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05/24/2024 16:30 EDT
05/24/2024 11:30 EDT
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05/22/2024 09:00 EDT
Tri-County Community Action Agency has informed the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) that WIC services will no longer be available at their Johnston site, located at 126 Hartford Avenue, as of May 31st. WIC is a public health program through which families and children receive one-on-...
05/09/2024 16:00 EDT
With recreational activities on the state's lakes, ponds, and rivers set to increase in the coming weeks, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms (HABs)
05/07/2024 10:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Palmer Candy Company is recalling its "White Coated Confectionary Items" because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The recalled product was distributed nationwide in retail stores and to wholesale, including Walmart,
05/02/2024 14:15 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling 16,243 pounds of raw ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The raw ground beef items were produced on April 26-27, 2024. The following products are subject...
04/18/2024 11:00 EDT
In observance of National STI Awareness Week, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is highlighting some of the public health campaigns and innovations it has implemented recently, in partnership with community-based organizations, to address rising sexually transmitted infection (STI)...
04/18/2024 09:30 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that an investigation is ongoing into a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to Infinite Herbs-brand organic basil. These products were packed in 2.5-oz clamshell packaging and sold at Trader Joe's stores
04/01/2024 10:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Tropicale Foods is recalling 5,224 units of Helados Mexico Mini Cream Variety Packs with a best-by date of "MO Best By 10/11/2025." The mango bars in the variety pack have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella....
03/14/2024 13:45 EDT
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha will hold two public meetings on the proposed sale of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. Each meeting will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in room 110 of Alger Hall at Rhode...
03/06/2024 17:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that a group of ground cinnamon products are being recalled because they contain elevated levels of lead. Prolonged exposure to these products may be unsafe. The products were sold under the brands names: La Fiesta, Marcum, MK,...
02/29/2024 11:30 EST
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. This resident is a male in his 70s who lives in Kent County. He began experiencing symptoms of Powassan in late January. He is...
02/28/2024 11:00 EST
Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced two public hearings on the proposed sale of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. The two public hearings will be held on March 19, 2024, and March 26, 2024,
02/07/2024 14:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Rizo-Lopez Foods is recalling several dairy products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products include cheese, yogurt, and sour cream sold under the brand names...
02/07/2024 09:45 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Board of the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) today recognized the 2020-2023 HPLRP award recipients for their service and commitment during one of the most challenging times in healthcare. The event, held at the Rhode Island...
01/29/2024 16:45 EST
Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha have released the Initial Hospital Conversion application submitted to the State for the proposed sale of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. The application was...
01/19/2024 16:00 EST
In advance of the extreme cold expected tonight and this weekend, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about ways to stay healthy and safe. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and can contribute to events like household fires and carbon...
01/05/2024 17:15 EST
With levels of respiratory viruses like the flu and COVID-19 continuing to increase in Rhode Island and across the country, all Rhode Islanders are urged to take prevention measures to help keep themselves and their family members healthy. "As we have seen the last several years, holiday travel,
01/04/2024 14:30 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Blue Ridge Beef is recalling specific lots of Kitten Mix and Puppy Mix due to contamination of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes can affect animals eating the products and there is...
01/02/2024 16:15 EST
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) is recalling select batches of Nutramigen Powder, a specialty infant formula for the dietary management of cow milk allergies. This product could be contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii.

2023 News

Preliminary Lists of Top Baby Names in Rhode Island in 2023

2023-12-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is sharing preliminary lists of the most popular baby names in Rhode Island in 2023.

Female

1. Charlotte

2. Sophia

3. Olivia

4. Amelia

5. Emma

6. Nora

7. Luna

8. Isabella

9. Mia

10. Isla

Male

1. Noah

2. Liam

3. James

4. Theodore

5. Lucas

6. Michael

7. Julian

8. Benjamin

9. Henry

10. Luca

In 2022, the three most popular female names were Charlotte, Amelia, and Isabella. The three most popular male names in 2022 were Liam, Noah, and Owen.

RIDOH's Center for Vital Records finalizes the prior year's birth data by the end of February.

Governor McKee Highlights 2023 Rhode Island Department of Health Accomplishments: Promoting Healthy Lifestyle, Ensuring Safe Food and Drinking Water, Preventing Chronic Disease

2023-12-27

In a year full of public health successes, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) put interventions in place throughout the State in 2023 to promote healthy lifestyle changes, ensure the safety of food and drinking water, promote emergency preparedness, perform infectious disease and chronic disease prevention and control, and promote maternal and child health, to name only a few focus areas.

"A healthier Rhode Island is a more resilient, prosperous, and equitable Rhode Island. This belief is driving our administration and the team at RIDOH to make critical public health services available in every city and town throughout the state," said Governor Dan McKee. "RIDOH's achievements over the last 12 months run the gamut from community-centered chronic disease prevention work to interventions that are preventing overdoses and saving lives. The team at RIDOH has a lot of momentum headed into 2024, and I'm looking forward to supporting their great work."

"While the expertise of RIDOH was on full display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we work every day – often behind the scenes – to make Rhode Island a healthier place to live, work, and play," said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, Interim Director of Health. "We do this with a specific commitment to health equity, and to ensuring that every Rhode Islander has an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive. We are proud of all we did during 2023 and look forward to another year of collaboration with our partners to promote health and wellbeing throughout Rhode Island in 2024."

Specific examples of RIDOH's successes in 2023 include:

Rhode Island continued to be a national leader in adolescent immunizations. Rhode Island teens were at or above the national average for every recommended vaccine type. For example, Rhode Island has the nation's highest rate for 13 to 17-year-olds who are up to date on their human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. For Tdap vaccination (protecting against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), 95.1% of Rhode Islanders 13-17 years old have had at least one dose, compared to 89.9% of adolescents in this age group nationally.

Substantial construction happened on the site of the new Life Sciences Hub in Providence's Innovation and Design District. This site will include a new, 80,000-square-foot State Health Laboratory, as well as life science laboratories for Brown University and additional bio-technology space. The new facility is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2025.

RIDOH coordinated the testing of drinking water from public water systems in Rhode Island for a group of harmful chemicals called per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) [r20.rs6.net [r20.rs6.net]]. In addition to doing public education on these emerging contaminants, RIDOH is partnering with public water systems that exceeded a new Rhode Island PFAS threshold on corrective actions. RIDOH has also launched a program for testing drinking water in Rhode Island public schools for lead.

As part of efforts to prevent overdoses and save lives, RIDOH activated an enhanced system to track non-fatal overdoses throughout the State daily and to get text message alerts out into the community in real-time. These alerts go to first responders and other healthcare professionals, harm reduction organizations, local leaders, and residents in impacted areas. Using this data system, mobile outreach teams deploy peers with lived experience to overdose hotspots each week to connect at-risk populations to treatment, recovery, and harm-reduction services.

To address the growing need for behavioral healthcare, RIDOH initiated the application and supported the process to have Rhode Island added to the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). Psychologists in any of the other PSYPACT states can now apply to provide telepsychology services to patients in Rhode Island. (And Rhode Island psychologists in the program can provide these services to patients in other states.)

Within hours of being notified of a case of meningococcal meningitis, a serious and sometimes fatal illness, RIDOH organized a clinic to make doses of post-exposure prophylaxis medication available to this person's immediate contacts. Getting this medication to contacts is critical to preventing severe illness, particularly for at-risk populations. Almost 80% of the patient's approximately 100 close contacts received this post-exposure prophylaxis medication, an exceptional acceptance rate. This response was a collaboration between RIDOH's Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, RIDOH's Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, and many other teams throughout the Department.

RIDOH took swift regulatory action requiring the out-of-state owner of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital to do more to support these two Rhode Island hospitals. An Immediate Compliance Order was issued to the owner, Prospect Medical Holdings and its corporate parents, after a thorough, extensive review by RIDOH's Center for Health Facilities Regulation and monitoring by RIDOH's Office of Health Systems Development.

Rhode Island is one of only a few states in the nation that does not have local health departments providing services and shaping public health policy at the local level. This makes the scope of RIDOH extremely broad, and results in close partnerships between RIDOH and healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities, community partners, schools, and local, state, and federal offices, among others.

RIDOH's various functions and programs are organized in the following units:

- Division of Community Health and Equity

- Division of Emergency Preparedness and Infectious Disease

- Division of Environmental Health

- Health Equity Institute

- Division of Healthcare Quality and Safety

- Division of Policy, Information and Communications

- Office of Policy, Planning, and Strategy

- Division of State Laboratories

- Office of Workforce Development and Engagement

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae

2023-12-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the recreational advisories at Waterman Reservoir in Glocester/Greenville, Little Pond in Warwick, Blackamore Pond in Cranston, and Indian Lake in South Kingstown. The recreational advisories were associated with high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Almy Pond in Newport, Roger Williams Park Ponds in Providence, J.L. Curran Upper Reservoir, Spectacle Pond, and Mashapaug Pond in Cranston remain under advisory due to continued visual evidence of blue-green algae.

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

Quaker Recalls Granola Bars and Granola Cereals Due to Possible Health Risk

2023-12-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the Quaker Oats Company is recalling specific granola bars and granola cereals because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Most of the granola bars were sold as Quaker Big Chewy Bars. Recalled granola bars were included in many snack boxes.

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.

To date, Quaker has received no confirmed reports of illness related to the products covered by this recall.

RIDOH and RIAG Deem The Centurion Foundation HCA Application Complete

2023-12-14

Today, Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Interim Director Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, the two State regulators empowered to oversee hospital conversions in Rhode Island, notified the parties involved in the proposed hospital conversions of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in a letter (attached) that their application has been deemed complete to initiate formal review.

The two hospitals are operated by CharterCARE, which is currently owned by Prospect Medical Holdings. The proposed transaction would sell the CharterCARE hospital system to The Centurion Foundation, a Georgia-based non-profit company.

The Attorney General and RIDOH will now have 180 days to review the application under the Hospital Conversions Act (HCA), before issuing their respective decisions. Consistent with the standard process set forth by statute, the Attorney General's Office will make the application public in mid-January after completing a full review to protect confidential information of the transacting parties, in accordance with the provisions of the HCA. The review process will also include public comment meetings and hearings.

Under the HCA, transacting parties seeking the transfer of ownership of a hospital must first complete an Initial Application which is filed with the Office of the Attorney General and the RIDOH. Following review of the submission from Prospect Medical Holdings and The Centurion Foundation, the Attorney General and RIDOH determined that the submitted materials contain sufficient information necessary for the State to initiate its review under the HCA.

Ambulances Recommended for Pregnant People in the East Bay / Se recomienda el uso del servicio de ambulancias para personas embarazadas que viven en East Bay

2023-12-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is recommending that ambulances be used by pregnant people in the East Bay who are in labor and who, after consulting with their healthcare professional, need to get to a medical facility west of the Washington Bridge immediately. The Washington Bridge carries 195 between East Providence and Providence. People can contact an ambulance by calling 911.

This recommendation is being made because of current traffic disruptions on the Washington Bridge. Currently, emergency vehicles (including ambulances) can travel westbound on the bridge. Personal vehicles are not currently permitted to travel westbound on the Washington Bridge.

RIDOH will provide additional updates as traffic patterns over the bridge change.

El Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH por sus siglas en inglés) recomienda que las personas embarazadas que viven en East Bay utilicen el servicio de ambulancias cuando estén en trabajo de parto y que, después de consultar con su profesional de atención médica, necesiten llegar inmediatamente a un centro médico al oeste del Puente Washington. El Puente de Washington es el tránsito de la interestatal 195 entre East Providence y Providence. Las personas pueden comunicarse para el servicio de ambulancias llamando al 911.

Esta recomendación se hace debido a las actuales interrupciones del tráfico en el Puente de Washington. Actualmente, los vehículos de emergencia (incluidas las ambulancias) pueden transitar por el Puente de Washington en dirección oeste pero no se permite el tránsito en dirección oeste de los vehículos personales.

RIDOH proporcionará actualizaciones adicionales a medida que cambien las recomendaciones de tráfico sobre el puente.

Rhode Islanders Urged to Get Vaccinated Before Seasonal Travel and Gatherings

2023-12-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding anyone who will be traveling for the holidays or plans to attend holiday gatherings to get vaccinated now against common respiratory viruses. Large gatherings, crowded travel, and more time indoors can mean more viruses spreading this time of year.

