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05/20/2022 11:15 EDT
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04/27/2022 15:45 EDT
The Apartments at 970 Victory Highway Complex in Burillville are required to issue a boil water notice to its consumers 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. The...
04/27/2022 10:00 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Lakeside Refrigerated Services is recalling more than 120,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0103. The recalled ground beef was produced from February 1, 2022, through April 8, 2022,...
04/26/2022 10:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH) Center for Vital Records is moving its office from the Cannon Building in Providence to Simpson Hall on the Pastore Campus (6 Harrington Rd., Cranston, RI 02920). The office will be closed for business on April 27, 28, and 29 for the move. The...
04/22/2022 11:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Bakkavor USA is voluntarily recalling Whole Foods Market Red Lentil Dal that includes pickled curry cauliflower, an ingredient produced by Doux South Specialties, that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The...
04/08/2022 13:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers of a recall of Kinder Happy Moments Chocolate Assortment and Kinder Mix Chocolate Treats baskets because these product may be contaminated with Salmonella Typhimurium. These products were sold in BJ's Wholesale Club stores and Big...
03/23/2022 14:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Farm Fresh Produce is recalling certain packages of Twa Agriculture Mixed Mushrooms because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. These products were distributed nationwide in retail stores.
03/09/2022 11:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that an additional lot of Similac powder infant formula is being added to the recall announced on February 17th. Abbott is recalling a lot of Similac PM 60/40 (Lot #?27032K80 [can] / Lot # 27032K800 [case] manufactured in Sturgis,...
02/25/2022 17:00 EST
As part of Rhode Island's, comprehensive plan to transition the management of COVID-19 from a pandemic into an endemic strategy focused on more traditional models of prevention, treatment, and healthcare delivery, updates to the State's vaccination and testing sites are being planned. These...
02/24/2022 18:00 EST
Due to the winter storm, State-run COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites will delay their opening until 10 a.m. on Friday, February 25th. Additionally, the community-run COVID-19 testing sites at Thundermist Health Center in Woonsocket, and East Bay Health Care in East Providence, Newport, and...
02/17/2022 19:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that federal health officials are investigating four infant illnesses related to products from an Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan. All of the cases are reported to have consumed powdered infant formula from this...
02/14/2022 09:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that The Royal Ice Cream Company, Inc. is expanding its recent recall to include all products manufactured at its Manchester Connecticut facility and are within their expiration date due to possible contamination with Listeria...
02/11/2022 16:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Jan Fruits Inc. and Concord Farms are both recalling packages of enoki mushrooms that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. • The Jan Fruits Enoki Mushrooms come in a 200g/7.05oz clear plastic package with the...
02/07/2022 12:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Royal Ice Cream Company is recalling specific lots of Batch Ice Cream because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young...
01/28/2022 14:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about tips related to shoveling, heating, and food safety to keep themselves healthy and safe during and after winter storms. Shoveling Snow shoveling can cause sudden increases in blood pressure and heart rate,...
01/28/2022 11:30 EST
Due to the winter storm, all state-run COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites will be closed on Saturday, January 29th. This includes the vaccination sites at Sockanosset Cross Road and the Rhode Island Convention Center, and all testing sites scheduled through portal.ri.gov. Additionally, the...
01/10/2022 13:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling certain varieties of its salad products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The voluntary recall includes all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads...
01/06/2022 14:45 EST
In response to the adverse weather expected on Friday, operations will be adjusted at some COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites. Testing Rhode Island's outdoor testing sites usually operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The hours of operation at the following sites will be adjusted on January 7th...
01/05/2022 13:15 EST
In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rhode Island is now making Pfizer booster doses available to people who completed a primary series of Pfizer vaccine five months ago. Previously, people who completed a primary series of Pfizer vaccine needed to wait at least...

2021 News

Rhode Island Department of Health Shares 'Celebrate Safely' Reminders for Christmas

2021-12-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is sharing reminders on how to stay healthy this holiday season. Don't forget the three "V"s: Vaccinate. Ventilate. Visit Safely. Rhode Island continues to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recommends extra caution to protect your loved ones, especially those 65 and older, this holiday season. The Omicron variant is in Rhode Island and is more contagious than previous variants. People age 65 or older and people who have weakened immune systems are at particularly high risk.

Vaccinate. Getting vaccinated and getting a booster dose helps protect you from serious illness and hospitalization. Booster doses are critical to protect against variants like Omicron. To find a vaccination site, visit C19VaccineRI.org.

To help Rhode Islanders access COVID-19 vaccines and boosters this holiday season, State-supported vaccination sites like 100 Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston and 585 Taunton Avenue in East Providence have re-opened and are offering vaccinations through next week. Sockanosset is offering vaccine appointments Monday, December 27 through Thursday, December 30. East Providence is offering vaccine appointments on Monday, December 27 and Wednesday, December 29. Make an appointment at VaccinateRI.org.

Vaccination sites are available across the State. To find a site that is convenient for you, a full list of providers is available at C19VaccineRI.org.

Ventilate. If you'll be spending time indoors with others, try to keep your gatherings small and keep windows open at least two inches for good ventilation.

Visit safely. To provide you and your loved ones with further protection against COVID-19 over the holidays, wear masks in crowded public places and consider wearing masks around people who live outside of your household. The quality of your mask does matter. Wear a high-quality mask. This could be a KN-95 mask or another mask that has two or more layers of fabric. To be effective, the mask must completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face. For help selecting the right mask, visit https://covid.ri.gov/masks.

Fresh Express Announces Recall of Fresh Salad Products

2021-12-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fresh Express is recalling certain varieties of its salad products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall includes all use-by dates of fresh salad items with product codes Z324 through Z350. Product codes are located on the front of the packages below the use-by date. A complete list of recalled products is posted on the FDA's website. Recalled items were distributed through retailers in the Northeast (including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) and Midwest and through distributors and retailers in Canada.

Anyone who has purchased these products should not eat them. Consumers should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Anyone who eats food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can get listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns.

Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal symptoms. 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 occur in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Anyone in the higher-risk categories who have flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the healthcare provider about eating the contaminated food.

Anyone who has eaten these recalled products and has symptoms of listeriosis should call their healthcare provider.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Advisories for Blue-green Algae

2021-12-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the recreational advisories at Spectacle Pond in Cranston, Roger Williams Ponds in Providence, and Melville Upper and Lower Ponds in Portsmouth. Two recent surveys conducted at these sites found no evidence of cyanobacteria blooms. The recreational advisories were related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

While conditions at Blackamore Pond in Cranston have improved, some evidence of blue green algae persists. A significant bloom is still present at Almy Pond in Newport. Blue-green algae are generally less active as seasonal changes reduce light and temperature in the winter. However, the possibility of recurring blooms and/or toxins represent potential risks, even in iced-over conditions.

DEM monitoring has ended for the year and will resume next June. Regardless of season, the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating scum. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup.

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

Rapid Testing and Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Expanded in Advance of the Holidays

2021-12-20

In advance of holiday gatherings over the next two weeks, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are expanding access to rapid testing and to COVID-19 booster doses and primary series vaccine.

Testing

A test site will open today at the Chapel View Shopping Center in Cranston. This site will be open seven days a week for rapid testing by appointment only. To make an appointment, visit http://portal.ri.gov. Additional new rapid testing sites will open in the coming weeks. Details on those new sites will be posted online.

For those Rhode Islanders who are asymptomatic but are looking for a test before the holidays, the state is expanding access to rapid testing at six existing testing sites. (Previously, people who were asymptomatic received PCR tests at these sites.) Testing is also available for symptomatic people at these locations. Appointments are still needed for these rapid tests. These six sites are:

- Barrington Shopping Center

- Blackstone Valley Community Health

- Cranston Parkade Storefront

- Rhode Island Convention Center Ticket Booth

- Smithfield VFW

- Warwick Shopping Plaza

People must make appointments to be tested at these sites at http://portal.ri.gov. PCR tests will still be used for asymptomatic K-12 tests at these sites. To help the testing sites run smoothly, people are asked to arrive on time for their appointments.

In addition to making this change at these sites, RIDOH has allocated 100,000 COVID-19 self-tests to community partners located in Rhode Island's hardest-hit communities. RIDOH is working to obtain one million additional self-test kits for broader distribution.

While expanding access to rapid tests in advance of the holidays, these measures will also help reduce turnaround times for PCR tests at State-run sites. Additionally, the State is currently onboarding additional private laboratories to expand PCR testing capacity.

Aside from State-run test sites, COVID-19 testing is also available at some respiratory clinics and local pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens. For more information about when and where to get tested for COVID-19 in Rhode Island, visit http://covid.ri.gov/testing.

Vaccination

The Sockanosset Cross Road and East Providence vaccination sites will continue operating at least through the end of December. It was previously announced that the last day of vaccinating at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston) would be December 18th, and that the last day for regular operations at the East Providence vaccination site (585 Taunton Avenue, East Providence) would be December 29th.

Early indications are that the protection someone gets against the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more than doubles with a booster dose (compared to what they received from the primary series of the vaccine).

Everyone who is 16 and older is eligible to get a booster dose in Rhode Island. (Someone who received a Pfizer or Moderna primary series can get a booster dose six months later. Someone who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccination can get a booster dose two months later.) Primary series COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 years of age and older.

To make a vaccination appointment and to get additional information about COVID-19 vaccine, go to C19vaccineRI.org. People can also call the State's COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment line at 844-930-1779.

COVID-19 Booster Dose Eligibility Expanded in Rhode Island

2021-12-10

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are now encouraging 16- and 17-year-olds who have completed the primary COVID-19 vaccine series to get booster doses in Rhode Island. This announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced yesterday their updated recommendation for booster doses for everyone 16 and older.

"I'm proud that Rhode Island led the nation in getting our population vaccinated - as of today, over 96% of adults have at least one shot. To fully protects ourselves and our loved ones against Delta, Omicron and other variants, it's time to double down and get a boost," Governor McKee said. "As eligibility continues to expand, we're making accessibility a priority for Rhode Island's booster campaign. If you are eligible, get that booster and encourage friends and family to sign up today."

"We are seeing very high levels of COVID-19 transmission right now in Rhode Island. Booster doses for everyone who is eligible is critical to strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants, and to keeping individuals and communities as safe as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and accessible all throughout Rhode Island. I'm urging parents and families to get their 16- and 17-year-olds boosted as soon as possible."

Prior to this announcement booster doses were only available for people 18 and older. A 16- or 17-year-old who received a Pfizer or Moderna primary series can now get a Pfizer booster six months later. A 16- or 17-year-old who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccination can now get a Pfizer booster dose two months later. (Only Pfizer booster doses are being administered to 16- and 17-year-olds. However, a 16- or 17-year-old can receive a Pfizer booster regardless of the vaccine type they received for their primary series.)

Rhode Island has been experiencing high levels of COVID-19 community transmission since August 2021 and we have seen the transmission rate increase significantly during the last several weeks. With expected new variants, people spending more time indoors, and the high rate of community transmission, hospitalizations in Rhode Island are predicted to increase over the coming weeks and into early 2022. Although the dominant strain of COVID-19 is the Delta variant, the Omicron variant has been identified in neighboring states and is expected to cause a significant number of COVID-19 infections in Rhode Island within the coming weeks and months. Booster doses are a critical tool to help limit spread and prevent serious illness.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccine, including information on where to get vaccinated, see: C19vaccineRI.org.

Rhode Island Transitioning to Community Located COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

2021-12-08

Responding to the public request for COVID-19 vaccination sites that are closer to home, Rhode Island will be running approximately 100 COVID-19 vaccination clinics in settings such as schools, churches, senior centers, and many other community sites over the next month. These clinics are in addition to the vaccination opportunities in pharmacies and the offices of many primary care providers.

A list of community clinics can be found at: http://covid.ri.gov/vaccination. COVID-19 booster doses are available at many of these clinics. All Rhode Islanders who are 18 and older and who completed a primary COVID-19 vaccination series should get a booster dose. (If you got Pfizer or Moderna for your primary series, you can get a booster dose at least six months later. If you got Johnson & Johnson for your primary series, you can get a booster dose at least two months later.)

As a part of this shift to community located vaccination opportunities, operations at Rhode Island's remaining State-run and municipal-run vaccination sites will wind down. The last day of vaccinating at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston) will be December 18th, and the last day for regular operations at the East Providence vaccination site (585 Taunton Avenue, East Providence) will be December 29th. The vaccination site at Sockanosset has administered approximately 211,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since opening in January 2021, and the East Providence site has administered approximately 21,000 doses since opening in May 2021.

Vaccination provides protection against serious COVID-19 illness. Pairing vaccination with other prevention measures, such as testing, masking, ventilation, and physical distancing, is key to preventing COVID-19 transmission in Rhode Island.

State-run and municipal-run vaccination sites, like those in East Providence, Cranston, Middletown, and in Providence at the Dunkin Donuts Center, were established early in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out to support a surge in demand and to help vaccinate as many Rhode Islanders as possible as quickly as possible. Similar to planned shifts in testing strategy, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s vaccination strategy is focused on supporting vaccination at the local level and returning some of these activities to pre-pandemic providers. Since October 1st, retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Stop & Shop have administered approximately 65% of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Rhode Islanders. Pharmacies continue to be extremely important partners in vaccine administration and will play a significant role moving forward.

All COVID-19 vaccination options will continue to be available at C19VaccineRI.org. Schedules and appointments for these vaccination sites will continue to be available at vaccinateRI.org. Rhode Islanders can continue to call the COVID-19 information line (401-222-8022) or 2-1-1 for information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Advisories for Blue-Green Algae

2021-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the recreational advisories at Mashapaug Pond in Providence, Warwick Pond in Warwick, Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, and Flat River Reservoir (Johnson's Pond) in Coventry. The recreational advisories were related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

The surveys conducted at the sites found no evidence of a cyanobacteria bloom and no measurable toxins, meeting criteria to lift the advisory. Blue-green algae are generally less active as seasonal changes reduce light and temperature in the winter. However, the possibility of blooms and/or toxin persisting after the bloom is gone represent potential risks, even in iced-over conditions.

Regardless of season, the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating scum. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup.

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

Alexander & Hornung Recalls Cooked Ham and Pepperoni Products

2021-12-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Alexander & Hornung is recalling approximately 234,391 pounds of fully cooked ham and pepperoni products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products that are recalled bear the establishment number EST. M10125 inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide. The products were produced on various dates. The products subject to recall with associated dates are listed at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2021-12/recall-046-2021-product-list.pdf. There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

Consumers are urged to check food they have already bought that may be in their refrigerator or freezer. Anyone who has purchased these products should not eat them. Consumers should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Anyone who eats food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can get listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns.

Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal symptoms. 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 occur in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Anyone in the higher-risk categories who have flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the healthcare provider about eating the contaminated food.

Anyone who has eaten these recalled products and has symptoms of listeriosis should call their healthcare provider.

Media Release: RIDOH Reports First Human Case of Jamestown Canyon Virus and Second Human Case of West Nile Virus in 2021

2021-12-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing Rhode Island's first human case of Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV) and the State's second human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2021. Both are spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

"Although we are no longer in mosquito season in Rhode Island, these recently confirmed cases of JCV and WNV are a reminder that a few simple precautions can help you stay healthy and safe when you are outdoors spending quality time with family and friends," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "And while mosquitoes may no longer be biting after the first hard frost, Rhode Islanders are reminded that we are not 'out of the woods' with ticks, which can continue to bite and spread diseases like Lyme Disease, even in winter."

The person who tested positive for Jamestown Canyon Virus is a resident of Kent County in their 50s. This person started experiencing symptoms in mid-September and was subsequently hospitalized. Due to the progression of symptoms, tests were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in mid-October and Jamestown Canyon Virus was confirmed. This person has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering.

Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen that circulates widely in North America, primarily between deer and mosquitoes, but can also infect humans. Human cases can occur from late spring through mid-fall. People can be infected and not develop any symptoms, or only develop very mild symptoms. Early symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Rarely, more serious central nervous system disease, including meningitis or encephalitis, can occur.

This is Rhode Island's first human case of Jamestown Canyon Virus since 2013.

The person who tested positive for West Nile Virus is a resident of Washington County in their 60s. This person started experiencing symptoms in the first week of September and tests were submitted to CDC in mid-October as symptoms progressed. This person was not hospitalized.

Common symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Although many people who are infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms, symptoms last for some people for several days or several weeks.

This was Rhode Island's second human case of West Nile Virus in 2021. Connecticut has confirmed six West Nile Virus cases in humans and Massachusetts has confirmed 10 human cases this year. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has confirmed six positive findings for West Nile Virus in mosquito traps this year. (No mosquito samples in Rhode Island have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis - or EEE - which is another mosquito-borne illness.)

For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, please see http://health.ri.gov/mosquito. Information on Jamestown Canyon Virus may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/jamestown-canyon/index.html and West Nile Virus information may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/.

New Data Analysis Shows Impact of Childhood Experiences on Health

2021-12-02

A new study published by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) underscores the effects of adverse childhood experiences on health outcomes in adulthood among Rhode Islanders.

"Health does not start in the doctor's office. Health starts in the places where we live, learn, work, and play. For this reason, our approach to public health at RIDOH focuses on the conditions and structures in our communities that have the greatest impact on the health of children and adults," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Adverse childhood experiences, and ultimately their impacts on health outcomes among adults, are entirely preventable. Through our Health Equity Zone initiative and numerous other community partnerships, we are working to address these underlying factors and give all Rhode Islanders in all ZIP codes throughout the state an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive."

Adverse childhood experiences are stressful or traumatic events that can undermine a child's sense of safety and well-being. They can include emotional abuse, exposure to substance use, sexual abuse, having a member of the household be incarcerated, and having separated or divorced parents. The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences among Rhode Island adults is similar to the national prevalence.

Researchers scored the number of adverse childhood experiences reported by a group of adult survey respondents, then reviewed the health data they self-reported. Respondents with higher numbers of adverse childhood experiences had negative health outcomes at significantly higher rates in a range of areas. For example, 45% of respondents with a high score for adverse childhood experiences reported a history of depression, compared to 9% of those with no adverse childhood experiences. Nearly 30% of those with higher adverse childhood experience scores were cigarette smokers, compared to 7% of those with no adverse childhood experiences. Similar patterns were seen in the areas of arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), frequent mental distress, and heavy drinking.

This new analysis was conducted on data collected through RIDOH's 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). BRFSS is a self-report survey of adults conducted by RIDOH with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data collected include information on health, health risk behaviors, preventive practices, and healthcare access. The data allow RIDOH to understand patterns in health risks, identify emerging problems, prevent disease, and improve treatment.

The new analysis of BRFSS data, titled "Adverse Childhood Experiences and Long-Term Health among Adults in Rhode Island," was published in the Rhode Island Medical Journal. (See link below.) The authors of the study were Tracy Jackson, PhD, MPH and Karine Monteiro, MPH, from RIDOH's Center for Health Data and Analysis.

According to the BRFSS data, most Rhode Island adults (63%) have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, and 16% experienced four or more types of adverse events during childhood. 61% of U.S. adults reporting at least one adverse event and 16% reporting four or more types of adverse childhood experiences.

RIDOH has a variety of programs and partnerships that are aimed at preventing adverse childhood experiences through support for communities, parents, and families and improving health outcomes in adults.

- Rhode Island's Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative is a health equity-centered approach to prevention that leverages place-based, community-led solutions to address the social determinants of health. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 85% 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. Each HEZ is led by a community-based collaborative that conducts an assessment to identify, describe, and prioritize inequities of importance to the community and develops and implements an action plan informed by the assessment to address root causes of health inequities. There are currently 15 Health Equity Zones in Rhode Island.

- Families with a child under four years old or who are pregnant can enroll in the voluntary, no-cost Family Visiting program that offers support and resources to thousands of families in Rhode Island each year.

