Jeanne LaChance, president/CEO of Thundermist Health Center. "We encourage everyone, especially those most at risk, to get vaccinated right away."

"We at Lifespan are proud to partner in this statewide effort to increase awareness, promote immunization and decrease the spread of influenza and other viral respiratory illnesses," said Latha Sivaprasad, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer of Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children's Hospital. "Our healthcare providers are on the front lines of identifying, treating and containing influenza. Through efforts like enhancing our visitor screenings this year, rapidly identifying new patients with respiratory viral symptoms, and providing immunizations to our staff members, our hospitals intend to suppress the spread of flu this season."

"We know that the best way to protect against the flu virus is for people to get vaccinated every year. But it is also important for people to see their primary care providers regularly rather than waiting and going to the ER when they think they might have the flu," said James E. Fanale, MD, president and CEO, Care New England. "By getting vaccinated, healthcare workers not only protect themselves, but also help protect the vulnerable patients they care for. We are proud that Care New England has exceeded the Healthy People 2020 goal of having 90 percent of our workforce vaccinated. Moreover, our goal is to reach and sustain staff vaccination rates greater than 95 percent system-wide. We know this is crucial to the health and well-being of our workforce and also of the communities we serve."

"As CEO of CharterCARE and board chairman of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, I can tell you that this issue is one that hospitals in Rhode Island take seriously. It is well known that vaccination is your best protection against the flu," said John Holiver, CEO of CharterCARE Health Partners. "Flu clinics – like the one today and the more than 30 that CharterCARE is conducting over the next couple months – are a great way to help protect vulnerable Rhode Islanders. I encourage everyone to seek out a clinic or visit a flu vaccine provider to make themselves, their family, and their co-workers safer during this flu season."

Approximately 480,000 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated last year. Rhode Island had the highest flu vaccination rate among children in the nation last year (76%). However, RIDOH is working to increase Rhode Island's vaccination rate for the 2018-2019 flu season. A list of evening flu clinics that are located at schools and are open to the entire community is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/flu. Flu shots are also available at other community clinics, doctors' offices, and pharmacies.

After getting a flu shot some people experience a slight ache or a low-grade fever. This means that the body is developing an immune response to the flu virus. These mild side effects are much less significant than the actual flu, which causes most people to stay in bed for a week. You absolutely cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe this flu season.

  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Thundermist Health Center is the backbone agency of the West Warwick Health Equity Zone (HEZ). HEZs are community-led collaboratives in nine regions throughout the state that are working to address the underlying factors in communities that have the greatest impact on health outcomes. These underlying, community-level factors include things like access to fresh fruits and vegetables, transportation, quality education, job opportunities, social supports, and healthy housing. Each of Rhode Island's nine HEZs have a backbone agency. More information about the HEZs is available at http://www.health.ri.gov/hez

People with additional questions can call 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Lifted for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown

2018-10-01

The Precautionary Boil Water Advisory that had been in place for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown has been lifted. Before consuming water from this system again, people should clean and sanitize refrigerators with water dispensers and/or ice machines, replace any water treatment filter cartridges, and flush any faucets or taps not used during the boil advisory for 10 minutes. Guidance on refrigerator sanitation can be found online.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Issued for Castle Rock Condominiums in Charlestown

2018-09-24

The Castle Rock Condominiums, located at 1C West Castle Way in Charlestown, is issuing a precautionary boil water notice to its customers because the water system lost pressure. Customers should boil vigorously for at least one minute all water used for human consumption, including drinking and cooking. Alternatively, customers can use bottled water.

This health advisory will remain in effect until corrective actions are completed and satisfactory bacteria results are obtained. Castle Rock Condominiums will issue a public notice when this requirement is lifted.

Loss of pressure in water systems means that the system is at risk of becoming contaminated with bacteria and other organisms. Bacteria, such as E. coli, can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

The recommendation to boil for one minute pertains to water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Infants and young children should not be bathed in this water because they may swallow it accidentally. Anyone else using this water for bathing or showering should be careful to avoid swallowing the water. Further guidance can be found in the link below.

The water system at Castle Rock Condominiums will be disinfected. Customers should refer to the notice provided by the water system for further instructions and information relating to the disinfection of the water lines. The boil notice will not be lifted until disinfection occurs, a bacteria sample is absent, and these actions are approved by RIDOH. People with questions should contact Karen Andersen at 401-203-0300.

RIDOH and RIDEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Little Pond; Lift Restrictions for Georgiaville Pond

2018-09-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising the public to avoid contact with Little Pond in Warwick, while lifting an advisory for Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The advisories relate to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

At Georgiaville Pond, recent consecutive surveys and samples confirmed absence of blue-green algae and cyanotoxin, allowing the advisory to be lifted. Health advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies:

  • Cranston: Spectacle Pond
  • Cranston: Blackamore Pond
  • East Providence: Central Pond
  • East Providence: Ten Mile River
  • East Providence: Omega Pond
  • Newport: Almy Pond
  • North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond
  • Portsmouth: Melville Ponds
  • Portsmouth: Sisson Pond
  • Providence: Mashapaug Pond
  • Providence: Roosevelt, Willow, Edgewood, and Pleasure Lakes, Japanese Gardens (all in Roger Williams Park)
  • Rumford: Turner Reservoir
  • Smithfield-Johnston: Slack Reservoir

Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with these ponds, who experience symptoms, should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with water that is under an advisory should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH Health Equity Summit Focuses on Building Healthy and Resilient Communities

2018-09-20

More than 700 community members, legislators, municipal leaders, members of the business community, and representatives from fields including public health, healthcare, law enforcement, and education gathered today at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s third annual Health Equity Summit to discuss how to build healthier, more resilient communities, and a healthier, more resilient Rhode Island.