Everyone older than six months of age should get a flu shot every year. The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for everyone older than six months of age. It can take up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide people with protection against viruses like COVID-19 and the flu. Vaccination is particularly important for older adults and people with underlying health issues, including weakened immune systems, diabetes, obesity, asthma, cancer, and heart or lung disease.

"Holiday cheer is in the air. Unfortunately, so are respiratory viruses," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "If you plan to see people for New Year's or attend a holiday party with family, friends, or colleagues this month, now is the best time to get vaccinated, if you have not been vaccinated already. In addition, if you are sick, stay home to avoid putting others at risk. This is particularly true if you were planning to see any older adults or people with underlying health issues."

Flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine are available throughout Rhode Island at pharmacies, the offices of many primary care providers, and community health centers. These vaccines are also available at community clinics. These clinics are being held in the late afternoon and evening at schools and are open to the entire community. To register, go to http://covid.ri.gov/vaccination and click "Community Clinic Registration." People can register for either COVID-19 vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 5 and older), flu vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 3 and older), or both vaccines. It is safe to receive both vaccines at the same visit. There is no insurance requirement and no cost for vaccination. People can get the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine even if they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past.

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In addition to flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine, many people are eligible for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, including pregnant people, infants under eight months, eligible children 8-19 months at increased risk, and many people 60 and older. Talk to your healthcare provider about RSV vaccination if you are in one of these groups.

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Additional information about preventing respiratory viruses?

-- Stay home when you are sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Avoid contact with others, especially older adults and people with underlying health conditions, if you are sick.??

-- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day using soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands.?Hand washing is especially important after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; after leaving a public place; after touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched, such as door handles, light switches, and tables.??

-- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Always wash your hands as soon as you can after you cough or sneeze.?

-- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the classic symptoms, like fever or chills, a runny nose, a cough, achiness, or loss of taste or smell. If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the virus to others and protect yourself from getting very sick. The Isolation Calculator can help you determine how long you should stay home and isolate away from others. Learn more about doctor-recommended treatments for COVID-19 that can keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized.

For additional information about preventing respiratory viruses can be found at: http://health.ri.gov/respiratoryviruses

Chicken Fried Rice Products Recalled

2023-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Garland Ventures is recalling 13,842 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken fried rice products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The chicken fried rice products were produced on November 10, 2023. Specifically, the product is in 12-oz. trays containing Freshness Guaranteed brand "CHICKEN FRIED RICE DICED CHICKEN MEAT WITH VEGETABLES AND RICE IN A SAVORY SOY SAUCE" with lot code WK10CFR and a best if used by date of 11/10/2024 on the label. The products subject to recall bear the establishment number "EST. P-31993" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare professional.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection primarily affecting older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected. Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. People in higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell a healthcare professional about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Tiogue Lake

2023-12-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Tiogue Lake in Coventry.

The advisory related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Recent consecutive surveys confirmed that there was no visual evidence of a bloom. 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 Tiogue Lake again or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-Green Algae in Melville Ponds and Carbuncle Pond

2023-11-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Upper and Lower Melville Ponds in Portsmouth and Carbuncle Pond in Coventry. The advisories were related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

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

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

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Nurse Assist Recalling Saline and Sterile Water Medical Products

2023-11-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers, healthcare professionals, and healthcare facilities that Nurse Assist is recalling certain saline (0.9% sodium chloride) and sterile water medical products due to the potential for a lack of sterility assurance. The products may not be sterile.

Nurse Assist is recalling:

- 0.9% Sodium Chloride Irrigation USP (100 mL bottles, 250 mL bottles, 500 mL bottles, 1000 mL bottles, 3.1oz spray can, 7.1oz spray can, 3mL syringes, 5mL syringes, and 10mL syringes);

- Sterile Water for Irrigation USP (100 mL bottles, 250 mL bottles, 500 mL bottles, 1000 mL bottles, 120 mL cups, 10mL syringes, and 30mL syringes).

These products were sold under the following brands: Nurse Assist, Cardinal, Covidien, Halyard Owens Minor, Idexx, Mac Medical, McKesson, Medichoice Owens Minor, Medline, Sol, SteriCare, Trudell, and Vyaire. The recalled products may be available as individual units or may be included as part of a kit.

Additional product information is available online (see link below).

Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Indian Lake

2023-11-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Indian Lake in South Kingstown due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in the ponds.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in the lake by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by the DEM. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the 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. People should not rake weeds or plants out of the waterbody. If you are raking leaves in your lawn, please be sure to compost responsibility and far from the waterbody. Decomposing leaves and plant matter can increase nutrients and trigger unwanted algae blooms, these algae can consume oxygen which causes fish kills. Contact your city or town to find out the best way to dispose of yard waste.

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 stomachache, 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

RIDOH Issues Reminder About Proper Use of Antibiotics

2023-11-20

As a part of on-going efforts to combat 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 they are truly 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 US 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 US 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 Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, 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 and worldwide are taking similar measures to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week November 18-24. Governor Dan McKee has issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 18-24, 2023 as Antibiotic Awareness Week in Rhode Island.

CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and families to:

-- Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause COVID-19, RSV, colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.

-- 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.

-- 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, COVID-19, and RSV vaccines.

-- Do not share prescription medications.

In addition to these action steps, talk with your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects from an antibiotic. Common side effects of antibiotics can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections. It is particularly important to talk to a healthcare provider if you experience severe diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. Severe diarrhea could be an indication of Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated. November is also C. Diff Awareness Month.

In addition to the impact on patient health, C. diff rates have a financial impact on hospitals under Medicare's Healthcare-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction and Value-Based Purchasing Programs. To help reduce these healthcare-acquired infections, RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force has developed the CDI Playbook for Rhode Island healthcare providers and facilities.

"I commend the RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force—a devoted team of nurses, pharmacists, and physicians. Together we crafted a playbook for Rhode Island's hospitals, aiding in the remarkable shift from ranking 51 out of 52 states in C. difficile rates to becoming a top-ten state with the lowest C. difficile lab test detection" said Kerry L. LaPlante, PharmD., Professor and Chair of Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Research at the University of Rhode Island, and Chair of RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship, and Environmental Task Force. "This transformation reflects our unwavering dedication and strategic interventions, showcasing the impactful collaboration of a dedicated group in shaping a healthier future for Rhode Island."

More information and videos can be found at http://health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use [cdc.gov].

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HMC Farms Recalls Whole Peaches, Plums, and Nectarines

2023-11-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that HMC Farms is recalling peaches, plums, and nectarines sold in retail stores between May 1 and November 15, 2022, and between May 1 and November 15, 2023.

The fruit is being recalled because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, 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 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 recalled fruit was distributed nationwide and sold at retail stores. This recall includes only conventionally grown fruit. No organic fruit is being recalled.

The recalled peaches have been linked to an outbreak of Listeriosis that has resulted in eleven illnesses.

Although the recalled fruit is no longer available in retail stores, consumers may have frozen the recalled fruit at home for later use. Consumers are urged to check their freezers for the recalled fruit, not consume it, and discard it.

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

2023-11-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Worden Pond in South Kingstown. 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 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 Worden Pond again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

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

State House Dome to Shine a Green Light on Injury Prevention

2023-11-17

In support of National Injury Prevention Day on November 18, Rhode Island will join other states around the country in "shining a light" on efforts to stop injuries and violence—the number one cause of death and hospitalization nationally for people ages 1 to 44. Tomorrow will be the first time the Rhode Island State House dome will be lit green as a commitment to addressing injuries and violence.

"All of us, at every stage of life, can act to prevent injuries and violence. For some, injury prevention means safe sleep practices, putting children in car seats, fastening seatbelts, and wearing bike helmets. For some other folks, it may mean fall prevention strategies or safe firearm storage," said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "We can all take steps to make our homes and communities safer places to live."

RIDOH's Violence and Injury Prevention Program and partners are working to address all forms of injury and violence. Examples of projects include fall prevention initiatives; suicide prevention campaigns aimed at youth and Veterans; sexual violence prevention; and transportation safety. Earlier this year, Rhode Island was awarded $915,000 in federal funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a coordinated, data-driven suicide prevention program for higher-risk populations.

Falls remain the most common injury sending Rhode Islanders to the emergency department (ED). Falls are also common causes of inpatient hospital admissions.

"Older adults can reduce the risk of falls by staying physically active, removing tripping hazards at home, keeping living spaces well lit, and using grab bars and railings," said Tosin Ojugbele, MD, MPH, the Medical Director of RIDOH's Division of Community, Health, and Equity. "These steps can be part of a falls prevention strategy that you discuss with your health professional, who can help you assess your risk."

Data on injuries:

- Data from 2016 to 2022 indicate that while annual ED visits for injuries have decreased from nearly 87,000 to nearly 63,000, disparities persist. Black non-Hispanic people and Hispanic people continue to have higher rates of injury-related ED visits compared to White people.

- Common injury-related causes of ED visits after falls, include being struck by an object, motor vehicle-related injuries, assaults, and traumatic brain injury. Rhode Island data from 2022 show that females have higher fall rates compared to males. However, males have higher rates of being struck by an object, motor vehicle/traffic-related injuries, and assault.

- While Rhode Island has one of the lowest rates of suicide deaths per 100,000 population in the country, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those ages 10-34 and the eleventh-leading cause of death among all Rhode Island residents.

Organized by the Injury Free Coalition for Kids and its partners, the fourth annual National Injury Prevention Day aims to raise awareness about the effects of injury and violence on the public's health, as well as actions needed to build safer communities. Partners include Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe States Alliance, the American Trauma Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Be SMART—a program of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, the Trauma Center Association of America, and JPMA Cares.

For more information and resources on violence and injury prevention, visit http://health.ri.gov/violence.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org [988lifeline.org]. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

Arruda's Dairy Farm Recalls Select Lots of Eggnog

2023-11-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Arruda's Dairy Farm, based out of Tiverton, has issued a voluntary recall for select lots of eggnog out of an abundance of caution due to improper pasteurization.

The affected products were distributed to limited stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. All stores have been notified, and products have been removed from retail shelves to protect public health. Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

Affected products include Arruda's Dairy Farm Eggnog with best buy dates of 11/25/2023 and 12/09/2023.

During a routine inspection conducted by RIDOH, pasteurization records indicated that the pasteurization did not reach the required temperature for select lots of eggnog. Since these pasteurization charts are the primary record of pasteurization, Arruda's Dairy Farm is performing a voluntary recall.

Pasteurization involves heating liquids to a specific temperature for a set period of time to kill harmful bacteria. Bacteria can grow in unpasteurized or improperly pasteurized products and cause illness.

There have been no illnesses reported to date. Arruda's Dairy Farm has identified the cause of the issue, and corrective actions have been taken to resolve the matter.

Consumers with questions may contact Arruda's Dairy Farm at 401-624-8898.

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

2023-11-14

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 Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence. The advisories were related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.??

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae 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 and Wenscott 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.?

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

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Dog Food and Cat Food Recalled

2023-11-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Mid America Pet Food is recalling dog and cat food with Best By Dates before 10/31/24. The recalled products were distributed under the brand names Victor Super Premium Dog Foods, Wayne Feeds Dog Food, Eagle Mountain Pet Food, and Member's Mark. A full list of the recalled products is available online (see link below).

The recalled products may be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products, and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers. Children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems may be at greater risk of Salmonella infection.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have may only exhibit decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The Best By Date is found on the middle top of the back of each bag. This recall is being issued due to some of the product lots testing positive for Salmonella through random and targeted sampling of finished product, including by the firm and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture

As of November 1, 2023, seven people reported Salmonella infections.

Do not feed the recalled product to pets or any other animals. Destroy the food in a way that children, pets, and wildlife cannot access. Wash and sanitize pet food bowls, cups, and storage containers. Always ensure that you wash and sanitize your hands after handling recalled food or any utensils that come in contact with recalled food.

For more information, people can contact Mid America Pet Food Consumer Affairs at 1-888-428-7544.

RIDOH Issues Compliance Order to Owners of Roger Williams and Fatima Hospitals

2023-11-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) issued an Immediate Compliance Order today requiring the owners of Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital to ensure the continuity of health services and care at the facilities by acting immediately to stabilize the two facilities financially.