- People who currently smoke cigarettes, vape, or use other tobacco products can access free, confidential, safe, and effective quit support for nicotine addiction through the Rhode Island Nicotine Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Learn more about quit journey resources at www.QuitNowRI.org. Teens can also get free help to quit vaping by phone, text, and online chat by visiting www.mylifemyquit.com or simply texting "Start my quit" to 36072.

- People feeling overwhelmed by issues related to mental health or struggling with alcohol or drug use should know help is available. BH Link (www.bhlink.org) provides immediate assistance to a person in crisis by providing intervention services and connecting people to ongoing treatment and care.

More information about BRFSS is available online. (See link below.) People can also view BRFSS data online directly.

RIDOH Issues Reminder About Proper Use of Antibiotics

2021-11-24

As a part of on-going efforts to prevent the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Islanders about the importance of using antibiotics properly. People should only use antibiotics when it is necessary, and antibiotics should be used exactly as they are prescribed.

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 in the U.S. 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.

"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."

Public health officials throughout the country are taking similar measures to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week. RIDOH will continue to do patient and healthcare provider education in partnership with the Rhode Island Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force.

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 https://health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.

Make Health A Part of Your Thanksgiving

2021-11-24

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are encouraging all Rhode Islanders to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

"I'd like to wish all Rhode Islanders and their families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving," said Governor Dan McKee. "I'm so grateful that due to vaccinations and mitigation strategies that it's safer this year to gather with family and friends. That doesn't mean we can let our guards down. That might even include helping a loved one sign up for a booster shot during dessert. Please do what you need to keep one another healthy and safe this Thursday and throughout the holiday season."

"Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to gather with friends and family, and to reflect on the blessings in our lives. This year, we're asking everyone to take a few additional steps to gather as safely as possible," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "The three Vs - vaccinate, ventilate, and visit safety - will be critical, as will handling and preparing food properly. Making health a part of your holiday can help keep you and your loved ones safe."

COVID-19: Practice the Three Vs

- Vaccinate - The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving safely is to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and to ensure that everyone around you (who is eligible) is also vaccinated. Everyone 5 years of age and older should get vaccinated, and all people 18 and older are now also eligible for booster doses. Booster doses are especially important for older adults and people with underlying health conditions. For more information, see C19vaccineRI.org.

- Ventilate - Having good ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy on Thanksgiving. Bringing fresh, outdoor air into your home helps keep virus particles from accumulating inside. Having multiple windows open allows more fresh air to move inside. Even having windows cracked open slightly (roughly two inches) can help.

- Visit Safely - If you are feeling any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not see people outside your household on Thanksgiving. If you are planning to host and someone in your household is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not host this year. Testing is available at sites throughout Rhode Island. For more information, see: http://covid.ri.gov/testing.

Food safety: Handle and prepare your food properly.

- 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 your turkey before cooking is not recommended. Poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.

- Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety-clean, separate, cook, and chill-to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends.

- Thaw your turkey safely. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.

- 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.

- Debone the turkey as soon as possible and refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they can cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving.

- Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking. With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F. Learn more about how to prepare stuffing safely.

- If you plan to bake, do not eat raw dough or batter, and use pasteurized eggs in dishes that call for raw eggs.

Additional health tips

- If you are going to be drinking, consume alcohol in moderation.

- If you are going to be drinking and traveling, make sure that you have a designated driver.

- 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.

Governor McKee and RIDOH Urge COVID-19 Boosters for Adults in Advance of Thanksgiving Gatherings

2021-11-19

Reiterating their encouragement from earlier this week for all eligible adults to get COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, and following the announcement from federal health officials today formally expanding eligibility to all fully vaccinated adults, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are urging all fully vaccinated adults who plan to gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving to get booster doses as soon as possible.

"COVID-19 booster shots were made available to adults today nationwide," said Governor Dan McKee. "Get your third dose as soon as possible. A shot today can help our community members protect each other as we head indoors for the colder months. Vaccinations are now available for almost all Rhode Islanders. A short appointment can save lives and prevent empty seats around the table this holiday season."

"Booster doses are a critical tool in our fight to limit serious illness from COVID-19, and to limit transmission of COVID-19," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "When you get a booster dose, you start to build some additional immunity almost right away. Everyone who is 18 and older, who is already fully vaccinated, and who plans to see family and friends on Thanksgiving should get a booster dose as soon as possible to help protect themselves and the people they love."

Rhode Islanders 18 and older who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine, two doses of Moderna vaccine, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccibe booster dose. People are eligible for booster doses at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or at least two months after receiving a dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Today's announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came after the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed immune response data and determined that booster doses provide additional protection against serious COVID-19 illness in adults 18 to 64 years old.

Prior to today, a booster dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine was available for people 65 and older, people 18 to 64 at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and people 18 through 64 with higher risk for exposure to COVID-19. However, earlier this week Rhode Island took the first step toward expanding booster dose eligibility. State health officials had announced that given the elevated rate of COVID-19 transmission and given that Rhode Islanders will be heading indoors for the winter months, most Rhode Islanders 18 to 64 years of age were at greater exposure and were eligible to receive a booster dose. With today's authorization from the FDA and recommendation from the CDC, booster doses are now available to everyone age 18 or older who is fully vaccinated, regardless of their risk for exposure.

There is ample supply of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses in Rhode Island. With the exception of clinics at schools for children 5 to 11 years old, booster doses are available at all locations where first and second doses of vaccine are available. More information about COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine boosters is available at c19vaccineRI.org.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Slack Reservoir, and Sachem and Worden Ponds

2021-11-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the recreational advisories at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield/Johnston, Sachem Pond in New Shoreham (Block Island), and Worden Pond in South Kingstown. The recreational advisories were related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

The surveys conducted at the sites found no evidence of cyanobacteria blooms. Blue-green algae are generally less active as seasonal changes reduce light and temperature. However, the possibility of blooms and/or toxin persisting after the bloom is gone represent potential risks, even in iced-over conditions.

Regardless of season, the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating scum. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup.

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

Hospital and State Leaders Call on Rhode Islanders to Seek Medical Care in the Right Setting

2021-11-17

In advance of holiday gatherings and the height of flu season in Rhode Island, State health and hospital officials gathered today to again urge the public to only go to emergency departments for health issues that require emergency care. Hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island continue to experience significant crowding and prolonged waiting times.

At a press event outside Rhode Island Hospital's emergency department, leaders reminded Rhode Islanders that many health issues can be treated quickly and effectively by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. This includes less severe cases of the flu, back pain, minor cuts, sore throats, low-grade fevers, and most cases of norovirus (the "stomach flu"). Patients will experience long wait times in the emergency department for non-urgent symptoms or may board there for a significant period before hospital admission.

"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 will 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."

At the press event, Dr. Alexander-Scott highlighted https://health.ri.gov/rightplacerightcare. This new page has links to lists of primary care providers, urgent care centers, and health centers in Rhode Island, and guidance on when and when not to go to the emergency department. RIDOH will continue directing Rhode Islanders to this page and other resources through a statewide communications campaign, to be launched in the coming weeks.

"In working with our health systems in Rhode Island, it has become abundantly clear that hospital overcrowding has emerged as a priority concern for the state," said Executive Office of Health & Human Services Assistant Secretary Ana Novais. "I am thankful for our interagency team that is reviewing these challenges, implementing some immediate relief, and planning strategies to address these issues long-term."

"The healthcare of all Rhode Islanders is Care New England's top priority, so we want to make sure that patients understand where they are able to receive the most appropriate care, in the quickest time possible. With wait times at EDs at an all-time high, people statewide are waiting many, many hours to be seen. While Emergency Departments are appropriate for life-threatening injuries and symptoms, they are currently not ideal for less-severe conditions. That's why we encourage people who have ailments that are non-life-threatening to schedule an appointment with their primary care provider or arrange for a telehealth visit, which saves time and money," said James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO, Care New England Health System.

"It's important for the public to understand that the pandemic-related health care crisis is not over for our emergency departments. Adult and pediatric EDs in Rhode Island and across the country are experiencing staffing shortages, more patients seeking care for behavioral health, and patients boarding for days or weeks waiting for appropriate placement. We urge patients to keep up with their regular medical appointments so that minor issues do not become major ones, notify their family physician if they have medical concerns, and to get their COVID and flu vaccines. These important steps will help reduce or prevent health issues and promote the delivery of appropriate and efficient treatment to patients," said Lifespan Physician-in-Chief of Emergency Medicine Jeremiah Schuur, MD. "For patients coming into the ED, please understand that there are currently long wait times for non-urgent conditions. We know that this can be frustrating and we ask for patience as our care teams triage the most critical patient needs with limited staff. Our amazing staff are working tirelessly to provide the best care possible and ensure that all patients receive the treatment they need."

Also present at the event were Jeffrey Liebman, the CEO of Charter Care Health Partners; Dr. Matthew Sarasin, the Medical Director of Landmark Medical Center, and Teresa Paiva Weed, President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Hospitals across the country are experiencing a shortage of clinical staff, requiring many to reduce the number of available beds, and to use the emergency department to board admitted patients. This limits the capacity of emergency departments to serve new patients and makes it difficult to manage standard emergency department care and to respond to the behavioral health crisis that Rhode Island and other states are facing.

When to seek emergency care

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

- Trouble breathing

- Persistent chest pain or chest pressure

- New weakness in an arm, leg, or face

- New difficulty speaking or confusion

- Inability to wake or stay awake

- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you are going to an emergency department for COVID-19-like illness, notify the facility that you (or the person you are accompanying) is seeking care for COVID-19. Masks are required in all healthcare facilities.

Measures being taken at the State level

An interagency team across the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) is working toward the development and implementation of strategies to address the challenges facing hospitals. They include:

- Emergency regulations to assist increase the workforce and pre-hospital transportation availability.

- Partnerships with urgent care centers to explore developing capacity to expand emergency treatment options.

- Development of step-down capacity for behavioral healthcare and increased treatment initiation within emergency room settings.

- Provision of staffing supports, including direct care workforce recruitment and retention initiatives for home and community-based services.

- Planning for mobile crisis response for behavioral health and increased behavioral health system capacity through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.

Steps people can take to help stay healthy and out of the hospital

- Get a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine is available to Rhode Islanders ages 5 years old and up. For more information, see c19vaccineRI.org.

- Get a flu shot. Everyone older than 6 months of age should get a flu shot every year.

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

- Wash your hands carefully with soap and water throughout the day.

- Stay home if you are sick and keep children home from school if they are sick.

Attorney General and Director of RIDOH deem Lifespan CNE merger application complete under the Hospital Conversions Act

2021-11-17

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH announced today that the Lifespan/Care New England Hospital Conversions Act (HCA) application has been deemed complete and accepted for review. The review period under the HCA will commence November 17, 2021.

What does "complete" mean?

An HCA application is deemed complete when enough information has been provided by the transacting parties to begin the review. It is a procedural milestone in the review process of this transaction. "Completeness' does not mean that regulators have resolved all of their questions or that new questions will not arise as the review moves forward. During the review period, the Attorney General and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will gather the information necessary to evaluate the transaction described in the application, as required under the HCA, which includes taking testimony, requesting and reviewing more documents, and conducting public meetings.

"As a regulator with the immense responsibility of evaluating hospital transactions in our state, our goal is clear. We need to determine whether the transaction is legal and understand how, if approved, it will impact cost, quality and access to care for the people of Rhode Island," said Attorney General Neronha. "While the goal is clear, the path toward accomplishing that goal is complex and requires a thorough and careful vetting of an enormous amount of information. We need to sift through all that information, with the help of our experts, to ensure compliance with the law. A determination of completeness is the first step toward conducting a thorough review that will, importantly, include input from the public."

"RIDOH will conduct a thorough review of this application to ensure that quality, access, and affordability of healthcare is maintained throughout Rhode Island, with a focus on communities that have historically experienced health disparities," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This review process will be rigorous and thorough and will involve the gathering of feedback from people throughout Rhode Island in public comment sessions."

Next Steps:

- Now that the application has been deemed complete, consistent with the standard process set forth in the HCA, the Attorney General's Office will perform confidentiality determinations, which will be complete on or before December 30, 2021.

- At that point, the application will be made public, and public meetings will be scheduled within two months of that date.

- Under the HCA, the deadline for a decision approving, approving with conditions, or denying the transaction falls 120 days from the date of completeness. In this case, the deadline falls on March 16, 2022.

Rhode Island to Recognize World Diabetes Day with Virtual Event on November 13th

2021-11-09

This year, Rhode Island will recognize World Diabetes Day on Saturday, November 13th with a virtual event starting at 9 a.m. that aims to raise awareness about diabetes and help Rhode Islanders reduce their risk of diabetes or manage its impact on their lives.

The event is free. However, registration is required.

Rhode Island World Diabetes Day 2021 will be a full morning of presentations, discussions, questions-and-answer sessions, and more. The program is for anyone impacted by diabetes-people living with or at risk of developing diabetes, family members, caregivers, providers, and other allied members of the healthcare team are welcome to attend.

In Rhode Island, one in 10 individuals is living with diabetes and one in three is at risk of developing diabetes. Up to 90% of these Rhode Islanders don't know they are at risk.

"With the COVID-19 pandemic still underway, Rhode Island World Diabetes Day carries the added significance of spreading information about a condition that puts people at greater risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19," said Megan Fallon-Sheridan, the Program Administrator of RIDOH's Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke Program. "We're excited to share this year's thoughtful and dynamic program. The day will feature tips and conversations to help Rhode Islanders take small steps toward better health-ranging from healthy eating to mind, movement, and healthy self."

Attendees can join for the entire event or choose the topics that most interest them. To learn more and register, visit www.riwdd.org.

Schedule of Virtual Events:

- 9 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - Kickoff: Diabetes 2021, RIDOH leadership

- 9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. - Addressing Living with Diabetes, JC Aragone, Professional Tennis Player (in partnership with Novo Nordisk)

- 9:50 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. - Know Your Diabetes by Heart, Lupe Barraza (in partnership with the American Diabetes Association)

- 10:25 a.m. - 10:55 a.m. - Trivia Contest, hosted by Al Lewis; Quizzify

- 11 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. - Cooking Demo, Jeanette Nessett, RDN, LDN; Lifespan Community Health Institute

- 11:20 a.m. - 11:35 a.m. - Diabetes Prevention and Management Testimonials and Tips Video, Lifespan Community Health Institute

- 11:35 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - 2021 Rhode to Wellness Challenge Results, Jennifer Fine, RD, LDN, CDOE

- 11:45 a.m. - 11:55 a.m. - Grace Diaz Blue Light Award Presentation, Representative Grace Diaz

- 11:55 a.m. - Noon - Closing Remarks, Deborah Newell, RPh, CDOE, CVDOE and Megan Fallon-Sheridan, MS, RD; RIWDD Co-Chairs

Rhode Island World Diabetes Day is planned in partnership with Diabetes Education Partners of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Parent Information Network, and several other sponsors.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Canonchet Cliffs Water Association Inc.

2021-11-04

The Canonchet Cliffs Water Association Inc. public water system in Hope Valley, Rhode Island 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).

Canonchet Cliffs Water Association collected a sample in the water system on October 27, 2021 that had total coliform bacteria present, which required additional samples to be collected. These samples were collected on November 1, 2021 and one of these samples had total coliform and E. coli bacteria present.

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 Carolyn D. Izzi at 401-539-2223.

Angelicae Sinensis Recalled

2021-11-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Murray Int'l Trading is recalling the Herbal Doctor Brand Angelicae Sinensis because it may contain elevated levels of lead and cadmium. Angelicae Sinensis is often used to make soup.

Lead and cadmium are toxic substances present in our environment in small amounts and everyone is exposed to some of these heavy metals from daily actions such as inhaling dust, eating food, or drinking water. In general, the small exposure to lead does not pose a significant public health concern. However, exposure to larger amounts of lead and cadmium can cause poisoning. While these heavy metals can affect nearly every bodily system, its effects depend upon the amount and duration of lead exposure and age. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, lethargy, irritability, weakness, behavior or mood changes, delirium, seizures, and coma. However, infants, young children and the developing fetus can be affected by chronic exposure to amounts of heavy metals that may not result in obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. A child with heavy metal poisoning may not look or act sick. Heavy metal poisoning in children can cause: learning disabilities, developmental delays, and lower IQ scores.

Angelicae Sinensis was distributed in retail stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas through retail stores.

The Herbal Doctor Brand Angelicae Sinensis is packed in a green plastic bags weighing 16oz (454g) and 12oz (340g).

The recall was initiated after FDA routine sampling revealed elevated levels of lead and cadmium in the product. Subsequent investigation is underway.

Consumers who have purchased Herbal Doctor Brand Angelicae Sinensis are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-718-230-7888. The Call Center will be open from Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm EST.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expanded to Children 5 to 11 in Rhode Island

2021-11-03

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that Rhode Island is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination today to children 5 to 11 years of age. Last night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended vaccination for children in this age group with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The formulation of the vaccine for younger children was studied and reviewed extensively before federal health officials authorized its use. It was determined to be 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease in children 5 to 11, and no significant safety issues were identified.

"The approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds is the next big step towards protecting all Rhode Islanders from COVID-19," said Governor Dan McKee. "With more than 90% of adult Rhode Islanders at least partially vaccinated, Rhode Island is second in the nation in vaccinations. Now, it's time for our youngest Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated too. Together, we'll be able to vaccinate even more of the Ocean State."

"The best way to keep your family safe when it comes to COVID-19 is to get everyone who is eligible vaccinated. That now includes children 5 to 11 years of age. There will be vaccination opportunities for children 5 to 11 in every community throughout the state," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This vaccine has been studied and monitored very carefully. It is safe, and it works. If there is a child who is between 5 and 11 years old in your household, get that child vaccinated as soon as possible."

When children 5 to 11 can get vaccinated

To date, 900 doses of vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old have arrived in Rhode Island. 9,900 additional doses are expected today. Thousands more doses are expected in the coming days. Because much of Rhode Island's vaccine for this population is still in transit, vaccine may not be available in some of the settings listed below for several days.

Where will children 5 to 11 be able to get vaccinated

Please be certain that the appointment you make is for a slot for a child 5 to 11. Children 5 to 11 cannot receive the vaccine that older children and adults receive.

- Clinics at schools - School districts are partnering with municipalities to offer more than 130 vaccination clinics for first and second doses for children 5 to 11 years old. These clinics will be held during the evening starting the week of November 7th. These clinics are open to all children 5 to 11 years old (not just the children who attend the host schools). Unless otherwise noted, vaccine will not be available for older children and adults at school clinics. A list of clinics is available at https://covid.ri.gov/5to11vaccine.

- The offices of some primary care providers - Many pediatrician and family medicine practices are enrolled as providers of COVID-19 vaccine. Contact your child's healthcare provider to learn if they are vaccinating younger children.

- The State-run site at Sockanosset Cross Road - Appointments for children 5 to 11 at the Sockanosset Cross Road site in Cranston will start to become available today at 2 p.m. on VaccinateRI.org. People can also call 844-930-1779 if they need assistance scheduling an appointment.

- Pharmacies - Vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old will be available at many CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop and Shop sites. Availability at these chain pharmacies is expected this weekend. Visit the websites of these pharmacies for more information. Appointment slots for independent pharmacies will be listed on VaccinateRI.org.

- Health centers - Many health centers are doing direct outreach to their patients about vaccine availability.

- Community clinics - Additional community clinics for children 5 to 11 will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

More detail on the vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old

The Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age is administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart. Children in this age groups will receive a lower dose (10 micrograms) than the dose used for older children and adults (30 micrograms). There currently are no Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old.

Ongoing safety monitoring

Pfizer has updated its safety monitoring plan to ensure that monitoring happens for health issues more common in children 5 to 11. In addition, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the rapid detection and investigation of potential safety problems. It is mandatory for Pfizer and healthcare providers to report to any serious health issues in people who were vaccinated.

COVID-19 and children

Children of all ages can become ill with COVID-19. Most children do not become as sick as adults. However, some children become severely ill with COVID-19. Children with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma, may be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 194 children 14 and younger have been hospitalized in Rhode Island with COVID-19. Additionally, children can spread COVID-19 to the other people in their lives (who may be more vulnerable).

Facebook Live sessions

RIDOH will be hosting two Facebook Live sessions on November 8th (one in English and one in Spanish) with community pediatricians to help answer parents' questions about COVID-19 vaccine. The English session will start at 6 p.m. The Spanish session will start at 7 p.m. More information will be shared in the coming days.

General information about COVID-19 vaccine

General information about COVID-19 vaccine is available in multiple languages at c19vaccineRI.org.

Potter Pond Reopens for Shellfish Harvesting

2021-11-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), and Rhode Island of Environmental Management (DEM) are announcing that the Potter Pond shellfish growing area (Growing Area 10PP [GA10PP]) is reopened for shellfish harvesting. Potter Pond is located in South Kingstown.

Potter Pond had been closed to shellfish harvesting due to bacterial contamination that was detected in early September 2021. A RIDOH investigation indicated that eight people became ill after consuming raw shellfish harvested from Potter Pond and that the illnesses were due to Campylobacter bacterial contamination. The Campylobacter contamination has been linked to the presence of flocks of birds aggregating near shellfish growing areas.

RIDOH, CRMC, and DEM have worked with Potter Pond shellfish growers to mitigate the presence of birds near shellfish growing areas in Potter Pond. Over the past several weeks regular analysis of shellfish meats and water samples have verified that the bacteria levels in shellfish harvested from Potter Pond have returned to levels that are safe for harvest and consumption of shellfish.

Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters and reported illnesses; protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms; or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, RIDOH, and CRMC, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality, safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.

For more information on the shellfish harvest closures and related information, see http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/water/shellfish/. For information on emergency and conditional area water quality related shellfish closures, call DEM's 24-hour shell fishing hotline at 401-222-2900, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish, or sign up for the Office of Water Resources' listserv here: RishellfishOWR-subscribe@listserve.ri.gov. For information on the RIDOH Shellfish Program, please see https://health.ri.gov/programs/detail.php?pgm_id=164. For more information on CMRC Aquaculture resources, please visit http://www.crmc.ri.gov/aboutcrmc.html.

Public Health Alert Issued Regarding Salame Sticks

2021-11-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that a public health alert is being issued for Citterio Italian-style salame sticks because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. These products were sold nationwide at Trader Joe's locations and by other retailers.

The Italian-style salame sticks were produced prior to October 25, 2021. The 2-oz packages had "best by" dates up to January 23, 2022 located next to the barcode. The products subject to the public health alert bear establishment number "EST. 4010" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

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 6 hours to 6 days 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 health care provider.

Some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or 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.

Do Not Drink Notice Issued for Confreda Greenhouses & Farms Customers

2021-10-27

The Confreda Greenhouses and Farms public water system (2150 Scituate Avenue in Hope) is required to issue a do not drink notice for infants 6 months and younger to their customers and employees because nitrate was found in the well over the maximum contaminant level. Parents should not give the water to infants under 6 months old or use it to make formula or juice. Bottled water should be used for infants until the well has returned to safe nitrate levels and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) approves the do not drink notice to be lifted. For more information, customers should refer to the notice provided to them by Confreda Greenhouses and Farms.

The Confreda Greenhouses and Farms water system collected a sample on October 21, 2021 that had a nitrate level of 12 mg/L. A confirmation sample collected on October 26, 2021 had a nitrate level of 12 mg/L. The average of these two samples exceeds the maximum contaminant level of 12 mg/L.

Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the maximum contaminant level could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Blue baby syndrome is indicated by blueness of the skin. Nitrate is a concern for infants because they can't process nitrates in the same way adults can.

Symptoms in infants can develop rapidly, with health deteriorating over a period of days. If symptoms occur in a child less than 6 months old, seek medical attention immediately. If you are pregnant or have specific health concerns, you may wish to consult your doctor.

The do not drink notice will remain in effect until the well has returned to consistent safe nitrate levels and RIDOH approves the do not drink notice to be lifted.

Customers with questions should contact Jonathan Confreda at 401-827-5000.

Governor Declares October 22 as Family Visitor Appreciation Day

2021-10-22

Governor Daniel McKee has established October 22, 2021, as Family Visitor Appreciation Day to recognize and celebrate family visiting professionals in Rhode Island. The passion and drive of these public health professionals have supported that well-being of pregnant people, young children, and families across the state.

"I am pleased to recognize October 22, 2021 as Family Visitor Appreciation Day," said Governor Dan McKee. "Rhode Island is lucky to have so many dedicated family visitor professionals. They are an asset to our kids and to our communities."

The Rhode Island Department of Health, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families collaborate and oversee statewide efforts to mitigate or prevent poor health and developmental outcomes. Family visitors support the well-being of pregnant persons, young children and families to build protective factors, reduce child harm, and improve child and family trajectories help ensure Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to live and grow. The efforts of family visitors promote a healthier and diverse society where every individual is treated equitable and feels safe.

"We have an amazing team of people across multiple State agencies and at partner agencies who work tirelessly, every day, to help Rhode Island families thrive," said RIDOH Family Visiting Program Acting Manager Sara Remington. "Our variety of no-cost programs offers supports and resources to families so that babies can grow and develop into healthy, happy children."

More than 500 family visiting professionals work to serve families throughout the state with programs such as Early Intervention (EI), First Connections (FC), Healthy Families America (HFA), Parents as Teachers (PAT), Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), home-based Early Head Start (EHS), Family Care Community Partnerships (FCCP), Positive Parenting Program, Project Connect and SafeCare.

For more information about the Office of Family Visiting, including programs specifically operating under RIDOH (FC, HFA, NFP and PAT), please visit RIDOH's website.

Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Now Available; Recommendations Allow Individuals to Choose Type of Vaccine for Booster Dose

2021-10-22

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available and recommended as follows:

Moderna

A single booster dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at six months or more after the completion of the primary series to:

• Anyone age 65 or older;

• Anyone age 18 or older who lives in a long-term care setting;

• Anyone age 18 or older who has an underlying medical condition; and

• Anyone age 18 or older who lives or works in high-risk settings.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

A single booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine may be administered two months or more after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to:

• Anyone age 18 or older.

"This is an important step in our efforts to beat COVID-19 and keep Rhode Islanders healthy," said Governor Dan McKee. "Rhode Island's vaccination team has done the work to ensure we're prepared to get these booster shots in arms as soon as possible. I received my booster shot a few weeks ago, and I encourage eligible Rhode Islanders to do the same. Vaccination is key to our recovery."

This announcement comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an additional emergency use authorization for the administration of booster doses of the Moderna vaccine and for the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine on October 20, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided final guidance and endorsement on October 21 after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met to vote on guidance and clinical recommendations. Rhode Island's practice is to wait for both of these decisions prior to opening availability of vaccine to those who are eligible.

There are now recommendations for booster doses for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which type (manufacturer) of vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may want to get the same vaccine type that they originally got. Others may choose to get a different type of vaccine for their booster. CDC's recommendations now allow this "mix and match" for booster shots. (All doses in the primary vaccination series must still be the same type of vaccine.)

"We know that vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Anyone who is eligible for a booster dose should make an appointment to get one. If you have a question about what type of vaccine to get for a booster dose, talk to your primary care provider about the choice that is best for you."

Moderna and J&J booster doses are available to eligible Rhode Islanders as of October 22. Booster doses of Pfizer vaccine have been available since September 24 and will continue to be available. Eligibility for a booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is as follows:

A single booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at least six months after the completion of the primary series to:

• Anyone age 65 or older;

• Anyone age 18 or older who lives in a long-term care setting;

• Anyone age 18 or older who has an underlying medical condition; and

• Anyone age 18 or older who lives or works in high-risk settings.

Eligible Rhode Islanders can now make appointments for all three types of booster doses by visiting VaccinateRI.org or calling 844-930-1779. You can also learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and where to find appointments at C19vaccineRI.org.We expect small changes in the online systems for registration in the coming days to reflect new eligibility and thank Rhode Islanders in advance for their patience. Individuals will be asked to self-attest that they are eligible to receive booster doses.

RIDOH continues to work directly with nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other congregate care settings to ensure access to booster doses.

If you are unable to leave your home, you can request services for in-home booster doses. Please visit this link for more information.

ProSource Onions Recalled

2021-10-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that ProSource Produce is recalling whole raw onions (red, yellow, and white) shipped from Chihuahua, Mexico, between July 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. These products were shipped to a number of states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The onions were distributed to wholesalers, broadline foodservice customers, and retail stores in 50 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., 5 lb., 3 lb., and 2 lb. mesh sacks; and 50 lb., 40 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., and 5 lb. cartons, by the following distributors and/or under the following brands: Big Bull, Peak Fresh Produce, Sierra Madre, Markon First Crop., Markon Essentials, Rio Blue, ProSource, Rio Valley, and Sysco Imperial.

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.

Consumers who have purchased these onions are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or throw them out.

Rhode Island Kicks Off Flu Vaccination Campaign

2021-10-13

Governor Dan McKee kicked off Rhode Island's annual flu vaccination campaign today by urging all eligible Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their loves ones as healthy and safe as possible this flu season.

Lieutenant Governor Matos was vaccinated at the event, which was held at Anthony's Pharmacy in Providence. Governor McKee and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, were vaccinated earlier in the flu season.

"I got my flu shot a few weeks back. It was quick, painless, and I didn't have any side effects," said Governor Dan McKee. "I encourage all Rhode Islanders to get their flu shot and their COVID-19 vaccine. Both shots are important to building a healthy, resilient Rhode Island."

People can get flu shots and COVID-19 shots during the same visit to a pharmacy or other site where both vaccines are available.

"Getting your flu shot is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick during flu season," said Lieutenant Governor Matos. "I get mine every year. With school-aged children and working in a public building, it's important to me that I do everything I can to keep myself, my family, and my coworkers as healthy as can be. Flu season is approaching, so I hope you will get yours today - like me."

Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. Vaccination is especially important for certain people, including:

- Pregnant women

- People 65 and older

- Younger children

- People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma

- Healthcare workers, and

- People who live with or care for those at high risk of flu-related complications

There are hundreds of places throughout Rhode Island to get vaccinated, including pharmacies and the offices of many primary care providers. Additionally, school-located flu vaccination clinics are running throughout Rhode Island. These clinics are open to students and staff, and many of them function as community clinics as well. (For more information http://health.ri.gov/flu.)

"Flu shots are fast, easy, and free. You don't need health insurance to get your flu shot, and they are available in every community in Rhode Island," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season is to get your flu shot."

The flu results in hospitalizations and fatalities every year in Rhode Island. During the 2019-2020 flu season in Rhode Island, there were 950 hospitalizations due to the flu and 20 flu-associated deaths. (The 2020-2021 flu season was atypical in Rhode Island, given the community mitigation measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.)

Rhode Island has some of the highest flu vaccination rates in the nation. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 57% of Rhode Islanders age 18 or older got the flu shot, and 61% of Rhode Islanders six months or older got the flu shot.

This year's flu vaccine protects against two influenza A strains (including the H1N1 strain) and two influenza B strains, based on what experts believe will be circulating. For adults age 65 or older, two enhanced flu vaccines will be available. These enhanced vaccines help older adults get a higher immune response from their body and gives them better protection from the flu and flu-related illnesses.

After getting a flu shot, a person might feel achy or have a low-grade fever. This is a sign that the person's body is building an immune response to the flu virus. This response is much milder than the average case of the flu.

Other ways to stay healthy this flu season

- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Flu virus is spread to other people when you cough or sneeze into your hands and then touch other things.

- Clean and sanitize places that are touched regularly, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

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

- Get plenty of sleep, exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.

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. Registration for school clinics is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.)

- 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.

Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal Recalled

2021-10-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Maple Island Inc. is recalling three lots of the Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal that it manufactures for Walmart. This baby cereal was sold online and at Walmart locations nationwide, including Walmart locations in Rhode Island.

The three Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal 8 oz lots being recalled were sold after April 5, 2021.

- Lot 21083 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 24 2022.

- Lot 21084 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 25 2022

- Lot 21242 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of NOV 30 2022

The best if used by date and product numbers can be found in the bottom left corner on the back of the Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal packaging.

The recall is a result of a routine sampling program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which found that a sample from three production lots of Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal tested above the guidance for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.

No illnesses related to the product lots have been reported to date and no other production lots or Parent's Choice products are affected by this recall.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Water Recreation at Roger Williams Ponds

2021-10-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid water recreation at Roger Williams Park ponds in Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. At this time, blooms are known to be present in Pleasure, Cunliff, Elm and Edgewood Lakes, but they are likely to be present in other park water bodies. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should 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 pond waters 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 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Warwick Pond

2021-10-07

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

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 pond waters 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 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.

RIDOH Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus in 2021

2021-10-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing Rhode Island's first human case of West Nile Virus in 2021. West Nile Virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

The person who tested positive was a resident of Providence County in their 50s who reported regular trips between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This person is currently hospitalized after starting to experience symptoms of West Nile Virus approximately four weeks ago. Confirmatory testing was performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Common symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Although many people who are infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms, symptoms last for some people for several days or several weeks.

This is Rhode Island's first human case of West Nile Virus since 2018. Connecticut has confirmed three West Nile Virus cases in humans and Massachusetts has confirmed seven human cases this year. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has confirmed five positive findings for West Nile Virus in mosquito traps this year. (No mosquito samples in Rhode Island have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis - or EEE - which is another mosquito-borne illness.)

"Although we're nearing the end of mosquito season in Rhode Island, the risk is still high because mosquito-borne diseases have had the opportunity to become more prevalent in the mosquito population throughout the summer," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Mosquitoes breed in water, so you should get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water, such as tires, planters, and old trash cans or recycling bins. You should also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outside, especially at sunrise and sunset. A few simple precautions can help you stay healthy and safe when you are outdoors spending quality time with family and friends."

Rhode Islanders should reduce their exposure to mosquitoes until the first hard frost. (A hard frost is when the air and the ground freeze below 32 degrees F for three hours or below 28 degrees F for two hours.)

Protect yourself:

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities. 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. 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.

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.

- 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.

- Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

More information about mosquito prevention is available online: https://health.ri.gov/disease/carriers/mosquitoes/

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Worden Pond; Lifting Advisory for Brickyard Pond

2021-09-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Worden Pond in South Kingstown due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. A very high level of a toxin called microcystin was detected in a water sample taken from the shoreline on Woodsia Trail.

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analyses at Brickyard Pond in Barrington 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.

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from Worden Pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest the water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the lake. 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 pond waters 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 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 be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island and may return to sites that have previously had blooms. 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.

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Available for 65+, High-Risk Individuals At Least Six Months After Second Vaccination

2021-09-24

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced today that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available and recommended as follows:

• People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings (regardless of age) should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,

• People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,

• People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks,

• People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

"Rhode Island was well prepared for COVID-19 booster shot administration. I am pleased to see that eligible Rhode Islanders are already stepping up to get their booster shots," said Governor Dan McKee. "We had the infrastructure and strategy in place to respond swiftly to the approval from CDC, FDA, and ACIP and ensured boosters could be administered as soon as possible. Rhode Island continues to lead the nation in vaccinations and testing and we will continue to lead as we begin administering booster shots."

This announcement comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an additional emergency use authorization for the administration of booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for specific populations on September 23, 2021, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided final guidance today after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met yesterday to vote on guidance and clinical recommendations. Rhode Island's practice is to wait for both of these decisions prior to opening availability to those eligible.

Booster doses are available to eligible Rhode Islanders as of Friday, September 24. Eligible Rhode Islanders can now make appointments for booster doses. We expect small changes in online systems for registration over the coming days to reflect new eligibility and thank Rhode Islanders in advance for their patience.

Demand is expected to be higher for the next six weeks than it has been for the past several months, given the state's very high vaccination rates. For all Rhode Islanders, 74.8% have received at least one dose and 67.4% are fully vaccinated. For those 12 or older, 85.2% have received one dose, while 76.6% are fully vaccinated. People are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to get vaccinated, when possible, to ensure that enough vaccine is available at the site and to reduce wait times. You can make an appointment at C19vaccineRI.org. If you need assistance making an appointment, please call 844-930-1779, 401-222-8022, or 211.

At this time only the Pfizer booster has received FDA Emergency Use Authorization. Pfizer's COVID-19 booster dose is the same dose given for first and second shots of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to review Moderna's data on COVID-19 booster doses in the coming weeks. Data are still being collected on the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine before they can be presented to the FDA for possible booster consideration.

Individuals are asked to review this new guidance and self-attest that they are eligible to receive booster doses. Approximately 130,000 may be eligible under the approved guidelines.

RIDOH is also working directly with nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other congregate care settings to ensure access to the Pfizer booster. Specific to the homebound population, additional information is available at https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination.

Governor, RIDOH Announce Enforcement Strategy for October 1 Healthcare Worker and Healthcare Facility COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

2021-09-21

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing today an enforcement strategy for Rhode Island's COVID-19 vaccination requirement for healthcare workers. The enforcement strategy will help safeguard patients, residents, and staff by holding health professionals and facilities accountable to the October 1 vaccination requirement, while also preventing disruptions to care in Rhode Island as healthcare facilities work toward full compliance.

"Healthcare workers have been the heroes of Rhode Island's COVID-19 pandemic by consistently putting the health and safety of their patients first. The vast majority of healthcare workers have continued to do that by already getting vaccinated against COVID-19," said Governor Dan McKee. "The enforcement strategy for our COVID-19 vaccination requirement for healthcare workers provides clear structure and guidance to facilities that are working to get the remaining few who are not vaccinated yet, while ensuring that all Rhode Islanders still have access to high quality care in facilities throughout the state."

"This enforcement strategy is not intended to be an extension or exemption of the original vaccination requirement," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "On October 1, anyone that is non-compliant is subject to enforcement. If there is a risk to quality of care and an unvaccinated worker must continue to work beyond October 1 to mitigate that risk, the employer has 30 days to ensure that role is fulfilled by a fully vaccinated healthcare worker."

The COVID-19 vaccine is one of many vaccines that healthcare providers are required to receive. Rhode Island regulations require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1. Similar to other vaccines, healthcare facilities will be asked to report on their COVID-19 vaccination rates for their healthcare workers. Facilities may also be required to develop COVID-19 Vaccination Corrective Action Plans to ensure full compliance if they have not met the provisions of the regulation. These plans will:

• Specify the healthcare facility's plan to ensure that all remaining healthcare workers will become vaccinated against COVID-19 within 30 days.

• Demonstrate that any unvaccinated staff who are still working after October 1 are doing so to mitigate a risk to quality of patient care.

• Specify the temporary infection prevention measures that the facility will implement for unvaccinated staff who are critically necessary to the facility's operation.

• Outline the facility's procedure to ensure that any new hires are vaccinated against COVID-19.

More information about these plans, including information on deadlines for the submission of data and COVID-19 Vaccination Corrective Action Plans, will be shared directly with healthcare leadership across Rhode Island in the coming days. Plans will be due on October 1.

"Similar to the approach that we take with other vaccinations that are required for healthcare workers, we are outlining and providing clear action steps to facilities to ensure full compliance by October 1," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "Rhode Island's effective enforcement strategy, requiring COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, will limit exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable patients and will help ensure the stability of our healthcare system statewide."

Rhode Island's healthcare worker vaccination regulations apply to approximately 57,600 workers. Rhode Island currently has an overall healthcare facility vaccination rate of approximately 87%, up 10 percentage points from 77% in early September.

Rhode Island's healthcare worker vaccination regulations overlap purposefully with organizational and federal vaccination requirements. For example, hospital systems in Rhode Island have required employees to be vaccinated, and President Biden announced last week vaccination requirements for workers at organizations with more than 100 employees, federal workers, and workers at many facilities that receive funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Flat River Reservoir (Johnson's Pond)

2021-09-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Flat River Reservoir (Johnson's Pond) in Coventry due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom and associated toxins. The toxins can harm humans and animals.