This Immediate Compliance Order was issued to the California-based Prospect Medical Holdings and related entities after a thorough, extensive review by RIDOH determined that Prospect's underfunding of the hospitals is impacting operations. For example, in October 2023, at least 19 elective surgeries at the facilities were canceled because the proper equipment and supplies were not available because of non-payment to vendors. These latest issues are part of a pattern of Prospect Medical Holdings engaging in non-compliance and creating delays in making required disclosures of financial information.

The Immediate Compliance Order requires the owners to hire an independent Fiscal Monitor and cover all operating costs of the hospitals, as determined by that Fiscal Monitor. Prospect also must create a "cash on hand" escrow account to ensure the stability of the facilities, and have an independent Operations Monitor on site who will report to RIDOH daily. The Compliance Order includes many additional, stringent requirements in the areas of finance, operations, and oversight.

"The healthcare providers at Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital are amongst the best in the state. People receive very high-quality care at these hospitals," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "However, these facilities need more consistent support from their corporate owners. The action we took today will ensure immediate accountability and get the hospitals on sounder footing. This is critical for the state as a whole, and for the communities these facilities serve as safety net hospitals."

While Rhode Island law requires hospitals to maintain local governing bodies, much of the financial decision-making for these two hospitals happens in California. Prospect Medical Holdings sweeps all patient care revenue from Roger Williams and Fatima every day and then returns an operating allowance back to the hospitals once a week. The amounts of these allowances vary and are determined by Prospect Medical Holdings. The amounts of these allowances are inadequate to pay vendors in a timely manner, leading to interruptions in services.

A RIDOH investigation revealed that, as of October 24, more than 250 of the hospitals' approximately 830 vendors were operating with the hospitals on a "cash on demand" basis. This means they only deliver supplies if they are paid at the time of delivery. This is generally reserved for payors with a history of non-payment. The average time it takes the hospitals to pay bills ("days payable outstanding," or DPO), was in excess of the 90-day limit set when the acquisition of the facilities was approved in 2021.

Unpaid vendors have included suppliers of hip joints, catheters, endoscopes, and eye lenses. The procedures that were canceled included endoscopies, eye surgeries, and a spinal surgery. There is no indication that issues with vendors ever prevented emergency procedures from being performed.

Among other requirements, the Immediate Compliance Order requires Prospect Medical Holdings to:

- Retain a third-party Fiscal Monitor for six months. This person will immediately determine the average monthly operational expenses for the hospitals and create a plan to ensure that the DPO for all vendors is less than 90 days. The Fiscal Monitor will report to RIDOH weekly on the progress of vendor accounts and the general fiscal standing of the hospitals.

- Retain a third-party Operations Monitor for six months. This person will be charged with doing an assessment of the extent to which vendor non-payment has previously impacted patient care and resulted in canceled surgeries. This person will report to RIDOH daily on census numbers at the hospitals, as well as on staffing and any procedure cancellations.

- Provide funding over and above the weekly allowances to the hospitals to cover all operational expenses.

- Create and fund a separate "cash on hand" escrow account equaling 30 days of average daily operational expenses for the sole use of operations at the hospitals. This account will be maintained by a RIDOH-approved escrow agent, located in Rhode Island.

In addition to these requirements, the Immediate Compliance Order states that RIDOH reserves the right to order a cease and desist on the daily sweeping of patient care revenue from the hospitals to the parent company in California.

Add Vaccination to Your Holiday Season To-Do List

2023-11-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is urging people to get vaccinated now as part of their planning for Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends.

Everyone older than six months of age should get a flu shot every year. The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for everyone older than six months of age. These vaccines are particularly important for older adults and people with underlying health issues, including weakened immune systems, diabetes, obesity, asthma, cancer, and heart or lung disease.

"It can take up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide you with protection against viruses like COVID-19 and the flu. If you plan to see people on Thanksgiving and other holidays over the coming weeks, now is the best time to get vaccinated," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "If you are not feeling well around the holidays, you should avoid gatherings. This is particularly true if you were planning to see any older adults or people with underlying health issues."

Flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine are available throughout Rhode Island at pharmacies, the offices of many primary care providers, and community health centers. These vaccines are also available at community clinics. These clinics are being held in the late afternoon and evening at schools and are open to the entire community. To register, go to http://covid.ri.gov/vaccination and click "Community Clinic Registration." People can register for either COVID-19 vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 5 and older), flu vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 3 and older), or both vaccines. It is safe to receive both vaccines at the same visit. There is no insurance requirement and no cost for vaccination. People can get the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine even if they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past.

In addition to flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine, many people are eligible for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, including pregnant people, infants under eight months, eligible children 8-19 months at increased risk, and many people 60 and older. Talk to your healthcare provider about RSV vaccination if you are in one of these groups.

Additional information about preventing respiratory viruses:

- Stay home when you are sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Avoid contact with others, especially older adults and people with underlying health conditions, if you are sick.

- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day using soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. Hand washing is especially important after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; after leaving a public place; after touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched, such as door handles, light switches, and tables.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Always wash your hands as soon as you can after you cough or sneeze.

- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the classic symptoms, like fever or chills, a runny nose, a cough, achiness, or loss of taste or smell. If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the virus to others and protect yourself from getting very sick. The Isolation Calculator can help you determine how long you should stay home and isolate away from others (see link below). Learn more about doctor-recommended treatments for COVID-19 that can keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Worden Pond, Tiogue Lake, and J.L Curran Upper Reservoir

2023-11-06

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, Briar Point Beach on Tiogue Lake in Coventry, and J.L Curran Upper Reservoir in Cranston, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the ponds.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in the pond by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by DEM. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the 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 stomachache, 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

Tips for a Healthy and Safe Halloween

2023-10-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Islanders about Halloween safety precautions.

Halloween street smarts:

- Always accompany young children on their trick-or-treating rounds. Research shows that evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. are the riskiest times of day for child pedestrians.

- If your older children are trick-or-treating without you, plan and review a route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

- Older children should travel in groups and create a "buddy system."

- Talk with kids about the risks of distracted walking. This includes texting, talking on or looking at a phone, and listening to music.

- Cross the street as a group at crosswalks.

- Stay on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.

- Caution kids to never enter a home or a car for a treat.

Costume safety tips:

- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

- Look for "flame resistant" on the costume labels. Wigs and accessories should also clearly indicate this.

- Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes and blocking vision.

- Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives to masks.

- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye exam and a prescription from an eye care professional.

Healthy Halloween tips:

- Consider offering non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters (such as spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, or bubbles). Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies.

- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats before eating them.

- Enjoy sweets in moderation.

Driving:

- Drive slowly in residential neighborhoods.

- Watch for trick-or-treaters at intersections, medians, and on curbs.

- Watch for trick-or-treaters darting from between parked cars.

- Enter and exit driveways carefully.

- If a teen driver is in your household, consider not allowing that person to drive after dark on Halloween. If you have a teen driver who will be driving, talk about precautions and set specific rules.

Continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites:

This has been a higher-than-average risk year for mosquito-borne diseases, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), in southeastern New England. Rhode Island is still in mosquito season until the first hard frost of the year, which Rhode Island has not had yet. (A hard frost is when temperatures are below 32 degrees for three consecutive hours.) For that reason, Rhode Islanders who will be outdoors on Halloween should continue to take mosquito bite prevention measures. These prevention measures are most important at sundown (and sunrise).

- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

- Use EPA-approved bug spray with at least 20% DEET. Alternatively, people can use a bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. People should not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age.

- Put mosquito netting over baby carriages.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips.

2023-2024 COVID-19 Vaccine Available at Community Clinics

2023-10-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing that the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine will be available at community clinics throughout the state over the coming weeks.

These clinics will be held in the late afternoon and evening at schools and are open to the entire community. To register, go to http://covid.ri.gov/vaccination and click "Community Clinic Registration." People can register for either COVID-19 vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 5 and older), flu vaccine (available at these clinics for people ages 3 and older), or both vaccines. It is safe to receive both vaccines at the same visit. There is no insurance requirement and no cost for vaccination. People can get the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine even if they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past.

"Everyone older than six months of age should get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for older adults and people with underlying health issues," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Just like the flu, the virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time. Getting your updated COVID-19 vaccine helps restore your protection and is one of the best steps you can take to avoid serious illness and hospitalization."

In addition to preventing serious illness, COVID-19 vaccine can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to people who are more vulnerable to the health effects of COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying health issues. Vaccination also reduces your chance of experiencing Long COVID (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html [cdc.gov]), which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended period of time.

Clinics are being held during school hours for students, in addition to these afternoon and evening community clinics. Schools that already held their flu vaccination clinics will be given the opportunity to hold additional clinics to make the updated COVID-19 vaccine available. Schools are communicating directly with families about these clinics for students. People who have already registered for a flu vaccine at a daytime or evening clinic who wish to add a COVID-19 vaccine may complete the online COVID-19 vaccine consent form through the registration system and both vaccines will be given at the same appointment. People may select any available timeslot as a placeholder. Pre-registration is required to guarantee an appointment. Walk-ins will be accepted on a limited basis, as resources allow.

Additional information about preventing respiratory viruses:

- Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year.

- Stay home when sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Avoid contact with others, especially older adults and people with underlying health conditions, if you are sick.

- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day using soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. Hand washing is especially important before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; after leaving a public place; after touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles and tables.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Always wash your hands as soon as you can after you cough or sneeze.

- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the classic symptoms, like fever or chills, a runny nose, a cough, achiness, or loss of taste or smell. If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the virus to others and protect yourself from getting very sick. The Isolation Calculator (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html [cdc.gov]) can help you determine how long you should stay home and isolate away from others. Learn more about doctor-recommended treatments for COVID-19 that can keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized at https://covid.ri.gov/treat/therapeutics#treatment

Health Advisory Issued for Toddler Fruit Puree Pouches

2023-10-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising parents and caregivers to not feed WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches to toddlers or young children. These products contain elevated lead levels.

This health advisory is being issued for all lot codes of WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches, with any expiration dates. These products were sold nationally and are available through multiple retailers including Sam's Club, Amazon, and Dollar Tree.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was recently made aware of a developing investigation by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) regarding four children with elevated blood lead levels, indicating potential acute lead toxicity. The NCDHHS investigation identified WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches as a potential shared source of exposure. As part of their investigation, NCDHHS analyzed multiple lots of WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree, detecting extremely high concentrations of lead. The FDA has reviewed and supports NCDHHS's analytical findings and found that analytical results at this level could result in acute toxicity.

Lead is toxic to humans and can affect people of any age or health status. Lead exposure in children is often difficult to see. Most children have no obvious immediate symptoms. If there's suspicion that a child may have been exposed to lead, parents should talk to their child's healthcare provider about getting a blood test. Although lead can only be diagnosed through clinical testing, signs and symptoms of lead toxicity vary based on exposure.

Short-term exposure to lead could result in the following symptoms:

• Headache

• Abdominal pain/Colic

• Vomiting

• Anemia

Longer term exposure could result in additional symptoms:

• Irritability

• Lethargy

• Fatigue

• Muscle aches or muscle prickling/burning

• Occasional abdominal discomfort

• Constipation

• Difficulty concentrating/Muscular exhaustibility

• Headache

• Tremor

• Weight loss

Utopia Foods Recalls Enoki Mushrooms

2023-10-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Utopia Foods is recalling all lots of their 200-gram packages of Enoki Mushrooms because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled Enoki Mushrooms were distributed to wholesalers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Products may have been further distributed to retail locations such as grocery stores. The product comes in a 200 gram, clear plastic package with barcode 8928918610109 marked on the packaging. All products in the recall and were distributed between August 7, 2023 and October 20, 2023.

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 monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The potential contamination was noted by a routine sampling conducted by the State of West Virginia on products which were further distributed by Utopia's customers. The products tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Consumers who have purchased the 200-gram packages of "Enoki Mushrooms" are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 718-389-8898.

Greenhead Lobster Products Recalled

2023-10-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Greenhead Lobster Products is recalling all frozen and refrigerated cooked lobster meat products produced from May 9, 2023 through October 19, 2023. These products have the potential to be contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled products were sold frozen or refrigerated in packages ranging from 1 to 2 lbs. or in cases up to 12 lbs. and can be identified with "best if used by" dates ranging from May 9, 2025 to October 12, 2025 for frozen products, and May 27, 2023 to October 30, 2023 for refrigerated products. The "best if used by" date is located on the white label on the front of the package.