People should 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 pond waters 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 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.

Please send reports of suspected blue-green algae blooms, along with photographs, if possible to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae at Briar Point Beach

2021-09-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Briar Point Beach on Tiogue Lake in Coventry. The advisory was 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 this waterbody 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.

Aldi Poppy Seed Dressing Recalled

2021-09-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that one lot of Aldi Simply Nature Organic Poppy Seed Dressing is being recalled due to a processing issue that could allow for microbial growth. The recalled product comes in a 12 fl. oz. glass bottle with the Best if Used By date of February 15, 2023, and UPC #4099100023169. The lot code is printed on the bottle above the label.

This product was distributed to Aldi stores between August 20th and September 10th. It was distributed to stores in Rhode Island and many other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York.

To date, no illnesses related to this product have been reported. No other Aldi products are affected by this recall. The recall was initiated after an investigation revealed the potential for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, making it unsafe for consumption.

Consumers should discontinue use of this product and can return it to their place of purchase for a full refund.

RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality Honored Among 2021 EPA Environmental Merit Award Winners

2021-09-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH) Center for Drinking Water Quality was honored for its efforts to protect the Rhode Island drinking water supply during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

All of the State drinking water systems in New England, State water and wastewater response networks, and other water sector associations were awarded a 2021 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Merit Award for their collective efforts. Environmental Merit Awards are awarded by EPA for outstanding efforts in preserving New England's environment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the water supply for the 15 million people in New England that are served by 2,700 community systems was threatened. Water systems, which are responsible for maintaining and providing safe drinking water, faced reduced availability of staff, shortages of chemicals used for treatment purposes, and worker health and safety challenges.

"The continued diligence and expertise in RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality and Rhode Island's many water systems keep drinking water in Rhode Island healthy and safe," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Protecting our drinking water is one of the core functions of RIDOH and of public health. I am grateful to our dedicated staff and partners who worked tirelessly to provide this critical service despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic."

RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality and other New England drinking water programs developed creative solutions to address the regulatory, policy, and technical assistance challenges of the pandemic, including developing new guidance. To protect worker health and safety, RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality focused on transitioning certain responsibilities and activities to virtual platforms, including designing new protocols that enabled State staff to perform some critical duties remotely, hosting virtual meetings, developing virtual training opportunities, and offering professional trainings to keep certified operators up to date.

During this challenging time, RIDOH's Center for Drinking Water Quality strived to conduct essential in-person field inspections in a safe manner, with the health conditions of customers and our staff members safeguarded, including appropriate PPE protections. As a result of such efforts, RIDOH has fulfilled all the required Rhode Island Drinking Water public water systems sanitary surveys in 2020, and RIDOH anticipates to fully accomplish all the required surveys in 2021 again.

Many Rhode Islanders may be surprised and interested to learn how their drinking water gets to them, how it is monitored, and where to find monitoring results. The Drinking Water Watch web portal allows citizens and water suppliers to see drinking water monitoring data and other information for public water systems in Rhode Island: https://dwq.health.ri.gov/DWW.

Potters Pond Closed to Shellfish Harvesting

2021-09-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island of Environmental

Management (DEM) are announcing the immediate closure of the Potters Pond (GA10PP), located in South Kingstown, to all shellfish harvesting. The pond will remain closed until further notice.

The closure is the result of an investigation that linked human illnesses to shellfish harvested in the area. A shellfish sample that was collected by RIDOH tested positive for Campylobacter lari. The sample was collected because of an ongoing investigation into seven instances in which people became ill after consuming raw shellfish between August 11th and August 19th. Two of these individuals tested positive for Campylobacter Jejuni, which is a different type of Campylobacter. The positive shellfish sample does not match the illnesses from the investigation. However, the detection of Campylobacter lari indicates the presence of Campylobacter. RIDOH is collecting additional shellfish samples for further testing.

RIDOH has contacted all commercial harvesters in this area to ensure that any product harvested during this time frame is not sold at restaurants and markets. RIDOH is urging recreational harvesters who harvested shellfish in Potters Pond between September 9th through September 11th to either discard the shellfish or avoid consuming them raw or undercooked. (The pond had been closed for a period of time before September 9th because of heavy rain.) Cooking the shellfish until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F can reduce the risk of infection. Quick steaming is not sufficient to prevent gastrointestinal illness from these pathogens. Raw oysters and shellfish that contain harmful bacteria or viruses may look, smell, and taste normal.

People with Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may accompany the diarrhea. These symptoms usually start two to five days after the person ingests Campylobacter and last about one week. In some cases, individuals can develop more serious complications. If you consumed shellfish from this area and are ill and concerned about your health you should seek medical attention. If you believe you became ill after consuming raw shellfish, you can report to RIDOH by calling 401-222-2749 during business hours and 401-276-8046 after hours.

RIDOH will update this announcement once additional samples are collected and tested.

Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters and reported illnesses, protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, RIDOH, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.

For more information on the shellfish harvesting classifications, review the annual notice available at RIDEM - Shellfish. An interactive shellfishing map is also available.

For information on emergency and conditional area water quality related shellfish closures, call DEM's 24-hour shell fishing hotline at 401-222-2900, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish, or sign up for the Office of Water Resources' listserv here: RishellfishOWR-subscribe@listserve.ri.gov.

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RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Brickyard Pond; Lifting Advisories for Warwick Pond and Camp Hoffman at Larkin Pond

2021-09-03

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

Recent consecutive surveys at Camp Hoffman at Larkin Pond in Kingston and Warwick Pond, and associated sample analyses, confirmed that blue-green algae cell counts and toxin levels have been at acceptably low levels. These levels meet state guidelines to support lifting the advisory.

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from areas near Brickyard Pond. All recreation, including swimming, wading, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest the water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the lake. 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 pond waters 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 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 can re-occur in affected waterbodies. People are advised to check the appearance of the water before deciding where to recreate. Please 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. Other potentially harmful blooms 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.

Fratelli Beretta Recalls Ready-to-Eat Uncured Antipasto Meat Products

2021-08-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Fratelli Beretta is recalling approximately 862,000 pounds of uncured antipasto products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Infantis and/or Salmonella Typhimurium. The ready-to-eat uncured antipasto meat trays were produced on February 28, 2021 through August 15, 2021. The following products are subject to recall:

24-oz. trays containing two 12-oz packages of "Fratelli Beretta UNCURED ANTIPASTO PROSCIUTTO, SOPPRESSATA, MILANO SALAMI & COPPA" with best by dates of AUG 27 21 through FEB 11 22 and UPC code 073541305316.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 7543B" printed on the packaging next to the best by date. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Federal health officials are investigating multistate outbreak of 36 Salmonella Typhimurium and Infantis illnesses in 17 states, with onset dates ranging from May 9, 2021 through July 27, 2021. Some ill people reported eating Fratelli Beretta brand uncured antipasto before they got sick and the traceback investigation confirmed that some of the ill people purchased uncured antipasto trays produced by Fratelli Beretta.

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 6 hours to 6 days 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.

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 food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Rhode Islanders Reminded to Seek Medical Care in the Right Setting

2021-08-30

With hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island experiencing significant crowding and prolonged waiting times, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding people to seek medical care in settings where they will be most appropriately treated. People who do not need emergency care should not go to emergency departments.

Hospital patient volume continues to be high and has been exacerbated by a shortage of clinical staff, especially nurses. These shortages are due to a variety of factors, including health professionals working less or exiting the health sector after working through multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients may experience long wait times in the emergency department for non-urgent symptoms or may board there for a significant period before hospital admission. To prevent this, people should not go to emergency departments for health issues that can be treated more quickly and effectively by a primary care provider or in an urgent care facility. This includes less severe cases of the flu, back pain, minor cuts, sore throats, low-grade fevers, and most cases of norovirus (the "stomach flu").

People should also not go to the emergency department for COVID-19 testing or COVID-19-like illness that does not require emergency care. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home. People with any concerns should check in with their primary care provider (See below for when to seek emergency care for COVID-19).

"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."

"Our hospitals stand ready to safely treat anyone who needs care regardless of the day or time. If you have a health emergency, call 911. But, if you are not sure whether your health issue is an emergency, call your primary care physician," said Teresa Paiva Weed, President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. "If you haven't seen your primary care physician in a while, make an appointment because primary care is the best way to manage existing health conditions and prevent an emergency."

"Hospitals locally and around the country are facing shortages of certain clinical staff, such as nurses, since many front line staff have decided to work less and some have left healthcare after the stresses of over a year of providing care during a global pandemic," said Lifespan Physician-in-Chief of Emergency Medicine Jeremiah Schuur, MD. "As patients return to hospitals for care, we are seeing backups in Emergency Departments, particularly at the busiest times of patient arrival. We remain prepared to care for patients with time-sensitive emergencies such as trauma, heart attack, and stroke, and we urge patients to not delay seeking care for serious illnesses or injuries or concerning symptoms. At the same time, it's important that people who do not need emergency level care be treated by their primary care provider or at an urgent care facility, so that our emergency departments can focus on the critically ill and injured, and all patients can receive the care they need in the most appropriate setting."

"Outside of a perceived medical emergency, a patient should first call their primary care provider, who will assess their need for medical attention at the appropriate level. Primary care providers already understand their patient's unique medical history, and may be able to see them quickly, helping them avoid an unnecessary and costly ED visit. However, if a patient is experiencing an emergency, and feels it is serious, they should immediately call 911," said James E. Fanale, MD, President and CEO, Care New England Health System.

How to know if you should go the emergency department

If someone is not sure if they should go to the emergency department, they should contact their primary care provider or visit an urgent care or community health center. A primary care provider can give you guidance about the next best step, and most offices have a provider on-call after hours. RIDOH has a list of primary care providers online. For people who do not have a primary care provider, RIDOH has information and lists online for urgent care facilities, community health centers, and other express care facilities in the state.

What to do if you have COVID-19

- Stay home (except if emergency care is needed - see below). Do not visit public areas.

- Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, for symptom relief.

- Avoid public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.

- Separate yourself from other people. As much as possible, stay in a designated room and away from other people. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom.

- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours before the person has any symptoms or tests positive.

- See RIDOH's full guidance on how to isolate safely.

When to seek emergency care for COVID-19 or another health issues

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

- Trouble breathing

- Persistent chest pain or chest pressure

- New weakness in an arm, leg, or face

- New difficulty speaking or confusion

- Inability to wake or stay awake

- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you are going to an emergency department for COVID-19-like illness, notify the facility that you (or the person you are accompanying) is seeking care for COVID-19. Masks are required in all healthcare facilities.

Steps people can take to help stay healthy and out of the hospital

- Get a COVID-19 vaccine.

- Talk to a healthcare provider about treatment for COVID-19, if you test positive.

- Get a flu shot when it is available.

- 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.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Treatment for COVID-19

2021-08-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding the public that fast, easy, highly effective treatment is available for people 12 years of age and older who become sick with COVID-19.

This treatment helps prevent people from developing severe illness and getting hospitalized. After completing this infusion treatment, many people with COVID-19 start feeling better as early as the next day. This treatment does not require hospitalization.

"Along with vaccination and testing, treatment is one of the main tools we have to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and keep people out of the hospital," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "As soon as you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, talk to a healthcare provider about whether you should get treatment and where you can get it."

If you don't have a regular healthcare provider, visit http://health.ri.gov/find/urgentcare or schedule treatment directly with Atmed Urgent Care at www.atmedurgentcare.net. Additionally, treatment at home may be

available through Alert Ambulance.

The earlier someone starts treatment after symptoms the more effective it is, so people should get tested as soon as they have symptoms.

Learn more about treatment at http://COVID.ri.gov/treatment.

For partially or fully vaccinated people who get COVID-19, being vaccinated should not affect COVID-19 treatment decisions or timing. People who are 12 years of age and older who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should get vaccinated as soon as possible. More information about vaccination is available at C19vaccineRI.org

Boil Water Notice Issued for Charlestown Commons

2021-08-26

The Charlestown Commons property in Charlestown is issuing a boil water notice to its customers and residents because E. coli bacteria was found in the water system, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing. The system consists of commercial space and a residential duplex. It serves approximately 150 people a day.

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. 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's Center for Drinking Water Quality webpage: http://www.health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/

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, and 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 Chris Randall at 401-364-5021.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Site Closures

2021-08-21

Testing sites

In anticipation of inclement weather, all State-run COVID-19 test sites will be closed on Sunday, August 22nd. The State will continue to monitor Hurricane Henri and assess whether sites will reopen or remain closed on Monday, August 23rd.

When test sites reopen, people who had appointments cancelled due to weather will not need to make new appointments. They can go to the site where their appointment was scheduled with a print or screenshot of their confirmation notice, and they will be tested.

Vaccination Sites

All State-run vaccination sites will be closed on Sunday. People who had appointments for Sunday are being contacted directly with information about new appointments.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Briar Point Beach on Tiogue Lake; Lifting Advisory for Upper Curran Reservoir

2021-08-19

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

Recent consecutive surveys at Upper Curran Reservoir in Cranston, 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.

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from Briar Point Beach on Tiogue Lake. All recreation, including swimming, wading, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest the water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the lake. The advisory on Briar Point Beach will remain in effect until further notice. Caution should be used when recreating throughout Tiogue Lake as conditions may change and extend the cyanobacteria bloom to other areas beyond Briar Point Beach.

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 pond waters 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 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 present in other areas of Tiogue Lake and 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.

State to Require Immunization Against COVID-19 for All Licensed Healthcare Workers

2021-08-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing today that all employees, interns, and volunteers in RIDOH-licensed healthcare facilities and all RIDOH-licensed healthcare providers must receive their final dose of COVID-19 vaccine by October 1, 2021, effective August 18th.

"The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, is vaccination," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "For the safety of our healthcare workers, patients, and for our healthcare system overall, today's announcement is a very important step."

The regulation applies to staff at RIDOH-licensed health care facilities, including those with direct patient contact and those who may not be involved in patient care. It also applies to individually licensed providers who utilize their license as part of their position in a healthcare facility. Prior to October 1st, any worker in a RIDOH-licensed healthcare facility who is not vaccinated is required to wear a face mask and be tested at least twice weekly.

RIDOH-licensed facilities

Workers in RIDOH-licensed facilities must be vaccinated before October 1st. Workers in RIDOH-licensed facilities who are not vaccinated by October 1st will not be allowed to enter a healthcare facility unless they provide proof of a medical exemption. Employees in violation of this regulation may face financial penalties and/or suspension/revocation of the facility's license, in addition to disciplinary action by the affected employer against individual employees who do not comply.

RIDOH-licensed healthcare providers

All RIDOH-licensed healthcare providers who work in a healthcare setting must be vaccinated as of October 1st. Those who are not vaccinated by October 1st may be subject to financial penalties and/or suspension/revocation of their license (unless they provide proof of a medical exemption).

The COVID-19 healthcare worker vaccination regulations and additional resources are available online: http://covid.ri.gov/healthcare-professionals

Third Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Available for Some Immunocompromised Rhode Islanders Beginning Saturday

2021-08-13

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that certain immunocompromised Rhode Islanders can begin receiving third doses of COVID-19 vaccine tomorrow, August 14th.

Rhode Islanders who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are eligible for third doses. People are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised if they are/have:

• Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies

• Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy

• Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)

• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)

• Advanced or untreated HIV infection

• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ?20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

This definition of moderate to severe immunosuppression is in alignment with the definition developed by federal health officials.

Beginning tomorrow, people can get third doses at the Sockanosset Crossroads vaccination site and at hospital vaccination sites. To schedule an appointment for Sockanosset Crossroads, visit VaccinateRI.org or call 844-930-1779. RIDOH expects third doses to be available at retail pharmacies in the coming days.

Rhode Island will use a self-attestation model for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. People will not be required to provide documentation of their health status. People can get third doses at all venues where first and second doses are available.

Third doses will be available to moderately to severely immunocompromised Rhode Islanders who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. (This announcement does not pertain to people who received Johnson & Johnson vaccine.) Whenever possible, people who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine will receive a third dose of Pfizer vaccine, and people who received two doses of Moderna vaccine will receive a third dose of Moderna vaccine. However, interchangeability of the two vaccines is acceptable. People should wait at least 28 days between their second and third doses.

There are approximately 35,000 people in Rhode Island who are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised. Ample vaccine supply exists in Rhode Island to meet this new demand.

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized third doses of vaccine for people with moderate to severe immunosuppression. Earlier today, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met and voted to support the FDA's action. Federal health officials were acting on studies demonstrating that immunosuppressed people are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, are at higher risk for prolonged infection, are more likely to transmit the virus, and experience lower vaccine effectiveness.

More information about how and where to get vaccinated is available online at C19vaccineri.org, or by call 401-222-8022.

RIDOH Launches New Drug Overdose Surveillance Data Hub

2021-08-13

With drug overdose deaths increasing both nationally and in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has launched a new Rhode Island Drug Overdose Surveillance Data Hub to increase access to information about the overdose epidemic.

The Rhode Island Drug Overdose Data Hub was formally released this week during a meeting of Governor Dan McKee's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The hub can be accessed at: http://Health.ri.gov/od-datahub.

The hub has expanded public access to five overdose surveillance systems, and offers a closer look at detailed, municipal, county, and statewide trends. Featured surveillance systems include emergency department visits, emergency medical service runs, overdose fatalities from the RIDOH's Office of the State Medical Examiners and the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System, and prescribing data for the Rhode Island Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Community partners, researchers, students, and others can compare municipal-level data, such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, and incident/resident location, to county and statewide trends. People can also find municipal data reports, research publications, and request or download data.

"As the drug overdose epidemic evolves, this new tool empowers Rhode Island's Health Equity Zones (HEZ), Community Overdose Engagement (CODE) partners, and other community partners to use municipal drug overdose data to prevent overdose deaths and save lives," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of RIDOH and co-chair of Governor McKee's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. "Community partnership are more important now than ever."

"Rhode Island has long been a national leader in making drug overdose data accessible and available to the public. This new data hub provides an even more comprehensive resource and will be a critically important tool for harm reduction organizations, policy makers, researchers, and municipalities across the state," said Dr. Brandon Marshall, Development Team Lead for PreventOverdoseRI.org and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Brown University School of Public Health.

The Rhode Island Drug Overdose Data Hub works together with PreventOverdoseRI.org to create a holistic view of how opioids and drug overdose are impacting the state. PreventOverdoseRI.org offers historical overdose data trends, interactive data stories, local resources, educational materials, and campaigns. The dashboard also provides resources for people who may be at risk of overdose, healthcare providers who would like to learn more about treatment, as well as concerned loved ones. Since 2015, PreventOverdoseRI.org has been an online platform for real-time data to track the progress of the Governor's Overdose Prevention Action Plan.

RIDOH's new Data Hub links directly to PreventOverdoseRI.org to ensure data visualizations on both sites are updated automatically. Improvements in the data request process have been enhanced on the website, making it easier for the public to request data directly from RIDOH's Drug Overdose Surveillance Program.

"Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power. By providing accessible data and public resources, RIDOH is putting vital tools into the hands of outreach workers and community members to do life-saving work. We are grateful for the Department of Health's commitment to supporting overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts, including the Overdose Data Hub and PORI," said Annajane Yolken, Director of Programs at Project Weber/RENEW.

Increasing public access to timely, accurate data has been a focus of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) 2020 Evidence Update for the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

Accidental drug overdose deaths increased by 25% from 2019 to 2020 (from 308 to 384). Preliminary 2021 fatal overdose data suggest that Rhode Island remains on a similar trajectory.

Rhode Islanders experiencing a substance use or mental health crisis can get connected to immediate care by calling the 24/7 BH Link Hotline, 401-414-LINK (5465) or visiting BH Link Walk-In Triage Center at 975 Waterman Avenue in East Providence.