Products were directly distributed to Maine and New Hampshire and then sold nationwide through wholesale distributors and online via e-commerce.

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.

Although none of the recalled products has tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, the recall is being conducted based on the presence of the organism in the processing environment. No other Greenhead Lobster retail products are impacted by this recall, including raw products.

Consumers who have purchased any of the products listed should not consume the product and can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The company's customer service desk is available to answer questions at Recall@greenheadlobster.com.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Carbuncle Pond

2023-10-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Carbuncle Pond in Coventry due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the lake. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratory from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Spectacle Pond, Mashapaug Pond, and Little Pond

2023-10-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston, Mashapaug Pond in Providence, and Little Pond in Warwick due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the lake. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratory from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

RIDOH Launches Enhanced, Daily Overdose Surveillance System

2023-10-06

As part of efforts to leverage data to prevent overdoses and save lives, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is activating an enhanced system to track non-fatal overdoses throughout the state daily, and to get alerts out into the community in real time.

Before this system enhancement, RIDOH would send out any community overdose alerts on a weekly basis after analyzing data from two datasets: overdose-related emergency department visits in Rhode Island, and?overdose-related Emergency Medical Services (EMS) runs in Rhode Island. With the enhanced system in place, alerts can now go out daily to first responders and other healthcare professionals, harm reduction organizations, local leaders, and residents in impacted areas. RIDOH will also have the ability to monitor daily opioid overdose trends statewide, regional hot spots, and the utilization of emergency medical care.

"The faster we can get overdose data to our community partners, the more effective their overdose prevention strategies will be," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Using data to inform action is a key strategy in our work to prevent overdoses and save lives in Rhode Island."

While data on fatal overdoses is central to Rhode Island's overall overdose prevention strategy, it can take several weeks or months to confirm fatal overdoses (because of the complex toxicology testing often needed). By tracking suspected non-fatal overdoses (through data on emergency department visits and EMS runs), RIDOH can get life-saving information into the community almost right away.

Rhode Island is divided into 11 overdose regions, based on past overdose trends. Each region has its own overdose threshold, based on the previous year of overdose data. Overdose Spike Alerts are sent based on exceedances of these thresholds. (These were previously called Rhode Island Overdose Action Area Response Public Health Alerts, or ROAARs.)

In addition to daily monitoring of overdose activity, RIDOH has implemented a three-tiered approach to address increases in local overdose activity. This plan, called the Levels of Response, deploys public health strategies based on the overdose activity occurring in a particular region. These levels range from an initial overdose spike, a sustained overdose spike, or a sustained high rate of burden in that region.

If a region has a sustained overdose spike or a sustained high rate of overdose burden, RIDOH will respond with additional targeted notification to the area, including involving community partners for increased outreach and convening an emergency community meeting. The burden rate can also help inform funding priorities and/or program implementation.

To view these data, visit RIDOH's Drug Overdose Surveillance Data Hub at https://health.ri.gov/data/drugoverdoses. To learn more about local drug overdose prevention resources, visit PreventOverdoseRI.org [preventoverdoseri.org].

RIDOH Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus in 2023

2023-10-04

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing Rhode Island's first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2023. WNV is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

The person who tested positive was a resident of Newport County in their 70s who developed symptoms of WNV in late August and is recovering.

"Mosquito season in Rhode Island is not over. People need to continue taking prevention measures through the first hard frost," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites. 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 use repellent, and also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outside, especially at sunrise and sunset."

There continues to be an increased level of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and WNV circulating in mosquitoes this year in Rhode Island and the Northeast. Connecticut has confirmed four WNV cases in a human and Massachusetts has confirmed three human cases this year. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and RIDOH have confirmed 13 WNV findings in mosquito samples from around Rhode Island as of last Friday: six in Westerly, two in Barrington, and one each in Central Falls, Cranston, Johnston, Richmond, and Tiverton. DEM and RIDOH will be announcing the latest mosquito sample findings on Friday.

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

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.

Governor McKee, Health Officials Kick Off Flu Vaccination Campaign

2023-10-04

Governor Dan McKee joined leaders from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today to get his flu shot and encourage everyone 6 months of age and older to get their flu shots to stay as healthy as possible this fall and winter.

"Getting a flu shot is your best protection against serious illness from the flu, and it's also the best way to protect the people you love by helping reduce the spread of the flu," said Governor McKee. "For that reason, we have worked to make sure that plenty of flu vaccine is available in every community in Rhode Island. Make your plans to get vaccinated today."

The flu vaccination campaign kick-off event was held at Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2 in Cumberland. A community-wide vaccination clinic will be held today at the school from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. More than 225 flu vaccination clinics will be held at schools throughout Rhode Island this year, many of them in the afternoon and evening. The afternoon and evening clinics are open to the entire community. There is no insurance required, and there is no cost for the vaccine at these clinics. For a full list of clinics, https://health.ri.gov/flu.

"The flu is more than just a bad cold. The flu is a serious virus that keeps many people in bed for a week. This could mean missing a lot of time at work because you are sick, or having to stay home with a sick child who can't go to school," said Dr. Tosin Ojugbele, the Medical Director of RIDOH's Division of Community Health and Equity. "Flu vaccination is important every year because the flu strains we see each year are different. Flu shots are fast, easy, and free. Make sure you get yours today."

During typical flu seasons, the flu results in approximately 1,000 hospitalizations and many fatalities. For example, during the 2022-2023 flu season, the flu resulted in 819 hospitalizations and there were 32 flu-associated deaths.

RIDOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu shots for everyone six months of age and older. Flu shots are especially important for certain people, including:

- Anyone 50 and older (CDC recommends the use of specific flu vaccines for adults 65 and older, including higher dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines),

- Healthcare workers,

- Anyone who lives in a long-term care facility,

- Children younger than 5 years of age,

- People who are pregnant, and

- People with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

In addition to the school clinics, there are many other places in Rhode Island where flu shots are available. Those locations include pharmacies, many worksite clinics, community clinics, and the offices of many primary care providers.

After getting a flu shot, some people may experience a slight ache at the injection site or a low-grade fever. That means the vaccine is working – your body is learning to fight the virus. These mild symptoms are much less significant than the actual flu.

In addition to flu vaccination, RIDOH and CDC also recommend that Rhode Islanders 6 months of age and older get their updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. People can get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. The updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is available in the offices of many primary care providers, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, and other settings. People can get the updated COVID-19 vaccine even if they have never been vaccinated against COVID-19 previously. Visit vaccines.gov [vaccines.gov] to find providers that offer no-cost COVID-19 vaccines through the Bridge Access Program.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe over the coming months:

- Wash your hands often during 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 to prevent other people from getting sick.

- Stay home if you are sick.

- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Additional resources:

- List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: https://health.ri.gov/flu [RI Flu Vaccination Site Locator].

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

- People with additional questions, including questions about where to get vaccinated if you do not have insurance, can call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Media Release: RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-Green Algae in Tiogue Lake, Coomer Lake, and Georgiaville Pond

2023-09-29

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

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analysis confirmed that blue-green algae have 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 other water bodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

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

Rhode Island Remains a Vaccination Leader Nationwide

2023-09-25

Rhode Island continues to be a national leader in adolescent immunizations, with Rhode Island teens at or above the national averages for every vaccine type, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Rhode Island's immunization success is directly attributable to the dedication of our community partners and healthcare workforce, including primary care providers, school nurses, and pharmacists," said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Prevention is a fundamental principle of public health. By vaccinating Rhode Island children so well, we are helping to control healthcare costs, we are preventing the serious health consequences of many illnesses, and we are giving everyone in our state the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. With flu vaccine and the updated COVID-19 vaccine to be widely available in Rhode Island in the coming weeks, I encourage everyone to continue putting prevention first by getting vaccinated."

Rhode Island highlights:

• Rhode Island saw minor decreases in adolescent vaccination coverage rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, but overall coverage increased from 2021 to 2022, returning to rates similar to those in the 2020 survey (which represents pre-pandemic levels).

• Rhode Island has the nation's highest rate for 13 to 17-year-olds who are up to date on their human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. 94.6% of Rhode Islanders in this age group have had at least one dose, compared to 76.0% nationally.

• Rhode Island continues to exceed national vaccination averages for adolescent Tdap vaccination (preventing tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). 95.1% of Rhode Islanders 13-17 years old have had at least one dose, compared to 89.9% of adolescents in this age group nationally. Rhode Island is also a national leader in MenACWY vaccination (meningococcal conjugate vaccine). 96.2% of Rhode Islanders 13-17 years old have had at least one dose, compared to 88.6% of adolescents in this age group nationally.

The Rhode Island Child and Adult Immunization Registry (RICAIR) contributes to Rhode Island's high vaccination rates. RICAIR is a statewide health information system that houses child and adult immunization records in one unified system, which healthcare providers can access statewide to coordinate care for patients. An additional factor in Rhode Island's immunization success is its Universal Vaccine Policy. This Universal Vaccine Policy allows healthcare providers to order all vaccines from the state for children from birth through 18 years of age, and most recommended vaccines for adults, at no cost. (As a condition of enrollment in the system, providers have to vaccinate patients at no cost.)

The data were collected using the CDC's National Immunization Survey-Teen. Vaccination estimates are generated by calling randomly selected phone lines nationally among households that include adolescents from 13 to 17 years of age. Parents and guardians are interviewed to obtain adolescent, maternal, and household information and are asked to provide consent for their adolescent's vaccine providers to be contacted. Data is not collected on every individual, so the true vaccination rates (and therefore rankings) could be slightly higher or lower.

Complete Rhode Island immunization data are available online at https://ricair-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com/ [ricair-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com]

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RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Lower Melville Pond in Portsmouth

2023-09-21

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 blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. RIDOH's State Health Laboratories detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria toxins in the water collected by DEM.

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 stomachache, 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's 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.

Kraft Heinz Recalling American Cheese Slices

2023-09-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kraft Heinz is recalling approximately 83,800 cases of individually wrapped Kraft Singles American processed cheese slices. The recall comes after an issue was identified with wrapping machines, making it possible that a thin strip of the individual film may remain on the slice after the wrapper is removed. If the film sticks to the slice and is not removed, it could become a gagging or choking hazard.

The company is recalling:

- 16 oz. Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product with an individual package UPC of 0 2100061526 1 and a "Best When Used By" date of 10 JAN 24 through 27 JAN 24. Individual packages in this recall will contain an S and 72 in the Manufacturing code.

- 3 lb. multipacks of Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product with a carton UPC of 0 2100060491 3 and a "Best When Used By" of 09 JAN 2024 through 13 JAN 2024 and 16 JAN 2024.

The issue was discovered after Kraft received several consumer complaints about finding the plastic stuck to a slice, including six complaints of consumers saying they choked or gagged in connection with the issue.

Kraft Heinz has fixed the machine that wrapped the affected slices and all other processing machines have been thoroughly inspected.

Consumers who purchased these items should not consume them and can return them to the store where they were purchased for an exchange or refund. Consumers can contact Kraft Heinz from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, at 1-800-280-8252 to see if a product is part of the recall and to receive reimbursement.

Updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 Vaccine to be Available in Rhode Island

2023-09-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is recommending that everyone six months of age and older get the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.

Vaccine will become increasingly available over the next several weeks at sites throughout Rhode Island. The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the offices of many primary care providers, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, and other settings. People can call these sites to inquire about availability and make appointments. People can get this updated COVID-19 vaccine even if they have never been vaccinated against COVID-19 previously.

People can get no-cost COVID-19 vaccines from healthcare providers, federally qualified health centers, and retail pharmacy chains participating in the Bridge Access Program. Visit vaccines.gov [vaccines.gov] to find providers that offer no-cost COVID-19 vaccines through the Bridge Access Program.

"Just like the flu, the virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time. Getting your updated COVID-19 vaccine helps restore your protection, and is one of the best steps you can take to avoid serious illness and hospitalization," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Our team has been preparing to ensure that this vaccine is available in Rhode Island in the coming weeks."

In addition to preventing serious illness, COVID-19 vaccine can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to people who are more vulnerable to the health effects of COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying health issues. Vaccination also reduces your chance of experiencing Long COVID [cdc.gov [cdc.gov]], which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended period of time.

On Monday experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of this updated COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is a monovalent vaccine, meaning that it targets one variant, the Omicron variant XBB.1.5. It is an mRNA vaccine. On Tuesday a group that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted to recommend this vaccine for everyone older than six months of age who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the last two months. The CDC accepted this recommendation.

Vaccine recommendations

- Everyone aged five years and older should get one dose of 2023-2024 Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of previous vaccination history, at least two months after the last dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

- People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. People in this situation should talk to their healthcare providers about the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.

- Children from six months to five years of age who have previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 can get one dose of the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. However, children six months to five years who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 previously may need multiple doses. Parents and guardians should talk to their child's healthcare provider.

Additional information about preventing respiratory viruses

- Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. Vaccine for the 2023-2024 flu season will be available throughout Rhode Island in the coming weeks. You can get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

- Stay home when sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Avoid contact with others, especially older adults and people with underlying health conditions, if you are sick.

- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day using soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. Hand washing is especially important before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; after leaving a public place; after touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles and tables.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Always wash your hands as soon as you can after you cough or sneeze.

- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the classic symptoms, like fever or chills, a runny nose, a cough, achiness, or loss of taste or smell. If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the virus to others and protect yourself from getting very sick. The Isolation Calculator (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html [cdc.gov]) can help you determine how long you should stay home and isolate away from others. Learn more about doctor-recommended treatments for COVID-19 that can keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized.

RIDOH and DEM Blue-Green Algae Advisories: J. L. Curran Advisory Lifted; Wenscott and Slack's Reservoir Remain in Effect

2023-09-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at J. L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston. RIDOH and RIDEM are also extending the advisory to avoid contact with all of Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence and all of Slack's Reservoir in Smithfield due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the lake. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

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RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Waterman Lake

2023-09-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Waterman Lake in Glocester and Greenville due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the lake. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratory from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Little Beach at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield

2023-09-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Little Beach (located on the northwest cove) in Slack Reservoir in Smithfield due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in the reservoir. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

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

2023-08-25

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Spectacle Pond in Cranston. 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 Spectacle Pond again, or other water bodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

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

Oysters from Rhode Island Harvester Recalled Following Vibrio Outbreak

2023-08-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is letting consumers know that Rocky Rhode Oysters Co., LLC, doing business as Walrus and Carpenter Oysters, is recalling all oysters harvested from the Walrus & Carpenter Oysters, LLC Farm with harvest dates of 7/28/2023 until 8/19/2023. This product is being recalled due to a potential link of the harvest area to a Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreak investigation. RIDOH is working closely with partners on the investigation.

Only the Walrus & Carpenter Oysters, LLC Farm, in the Dutch Harbor area of harvest area 7B in Rhode Island is impacted. (The other lease areas in harvest area 7B are not impacted.) Oysters from this lease may be listed on the shellfish tags as B2015-09-105. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) closed this area for harvesting on August 19, 2023.

RIDOH is working with the dealer to ensure that the product is removed from commerce. RIDOH has confirmed that the product has not been distributed out of state and was only sold directly to Rhode Island restaurants.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. The illness is usually mild or moderate, although some cases may require hospitalization. Symptoms usually last two or three days. Children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system can develop more serious symptoms. Anyone who has eaten raw or improperly cooked shellfish and has these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Blue-Green Algae Blooms in Coomer Lake in Glocester, Roger Williams Park Ponds in Providence, and a Section of Tiogue Lake in Coventry

2023-08-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Coomer Lake in Glocester, Roger Williams Park Ponds in Providence, and a Section of Tiogue Lake in the cove located between Harrington Drive and Briar Point Avenue in Coventry due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in the ponds. Briar Point Beach on Tiogue did not have blue-green algae at the time of sampling but caution is advised as conditions can change. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratory from water samples collected by the DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

RIDOH Recommends Reopening Third Beach

2023-08-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends reopening Third Beach in Middletown because bacteria counts have returned to safe levels.

RIDOH will monitor and review beach water quality through Labor Day. The status of a beach may change as new data become available. The most up-to-date beach information is available through a recorded message on RIDOH's beaches telephone line (401-222-2751). A list of closed beaches can also be accessed at health.ri.gov.

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

2023-08-15

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 blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. RIDOH State Health Laboratories detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria toxins in the water collected by DEM.

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 Case of Rare Tick-Borne Disease Powassan

2023-08-15

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 who later died after contracting the disease. Laboratory testing was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which confirmed the finding earlier this month. The case involved a female over the over the age of 80 from Washington County, who developed neurological symptoms and died in mid-July.

Powassan is a tick-borne disease that is found mostly in the Northeast and the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and in eastern Canada. Over 239 cases of Powassan have been reported in the United States in the past 10 years (2013-2022). Powassan cases are rare, but the reported number of cases has increased in recent years. Between 2013 and 2022, there were 93 cases of Powassan reported in New England: 49 cases in Massachusetts, 18 cases in Connecticut, 16 cases in Maine, five cases in New Hampshire, and five 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.

• Wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outside.

• Tucking your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes.

• Using an EPA-approved bug spray with the active ingredient DEET (20-30% strength) on your skin or clothes. Check the product label to find the concentration of DEET in a product. (Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. 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.)

• 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 http://health.ri.gov/ticks.

Soft Serve Ice Cream and Sorbet Cups Recalled

2023-08-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Real Kosher Ice Cream is recalling soft serve, on-the-go ice cream and sorbet cups because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled product is packaged in an 8 fl oz., clear plastic cup. The product looks like a soft serve cup from an ice cream store, with a clear plastic cover with a seal and spoon attached.

These ice cream and sorbet cups were distributed in many states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. They were available in grocery stores and convenience stores. All products produced up to August 4, 2023 being recalled.

To date, two cases of illness have been reported in this outbreak in two states (New York and Pennsylvania). Both individuals were hospitalized but no deaths have been reported. Listeria monocytogenes 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.

The company has ceased the production and distribution of this product while an investigation is ongoing.

Consumers should discontinue consumption of the product immediately. Please dispose of this product or return to your store of purchase for full credit. Consumers with questions can call 845-668-4346 or write to info@softserveonthego.com.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Boone Lake and Slacks Reservoir

2023-08-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Boone Lake in Exeter and Slacks Reservoir in Greenville. 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. Cyanotoxin is not present in detectable concentrations. These findings support lifting the advisory.

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

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

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Spectacle Pond and a Section of Wenscott Reservoir

2023-07-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spectacle Pond in Cranston and the area of Wenscott Reservoir on the southwest side of Douglas Pike (Route 7) in North Providence, due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. At this time, the northeastern basin of Wenscott Reservoir, including Governor Notte Beach, is not experiencing a 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 waters that are under advisories. 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. Caution should be used when recreating in other areas of Wenscott Reservoir as conditions may change and extend the cyanobacteria bloom to other areas.

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.

Blue-Green Algae Blooms in Blackamore Pond in Cranston and Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield

2023-07-14

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 in Cranston and Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in the ponds. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by DEM.

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

Free 'Skin Check' Screenings to be Available at Rhode Island Beaches

2023-07-12

Between Friday and mid-August, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), Brown Dermatology, and partners statewide will be making free skin cancer screenings available at select Rhode Island parks and beaches on five dates.

"Along with seeking shade and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, getting a skin check is the most important thing you can do to protect against skin cancer," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Skin cancer can affect people of all skin tones and complexions, which is why all Rhode Islanders should take advantage of these free, convenient skin cancer checks. Cancer screenings have the power to save lives."

"We are once again incredibly excited to be able to participate in this year's Skin Check along with our great partners," noted John C. Kawaoka, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical School. "One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Everyone is at risk, even those with darker skin tones. Sun protection and getting screened is incredibly important. Every year at the beaches we find a number of skin cancers, including melanoma, many of which people had no idea that they had.

"Lifespan is thrilled to partner on another season of Skin Check," said Carrie Bridges Feliz, MPH, Vice President of Lifespan's Community Health and Equity. "Many Rhode Islanders look forward to skin cancer screening at local beaches, parks and festivals, and Lifespan is honored to be able to help facilitate access to this critical preventive service and appropriate follow-up care. This year, we hope to reach a larger audience of people who will benefit from this free screening."

All screenings will be private and provided by dermatologists and dermatology residents affiliated with Brown Dermatology. The first 100 people at each event will be screened. People who require follow-up will be referred for dermatology consults. People are asked to wear bathing suits or clothing that can easily be removed to reveal the areas of skin that they would like checked.

WJAR is the primary sponsor of the Skin Check screening events. Other partners include Brown Dermatology, the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, Lifespan Community Health Institute, RIDOH, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Free Cancer Screenings Dates and Locations (link to list below):

Friday, July 14, 2023, 1 – 3 pm

Roger Wheeler State Beach (Sand Hill Cove), Narragansett

Friday, July 21, 2023, 1 – 3 pm

Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln

Saturday, July 29, 2023, 11:30 – 1:30 pm

Scarborough State Beach (North), Narragansett

Friday, August 11, 2023, 1 – 3 pm

Easton's Beach, Newport

Friday, August 18, 2023, 1 – 3 pm

East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown

If the weather forecast calls for rain, please check online for cancellation updates (link below).

Prevention and Early Detection

The two ways to stay sun safe this summer are prevention (using sunscreen, wearing protective apparel, and staying out of the direct sun) and early detection (getting screened).

Prevention:

- Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more with both UVA and UVB protection ("broad spectrum" sunscreen). Make sure to put it on all areas of skin exposed to the sun, including ears, neck, nose, eyelids, fingers and toes, and reapply every two hours.

- Use water-resistant sunscreen while swimming, boating or exercising;

- Seek shade, especially when the sun rays are the strongest between 10 AM and 2 PM;

- Wear protective clothing, such as UPF clothing (UV resistant);

- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck;

- Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection where possible;

- Use caution near water, sand and snow because they reflect and intensify the rays of the sun and can increase your chances of sunburn;

- Avoid indoor tanning.

Early detection:

- Talk with your primary care provider about seeing a dermatologist and getting screened for skin cancer, especially if you have a family history of it.

- Watch your moles and skin spots over time. If you see changes in their size, color, number, or thickness, they need to be checked by a primary care provider or a dermatologist.

- Get your kids screened. Skin cancer is a growing concern for children, especially among adolescents. Talk with your child's pediatrician about skin cancer screening.

- If you work outdoors, you should be screened annually by a dermatologist.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Camp Ker-Anna Cabin

2023-07-11

Camp Ker-Anna in Cumberland 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

Camp Ker-Anna - Cabin collected a sample in the water system on July 7, 2023 that had total coliform and E. coli present, which required repeat and well samples to be collected within 24 hours. As the laboratory was closed over the weekend, the water system had until Monday, July 10, 2023 to collect these samples. Repeat samples were collected on July 10, 2023. Two (2) out of three (3) repeat samples were total coliform present and E. coli present. The well sample was also total coliform present and E. coli 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 David Lamourex at 401-767-6385.

Blue-Green Algae Blooms in Exeter, Portsmouth, and Smithfield/Johnston

2023-07-10

As a result of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with three bodies of water:

- Boone Lake in Exeter

- Upper Melville (aka Thurston Gray Pond) in Portsmouth, and

- Little Beach (located on a northwest cove) in Slack Reservoir in Smithfield/Johnston

Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins and/or high cell counts have been detected in ponds by the RIDOH State Health Laboratories from water samples collected by the DEM. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. 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. For more information and current advisories, consult RIDEM's website: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

Precautionary Boil Water Notice Removed for Greenville Water District Customers

2023-07-06

The Greenville Water District was notified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) on July 6 that the precautionary boil water notice issued to its customers can be removed. RIDOH and Greenville Water District alerted customers to this precautionary boil water notice on June 28 because of a water main break that had the potential to cause the loss of water pressure to multiple areas of the water system.

Greenville Water District 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://health.ri.gov/water/for/consumersduringemergency/ (scroll down to "What You Should Do Following Boil Water Advisories and Precautionary Boil Water Advisories"). Food establishments, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities can refer to the links below.

Customers with questions should contact Greenville Water District at 401-231-1433.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Tiogue Lake

2023-06-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Tiogue Lake in Coventry. 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 Tiogue Lake again, or other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

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

Boil Water Notice Issued for Sophie's Brew House Inc.