The Data Hub adheres to RIDOH's Small Numbers Reporting Policy to ensure confidentiality. A tutorial about the Rhode Island Drug Overdose Data Hub is available online: https://youtu.be/BPl7yk9mu58

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Water Recreation at Camp Hoffman and Sachem Pond

2021-08-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid water recreation at Camp Hoffman in Kingston and Sachem Pond on Block Island due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

People should 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 pond waters 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 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.

Most Fixed, State-Run COVID-19 Testing Sites Now Requiring Appointments

2021-08-11

To make the COVID-19 testing process as streamlined and efficient as possible, most fixed, State-run testing sites are now requiring appointments. Rhode Islanders can schedule a free test online at http://portal.ri.gov or by calling 401-222-8022. Insurance is accepted but not required.

Making an appointment ahead of time reduces long lines and crowding at testing sites and ensures easy access to results. If you arrive at a State-run testing site without an appointment, site staff will help you schedule a same-day test.

While most of Rhode Island's 17 fixed testing sites are now appointment only, the Block Island Fire and Rescue Barn and the testing site for travelers at T.F. Green Airport will continue to accept walk-ups. In addition, the State has mobile pop-up testing opportunities that do not require appointments. A schedule of mobile testing sites is available online (see link below).

Over the last several weeks, Rhode Island has seen an increase in demand for COVID-19 testing. From the week of July 26th to the week of August 2nd, there was a 69% increase in the number of tests scheduled at State sites. When demand for COVID-19 testing was lower, State-sites would accommodate people without appointments. With demand now higher, State test sites are returning to an appointment-only model.

Rhode Island's COVID-19 testing program currently approximately 4,600 appointments on average per weekday. The State is planning to expand appointment availability and may open additional test sites if the demand for testing continues to increase.

With the Delta variant now the dominant variant of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated and get tested.

If you're not yet vaccinated, get tested for COVID-19 every week. Whether or not you're fully vaccinated, get tested right away if you get symptoms of COVID-19, even if you think it's just a cold or allergies. RIDOH also recommends testing if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled out of state.

For more information about COVID-19 testing options and the latest guidance, visit https://covid.ri.gov/testing.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-Green Algae in Georgiaville Pond

2021-08-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RI DOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Barney Pond in Smithfield. 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.

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, Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, and Sachem Pond on Block Island

2021-08-06

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 (spans Smithfield and Johnston town line), Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, and Sachem Pond on Block Island due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, that can harm humans and animals. Very high levels of microcystin toxins were detected in the most recent water sample from Slack Reservoir.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People also 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.

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.

McCormick Recalling Seasonings

2021-07-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that McCormick & Company is recalling McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning, McCormick Culinary Italian Seasoning, and Frank's RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning due to possible contamination with Salmonella.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, 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.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with these products.

The four products subject to this recall include:

McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning 1.31 oz bottle

UPC NUMBER: 052100049731

MCCORMICK ITEM NUMBER: 901582629

AFFECTED DATE CODES: BEST BY MAY 26 24 K, BEST BY MAY 27 24 K, BEST BY JUN 04 24 K, BEST BY JUN 05 24 K

McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning 2.25 oz bottle

UPC NUMBER: 052100038254

MCCORMICK ITEM NUMBER: 901455463

AFFECTED DATE CODES: BEST BY JUN 30 24 H, BEST BY JUL 01 24 H

McCormick Culinary Italian Seasoning 1.75 lbs. bottle

UPC NUMBER: 52100325743

MCCORMICK ITEM NUMBER: 932574

AFFECTED DATE CODES: BEST BY Jun 12 24 H

Frank's RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning 153g bottle

UPC NUMBER: 066200021047

MCCORMICK ITEM NUMBER: 901543520

AFFECTED DATE CODES: BB / MA 2022 SEP 06

The four products were shipped from June 20, 2021 through July 21, 2021 to states throughout the country, including Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Consumers are urged to dispose of the recalled product and its container. Please contact McCormick Consumer Affairs at 1-800-635-2867, weekdays from 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM (Eastern Time), for a replacement or full refund, and with general inquires.

Rhode Island Seeing Increased Number of Reported Cases of Legionnaire's Disease

2021-07-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is notifying the public that it has observed an increase in the number of reported cases of Legionnaires' disease (LD). Between 2014 and 2020, there was an average of 10 cases during the months of June and July each year, ranging from 0-11 cases in a single month. From June 2, 2021 to July 26, 2021 there have been 30 cases of Legionnaire's disease, 29 of which have illness onset dates between June 17 and July 21. Twenty eight of the 30 people have been hospitalized. No common source of exposure has been identified, although an investigation is ongoing.

"This is another example that underscores the value of RIDOH's routine monitoring for communicable diseases," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We know that Legionella bacteria grow best in complex water systems that are not well maintained. When this water becomes aerosolized in small droplets, such as in a cooling tower, shower, or decorative fountain, people can accidentally breathe in the contaminated water. This is of particular concern now as some buildings' water systems have been offline for a prolonged period due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are just now returning to service."

Symptoms of LD start two to 10 days after breathing in the bacteria, Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. It is spread from a contaminated water source through the air. LD cannot spread from person to person.

Anyone who is diagnosed with LD is treated with antibiotics. Most people who get LD need to be admitted to the hospital, but they make a full recovery. However, approximately one in 10 people who get LD will die. If a person with Legionnaire's disease is diagnosed and starts taking antibiotics early on in their illness, it is less likely they will have serious complications like lung failure or death.

Legionella is especially a concern in buildings that primarily house people older than 65, buildings with multiple housing units and a centralized hot water system (like hotels or high-rise apartment complexes), and buildings higher than 10 stories.

Things Rhode Islanders can do to prevent the spread of LD include:

• If you live in a building that primarily houses people older than 65, a building with multiple housing units and a centralized hot water system (like hotels or high-rise apartment complexes), or a building higher than 10 stories, ask if there is a Legionella Water Management Program in place.

• In homes or other types of buildings, follow the manufacturer's directions about how to clean and disinfect hot tubs, whirlpools, showerheads, and breathing equipment like CPAP machines, to help stop bacteria from growing.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Warwick Pond

2021-07-23

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

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 pond waters 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 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.

Give and Go Muffins Recalled

2021-07-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Give and Go Prepared Foods is recalling certain muffin products due to the potential for the products to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were sold under a variety of brand names, including Uncle Wally's, The Worth Crumb, 7-Eleven Selects, Great Value, and Marketside. These products were sold in retail stores nationwide. A full list of products and best-by dates is available online.

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 people 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.

To date, there have been no reports of illness related to this issue.

Consumers who have these products should immediately dispose of the products and not eat them.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Upper and Lower Melville Ponds

2021-07-16

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

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 pond waters 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 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.

Six School and Child Care COVID-19 Testing Sites to Close

2021-07-15

With on-site COVID-19 testing to be available to schools in the fall, and with COVID-19 testing now more accessible in traditional healthcare settings, six State-run testing sites for school and child care communities will wind down operations at the end of July, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing.

Last month, the State released a plan to support full in-person learning for the fall. School-based testing is a crucial component of that plan. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and schools will have opt-in choices for how to design and resource their testing plans. Options will include symptomatic testing, outbreak testing, and asymptomatic testing. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) will support LEAs and schools as administrators develop their COVID-19 testing programs.

In September 2020, the State opened a network of testing sites exclusively for school and child care communities to support the return to in-person learning and child care. While six of these sites are closing, five school and child care testing sites will remain open. Rhode Island has 14 additional fixed testing locations, and Rhode Islanders can also get tested in retail pharmacies, respiratory clinics, the offices of primary care providers, and at mobile and pop-up testing opportunities. To be responsive to potential increases in the demand for testing, Rhode Island will maintain significantly more testing capacity than is currently being utilized.

Saturday, July 31st, will be the last day for COVID-19 testing at the following locations:

- Bristol Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 605 Metacom Ave.; Bristol, RI 02809

- Cranston Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 275 Warwick Ave.; Cranston, RI 02905

- Lincoln YMCA Parking Lot: 32 Breakneck Hill Rd.; Lincoln, RI 02865

- Providence Stop & Shop Parking Lot: 850 Manton Ave.; Providence, RI 02909

- Smithfield Fidelity Investment Headquarters Parking Lot: 100 Salem St.; Smithfield, RI 02917

- Westerly Walmart Parking Lot: 258 Post Rd.; Westerly, RI 02891.

For more information about COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island, visit http://covid.ri.gov/testing.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Four Water Bodies

2021-07-13

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

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 pond waters 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 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.

RIDOH and DEM Issue Advisory About Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish

2021-07-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising the public that Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish have been identified in high numbers by DEM's Division of Marine Fisheries in Ninigret and Green Hill Ponds. These ponds are in Charlestown.

Sea nettles are often present during high summer in Rhode Island. They are most common in the salt ponds in South County. People planning to recreate in ponds in this area should bring a first aid kit and add a bottle of vinegar and sting spray.

Images of Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish are attached. Their stings typically cause moderate discomfort and itchy welts. If stung:

- Remove visible tentacles with a gloved hand or a plastic bag

- Rinse the affected area in vinegar or a commercially available sting spray (or saltwater)

- Do NOT rinse with freshwater, as this can worsen the sting

- Apply heat pack or rinse under hot water

- Use an ice pack and/or hydrocortisone cream to reduce discomfort

- If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention

"There has been a high abundance of Atlantic sea nettle jellyfish in Ninigret and Green Hill Ponds lately," said Katie Rodrigue, Principal Marine Biologist in DEM's Division of Marine Fisheries. "Their population in the ponds has been exploding over the last month or so, probably as water temperatures have increased, and last week we observed thousands of them in the western section of Ninigret Pond along the East Beach side. DEM joins RIDOH in urging the public to be vigilant while recreating in coastal ponds this summer and to carry a first-aid kit including vinegar in case of a jellyfish encounter."

While the reason for the increase in Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish this summer is not yet fully understood, their numbers are expected to decline over the course over the summer. Other species of jellyfish are less of a concern, like moon jellyfish (flat disc-shape with very short tentacles), and comb jellyfish, which have no stingers at all.

Tyson Foods Recalls Ready-To-Eat Chicken Products

2021-07-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Tyson Foods is recalling 8,492,832 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The frozen, fully cooked chicken products were produced between December 26, 2020 and April 13, 2021. The products subject to recall have establishment number "EST. P-7089" on the product bag or inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mark of inspection. These items were shipped nationwide to retailers and institutions, including hospitals, nursing facilities, and restaurants. The products that are subject to the recall are listed online. (See link below)

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, people 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. People in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell their healthcare provider about eating the contaminated food.

On June 9, 2021, the USDA was notified of two people ill with listeriosis. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health partners, the USDA determined there is evidence linking the Listeria monocytogenes illnesses to precooked chicken produced at Tyson Foods. The epidemiologic investigation identified three listeriosis illnesses, including one death, between April 6, 2021 and June 5, 2021.

USDA is concerned that some product may be in consumer and institutional freezers. Consumers should not eat these products. Institutions should not serve these products. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

RIDOH Announces New Health Equity Zones

2021-07-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that it is expanding support and funding to establish four new Health Equity Zones (HEZs). Warwick, Warren, Blackstone Valley (including Cumberland, North Smithfield, and Lincoln), and the 02905 ZIP code (including lower South Providence and nearby neighborhoods) were chosen through a competitive process that drew applicants from communities across the State.

The ongoing expansion of RIDOH's HEZ initiative has been made possible in part through support from a pilot investment in place-based transformation in Rhode Island by Blue Meridian Partners and in partnership with ONE Neighborhood Builders (ONE|NB). Blue Meridian Partners is a national philanthropic organization that finds and funds scalable solutions to the problems that limit economic mobility and trap America's young people and families in poverty. ONE|NB is the backbone, or convening entity, of the pilot initiative, known as Central Providence Opportunities. The goal of Central Providence Opportunities is to improve economic opportunity in the 02908 and 02909 ZIP codes of Providence through affordable housing development, wage growth, local business development, and early education supports. The aim is to scale this pilot effort to other communities in Rhode Island by working with residents, community partners, and State agencies.

"Rhode Island's Health Equity Zones are a transformative element of the State's health and wellness infrastructure," said Governor Dan McKee. "Thank you to Blue Meridian Partners, One Neighborhood Builders, and the Rhode Island Department of Health for making HEZ expansion possible to ensure more of our neighbors in more of our communities can benefit from these important collaborations."

"Recognizing the power and promise of the HEZ initiative, it only made sense to invest in its expansion," said Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE|NB. "The entire Central Providence Opportunities team looks forward to sharing the lessons we have learned about the connections between comprehensive community development and improved economic mobility-and, consequently, improved health outcomes."

The investment to expand Rhode Island's HEZ initiative will be managed by the Rhode Island Foundation in partnership with the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and RIDOH, and the funding will be leveraged to expand the impact of the HEZ model into additional communities.

"We're inspired by the many local communities that are deeply investing in health equity initiatives," said Assistant Secretary of EOHHS Ana Novais. "Expanding our Health Equity Zones makes it possible for more Rhode Islanders to live their healthiest lives. Thanks to our funding partners, we're honored to engage more communities through this latest coordinated and aligned investment in health equity."

"As the State's community foundation, and as investors in the existing Health Equity Zones, we are pleased to be a partner in this work," said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. "Our hope is that the new sites will follow the model of successful HEZs around the state, providing opportunity for even more Rhode Islanders to work together to use their voices, and collective power, to improve their own health and the health of their communities."

Like the 11 existing HEZs, the four new HEZs will annually receive $150,000 in core funding and support to ensure that these communities ground their work in public health principles and best practices, so that measurable outcomes are reached and evaluated.

"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. Congratulations to the new Warwick, Warren, Blackstone Valley, and 02905 Health Equity Zones. We are thrilled to expand this opportunity to additional communities here in Rhode Island and look forward to seeing what you accomplish to improve the health and lives of Rhode Islanders."

RIDOH's HEZ initiative uses a health equity-centered approach to prevention that leverages place-based, community-led solutions to address the social determinants of health. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 85% 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 HEZ model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaboratively address these factors to create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

Each successful application was submitted by a municipal or nonprofit, community-based organization that will serve as the backbone agency for the local HEZ. These agencies-East Bay Community Action Program, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Family Service of Rhode Island, and Comprehensive Community Action Program-will facilitate a community-led process to organize a collaborative of community partners, conduct a needs and asset assessment, identify priorities based on community input, and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the obstacles to health and well-being in local neighborhoods. A comprehensive description of the HEZ approach, model, and process is detailed in the guide that RIDOH recently launched with support and funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Health Equity Zones: A Toolkit for Building Healthy and Resilient Communities.

Existing Rhode Island HEZ 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 take action to address the most pressing concerns impacting the health of their neighborhoods.

The initial year-long contract period will begin in July 2021 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 the HEZ model in Rhode Island, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/hez.

RIDOH Reports Case of Rare Tick-Borne Disease Powassan

2021-06-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reporting a confirmed case of the tick-borne Powassan virus disease (Powassan) detected in a Rhode Island resident. Laboratory testing confirming the diagnosis was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case involves a previously healthy male over the age of 70 from Providence County, who developed neurological symptoms and is now recovering.

Powassan is a tick-borne disease that is found mostly in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions of the U.S. and in eastern Canada. Over 166 cases of Powassan have been reported in the United States in the past 10 years. Powassan cases are rare, but the reported number of cases has increased in recent years. Between 2010 and 2019, there were 56 cases of Powassan reported in New England - 31 cases in Massachusetts, eight cases in Connecticut, eight cases in Maine, five cases in New Hampshire, and four cases in Rhode Island.

Initial symptoms of Powassan include fever, headache, vomiting, and generalized weakness. The disease usually progresses to meningoencephalitis, which may include meningeal signs, altered mental status, seizures, aphasia (difficulty understanding or speaking), paresis (muscular weakness or paralysis), movement disorders, or cranial nerve palsies. People with severe Powassan disease often need to be hospitalized. There is no vaccine or treatment for Powassan, so preventing exposure to ticks is the best strategy to avoid this disease.

RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) remind Rhode Islanders to take steps to prevent tick-borne diseases, including Powassan and Lyme Disease, when spending time outdoors. RIDOH has launched its annual summer tick safety campaign with prevention messages featured on television, radio, and social media. The Tick Free Rhode Island campaign highlights the three keys to tick safety: repel, check, and remove.

Repel - Keep ticks off you, your children, and pets by:

- Avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaves. If you are going to be in a wooded area, walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaves at the edges of the trail. You can also spray your clothes with permethrin to keep ticks away. Make sure to not spray this on your skin.

- Wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outside. o Tucking your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes. o Wearing light-colored clothing so you can see ticks more easily.

Check - Check yourself, your children, and pets, for ticks by:

- Taking a shower as soon as you come inside if you have been in grassy or wooded areas.

- Doing a full-body tick check using a mirror; parents should check their kids for ticks and pay special attention to the area in and around the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in their hair.

- Checking your pets for ticks as well because they can bring ticks into the home.

Remove - Remove ticks from your body, as well as from children and pets, if you find them.

- Use a set of tweezers to remove the tick. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up.

- If you don't have tweezers, use your fingers with a tissue or rubber gloves.

For more information on Powassan, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases, visit https://health.ri.gov/ticks.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2021-06-28

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.

Avanti Frozen Foods Recalling Certain Shrimp Products

2021-06-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Avanti Frozen Foods is recalling certain shrimp products because they could have been contaminated with Salmonella. These shrimp products were sold under the brand names Censea, Hannaford, Open Acres, Waterfront Bistro, Honest Catch, Chicken of the Sea, 365, and Meijer.

The frozen shrimp products were distributed nationwide from December 2020 to February 2021. These products were sold in various unit sizes and some were packaged with cocktail sauce. Additional information about the specific products being recalled, including container descriptions and expiration dates, is available online (see link below).

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.

Consumers who have purchased the products being recalled should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Governor McKee, Rhode Island Department of Health Lift COVID-19 Restrictions on Remaining "Higher Risk" Activities

2021-06-18

"Higher Risk" Activities Include Live Performances, Indoor Hookah, Saunas & Whirlpools, Nightclubs

PROVIDENCE, RI- The Governor's Office and Rhode Island Department of Health today announced that certain restrictions on what have been categorized as higher risk activities and settings will be lifted effective June 18, 2021. The activities and settings include: live indoor performances, indoor hookah, saunas and whirlpools, and nightclubs. These settings and activities continue to be higher risk for people who are not fully vaccinated. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including children who are too young to be vaccinated, should continue to wear a mask when indoors.

Live performances

The following restrictions on live indoor performances have been lifted: previously, if masks were not worn, there had to be at least six feet of physical distance between performers and any other person including other performers. If masks were worn, there had be at least three feet of physical distance between all performers. If all performers were fully vaccinated, no spacing or masking restrictions were recommended.

Indoor hookah

The following restrictions on indoor hookah establishments have been lifted: previously, the use of hookahs or waterpipes indoors at establishments was prohibited, unless the establishment restricted access to the area to fully vaccinated people. Additional COVID-19-specific guidelines have been lifted, but general safety and health maintenance best practice guidelines remain in place.

Saunas & Whirlpools

The following restrictions on saunas and whirlpools have been lifted: previously, these establishments were only open to fully vaccinated people as verified by the establishment. Unvaccinated people are advised to continue to wear masks indoors, when possible. Sauna and whirlpool occupancy levels may return to pre-COVID-19 levels. All other health maintenance best practices and guidelines remain in place.

Nightclubs

The following restrictions on nightclubs have been lifted: previously, nightclubs were to operate at 50% of regular operating capacity. Nightclubs could increase capacity to 100% if the establishment limited access to only vaccinated people. Nightclubs may return to pre-COVID-19 capacity. Unvaccinated people are encouraged to wear masks indoors.

For a complete list of COVID-19 reopening guidance, best practices and other information, visit reopeningri.com.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce COVID-19 Test Site Consolidation Plan

2021-06-14

Due to a shift in strategy and focus in the State's COVID-19 response, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing their plan to consolidate State-run COVID-19 test sites.