2023-06-29

Sophie's Brew House, Inc. in Exeter 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/

Sophie's Brew House, Inc. collected a sample in the water system on June 26, 2023 that had total coliform present, which required repeat samples to be collected within 24 hours. Repeat samples were collected on June 27, 2023. Two out of three repeat samples were total coliform present and one of those samples was also E. coli 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 Pamela Machon at 401-932-3435.

Precautionary Boil Water Advisory Issued for Some Customers of the Greenville Water District Water System

2023-06-28

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting customers of the Greenville Water District Water System (PWS ID# RI1858410) that if they lost pressure or were without water on June 26 or after, they should boil their water before consuming it. This is because of a water main break that could cause loss of water pressure in multiple areas of the water system. Currently the specific areas affected are being determined.

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. RIDOH is communicating guidance to restaurants and other food establishments in the area.

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 Greenville Water District 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 healthcare provider should be contacted if someone is on this water systems and has diarrhea and any of the following symptoms:

--Fever over 101.5° F, measured orally

--Blood in the stool

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

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

--Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days.

Customers with questions can call Greenville Water District, at 401-231-1433.

###

Sunrise Growers Recalls Frozen Fruit Products Due To Possible Contamination with Listeria

2023-06-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Sunrise Growers, Inc., is recalling frozen fruit products linked to pineapple provided by a third-party supplier that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled product were distributed at the following stores:

--Walmart: Great Value Mixed Fruit, Great Value Dark Sweet Cherries, and Great Value Mango chunks sold from January 19, 2023 to June 13, 2023.

--Whole Foods: 365 Organic Tropical Fruit Medley, 365 Organic Pineapple Chunks, 365 Pineapple Chunks, 365 Organic Whole Strawberries, 365 Organic Slice Strawberries and Bananas, and 365 Organic Blackberries distributed to select stores throughout the US from November 1, 2022, to June 21, 2023.

--Trader Joe's: Trader Joe's Organic Tropical Fruit Blend distributed to select distribution centers or stores from March 28, 2023, to April 11, 2023.

--Target: Good & Gather Organic Cherries and Berries Fruit Blend, Good & Gather Dark Sweet Whole Pitted Cherries, Good & Gather Mango Strawberry Blend, Good & Gather Mixed Fruit Blend, Good & Gather Mango Chunks, Good & Gather Blueberries, and Good & Gather Triple Berry Blend distributed nationwide from October 14, 2022, to May 22, 2023.

--Aldi: Season's Choice Tropical Blend distributed to select distribution centers or stores from October 11, 2022, to May 22, 2023

--AWG (Associated Wholesale Grocers): Best Choice Pitted Red Tart Cherries Unsweetened distributed to select distribution centers or stores in KS, MO, NE and OK from April 5, 2023, to May 4, 2023.

A complete list of the lot numbers of all of the recalled products are available on the FDA website.

Consumers should check their freezers for any of these products they may have bought in recent months. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

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 Attorney General Announce Rhode Island Free Lead Screening Days in June

2023-06-20

As part of efforts to help all children in Rhode Island be tested for lead poisoning at least twice by the age of three, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Office of Attorney General Peter F. Neronha are announcing two lead screening events this week. The events are free and no health insurance is required.

The lead screening days are open to the public and will be done by medical professionals. The events are intended for children between 9 months and six years old, and children who are are developmentally delayed. Children must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Families that participate in the event will receive a $50 gift card for groceries on a first-come, first-served basis.

--Central Falls: June 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Blackstone Valley Community Health Care location at 1000 Broad St, Central Falls, Rhode Island 02863

--Providence: June 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Providence Community Health Center at 355 Prairie Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island 02905

Although all children in Rhode Island are required to be tested twice by the age of three, many are missing these important screenings. Early detection of lead poisoning is critical to lowering potential lifelong health effects. This is particularly true in Rhode Island, where most housing was built before 1978. (Lead paint was commonly used before being banned in 1978.)

"Lead exposure causes irreversible damage to a child's development. Screening your child for lead is the most critical step you can take as a parent to protect children from lead. It's the only way to know if they have been exposed and the first step toward finding and eliminating the source," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "We are pleased to be working with our partners in the Attorney General's Office on this effort to offer free lead screenings to the community."

"Childhood lead poisoning is a solvable crisis, but only if we address the problem directly," said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. "We can do better by our kids, be it through lead screening efforts like these or holding those accountable who put their own profits over the safety of our community members. I am grateful to the General Assembly for passing critical legislative tools during this year's session to further our mission to prevent lead-poisoning, and I am proud to partner with RIDOH, municipalities, and health centers to help mitigate this problem."

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can be harmful if it gets into the body. Before 1978, lead was used to make paint. Most older housing is painted with lead-based paint. Rhode Island has a particularly old housing stock. Lead-based paint can peel, chip, or create dust that may be swallowed or breathed in. Lead is most dangerous to children younger than six years old and for people who are pregnant. Exposure to even a small amount of lead during childhood can have life-long consequences, impacting a child's ability to grow, think, learn, relax, and bond with others.

Blackstone Valley Community Health Care is a culturally diverse health center providing care to the patients in the community for more than 30 years. Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) is a non-profit health care organization and the only Federally Qualified Health Center in Providence. PCHC provides quality primary health care services that are affordable, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive to more than 85,000 residents of Providence and its surrounding areas.

Boil Water Notice Issued for Partners in Auto Auction Water System

2023-06-19

Partners in Auto Auction Water System in Foster 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 Center for Drinking Water Quality section of the Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH) website.

Partners in Auto Auction Water System collected a sample in the water system on June 15, 2023, that had total coliform present, which required repeat samples to be collected within 24 hours. Repeat samples were collected on June 15, 2023. All three of the repeat samples were total coliform present and one of the repeat samples was also E. coli 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 order can be rescinded.

Customers with questions should contact Luke Semmelrock at 860-428-8992.

Richin Trading Recalls Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cups Due to Potential Choking Hazard

2023-06-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Richin Trading is recalling its Mini Fruit Jelly Cups (35.27 ounces and 52.90 ounces) that may be a choking hazard.

The recalled jelly cups were distributed to food stores across the country and are sold in large, clear jars. The products being recalled are:

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Assorted Flavors); UPC 715685121437; Net Weight 52.91 ounces

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Mango Flavor); UPC 715685121444; Net Weight 52.91ounces

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Lychee Flavor); UPC 715685121451; Net Weight 52.91ounces

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Assorted Flavors); UPC 715685121512; Net Weight 35.27ounces

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Lychee Flavor); UPC 715685121529; Net Weight 35.27ounces

• Sun Wave Mini Fruit Jelly Cup (Mango Flavor); UPC 715685121536; Net Weight 35.27 ounces

There have been no reports of choking in connection to these products.

Anyone who has purchased any of these products should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or throw it away in a sealed package inside a secure garbage can with a tight-fitting lid.

Rhode Island 2022 Fatal Drug Overdose Data Released

2023-06-14

With several new overdose prevention efforts now being managed or supported by the McKee Administration statewide, data released today by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) indicate that drug overdose deaths remained at crisis levels in Rhode Island in 2022. However, after increasing for years, the number of fatal overdoses did not increase from 2021.

In 2022, 434 Rhode Islanders died of accidental overdose deaths, on par with data from 2021 (when 435 accidental overdose deaths occurred). The number of drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island had been increasing since 2019, largely because of a more lethal drug supply locally and nationally. This plateauing in 2022 was the result of a significant reduction in the rate of overdose deaths in the second half of the year. There was an 13% decrease in overdose deaths between the first six months of 2022 and the second six months of 2022.

"My heart breaks for each and every person who has lost a loved one to this epidemic. We owe it to the Rhode Islanders who have passed, and to their families, to do everything possible to prevent any additional overdose deaths," said Governor Dan McKee. "We have many new interventions in place to respond to the dynamic nature of this crisis. We have to keep innovating and collaborating with our partners in the community to do everything we can to prevent overdoses, save lives, and improve the quality of life for Rhode Islanders."

These new overdose data were discussed in more detail at today's hybrid meeting of Governor McKee's Overdose Task Force. Governor Dan McKee's Overdose Task Force is a coalition of professionals and community members who help guide drug overdose prevention and intervention activities in the state.

"The Task Force has a Strategic Plan to end the overdose crisis and ensure racial equity is embedded across all pillars of its work, including prevention, harm reduction and rescue, treatment, and recovery," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "We are working to change lives by uplifting community voices, using data to drive change, and building lasting connections to care."

"What underlies substance use disorder are the factors in our communities that affect people's abilities to be healthy and safe, such as housing, employment, and discrimination," said Cathy Schultz, the Director of the Governor's Overdose Task Force. "Getting prevention and treatment resources into the community to prevent overdoses immediately is crucial. To do this, we must meet people where they are at and continue working to address these larger structural issues. Every single fatal overdose is a family member and member of our community, and these deaths are preventable."

Data overview

Fatal drug overdose data in Rhode Island are generated using results from RIDOH's Office of the State Medical Examiner and RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. Because of the complex toxicology testing required for many cases, it can take several months to finalize the year's fatal overdose data.

- In 2022, fatal overdoses in Rhode Island remained essentially unchanged from 2021. One fewer fatal overdose occurred in 2022 (434 vs. 435).

- The rate of overdose deaths decreased substantially in the second half of 2022. In the first six months of 2022 there was a 13% increase in fatal overdoses compared to the same time period in 2021. Had this trend continued, Rhode Island's total for fatal overdose deaths would have been 492.

- Overdoses were disproportionately seen amongst men, Rhode Islanders from 25 to 54 years of age, and Black non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders.

- The rate of fatal overdoses among Hispanic/Latino Rhode Islanders increased by 50% from 2021 to 2022.

- Most overdoses continued to occur in private settings (84%).

- Fentanyl and cocaine continued to be involved in most fatal overdoses. Fentanyl was involved in 75% of fatal overdoses and cocaine was involved in 50% of fatal overdoses.

A more detailed data summary is available online (see link below).

Interventions

Several State-level interventions may have contributed to the decrease in overdose deaths in the second half of 2022. They include:

- Mobile outreach: The State has significantly increased its mobile outreach efforts. The State partners with four local harm reduction organizations (AIDS Care Ocean State, Community Care Alliance, Parent Support Network, and Project Weber/RENEW) to deploy outreach teams to overdose hotspots to connect people with harm reduction tools (safe injection kits, condoms, fentanyl test strips, naloxone, safer smoking kits, wound care kits, etc.), basic needs, and treatment and recovery services.

- Availability of naloxone and other harm reduction tools: RIDOH has established centralized naloxone supply hubs for community-based organizations to access naloxone for local distribution. In 2022, 36,590 naloxone kits were distributed, a 70% increase compared to 2021. In 2022, RIDOH also launched a Harm Reduction Vending Machine Program in collaboration with AIDS Care Ocean State. This Program provides 24/7 access to free harm reduction supplies.

- Mobile medical treatment: CODAC's Mobile Medical Treatment Unit has been going to high-risk statewide locations offering health assessments. Medication options and treatment inductions, along with a variety of other counseling services are also available. Since May of 2022, the unit has averaged 584 contacts per month and has had a total of 7,063 clients.

- Recovery centers: The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals (BHDDH) continued to support six recovery community centers that provide peer-based recovery support services.

- Prevention education: Through partnerships with schools and Regional Prevention Coalitions, BHDDH continued to do education and primary prevention work.

Going forward, the State has several new interventions to prevent overdoses either planned or already in place. They include:

- Opioid settlement funds: The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and its partner state agencies have allocated approximately $20 million Opioid Settlement and Stewardship funds for FY23 and FY24. This has happened through contracts, grants, or MOUs for interventions focused on prevention, harm reduction/rescue, treatment, recovery, social determinants of health (including basic needs and housing), communications, and other emerging issues.

- Overdose prevention center: EOHHS has contracted with Project Weber/RENEW to support the opening of one of the nation's first overdose prevention centers. The center will be a place for people to use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of medical professionals and trained staff, as well as to get connected to harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services.

- Targeted text messaging campaign: In February, RIDOH began sending targeted text message alerts to people in communities with increased overdose activity based on weekly data from RIDOH's Opioid Overdose Integrated Surveillance System.

- Increased outreach within the Hispanic/Latino community: In response to the increase within the Hispanic/Latino community, the State is doing increased messaging in Spanish (educational materials, paid media, social media) warning about the dangers of fentanyl, xylazine, and other substances. Additional educational materials are being created in Spanish on how to access naloxone.