As the pandemic evolves, the State's testing strategy has become more targeted. Rhode Island is focused on bringing COVID-19 testing to the most vulnerable groups of people in the State. Mobile and pop-up testing has been implemented in places where it is needed the most, like schools, communities with low vaccination rates, travel destinations, and in places where outbreaks have occurred.

By the end of the month, State-run, larger-volume test sites will be consolidated. The State will maintain 25 fixed test sites throughout Rhode Island to ensure all residents have access to free and convenient COVID-19 testing. Rhode Islanders also have the option to get tested at retail pharmacies and medical offices.

"The Department of Health and all of our local partners made testing a priority early into the pandemic, which made a world of difference," said Governor Dan McKee. "Please continue to get tested even if you are vaccinated and have symptoms. Testing will continue to be an important way to keep Rhode Islanders safe as more and more Rhode Islanders across age bands get vaccinated and will help RIDOH identify emerging variants in our communities."

Throughout the pandemic, the State has led the nation in COVID-19 testing rates per capita and maintained capacity for large-scale asymptomatic testing. As vaccination rates have increased, demand for COVID-19 testing has decreased. At the height of its testing volume in April, the State was testing 125,000 people per week. The State is now testing approximately 50,000 per week. Even with these decreases, the State maintains the ability to ramp up capacity if needed.

"The COVID-19 positivity rate in Rhode Island has gone down and vaccination rates are among the highest in the nation," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "But the pandemic is not over, and Rhode Islanders need to remain vigilant. COVID-19 testing will continue to be a critical tool in identifying disease and preventing outbreaks."

Saturday, June 26, will be the last day of testing at the following sites:

• Barrington Shopping Center: 180 County Rd. Barrington, RI 02806

• Dorrance Street: 79 Dorrance St. Providence, RI 02903

• Park Holm Senior Center: 1 Eisenhower St. Newport, RI 02840

• Stop & Shop Newport: 199 JT Connell Hwy Newport, RI 02840

• K12 CCRI- Newport: 1 John H. Chafee Blvd. Newport, RI 02840

• K12 Pastore Campus: 19 Foster Rd. Cranston, RI 02920

Sunday, June 27, will be the last day of testing at the following sites:

• New England Tech-East Greenwich: 1560 Division Rd. East Greenwich, RI 02818

• New England Tech-Warwick: 2480 Post Road Warwick, RI 02886

• North Providence Mineral Spring: 1967 Mineral Spring Ave. North Providence, RI 02904

• Rhode Island Convention Center Parking Garage: 114 West Exchange St. Providence, RI 02903 (walk-up PCR location at the ticket booth on Sabin Street will remain open)

• Smithfield VFW: 47 Farnum Pike Smithfield, RI 02917

• Stop & Shop Cottage Street-Pawtucket: 368 - 398 Cottage St. Pawtucket, RI 02860

• Walnut Hill Plaza: 1500 Diamond Hill Rd. Woonsocket, RI 02895

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should get tested weekly. If you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or you are returning from out-of-state travel. Vaccinated travelers are still encouraged to get a COVID-19 test between five and 10 days after out-of-state travel. For a full list of COVID-19 test sites, visit http://covid.ri.gov/testing.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Issues Voluntary Recall of Infant Rice Cereal

2021-06-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting consumers that Beech-Nut Nutrition issued a voluntary recall of one lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal. This recall is a result of a routine sampling which showed test results that were above the guidance level for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic set by the FDA in August 2020. The rice flour used had been tested and confirmed as being below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic.

The specific Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice item (UPC Code# 52200034705) being recalled has an expiration date of 01MAY2022 and product codes: 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX. The expiration date and product numbers can be found at the bottom of the Beech-Nut Single Rice Cereal canister. These specific product codes were distributed nationally through retail and online.

No illnesses related to these product codes have been reported to date, and no other production dates or Beech-Nut products are affected by this recall.

FDA has recognized that trace elements such as these are widely present in the environment, including water, soil and food; and has also stated that exposure to elevated levels of naturally occurring inorganic arsenic can pose a health hazard to young children.

Consumers who may have purchased recalled product should discard it. They can also go to www.beechnut.com/ricecereal, or call 866-272-9417, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for further information on obtaining an exchange or refund.

Rhode Island Sends 200,000 COVID-19 Test Kits to India

2021-06-07

In collaboration with Kent Hospital and Care New England's COVID-19 Crisis Relief Effort, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) sent 200,000 COVID-19 tests to India last week. The tests, along with other medical supplies like personal protective equipment, ventilators, medications, and pulse oximeters, will be distributed to hospitals around Delhi.

"I'm proud that Rhode Island is able to make the contribution of tests to support our global partners," said Governor Dan McKee. "It's going to take a local and global approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 and I'm glad that Rhode Island could step up in this way for the international community."

Each kit includes everything needed to administer and process the test like nasal swabs, resulting cards, and a bottle of reagent solution.

"India's hospitals and laboratories have been stretched to their limit as case counts in the nation reach an all-time high," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "RIDOH is sending BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests to help healthcare professionals quickly identify positive COVID-19 cases and put them into isolation. We know that getting COVID-19 positive patients into isolation significantly reduces the continued spread of disease. This type of test does not need to be sent to a lab and provides results in 15 minutes."

RIDOH received these BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests for free from the federal government. This supply allowed RIDOH to expand its testing footprint throughout the State, bringing fast and easy testing to schools, medical offices, and workplaces. RIDOH currently has enough rapid antigen tests to sustain current testing volume.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Westwood YMCA

2021-06-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting customers of the Westwood YMCA in Coventry that they should boil their water before consuming it.

Westwood YMCA collected a sample in the water system on May 27, 2021, and the sample had E. coli present. Westwood YMCA failed to collect a complete set of required repeat samples within the required timeframe following the notification of a E. Coli present sample. Failing to do so requires that a boil water order notice be issued.

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.

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 Jeff Smith at 401-741-1252.

RIDOH Announces Approval, With Conditions, of Chamber Prospect CharterCARE's Applications

2021-06-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announces that it has given conditional approval to Chamber Prospect CharterCARE's Change in Effective Control (CEC) and Hospital Conversion Act (HCA) applications. This transaction allows investors to end their relationship with the parent company, Ivy Holdings, Inc., with extensive conditions in place.

The approval of the HCA application is in alignment with, and includes, the financial conditions the Office of the Attorney General announced earlier today.

"This conditional approval is the result of extensive and thoughtful review and deliberation of hours of testimony under oath, analysis of our consultant's findings, public comments, transcripts, and the information and data submitted by the applicants," said Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. "Our continued priority is to assure quality, equitable, and accessible healthcare for Rhode Islanders served by Roger Williams Medical Center, Our Lady of Fatima Hospital, and other Prospect CharterCARE (PCC) facilities. The specific and strategic conditions we have included in RIDOH's approval allow us to closely monitor the hospitals and their future viability. Most notably, we are not allowing any layoffs for a period of one year."

Other key elements of the conditional approval require:

• Both hospitals to remain open and operational, providing access to quality healthcare services, for at least five years;

• Submission of quarterly reports to RIDOH on quality improvement initiatives;

• No material reduction or elimination of healthcare services without RIDOH approval;

• Participation in RIDOH and community statewide health equity initiatives, including support for local Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiatives;

• Participation in statewide health information technology initiatives;

• Contributions to primary care and the State health planning initiatives;

• Elimination of management fees paid by both hospitals; and

• Strong and timely financial reporting and notification, including fiscal and public health monitoring for a period of no less than five years.

PYA, P.C. (PYA) served as RIDOH's expert financial consultant for the HCA review. RIDOH met with PYA staff on an ongoing basis as part of the review and analysis of documents submitted by the applicants.

As an expert in the hospital and healthcare accounting industry, PYA provided key financial observations and assisted in RIDOH's review of the HCA application. PYA acknowledged that both hospitals face long-term financial viability risks and have operated at a financial loss since their acquisition in 2014. Since 2014, Prospect Medical Holdings (PMH) has funded operational shortfalls and capital investments while also reporting limited liquidity and a highly leveraged position in recent fiscal years. However, PYA concluded that "Despite these general observations, utilizing the information made available to us by the Transacting Parties, we did not observe impacts from the Proposed Transaction which directly affect the financial condition of PCC. We do note that PCC may be impacted indirectly as a result of any potential material effects to PMH caused by the Proposed Transaction."

"Including these conditions for the applicants allows RIDOH a more focused and distinct ability to monitor these facilities while achieving important public health goals," said Alexander-Scott. "The basis for this decision is in close alignment with the RIDOH's long-standing strategic priorities to ensure quality and accessible health services, including healthcare, for all Rhode Islanders, regardless of their ZIP code."

Rhode Island to Eliminate Residency Requirement for COVID-19 Vaccination

2021-05-13

In advance of the summer tourism season, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that any clinically eligible person in Rhode Island will be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of where they live. This policy change will take effect next Monday.

Rhode Island's current policy is that people must either live, work, or study in Rhode Island to be vaccinated in Rhode Island against COVID-19. With vaccine now more available in Rhode Island and nationally, this updated policy will allow people who travel to Rhode Island to get vaccinated here.

"This is a win-win for Rhode Island. We're making sure that travelers who are in Rhode Island are getting protection from COVID-19, which keeps us all safer, and we're marketing Rhode Island to travelers as a state that is doing everything possible to make vacationing safe," said Governor Dan McKee. "To Rhode Islanders 16 and older who have not been vaccinated yet, go out and get your shot today."

People can make an appointment www.vaccianteRI.org or by calling 844-930-1779. Making an appointment is the way to guarantee that you will get a shot. However, people do not need appointments to get vaccinated at the sites at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston), the Dunkin' Donuts Center, and in Middletown (1400 West Main Road, Middletown). Vaccine is also available at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine, visit: http://covid.ri.gov/vaccination.

Registration For COVID-19 Vaccination Open for Children 12 to 15 Years of Age

2021-05-11

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that parents and guardians can now register children 12 to 15 years of age to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This follows the announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday granting an Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group.

"COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective," said Governor Dan McKee. "I'm urging all parents to get their 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated. This vaccine will help keep kids, families, and our community safe."

"The Pfizer vaccine was rigorously studied before it was made available to children 12 to 15 years of age, and we are doing on-going monitoring after administering more than 100 million doses to adults in the U.S. over the last five months," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "Getting the child in your life vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important things you can do to make sure their summer is healthy and safe."

Parents and guardians can give consent and make appointments for Pfizer vaccine for children on VaccinateRI.org. (Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccine are still only available to be people 18 years of age and older.) It is recommended that children be accompanied by an adult for appointments at the State's mass vaccination sites. Walk-up vaccination opportunities are also available at the sites at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston), the Dunkin' Donuts Center (1 La Salle Square, Providence), and in Middletown (1400 West Main Road, Middletown).

RIDOH will also be working with cities, towns, and school departments to offer clinics in schools. (Schools have already been offering vaccine to students 16 and older.) Additionally, it is anticipated that the large pharmacy chains will start offering vaccine to children in this age group later this week.

Largely because children cannot be vaccinated, and because more contagious variants of COVID-19 are now circulating in Rhode Island, an increased proportion of Rhode Island's COVID-19 cases are now among children. In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was extremely effective at preventing COVID-19 in children 12 to 15 years of age. The vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection with symptoms and led to a strong antibody response.

Additional information about COVID-19 vaccine in Rhode Island is available online: https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination.

Rhode Island to Resume Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Administration

2021-04-26

Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that Rhode Island will resume the administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. This decision was made following the recommendation last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the temporary pause on the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be lifted. The agencies are confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19.

"This pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine demonstrates that we have rigorous safety systems in place, and those systems work," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We will continue to monitor both the safety and the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to see that COVID-19 vaccine is preventing cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities in Rhode Island. Everyone older than 16 years of age is now eligible to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe when it comes to COVID-19."

The pause was announced on April 13th after reports of six people experiencing adverse reactions involving a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). The problems were found up to two weeks after vaccination. During the pause, the issue was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is a group that advises the CDC. The risk of CVST was also reviewed by medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC. Following this review, the CDC and the FDA determined that the vaccine's benefits outweigh any potential risks, and that it is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

Roughly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. More than 31,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Rhode Island. There have been no reported cases of CVST among people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Rhode Island.

Appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccine will again be available on VaccinateRI.org this week, as well as through other channels. (People can also make appointments by calling 211.) Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose COVID-19 vaccine available to people who are 18 years of age and older.

Rhode Island healthcare providers have been provided with information and guidance about CVST and appropriate medical treatment. Updated clinician guidance will continue to be provided. Healthcare providers should ensure patients understand the risk of any vaccine and have all of their questions answered prior to any vaccine administration. Patients do have a choice of which COVID-19 vaccine they receive. State vaccine sites will do their best to have as many vaccine options as possible.

Although the side effects of concern are extremely rare, the FDA and CDC recommend that people who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should immediately contact their health care provider.

Jule's Foods Issues Recall of Brie and Other Products

2021-04-23

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 Truffle Cashew Brie - UPC: 860388001514 - all expiration dates

- Jule's Black Garlic Cashew Brie - UPC: 860388001552 - all expiration dates

- Jule's Artichoke Spinach Dip - UPC: 860388001569 - all expiration dates

- Jule's Vegan Ranch Dressing - UPC: 860388001521 - all expiration dates

These products were distributed to grocery stores in Rhode Island, as well as Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. Jule's Foods Brie products are 6 ounces and wrapped in white cheese paper.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating a contaminated product. Most people recover without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection can produce more severe illness and require hospitalization. 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.

Production of these products has been suspended while the FDA and the company continue their investigation as to the source of the problem. Please do not consume the product and immediately dispose of the product or return to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company via email at jules@julesveganfoods.com or telephone at (310) 980-4697 between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce 3,200 COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments to be Posted on Thursday Morning

2021-04-14

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 VaccinateRI.org on Thursday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the State-run site at Sockanosset Cross Road.

These appointments are being released tomorrow, instead of on a Tuesday or a Friday, because many are for this Friday. These appointments for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine had originally been scheduled for release on Tuesday morning, but were held back as the State was still planning the coverage of appointments that had been made for Johnson & Johnson doses.

People age 40 and older who live, work, or go to school in Rhode Island are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Information about additional eligible populations is available online: https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination

Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Pause

2021-04-13

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 vaccinators that had made Johnson & Johnson vaccination appointments to not administer those doses. Additional information will be shared shortly regarding people who had already made appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

No information reported to RIDOH has indicated that Johnson & Johnson vaccine represents a health or safety concern. However, RIDOH is taking this step in alignment with federal partners.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce 7,600 COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments to be Posted Tomorrow

2021-04-12

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 VaccinateRI.org on Tuesday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the Dunkin' Donuts Center, the State-run mass vaccination sites in Woonsocket, South County, and at Sockanosset Cross Road, and at the regional clinics in Johnston, Westerly, and East Providence.

"It is my top priority to get as many Rhode Islanders vaccinated as quickly and equitably as possible," said Governor Dan McKee. "We know that transportation can be a barrier to vaccine access. Many vaccine and testing sites have been purposefully located near RIPTA transportation routes to increase accessibility. We hope RIPTA service options will make it easier for Rhode Islanders to access vaccine clinics that are convenient for them."

In addition to the age groups previously eligible, people who are 40 to 49 years of age are now eligible to register. Additionally, eligibility has been expanded to everyone 16 years of age and older in several harder hit ZIP codes. Those ZIP codes are 02895 (Woonsocket), 02893 (West Warwick), 02906 (Providence), 02910 and 02920 (Cranston), 02911 (North Providence), 02914 (East Providence), and 02919 (Johnston). These ZIP codes are in addition to the ZIP codes in Providence, Cranston, North Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls where eligibility has already been expanded (02860, 02861, 02863, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909).

People who need help scheduling an appointment should call 844-930-1779.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expansion Announced for Today and Monday

2021-04-09

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 by Governor McKee at yesterday's press conference, eligibility will further expand on Monday. On Monday, any Rhode Islander 40 to 49 years of age will be eligible to register to get vaccinated. Additionally, on Monday, residents of 02893 (West Warwick), 02906 (Providence), 02910 and 02920 (Cranston), 02911 (North Providence), 02914 (East Providence), and 02919 (Johnston), age 16 and older will be eligible.

"We continue to vaccinate as many people as our vaccine allocation allows," said Governor McKee. "Our increased capacity to get shots in arms puts us on track to meet the President's recommendation that all adults are eligible for vaccination by April 19."

"Equity is a major focus for us in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. This means distributing vaccine in a way that is responsive to the reality that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on certain communities," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "This approach is reflective of our larger vision at the Rhode Island Department of Health that all Rhode Islanders in every ZIP code should have an equal opportunity to be healthy."

In addition to expanding age eligibility in communities most impacted by COVID-19, Rhode Island is running equity-focused COVID-19 vaccination clinics this weekend and next weekend at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence and at the State-run vaccination site in Woonsocket.

Eligibility is opening to Woonsocket residents today, not Monday, because that community has been harder hit. For the week of March 28th to April 3rd, Woonsocket had 128 new cases of COVID-19, an increase of 21% from the previous week. In addition, Woonsocket has the lowest vaccination coverage rate of any community where age eligibility has not yet been expanded.

Roughly 20,000 slots will open today at 5 p.m. on VaccinateRI.org for people who are currently eligible to register. (Roughly 1,000 of those appointments will be at the Woonsocket site.) People who cannot register online for an appointment at a State-run vaccination site can get help by calling 844-930-1779 or 2-1-1. In addition to appointments at State-run sites, people can get vaccinated at retail pharmacies and at local/regional vaccination sites.

People who are not eligible yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19 can pre-register by signing up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List at http://www.portal.ri.gov. People will be notified by email, text, or phone call when they are eligible and there is an available appointment.

There is no insurance requirement to get vaccinated in Rhode Island, and no one has to pay to get vaccinated. For general information about COVID-19 vaccination in Rhode Island, visit C19vaccineRI.org.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce 7,300 Additional COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments to be Posted Tuesday

2021-04-05

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 VaccinateRI.org on Tuesday at 9 a.m. These appointments will be for the Dunkin' Donuts Center, Sockanosset Cross Road, and the regional sites in Westerly, Johnston, and East Providence. These appointments will be available to people in all groups currently eligible, including people 50 to 59 years of age, who became eligible to register for vaccination today.

"I am glad to be starting off the new week by expanding vaccine eligibility to Rhode Islanders 50 years and older," said Governor Dan McKee. "We're moving quickly to build out our capacity and make vaccines accessible to all Rhode Island adults when our supply increases. I encourage Rhode Islanders to sign up for an appointment as soon as they are able to - getting shots in arms quickly is the fastest way through this pandemic."

This week will also mark the start of the use of Rhode Island's vaccine pre-registration system. Rhode Islanders can pre-register to get vaccinated at a State-run vaccination site through the Vaccine Interest Notification List. To pre-register, visit http://portal.ri.gov or call 844-930-1779. When an appointment opens up for someone who has pre-registered and who is age-eligible, a notification will be sent to that person with a one-time use link. People will be contacted either through email, text message, or phone call, depending on their preference. For most people, there will be some flexibility in the time of the appointment, but it will be for a set date at a set location. People will have 24 hours to make an appointment once they receive a one-time use link. Notifications will be sent starting this Wednesday.

In addition to the State-run vaccination sites and the regional sites, people can make appointments to get vaccinated at a pharmacy. Vaccine is available at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Stop & Shop, and a number of independent pharmacies. (While people make appointments at chain pharmacies through those chain pharmacies directly, people can make appointments at independent pharmacies through VaccinateRI.org.)

Along with people who are 50 years of age and older, people who are 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions are eligible to get vaccinated, as well as people who were previously eligible in Phase 1 (such as healthcare workers and public safety workers).

Sabra Issues Limited Recall of Certain Classic Hummus Products

2021-04-01

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, 2021 with a "Best Before" date of April 26th. This product has a UPC of 300067.

This product was distributed to 16 states, including Rhode Island. No illnesses or consumer complaints have been reported to date in connection with this recall. This issue was discovered by a routine screen of a single tub by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Consumers can contact Sabra Consumer Relations at 1-866-265-6761 for additional information Monday - Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Standard Time. Additionally, consumers who have purchased the specific recalled product are urged to return it to the place of purchase or visit www.sabrahummusrecall.com for product reimbursement.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating a contaminated product. Most people recover without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection can produce more severe illness and require hospitalization. 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.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce 12,000 Additional COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments to be Posted Tomorrow

2021-04-01

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 VaccinateRI.org on Friday at 5 p.m.

"Tomorrow, we'll be releasing the largest batch of vaccine appointments in Rhode Island to date," said Governor Dan McKee. "This is great news for our efforts to get as many shots in arms as quickly as possible. I encourage Rhode Islanders to make a plan to get vaccinated when they become eligible."

Vaccine is currently available statewide for people who are 60 to 64, people who are 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions, and people who were previously eligible in Phase 1. On Monday, people 50 to 59 years of age will be eligibility to register to get vaccinated at vaccination sites in Rhode Island. More information about eligibility is available online.

Fentanyl-Contaminated Drugs Continue to Accelerate Rhode Island's Overdose Crisis

2021-03-30

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.

During the first 11 months of 2020, 256 Rhode Islanders lost their lives to a fentanyl-involved overdose, accounting for 73% of all overdose deaths during this time. These data compare to 69% in 2019. (It can take up to 90 days for the OSME to confirm a decedent's cause and manner of death. For this reason, Rhode Island's 2020 overdose death data is not yet final.)

This increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths has contributed to an increase in overall drug overdose deaths. There were 356 accidental drug overdose deaths between January 2020 to November 2020 in Rhode Island, more than any year on record to date. In addition to the increased presence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, other contributing factors could include COVID-19-related social isolation and people using drugs alone.

"We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Rhode Island's overdose crisis," said Governor Dan McKee. "It's more important now than ever that we strengthen our efforts to ensure Rhode Islanders who are struggling with substance use and their families receive the support and resources they need. I thank our Overdose Prevention Task Force Co-Chairs for their continued work to address this important public health issue in our communities."

"Illegal 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."

"The drug overdose epidemic has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which makes it even more important to reach out to members of your community during this unprecedented time," said A. Kathryn Power, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals. "If you know someone who is struggling, we implore you to call BH Link at 401-414-LINK (5465). Remember that addiction is a disease, treatment is available, and recovery is possible for everyone."

Dr. Alexander-Scott and Director Power are the co-chairs of Governor Dan McKee's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The Task Force has four focus areas led by work groups: rescue, treatment, prevention, and recovery. Additional Task Force work groups have since been activated and include efforts related to harm reduction, families, first responders, pregnant and parenting families with substance-exposed newborns, and racial equity. Addressing the drug overdose crisis through the lens of structural racism and equity is front and center to all Task Force-related work.

Fentanyl is a lethal opioid that is usually colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Even a very small amount can cause an overdose. It is often found in counterfeit pills. Pills are pressed to look identical to prescription medications, particularly counterfeit oxycodone pills (sometimes called "Perk 30s," "Perks," "Vikes," or "Oxys"), benzodiazepines (sedating drugs), and Adderall (a stimulant). Fake pills containing fentanyl are even more lethal when crushed and snorted.

Fentanyl is also often found in heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. From January 2020 to November 2020, 72% of accidental drug overdose deaths involving cocaine also involved fentanyl.

In addition to fentanyl, methamphetamine is becoming an emerging drug threat in New England. Methamphetamine is a highly-addictive stimulant available as a powdery substance and as a pill. Another version of the drug is called "crystal meth." This type of methamphetamine is often smoked and looks like chunky fragments or shiny blue-white "rocks."

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)'s New England Branch issued a warning to the public to beware of methamphetamine pills that are being pressed to look like prescription Adderall. Adderall is a medicine usually prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Counterfeit Adderall pills are pressed with lethal methamphetamine and made to look like prescription pills.

Resources for People Who Use Drugs and Their Loved Ones

People who use drugs and their loved ones are strongly encouraged to:

- Learn the signs of an overdose and how to respond with a brief online overdose prevention training developed by The University of Rhode Island's Community First Responder Program. The free training is available at PreventOverdoseRI.org in English and Spanish.

- Carry naloxone (overdose reversal medicine) and request a free naloxone kit shipped to your address at no cost. Visit PreventOverdoseRI.org to request a kit today. You can also get naloxone from any Rhode Island pharmacy without a prescription from a healthcare provider.

- Call a local community-based organization for free and anonymous delivery of safer drug use supplies (naloxone, sterile needles, fentanyl test strips) to your location, or to arrange a pickup. People can visit preventoverdoseri.org safer-drug-use-practices/ to learn more.

- Always call 9-1-1 first if someone might be experiencing an overdose. People are protected by the Rhode Island Good Samaritan Law and cannot be arrested if giving naloxone to someone who is experiencing an overdose.

- Call Rhode Island's 24/7 Buprenorphine Hotline, 401-606-5456, for help if you or someone you care about is experiencing opioid withdrawal. Callers can speak with a healthcare provider, learn about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options, and make a plan for treatment and recovery support.

- Call BH Link, 401-414-LINK (5465), for immediate assistance with a mental health or substance use crisis. People can also visit BH Link's drop-in center at 975 Waterman Ave. in East Providence. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer support and connect callers to local resources.

State-level initiatives

A number of efforts are currently underway to address the drug overdose crisis in Rhode Island.

- Community-based organizations have increased street outreach presence in overdose hotspots across the state. Certified peer recovery support specialists (CPRSs) distribute naloxone, sterile syringes, and fentanyl test strips, and provide wrap-around services and basic needs to people who use drugs. Project Weber/RENEW conducts outreach in Providence's Kennedy Plaza in partnership with the Downtown Providence Community Overdose Engagement (CODE) Collaborative.

- Rhode Island's 10,000 Chances Project has distributed more than 10,000 free kits of intranasal naloxone to Rhode Islanders who are at risk of overdose and families and friends of people who are at risk.

- Increased housing supports have been made available for people in Woonsocket and Providence through the West Elmwood 02907 and Woonsocket CODE Collaborative projects, key initiatives of the West Elmwood and Woonsocket Health Equity Zones (HEZ).

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

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce Additional Vaccination Appointments; Expanded Efforts to Vaccinate Residents in Hardest Hit Communities

2021-03-29

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 in one of eight hardest hit ZIP codes covering parts of Providence, Cranston, North Providence and all of Pawtucket and Central Falls, will be able to register for vaccination appointments at State-run vaccination sites and participating pharmacy locations.

These additional appointments are being made available as the State is expanding efforts to ensure that residents of communities hardest hit by COVID-19 have access to vaccine. The eight specific ZIP codes are: 02860, 02861, 02863, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909.

"From the day I took office my top priority has been building our vaccination capacity and getting shots in arms in as many Rhode Islanders as quickly as possible," said Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee. "I'm pleased that our supply from the Federal government continues to increase and I encourage all Rhode Islanders to sign up for their shot as soon as they are eligible."

People can register online at VaccinateRI.org. People who can't register online can call 844-930-1779. The appointments that open tomorrow will be for the State-run sites at Sockanosset Cross Road, the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, and the site in Middletown.

After adjusting for age differences, the hospitalization rates in Rhode Island's hardest hit communities is roughly 3.5 times higher than in the rest of the state. Starting at age 50 and older, residents of these communities have higher hospitalization rates than residents who are age 70 and older statewide. Within these communities, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Rhode Islanders of color. The age-adjusted hospitalization rate among Hispanic or Latino Rhode Islanders is 4.6 times higher than the rate among white non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders. Similarly, the age-adjusted rate among Black or African American Rhode Islanders is 2.6 times higher.

RIDOH continues to work with the McKee Administration's Equity Council and other partners on strategies to narrow these disparities and expand access to vaccine among communities of color.

Outside of these eight communities, the groups currently eligible for vaccination are people who are age 60 and older, people who are age 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions, and people who are part of previously eligible groups (such as healthcare workers, public safety workers, and teachers and child care providers). More information about eligibility is available online.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce Additional COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments to be Posted Today

2021-03-27

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing that additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be posted on 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, West Kingston). These appointments will be for slots on Monday.

Vaccine is currently available statewide for people who are 60 to 64, people who are 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions, and people who were previously eligible in Phase 1. More information about eligibility is available online.

Governor McKee, RIDOH Announce COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility to Open for Next Groups on Friday

2021-03-11

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 vaccinated as quickly as possible, and opening eligibility to this next group of Rhode Islanders is an important and encouraging step toward that goal," said Governor McKee. "We will continue to build out and increase our state's vaccination capacity to ensure we are prepared to get shots in arms when the vaccine supply increases."

New appointments at Rhode Island's State-run vaccination sites will be added to VaccinateRI.org beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday. (New appointments are regularly added on Tuesdays beginning at 9 a.m. and Fridays beginning at 5 p.m.) Walgreens and CVS expect to adjust their eligibility criteria to take appointments for people in these two groups at 11 a.m. on Friday.

People age 16 to 64 are eligible to be vaccinated if they have one of the following conditions: diabetes (type 1 or type 2); lung disease (such as COPD, emphysema, or cystic fibrosis); heart disease; or kidney disease. People age 16 to 64 are also eligible if they have a weakened immune system. That includes people who have cancer, people who get chemotherapy or radiation, people who have HIV/AIDS, people who have sickle cell disease, people who take medicine that weakens the immune system, and people who are pregnant. A full list of qualifying conditions is available online.

Rhode Island currently has three State-run vaccination sites, located in Providence (at the Dunkin' Donuts Center), Cranston (at Sockanosset Cross Road), and Middletown (1400 West Main Road). People who cannot register online for an appointment at a State-run site through VaccinateRI.org can get help by calling 844-930-1779.

To make an appointment through CVS, go to CVS.com, use CVS Pharmacy phone app or call 800-746-7287. To make an appointment through Walgreens, go to Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or call your local Walgreens.

In addition to retail pharmacies and the three State-run vaccination sites, Rhode Islanders are also getting vaccinated at city- and town-run clinics and through hospital systems, community health centers, and other targeted locations. City- and town-run sites are currently focused on administering second doses to people who are 75 and older and on vaccinating teachers, school staff, and child care workers. On Tuesday Governor Dan McKee announced a plan to get first doses to all teachers, school staff, and child care workers at these sites by the end of March.

People who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 can sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Notification List by visiting http://portal.ri.gov. Rhode Island is using this list to let people know when they are eligible to make a vaccination appointment. The State-run vaccination sites are also using this list to identify and contact Rhode Islanders if they anticipate having any unused doses in open vials as they near the end of the day, beginning with currently eligible groups. People who need help being added to the Vaccine Interest Notification List can call 844-930-1779.

People who live, work, or go to school in Rhode Island can now get additional support when scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. People can call 2-1-1 to talk to a live, trained person, who can offer help in multiple languages when scheduling appointments on VaccinateRI.org or signing up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Notification List. RIDOH is working with the United Way to provide this free support for all Rhode Islanders, including those with technical challenges and barriers, the deaf and hard of hearing community, those who speak a language other than English, and people with speech disabilities. This help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about COVID-19 vaccination in Rhode Island, visit RIDOH's COVID-19 Vaccine page.

People who are 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive Pfizer vaccine. This may mean that it may be more challenging for these people to make appointments initially.

There is no insurance requirement to get vaccinated in Rhode Island, and no one has to pay to get vaccinated. For general information about COVID-19 vaccination in Rhode Island, visit C19vaccineRI.org.

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RIDOH Calls for Proposals to Expand Health Equity Zone Initiative

2021-03-05

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 funding opportunity. Existing Health Equity Zones seeking to expand their geographical boundary, and new communities seeking to create Health Equity Zones, can both apply for funding.

Rhode Island's HEZ initiative takes a health equity-centered approach to public health that leverages place-based, community-led solutions to address the social determinants of health - the surrounding physical, social, and economic environment, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods - that impact up to 80% of health outcomes and create health disparities.

"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. For example, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our Health Equity Zones have been integral partners in assessing unique needs and identifying equitable solutions for some of our most at-risk Rhode Islanders. We are thrilled to expand this opportunity to additional communities here in Rhode Island."

Funded communities will build a diverse collaborative to conduct a needs assessment to inform a data-driven action plan for addressing 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.

Rhode Island currently has 11 Health Equity Zones in communities across the State, with at least one in every county. Existing Health Equity Zone collaboratives include residents, diverse community-based organizations, business owners, municipal and State elected officials, transportation and planning experts, youth-serving organizations, educators, health professionals, peer recovery specialists, behavioral health community outreach coordinators, and people in many other fields who are coming together in their distinct communities to address the most pressing concerns in their neighborhoods.

Proposals from communities seeking to create new or expand current Health Equity Zones are due to the State by March 19, 2021. The initial contract period will begin in approximately July 2021 and continue for one year. Contracts may be renewed for up to four additional 12-month periods, similar to previous years, based on vendor performance and the availability of funds.

To learn more about Rhode Island's HEZ initiative, visit http://health.ri.gov/hez.

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COVID-19 Testing Program for Businesses Opens Contact Center

2021-03-03

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 supplies of BinaxNOW rapid test kits. The new contact center will be staffed with people who are able to provide support to businesses about the testing program over the phone or by email Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to addressing questions from businesses currently in the program, the COVID-19 Business Testing Contact Center can be used by businesses that are looking to sign up. The Contact Center can be reached at 888-662-4354 or RIDOH.COVID19BizTesting@health.ri.gov.

"Signing up for Rhode Island's COVID-19 Testing Program for Businesses is a great way for employers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, minimize disruptions to productivity and staffing, and bring some peace of mind to employees," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "By launching this new COVID-19 Business Testing Contact Center, we're making the experience even easier and more customer friendly."

"We are pleased to offer this testing program to our business community," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "This program enables participating businesses to add an important new element to their COVID safety protocols. We are grateful to our government partners as well as to the businesses that are stepping up and taking part."

All Rhode Islanders should consider regular testing for COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms. Regular testing is particularly important with Rhode Island having identified a more contagious variant of COVID-19 in the state. Even people who have been vaccinated should get tested regularly.

BinaxNOW rapid test kits include everything needed to test someone for COVID-19 and get results within 15 minutes. BinaxNOW tests are point of care tests, meaning that results are available on site using the simple supplies in a kit, rather than through a laboratory.

Since Rhode Island launched its COVID-19 Testing Program for Businesses in January, nearly 500 employers across the state have signed up to conduct regular testing of their employees, including businesses in real estate, manufacturing, legal services, hospitality, and healthcare.

In addition to getting test kits, businesses that sign up will get training on reporting results to RIDOH.

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Recalled El Abuelito Products due to Potential Listeria Contamination

2021-03-02

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, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) products, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

As of February 27, 2021, CDC reports ten people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes from four states.

No cases of Listeria infection have been found in Rhode Island to date. However, recalled products have been identified at a distribution warehouse and retailers in Rhode Island.

All Queso Fresco products with sell by dates through March 28, 2021; all Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese) products with sell by dates through April 16, 2021; and all Requeson (Ricotta) products with sell by dates through March 14, 2021 have been recalled. The products are sold as El Abuelito Cheese brand, distributed in CT, NJ, PA, NY; Rio Grande Food Products brand, distributed in VA, NC, MD; Rio Lindo distributed in NC and MD and Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, and Ideal Brands.

In addition, the following products are being recalled. These products were produced at Plant #34-12179 in the following forms. It is possible that retailers repackaged Quesillo into smaller containers and then sold this product to consumers. This repackaged product may not bear the original labeling and product information as described below.

El Abuelito Cheese:

Quesillo Abuelito 12oz, vacuum pack, 673130200000

Quesillo Abuelito, 5lbs, vacuum bag, loose bag, 673130500001

Quesillo Abuelito, 10lbs, vacuum bag, loose bag, 673130600008

El Abuelito Requeson Ricotta, 12oz, clam shell container, 673130300014

El Abuelito Requeson Ricotta (promocion $3.99), 12oz, clam shell container, 673130300014

El Viejito Cheese:

El Viejito Quesillo, 10lbs, vacuum bag, loose bag, 718122180950

El Viejito Requeson/Ricotta, 12oz, clam shell container, 718122180912

El Paisano Cheese:

El Paisano Quesillo, 5lbs, vacuum bag, 799456415468

El Paisano Quesillo, 10lbs, vacuum bag, 799456415482

El Sabrosito Cheese:

El Sabrosito Quesillo, 10lbs vacuum bag, 749390337586

La Sima Cheese:

La Sima Quesillo, 5lbs, vacuum bag, 072632891653

Quesos Finos Cheese:

Quesos Finos Quesillo, 5lbs, vacuum bag, 851800004145

San Carlos Cheese:

San Carlos Quesillo, 14lbs, loose bag, 814920000039

Ideal Cheese:

Ideal Quesillo, 5lbs, vacuum bag, 610563082674

Ideal Quesillo, 10lbs, vacuum bag, 897930001951

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 infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms (high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea) of infection with Listeria after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.

Consumers who have purchased the stated Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) products are urged not to consume and to return product to the place of purchase for a full refund. FDA recommends that anyone who purchased or received any El Abuelito brand Quesillo, Requeson, or recalled Queso Fresco cheeses carefully clean and sanitize any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces. Consumers with questions may contact El Abuelito Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST at (973) 345-3503.

El Abuelito Recall Expanded to Include All Cheese Products

2021-02-25

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 found in samples of El Abuelito Cheese products is a match for the Listeria monocytogenes that has caused illness in 10 people in MD, CT, NY, and VA.

Earlier this week, the FDA and El Abuelito announced a recall of Queso Fresco products with "sell by" dates through 03/28/21. Today, the FDA has expanded its warning to include all El Abuelito-brand cheeses until more information is known.

This step was taken out of an abundance of caution and due to the severity of Listeria infection.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve any El Abuelito brand cheeses, including, but not limited to, the recalled El Abuelito cheeses listed below. Additionally they should not eat, sell, or serve any recalled Rio Grande and Rio Lindo brand queso fresco cheeses.

El Abuelito Cheese:

• Queso Fresco Regular, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100003

• Queso Fresco Promoción, 10 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100078

• Queso Fresco de Hoja, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100065

• Queso Fresco, 5 Lb., Vaccuum Packed, 673130100058

• Queso Fresco Guatemala, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100027

Rio Grande Food Products, Inc.:

• Chirilagua Queso de Hacienda, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529005571

• Queso Fresco Campestre con Hoja, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 812324031161

• Queso Fresco Campestre Artesanal, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 738529002518

• Queso Fresco con Hoja, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 738529004581

• Queso Fresco Yorito, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529005564

• Queso Fresco Olancho, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 812324031222

• Cuajada Fresca Guatemalteca, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001276

• Cuajada Fresca Hondureña, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001269

• Cuajada Fresca Salvadoreña, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001252

Rio Lindo:

• Queso Fresco Mexicano, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088587

• Queso Fresco Hondureño, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088591

• Queso Fresco Salvadoreño, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088607

FDA recommends that anyone who purchased or received any El Abuelito brand cheeses or recalled products use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.

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 infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms (high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea) of infection with Listeria after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.

El Abuelito Recalls Queso Fresco Products Because of Possible Health Risk

2021-02-23

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 the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes from four states. To date, no cases have been identified in Rhode Island.

All Queso Fresco products with sell by dates through March 28, 2021 have been recalled. The products are sold as El Abuelito Cheese brand, distributed in CT, NJ, PA, NY; Rio Grande Food Products brand, distributed in VA, NC, MD; and Rio Lindo distributed in NC and MD. The products were distributed through Feb 16, 2021 and were available in supermarkets, wholesale, and retails stores.