For information on additional State interventions, see preventoverdoseRI.org.

Resources for people who need help

- Learn more about available resources at preventoverdoseri.org.

- BH Link operates Rhode Island's 24/7 behavioral health hotline. Calling or texting the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline connects callers to trained professionals who can provide confidential counseling, referrals, and support services (Spanish-speaking callers are available). People can also stop by the 24/7 BH Link Walk-In Triage Center at 975 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, RI to get connected to support.

- The Buprenorphine 24/7 Hotline, 401-606-5456, provides telehealth services for experiencing opioid withdrawal. Callers can learn about Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) options and make a plan for continued treatment and recovery support. Learn more about available resources at Get Help – Prevent Overdose RI.

- Fire stations in East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Smithfield, and Woonsocket (and the police stations in Bristol, Tiverton and Warren) are designated "Safe Stations." Staff are available 24/7 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 breathing; gurgling noises; or breathing that has stopped; unconsciousness/unresponsiveness, or skin tone that appears grayish or ashen to bluish-purple.

- Call 911 first if someone is overdosing. The Rhode Island Good Samaritan Law provides certain legal protection when you call 911 when someone is overdosing, whether you have drugs on you or not.

- Carry the overdose reversal medicine naloxone (sometimes called Narcan) and know how to use it. Naloxone is available at pharmacies without a prescription (and will be available for purchase over-the-counter this fall). You can also get naloxone from a community-based organization. For more information, see preventoverdoseri.org.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Tiogue Lake

2023-06-13

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Tiogue Lake in Coventry due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. RIDOH's State Laboratories detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria toxins in the water collected by DEM.

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 Reminder about Harmful Algae Blooms; Caution Against Contact with Almy Pond in Newport

2023-06-05

With recreational activities on the state's many lakes, ponds and rivers set to increase, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding all Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms.

In freshwaters, the blooms are caused by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which are naturally present in bodies of water. Increased temperatures, slow moving water, and excessive amounts of nutrients cause the cyanobacteria to grow excessively and create potential for harmful blooms. These harmful algae blooms are capable of producing toxins, which have the potential to negatively impact humans and animals.

RIDOH and DEM work to collaboratively screen and respond to conditions indicating a harmful algae bloom is in progress and issue recreational advisories when thresholds are met. Initial site visits late last week indicated that Almy Pond in Newport is experiencing a harmful algae bloom. During an algae bloom, all recreation including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking should be avoided. People also should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from affected waterbodies. Pets can also be affected by harmful algae blooms, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in this water. State and local officials work to post warnings around bodies of water when harmful algae blooms are present. However, members of the public should be on the lookout for these harmful blooms and know to avoid affected waters, should they encounter a bloom before warnings have been posted.

Affected waters may be bright to dark green in color and have dense, floating algal mats on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Should these conditions be observed, it is best to refrain from contact with the water and keep pets from entering the water.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing blue-green algae include stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at particular risk for health effects associated with harmful algae blooms, because they are more likely to swallow water when in or around bodies of water.

If you come into contact with water affected by a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People who have had contact with water with algae blooms and who experience the symptoms described above should contact a healthcare provider.

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. For a list of current advisories, visit: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen.

Rhode Island Launches Online Medical Marijuana Card Registration System

2023-06-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s new, user-friendly online registration system is now available for medical marijuana patients and authorized purchasers in Rhode Island. The prior system was entirely paper-based.

The web-based portal will shorten processing time and eliminate the need to fill out and mail paper documents.

The new system, known as the Rhode Island Cannabis Licensing Portal (see link below), lets existing card holders renew registrations, update personal information, and make necessary changes to their existing registration cards. New patients applying for a medical marijuana registration card will now apply through the Cannabis Licensing Portal as well. The RIDOH Cannabis Licensing Portal User Guide has step-by-step directions on how to use the online portal (see link below).

RIDOH's Medical Marijuana Program accepts, reviews, and approves patients and authorized purchaser applications and renewals. The portal may also be used by caregivers who have been selected by a card holding patient and approved by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) to obtain their own marijuana registration card. Caregivers should visit the DBR Office of Cannabis Regulation for further information regarding their registration.

RIDOH will stop mailing registration reminders and renewal forms in the coming months. It is very important that patients create an account in the portal to be sure they get important messages and updates from RIDOH, including renewal reminders 60 days before the expiration date.

Participants whose registrations will expire in the next 14 days should call RIDOH's Medical Marijuana Program at 401-222-3752. Other questions should be emailed to doh.mmp@health.ri.gov.

RIDOH approves or denies new applications and renewals within 35 days of receiving applications and all required documents. As a courtesy, RIDOH will email a renewal reminder 60 days prior to the expiration date on a patient's card if the patient has an email on file with RIDOH.

State Health and Environmental Officials Urge Prevention to Avoid Tick Bites; RIDOH Launches New Data Dashboard for Tick-Borne Diseases

2023-05-30

With warmer weather now here, and with Rhode Island still a high-incidence state for Lyme disease, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are urging people to take precautions to prevent tick bites when outdoors.

After a mild winter in which more ticks than usual have likely survived into the spring, 2023 may be a bad year for tick bites and the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

"While Rhode Islanders are enjoying the great outdoors, we need to make sure we're all taking these three key steps to preventing Lyme and other tick-borne diseases: Repel, Check, Remove," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Repel and reduce your exposure to ticks, check your body for ticks in the spots that they like to crawl and hide, and be sure to promptly and properly remove ticks if you find one on yourself, your family members, or your pets. Ticks are tiny and you may not be able to feel them or spot them right away. The sooner you find and remove them, the better your chances are at preventing the serious health issues caused by Lyme and other diseases ticks carry."

Increasing numbers of ticks could be attributed to a variety of environmental factors that are symptomatic of climate change such as more moderate winters (allowing ticks that are alive in autumn to survive over the winter), hotter temperatures in the summer, and more rainfall.

"As the weather warms and Rhode Islanders begin returning to state parks, campgrounds, and management areas, so do ticks," said DEM Director Terry Gray. "DEM and the RIDOH cooperate on a wide array of programs and initiatives to protect public health. Public education is critical. Again this year, DEM welcomes the chance to make RIDOH's informative tick bite-prevention materials available for our park and campground visitors."

As a part of this year's tick prevention campaign, RIDOH has launched a new, interactive dashboard with data on several tick-borne disease, including Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. The dashboard makes data available by case counts and case rates by year, sex, county, city, and town. The dashboard is available at https://health.ri.gov/data/tickborne

Rhode Island had 2,324 cases of Lyme disease in 2022. There were 980 cases of Lyme in Rhode Island in 2021. However, this significant increase is a result of a change in the case definition for Lyme. Historically, the national reporting standard for Lyme disease required healthcare providers to report specific clinical information on all potential cases of Lyme disease. In 2022, the national reporting standard changed. The national case definition for Lyme disease?no longer requires the reporting of clinical information for cases in high-incidence states, such as Rhode Island. However, it counts laboratory tests only and that results in many more cases being included in the count. The next few years of surveillance will allow us to trend data using this new methodology.

RIDOH's ongoing 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.

--Tucking your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes.

--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.

Most people who get Lyme disease get a rash anywhere on their body, though it may not appear until long after the tick bite. (70-80% of people with Lyme disease will develop a rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) At first, the rash looks like a red circle, but as the circle gets bigger, the middle changes color and seems to clear, so the rash looks like a target bull's-eye.

Some people don't get a rash but feel sick, with headaches, fever, body aches, and fatigue. Over time, they could have swelling and pain in their joints and a stiff, sore neck; or they could develop shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet, or facial drooping from nerve palsy. A few people may even experience heart problems. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.

The Tick Free Rhode Island campaign features three animated Tick Free Rhode Island videos. The videos show how to repel both ticks and mosquitoes, how to check for ticks, and how to properly remove a tick from the skin. RIDOH's Rhode Island Tick Detective Workbook for Kids is also available online. To view the videos and get more information on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit http://health.ri.gov/ticks.

RIDOH Shares Tips for a Healthy Memorial Day Weekend

2023-05-26

As many Rhode Islanders plan to gather with family and friends this holiday weekend, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is issuing a reminder about the important steps people should take to stay healthy and safe.

Travel responsibly

Never drink and drive. Additionally, never drive after using other substances that impair your ability to drive safely. Substances that impair your ability to drive safely include marijuana, illicit drugs, many types of prescription medicines, and some over-the-counter medicines.

If you have been drinking alcohol and/or using drugs, get a ride home with a driver who has not been drinking or using drugs, use a rideshare service, or call a taxi.

Roughly 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Food safety

Proper handling, preparation, cooking, and storing is key to keeping food safe and preventing food-borne illness year-round. However, these precautions are particularly important as the weather gets warmer, and people start grilling outside.

When handling and grilling raw meat, chicken and other poultry, and seafood, people should:

- Separate the food to be grilled from other from other food.

- Refrigerate before grilling or cooking.

- Never thaw or marinate on the counter.

- Wash your hands before and after handling.

- Make sure its juices do not touch other food, utensils, and surfaces.

- Use a food thermometer to ensure it is cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Additional food safety tips include:

- Wash work surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after cooking.

- If you are grilling, use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill's surface for loose bristles before cooking. Wire bristles can become loose and get stuck in food.

- Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in the freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (within one hour if above 90°F outside).

Sun safety and beaches

Rhode Islanders are also reminded to protect themselves from the sun's rays and enjoy the beach safely this summer. RIDOH will monitor beach water quality for bacteria this year from May 30th to Labor Day.

- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 sunscreen whenever spending time outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reapply every two hours.

- Seek shade where possible, consider wearing UPF sun-protective clothing, and wear a hat with a brim that shades the face and ears, especially if spending an extended amount of time outdoors.

- After May 30th, look at the latest beach closures and advisories before going to the beach.

- Be aware and prepare for hot temperatures.

Prevent tick bites

After being outdoors, people should take three steps to prevent tick bites, which can lead to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases: Repel, Check, 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.

- Tucking your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes.

- 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 about tick bite prevention, see: http://health.ri.gov/ticks

New Campaign Urges Rhode Islanders to Get Checked for Hep C: Free, confidential testing events to be held on Friday and Saturday

2023-05-18

During Hepatitis Awareness Month, public health officials in Rhode Island are making all Rhode Islanders aware of updated testing guidance for the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). According to updated national screening recommendations, all adults should be tested for HCV at least once in their lifetime. People with risk factors should be tested regularly.

Testing is critical because chronic hepatitis C is curable with antiviral medications.

The Rhode Island Hepatitis Action Coalition, which is led by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), are doing public education on this testing recommendation for Hepatitis Awareness Month, which is recognized every May. These education efforts include a new public service announcement produced by the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association. The ad will air on Rhode Island television and radio stations, in addition to being shared on social media.

"Like many other states, we know that hepatitis C cases have been on the rise in Rhode Island in recent years," said EOHHS Acting Secretary Ana Novais. "The only way for someone to know if they have hepatitis C is for them to get tested. It's important that we work together across the health and human service agencies, and in collaboration with our trusted community partners, to increase awareness of and access to testing."

"Thousands of people in Rhode Island are living with hepatitis C without knowing it. Testing is so important to find out if you are infected and to get lifesaving treatment for chronic hepatitis C. Treatments are available that can cure people with chronic hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks, said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Many community level factors impact rates of hepatitis C, including access to care. Partnering with community organizations to promote no-cost testing events is one of many steps we are taking to get at these community level factors, and to advance our work on health equity throughout Rhode Island."

An estimated 2.4 million people are living with hepatitis C in the U.S. People can live with HCV without symptoms or feeling sick, but it is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. If untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause significant liver disease which is why it's important to get tested. Getting tested for hepatitis C is important because treatments can cure most people with chronic hepatitis C in eight to 12 weeks.

Rhode Islanders can talk to their primary care providers about getting tested for HCV. In addition, RIDOH's TESTING 1-2-3 service now offers an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to be tested for HCV, in addition to HIV, and/or three sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis), without a trip to the doctor's office. This service allows people without symptoms to fill out an online questionnaire, select the types of tests that they would like, and go to the lab of their choice for testing. Testing through this program is not free, but should be covered by most insurance plans. (People should check with their insurers about coverage.) People with symptoms or additional questions should check in with a medical provider.