The following products being recalled were produced at Plant #34-12179 in the following forms:

El Abuelito Cheese:

• Queso Fresco Regular, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100003

• Queso Fresco Promoción, 10 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100078

• Queso Fresco de Hoja, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100065

• Queso Fresco, 5 Lb., Vacuum Packed, 673130100058

• Queso Fresco Guatemala, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 673130100027

Rio Grande Food Products, Inc.:

• Chirilagua Queso de Hacienda, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529005571

• Queso Fresco Campestre con Hoja, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 812324031161

• Queso Fresco Campestre Artesanal, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 738529002518

• Queso Fresco con Hoja, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 738529004581

• Queso Fresco Yorito, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529005564

• Queso Fresco Olancho, 14 oz., Plastic Container, 812324031222

• Cuajada Fresca Guatemalteca, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001276

• Cuajada Fresca Hondureña, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001269

• Cuajada Fresca Salvadoreña, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 738529001252

Rio Lindo:

• Queso Fresco Mexicano, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088587

• Queso Fresco Hondureño, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088591

• Queso Fresco Salvadoreño, 12 oz., Plastic Container, 718122088607

El Abuelito has stopped the production and distribution of the product as FDA and El Abuelito continue to investigate what caused the problem. Samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco are being analyzed for the presence of the same Listeria monocytogenes that caused illness in people. These analyses are still ongoing. There is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.

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 infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms (high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea) of infection with Listeria after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.

Consumers who have purchased the stated Queso Fresco products are urged not to consume and to return product to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact directly El Abuelito Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST at (973) 345-3503.

This press release is an update to the February 18 announcement listed in the link below regarding the FDA outbreak investigation.

Federal Shipping Delays Impacting COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in Rhode Island

2021-02-22

As a result of severe weather that has affected distribution nationwide, certain COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for 2/23 are getting rescheduled. A shipment of approximately 12,400 doses of Moderna vaccine to Rhode Island did not arrive today. The community clinics scheduled for tomorrow at the Cranston Senior Center, the Swift Community Center (in East Greenwich), and the West Warwick Civic Center are affected by this delay and are being rescheduled. People who had appointments will be contacted directly by clinic organizers.

This shipping delay could have additional impacts on some clinics currently scheduled for Wednesday. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) will make an announcement on Tuesday about any impacts on Wednesday clinics.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Opens to Rhode Islanders 65 and older

2021-02-22

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 vaccination sites in Rhode Island, located in Providence at the Dunkin' Donuts Center and in Cranston at Sockanosset Cross Road. To register to be vaccinated at a State-run site, visit VaccinateRI.org. People who cannot register online can get help by calling the automated line at 844-930-1779. People who are 65 and older can also register to be vaccinated at select CVS or Walgreens retail pharmacies, or through their city and town. (However, appointments may not be immediately available for all eligible Rhode Islanders. For example, many cities and towns are continuing to vaccinate their oldest residents first, and supply of vaccine remains limited at all sites.) Instructions on how to register at all three types of locations are available online.

Approximately 9,900 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated at the two-State run sites over their first three days of operation, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. More than 10,000 new appointments will be made available today. Rhode Island's vaccine administration rate has increased by 89% over the last 6 weeks. In December, an average of 1,300 doses were administered per day. That figure was 2,700 doses per day in January and climbed to 5,100 doses per day in February. More than 203,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date in Rhode Island.

There is no insurance requirement to get vaccinated, and no one has to pay to get vaccinated. For general information about COVID-19 vaccination in Rhode Island, visit C19vaccineRI.org.

As the state's vaccine administration rate continues to increase, Rhode Island has seen significant declines in cases and hospitalizations. Rhode Island's percent positivity was at or below 2% several days last week, and there was a decline in cases and percent positive in all age groups. Rhode Island has seen even greater decreases among healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities - the focus groups for the first portion of the state's strategic, targeted vaccination campaign. Overall, Rhode Island's daily hospital admissions are down 47% since the last month.

This improving data situation allows Rhode Island to plan the suspension of patient care at its two alternate hospital sites. Envisioned as sites that could absorb low-acuity COVID-19 patients, should the state's existing hospital infrastructure be overwhelmed, Lifespan is operating an alternate hospital site at the Rhode Island Convention Center and Care New England is operating an alternate hospital site at Sockanosset Cross Road (near the current State-run vaccine site). The last day for patient care at the Rhode Island Convention Center hospital will be February 26th. The last day for patient care at Sockanosset will likely be in the next two to three weeks.

After all patients are discharged, each facility will be cleaned and sanitized. The equipment and supplies will remain at the two alternate hospital sites, should a surge in hospitalizations require them to be reactivated.

Since the alternate hospital sites opened for patient care, they have treated 633 patients: 444 patients at the Rhode Island Convention Center alternate hospital site and 208 patients at Sockanosset Cross Road.

FDA Investigates Outbreak of Listeria Infections Potentially Linked with Hispanic-Style Fresh and Soft Cheeses

2021-02-18

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 Listeria monocytogenes have been identified in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. To date, no cases have been identified in Rhode Island.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese until more information is known.

As part of this outbreak investigation, the Connecticut Department of Health collected samples of El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from a store where a sick person bought cheeses. Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses sold in 10-ounce packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of 2/26/21.

Samples are currently undergoing analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples matches the Listeria monocytogenes causing illness in people. These analyses are still ongoing. There is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.

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.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms (high fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea) of infection with Listeria after eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.

COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Now Open to All Rhode Islanders 75+

2021-02-17

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, scheduling will open to any Rhode Islander 65 and older.

Phase 1 of Rhode Island's vaccination campaign has been focused on preserving the health care system and reaching groups most likely to be hospitalized - nursing home and other congregate residents, people in high-density communities, and older Rhode Islanders. While targeting these high-risk groups took more time than opening appointments to the general population from the outset, it also had the intended effect of preventing more severe cases of COVID-19, more significantly decreasing hospitalizations, and speeding up the reopening of our economy. Over the past month, Rhode Island saw a 46% decrease in hospitalizations, compared to 32% nationally and 22% in our neighboring states. And the decrease is even more significant among those in targeted groups.

Because of this positive impact from Phase 1, Rhode Island can now move into Phase 2 and begin vaccinating every Rhode Islander by age group. This will allow for a significantly faster pace of vaccination. In addition to opening appointments to anyone 65 and older on Monday, the State is taking several steps to ensure the speed and efficacy of this next phase. We will continue to work in partnership with all cities and towns, with a particular emphasis on high-density communities most impacted by COVID-19, to ensure the vaccine is efficiently and equitably distributed. The State will be working with municipalities to ensure those unable to get near-term local appointments can be redirected to open appointments at the State-run sites. In addition, we will be dramatically scaling up capacity in these State-run sites, with more sites to come online in the northern and southern regions of Rhode Island and a goal of doubling the daily capacity at State-run sites from 1,400 to 2,800 over the coming weeks.

"With the success of Phase 1 in shoring up our health care system, and the ability for speed and scale in Phase 2, Rhode Island is well-positioned to stay ahead of COVID-19," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Now, with a single website and phone number to sign up for appointments at any of our State-run sites, we're taking our successful testing model and bringing it to this final frontier in our fight to end this pandemic."

The two State-run vaccination sites opening tomorrow for anyone 75+ are the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence and Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston. Other options for vaccination still include going to a select retail pharmacy or a local or regional clinic. Please only schedule an appointment in one place so that all eligible people can get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Once an appointment is made, people are guaranteed a vaccine for their time slot. Due to limited supply of the vaccine, appointments are expected to fill up quickly. RIDOH urges patience. If supply increases, additional appointment will be added accordingly.

Registering for Vaccination at a State-run Site

To register to be vaccinated at one of the State-run sites, visit VaccinateRI.org. People who cannot register online can get help by calling the automated line at 844-930-1779. Going forward, the call center will be open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and weekends from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Through both systems, an individual can either make a personal appointment or an appointment for someone else who is in the eligible age category.

Appointments are currently open through February 27. Additional appointments may be added through the week as slots open. Appointments are expected to fill up quickly.

Registering for Vaccination at a Pharmacy

People who are 75 and older can contact CVS or Walgreens about appointments at a retail pharmacy location. To register, people can go to CVS.com, use the CVS Pharmacy phone app, or call 800-746-7287. For Walgreens, go to Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or call your local Walgreens.

Registering for Vaccination at a Local or Regional Clinic

Cities and towns are managing the registration process for local and regional clinics. Most cities and towns have been vaccinating their oldest residents first and will continue to do so. People can contact their city or town directly to learn more.

Vaccine Interest Notification List

While people who are younger than 65 years of age cannot yet register to be vaccinated, they can add their contact information to a Vaccine Information Notification List to get updates as eligibility opens to new groups. Enrolling in this list does not guarantee an appointment for vaccination. To enroll in the Vaccine Information Notification List, visit portal.ri.gov.

There is no insurance requirement to get vaccinated, and no one has to pay to get vaccinated. For more information about vaccination in Rhode Island, visit C19vaccineRI.org.

U.K. COVID-19 Variant Identified in Rhode Island

2021-02-16

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 patient was in their 20s.

These samples underwent sequencing as part of RIDOH's COVID-19 genomic surveillance plan. These cases are still under investigation. The sequencing was performed by the Broad Institute, in collaboration with RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. This sequencing work is supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The B.1.1.7 variant was originally identified in the United Kingdom. This variant of COVID-19 is considered more contagious than the strain that has been predominant in Rhode Island through the pandemic. All Rhode Islanders are urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands regularly.

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Lifted for a Portion of the City of Newport Water System

2021-02-11

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 where a water main break occurred. The water system is contacting these customers directly.

The City of Newport 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 at the instruction links below. Information is also linked below for food establishments, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities.

Customers with questions should contact Newport Water Division at 401-845-5600.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for a Portion of the City of Newport Water System

2021-02-10

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 Advisory applies to most Newport customers, and to customers in an area of Middletown. An interactive map of the affected area is available at the map link below.

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. A link to additional guidance is available at the guidance link below. RIDOH is communicating guidance to restaurants and other food establishments in the area. (Guidance for food establishments is also available online.)

Low or no pressure increases the risk of contamination that can enter through cracks in the pipes or in areas without proper backflow preventers. Affected customers should continue to boil their water until the City of Newport 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 and finds that the samples are absent of bacteria. An announcement will be made when there is a change in the advisory and when it is lifted. Water system administrators will communicate this information to their customers.

If the water becomes contaminated with human or animal waste, microbes in this waste 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 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 can call the Newport Water Division at 401-845-5600.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinating Update

2021-01-31

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 http://portal.ri.gov or the K-12 test scheduling service.

Additionally, COVID-19 vaccinations will not be happening on Monday at Rhode Island's regional clinics in Bristol, Providence, and East Greenwich. (Two other regional clinics are in Smithfield and Narragansett, but they were not scheduled to operate on Monday.) These clinics are all operating on an appointment only basis. People who had appointments for Monday for the Bristol, Providence, and East Greenwich sites will be contacted directly about rescheduling. Most of the appointments for tomorrow were for first responders and healthcare providers. Some limited vaccinating of people 75 years of age and older had been scheduled for the clinics in Bristol and East Greenwich.

Plan Announced for Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

2021-01-28

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 age, geography, and health status.

"The approach we are taking for the next phase of the vaccination campaign is firmly grounded in the science and the data on how to use our currently limited vaccine supply to prevent the most hospitalizations, to prevent the most deaths, and to get the economy fully open again as quickly as possible," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "We want to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. But without enough vaccine to vaccinate all eligible people right away, we have to be extremely targeted and strategic in our approach."

This next phase of the vaccination campaign will likely begin in mid-February, depending on general vaccine availability. At that point, access to vaccine will depend on three factors:

- Age: When the next phase of the vaccination campaign begins, Rhode Islanders who are 65 to 74 years of age will be able to begin making appointments to get vaccinated. (Older adults in congregate settings and people who are 75 years of age and older will have already had access to vaccine.) It will take some time for everyone in this group to schedule appointments and get vaccinated. Age will continue to be the primary consideration as more people become eligible for vaccine. As more vaccine becomes available, people will become eligible for vaccine in the following order: 60 to 64 years old, 50 to 59 years old, 40 to 49 years old, 39 to 16 years old. There will be some overlap in the vaccination of each age group as additional vaccine becomes available. (A link to a tentative timeline based on current vaccine allocations is available below.)

- High-risk conditions: People who are 16 to 64 years of age who have certain underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 will have access to vaccine. These conditions fall into the general categories of kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and those who are immunocompromised. People with underlying health conditions in one of these five categories will be able to be vaccinated at the same time that vaccinating starts for 60 to 64-year-olds. Additional information, including definitions of these underlying health conditions, is available below.

- Geography: The residents of certain communities are at elevated risk for COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and deaths. Due to this disparity and given that minimizing COVID-19-associated hospitalizations is critical to Rhode Island's ability to manage the pandemic and reopen the economy, vaccine distribution will continue in these communities. They include Central Falls and parts of Pawtucket, Providence, North Providence, and Cranston.

This approach to the next phase of the vaccination campaign was developed in consultation with Rhode Island's COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee and was informed by national recommendations, community input, and a careful review of Rhode Island data on hospitalizations, deaths, case rates, and chronic conditions.

For the next portion of the vaccination campaign, vaccine will likely be available in a variety of locations, including community clinics, housing sites, and pharmacies. More information about where vaccine will be available will be announced in the coming weeks, as will information about how to register to be vaccinated. Accessibility will be a priority, both in the venues where vaccine is available and in how people will be able to register to be vaccinated.

"We wish we could vaccinate many more people, but for now, we must put out the fire where it is burning the most intensely," said Pablo Rodriguez, MD, physician and COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee member. "Our problem is not one of prioritization, it is one of supply. Science and data are guiding the COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee and the State."

"Given the nationally limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, I appreciate the State's commitment to using science and Rhode Island's specific COVID-19 infection experience to develop a vaccine delivery system," said Elizabeth Lange, MD, Rhode Island pediatrician and COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee member. "We all want the pandemic to end, so no program is fast enough for everyone's liking. I appreciate Rhode Island's thoughtful approach given the multitude of challenges at this time."

Focusing on age, geography, and high-risk conditions rather than occupation for this next phase of the vaccination campaign will allow the State and its partners to move quickly to vaccinate more Rhode Islanders as we receive more vaccine. This updated approach for Phase 2 will reach significant proportions of critical workers in Rhode Island. For example, approximately 58% of K-12 teachers and staff will be included in the population at increased risk of hospitalization or death due to age, health risk and geography.

While vaccination will prevent most people from developing severe illness, research is still needed to determine whether it will prevent a person from getting infected entirely and spreading COVID-19 to others. For this reason, people in critical infrastructure occupations and all Rhode Islanders will need to continue following all quarantine and isolation protocols if they are exposed to or are positive for COVID-19, and they must continue to wear masks.

The aims of the first phase of Rhode Island's vaccination campaign were to ensure the stability of the healthcare system and to protect the residents of nursing homes and other congregate settings. The people currently being vaccinated are primarily residents in congregate settings (such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities), healthcare workers, and people in public safety. Vaccination will start for people 75 years of age and older who have not already been vaccinated in Phase 1 in early February. Adults 65 years of age and older will follow after that. To date, 86,315 doses of vaccine have been administered.

Data

- Of Rhode Island's COVID-19 hospitalizations, 27% have been among people who are age 70 or older. Fourteen percent of hospitalizations have been among 60 to 69-year-olds.

- Rhode Islanders age 60 and older are at the highest risk of COVID-19-associated death. Of Rhode Island's COVID-19 associated fatalities, 59% have been among people 80 or older, 23% have been among people 70 to 79, and 12% have been among people 60 to 69.

- Rhode Islanders with kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, and who are immunocompromised are more likely to be hospitalized if they have COVID-19. For example, while 10% of Rhode Islanders have diabetes, 30% of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have diabetes; while 4% of Rhode Islanders have heart disease, 30% of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have heart disease.

- Throughout the pandemic, the rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations have been consistently higher in certain Rhode Island ZIP codes compared to communities outside those ZIP codes. For example, in seven ZIP codes across Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, North Providence, and Cranston, the hospitalization rate in April 2020 was 201 hospitalizations per capita, compared to 34 outside those communities. In November 2020 the difference was 194 hospitalizations per capita compared to 93 hospitalizations per capita. Disparities also exist by race/ethnicity, highlighting the importance of a targeted approach that considers underlying factors in communities, such as population density, income, and healthcare access, that create higher risks for exposure, hospitalization, and death. For example, African American/Black and Latino Rhode Islanders age 35 to 44 years old have hospitalization rates that are three times higher than the rate of White Rhode Islanders age 75 to 84 years old.

Lancaster Foods Recalls Processed Butternut Squash Items

2021-01-25

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 Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Lancaster Foods has temporarily halted production of these items while it investigates the source of the issue. Consumers who have purchased the products listed below are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Recalled items include:

16 oz Autumn Medley - UPC 8 13055 01115 6; with the expiration dates of 01/05/21, 01/07/21, and 01/09/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

12 oz Butternut Squash Noodles - UPC 8 13055 01749 3; with the expiration date of 01/10/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

12 oz Butternut Squash Noodles - UPC 8 13055 01864 3; with the expiration dates of 01/05/21, 01/08/21, 01/10/21, 01/11/21, 01/12/21, 01/15/21, and 01/17/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

12 oz Butternut Squash Noodles - UPC 6 88267 17259 5; with the expiration dates of 01/08/21, 01/10/21, 01/12/21, 01/13/21, 01/14/21, 01/15/21, and 01/17/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Store Brand and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

21 oz Butternut Squash Planks - UPC 8 13055 01272 6; with the expiration dates of 01/02/21, 01/08/21, 01/12/21, 01/15/21, and 01/17/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

20 oz Squash Noodle Medley - UPC 8 13055 01836 0; with the expiration dates of 01/05/21, 01/08/21, 01/13/21, 01/14/21, and 01/16/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

20 oz Squash Noodle Medley - UPC 6 88267 18585 4; with the expiration dates of 01/03/21, 01/08/21, 01/11/21, 01/17/21, 01/18/21, and 01/19/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Store Brand and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

2.5# Butternut Squash Chunks - UPC 8 13055 01596 3; with the expiration dates of 01/04/21, 01/12/21, 01/15/21, and 01/18/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

20 oz Butternut Squash Chunks - UPC 8 13055 01150 7; with the expiration dates of 01/05/21, 01/08/21, 01/09/21, 01/13/21, and 01/16/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

24 oz Butternut Squash Chunks - UPC 8 13055 01300 6; with the expiration dates of 01/12/21, 01/13/21, 01/15/21 noted on the bottom scan label. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

12 oz Butternut Squash Chunks - UPC 8 13055 01391 4; with the expiration dates of 01/04/21, 01/05/21, 01/07/21, 01/11/21, 01/12/21, 01/15/21, 01/17/21, and 01/20/21 noted on the bottom scan labels. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a clear plastic tamper-evident clamshell.

15 oz Veggie Rice Blend - UPC 8 13055 01014 2; with the expiration dates of 01/07/21 and 01/09/21 noted on the bottom scan labels. The brand name is Lancaster Foods and the package is a stand-up steam pouch with 'grab & steam' printed on the header.

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.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-410-799-0010, extension 1530. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Eastern time zone on the days of Monday through Sunday. Voicemails received after hours will be returned the next day.

RIDOH and DEM End Blue-Green Algae Monitoring Season

2021-01-14

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 that can harm humans and animals.

A visual survey conducted over the last week of December 2020 found that cyanobacteria blooms had largely dissipated at most sites. Blue-green algae are generally less active in the lower light and temperature conditions of winter. However, the possibility of blooms below the surface and/or toxin persisting after the bloom is gone represent, even in iced-over conditions, a potential risk. With limited resources, efforts focus on seasons when recreational use is high, and when blooms are prevalent. The monitoring program is expected to resume in June 2021, dependent upon resources.

Regardless of season, 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.

Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of untreated 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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 "elect