Additionally, two of RIDOH's funded community-based organizations are offering HCV testing events this week.

• May 19 - Project Weber/RENEW will be holding free and confidential HIV and HCV testing events at its two drop-in centers (124 Broad St., Pawtucket, and 640 Broad St., Providence) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those getting tested will receive a $10 incentive.

• May 20 - Sojourner House will be offering free, confidential HIV and HCV testing at the Haus of Codec Marketplace at Dexter Park in Providence, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A $5 incentive is being offered to people getting tested at that event.

All testing options, including free HCV rapid testing options through all RIDOH-funded community-based organizations, are listed on RIDOH's Hepatitis C testing services page.

In 2022, RIDOH, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), and EOHHS's Medicaid Office, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Hepatitis Action Coalition, published a new multi-year strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis C virus in Rhode Island. According to data published in that plan, hepatitis C was a leading infectious disease cause of death in Rhode Island between 2015 and 2019. Rhode Island ranks tenth overall in prevalence of hepatitis C per capita and tenth in the prevalence of the disease among non-Hispanic Black/African Americans per capita. Of the more than three million people in the United States who are living with hepatitis C, 75% were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers have a 1 in 30 chance of infection. Younger adults 20-39 years old now have the highest rates of new hepatitis C cases.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, a blood-borne virus that is not spread through casual contact. It is not a classic sexually transmitted infection. Hepatitis C is only spread when blood from another person who has hepatitis C gets put into the bloodstream of another person. Some people acquired hepatitis C via a blood transfusion before 1992, or via hemodialysis. Others become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.

Rhode Island has one of the most comprehensive statewide community-based programs in the nation to prevent hepatitis C transmission among people who use drugs. RIDOH works closely with ENCORE, the state's needle-exchange program, to provide brand new needles and other injecting equipment and harm-reduction counseling for people who use injection drugs. Additionally, RIDOH helps people access medical treatment and care for hepatitis C.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, such as avoiding injection and intranasal drug use.

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RIDOH and Attorney General Act to Safeguard Continuity of Care at Pawtucket Falls Nursing Home

2023-05-15

Today, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, announced that a Superior Court judge has ordered that a receiver assume control of Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center, following the filing of a Petition for Court-Appointed Receiver by RIDOH and the Attorney General.

At a hearing on May 15, 2023, Superior Court Justice Brian Stern appointed attorney Mark Russo as receiver of the facility.

Today's legal action comes after months of regulatory action by RIDOH related to health and safety concerns at the nursing home. By petitioning the court to appoint a receiver, RIDOH and the Attorney General seek to safeguard residents by ensuring that they continue to receive skilled nursing facility level of care. Pawtucket Falls has assented to the Petition.

Under Rhode Island law, the State may petition a court for receivership of a nursing home under certain circumstances, such as when the management of a facility leads to financial or patient safety concerns. When a facility enters into receivership, its management is assumed by a court-appointed receiver, who assumes control of the operational and financial management of the facility, independent from its existing management.

The receivership will provide additional court oversight and control over the facility. The RIDOH has been working closely with a temporary manager at the nursing facility to see that services continue uninterrupted. At this time, there is no indication that Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center intends to close.

"Over the past seven months, a pattern of health and safety issues has emerged at Pawtucket Falls. We have tried to help the facility stabilize and create a secure environment for the people who call Pawtucket Falls home. However, in the interest of resident safety, receivership is necessary at this time," Dr. Bandy said. "The residents, families, and employees of Pawtucket Falls deserve better. While it is unfortunate that we have arrived here, receivership is now a step in the right direction. It means more accountability from the licensee, and it means that the facility will have more structure and oversight to create a healthier and safer place for residents to live."

"Today's action follows a series of steps by RIDOH to address alleged operational and financial concerns at the facility that ultimately impact some of the most vulnerable among us. This Office's legal efforts in this situation support the important regulatory role that RIDOH plays in overseeing nursing home safety in Rhode Island. Moreover, in its role as the State's health care advocate, this Office also has a responsibility to bring action when necessary to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable Rhode Islanders." said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. "Rhode Islanders should feel confident that my Office and RIDOH are working to ensure that the facility is kept safe for its residents and stable for its workers."

History

Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center is a nursing home with roughly 80 residents and 154 beds. In October 2022, in response to a complaint, RIDOH conducted an unannounced inspection at Pawtucket Falls. Since that time, RIDOH conducted 11 surveys and inspections at the facility.

As a result of a number of deficiencies, RIDOH issued Compliance Orders to the facility in February 2023 and in April 2023. Among other measures, the Compliance Order issued by RIDOH on February 8, 2023, imposed a freeze on new admissions to the facility and required the facility to bring on an independent monitor to oversee the quality of care. An Amended Compliance Order on April 7, 2023, required the facility to bring on a RIDOH-approved temporary manager to direct operations, to ensure the facility was maintaining compliance with all regulatory requirements. These measures did result in some improvements in the quality of patient care at the facility, but concerns about the long-term stability of the nursing home's operations prompted the petition for receivership.

Receivership

When a facility enters into receivership, a court-appointed receiver assumes management, acting as an independent party who controls the operations and financial control of the facility This receiver will be directly accountable to the judge for the work being done to keep residents healthy and safe. The receiver will submit a receivership plan to a judge and report regularly to that judge. Receivership is funded by the existing owners of the nursing home.

RIDOH has been working with Rhode Island's Long-Term Care Ombudsman on this issue and families with questions about this matter are encouraged to contact their office at 401-785-3340. Rhode Island's Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates on behalf of residents in care facilities, listening to their concerns and taking action to protect their rights.

Bean Sprouts and Soy Bean Sprouts Recall Expanded

2023-05-10

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the Mung Bean Sprouts recall announced on May 8th has been expanded. Chang Farm is expanding their recall to include all Mung Bean Sprouts and Soy Bean Sprouts because of the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. Monocytogenes). The affected product is packaged in:

- Beans Sprouts 10lb bag and bag in box

- Nature's Wonder Premium Beans Sprouts 12oz bag (UPC: 815098001330)

- Nature's Wonder Premium Soybean Sprouts 12oz bag (UPC: 815098001347)

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 headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The product has been distributed to retail stores and wholesalers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

Consumers should contact their healthcare provider with any illness concerns. Consumers with questions about the warning may contact Chang Farm at 413-522-0234 or 413-222-5519.

Chang Farm Recalls Mung Bean Sprouts Because of Possible Health Risk

2023-05-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Chang Farm (located in Whatley, Massachusetts) is recalling certain Mung Bean Sprouts because of possible Listeria monocytogenes (L. Monocytogenes) contamination. All 10-pound bulk bags are being recalled, as well as 12-ounce retail bags with the sell-by date of May 7th, 2023.

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 headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The products were distributed to retail stores and wholesalers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

Sample analysis by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets' Division of Food Safety and Inspection confirmed Listeria Monocytogenes.

Consumers should not consume the products and should discard them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers should contact their healthcare provider with any illness concerns. Consumers with questions about the warning may contact Chang Farm at 413-522-0234 or 413-222-5519.

Rushdi Food Industries Recalls Tahini Due To Possible Contamination with Salmonella

2023-05-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Rushdi Food Industries is recalling its Mighty Sesame 10.9 oz. Organic Tahini (squeezable) with an expiration date of 9/25/23 that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Most of the recalled product was distributed to stores located in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut during the weeks of February 23 through March 5. Some of the recalled product was distributed to stores nationwide.

The recalled product has an expiration date of 9/25/23 and a UPC of 858313006208. Only products with this expiration date and UPC are impacted by this recall. No other products are being recalled.

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 severs illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers should check any products they may have bought recently. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

Anyone who has eaten these recalled products and has any of the symptoms described above should call their healthcare provider.

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lef Farms Recalls Packaged Salad Greens Due To Possible Contamination with E. coli

2023-05-05

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that lef Farms, is recalling a single lot of its "Spice" packaged salad greens that may be contaminated with E.coli bacteria.

The recalled product was distributed to Hannaford and Market Basket stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and New York.

The recalled product comes in a four-ounce, clear, plastic, clam shell-shaped container with a "best by" date of 5/5/23, lot number SP10723- 1RGH1, UPC 8 50439 00709 1. Date, lot number, and UPC are on the bottom of the package.

lef Farms "Spice" is the only product impacted. No other products are being recalled.

E. coli causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

Consumers should check any products they may have bought recently. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

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

General Mills Recalls Certain All Purpose Flour Products

2023-05-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that General Mills is recalling two, five and 10-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached and Bleached All Purpose Flour with "better if used by" dates of March 27, 2024 and March 28, 2024. The recall is being issued for the potential presence of Salmonella Infantis, which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product.

Consumers should check their pantries and dispose of the products affected by this recall. Consumers who have had to discard products covered by this recall may contact General Mills Consumer Relations at 800-230-8103.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella Infantis, a bacteria, often experience nausea, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pains. Typically, symptoms start within six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days. Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Kawasho Foods Expands Recall of Canned GEISHA Shrimp

2023-04-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kawasho Foods USA Inc., is expanding its recall of canned GEISHA medium shrimp to include all lots of this product. The recall is being expanded because there is a concern that this product has been under-processed and could be contaminated with clostridium botulinum.

Clostridium botulinum may cause a severe form of food poisoning. It can begin from six hours to two weeks after eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness. Botulism poisoning can cause respiratory paralysis, resulting in death, unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.

The recalled product was distributed to retailers nationwide from December 2022 through April 2023. The recalled product is packaged in a 4-ounce metal can with UPC 071140003909 on the back of the label. This is the only product affected by this recall.

Consumers should not eat this product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Consumers should check any products they may have bought recently, and if they have any of the recalled product, they should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

RIDOH and URI to Test School Drinking Water for Lead Contamination

2023-04-20

With the official launch last month of a voluntary, statewide program to test the drinking water in any Rhode Island K-12 school, program organizers are encouraging any school that has not yet signed up to take advantage of this no-cost testing opportunity. This effort is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the University of Rhode Island (URI) Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program.

When schools sign up, program staff work with school leadership on the timing of sample collection and on the selection of 10 sample locations through each school. RIDOH and URI Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program will provide sampling materials and arrange sample pickup and testing. All analysis on water samples will be done at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories.

"Lead is a neurotoxin, so it affects how a child's brain develops. Lead exposure can make it difficult for a child to grow, think, and learn," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Children spend much of their young lives in school. It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure schools are healthy environments, so that Rhode Island's kids thrive now and into the future. We encourage all schools to participate and test their drinking water for lead."

Lead is toxic. It is not naturally found in water. Most lead in water comes from metal wearing away in old pipes, lead-based solder, or brass fittings on faucets or water fountains. Lead in drinking water can cause lead exposure and lifelong health problems. The effects are most serious for babies, young children, and people who are pregnant.

The only way to know if there is lead in drinking water is to test for it. All drinking water testing results will be shared with the school and will be available on RIDOH's website. If the water testing shows levels of lead above the Environmental Protection Agency action level, RIDOH and URI Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program will support the schools and provide guidance on how to address the lead and protect children and staff.

RIDOH is pleased to provide this water testing project at no cost to schools with funding from the EPA Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water grant, established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act.

Interested superintendents should contact Deborah LaMond (Deborah.LaMond@health.ri.gov) RIDOH's Lead and Copper Rule Manager.

RIDOH, CDC Highlight STI Data for STI Awareness Week

2023-04-13

In observance of National STI Awareness Week, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is raising awareness about rising sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates in Rhode Island and nationwide.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their 2021 Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Surveillance. The annual report shows STI rates continued to increase, with more than 2.5 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis identified in the United States in 2021. RIDOH released its annual 2021 Rhode Island HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Viral Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis Surveillance Report in February. (See links below for both reports.)

"While there is no one reason why rates of STIs are increasing, some factors may be sexual activity with larger networks of partners, substance abuse, and social and economic disparities that limit access to healthcare. In addition, biomedical interventions to prevent HIV and pregnancy may create the incorrect perception that condoms are not needed as much as they were in the past," said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, RIDOH Interim Director. "Long-acting injectable contraceptives and pre-exposure medications to reduce your chances of getting HIV (also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) do not protect against STIs. Fortunately, Rhode Island is a national leader in launching innovative programs to increase access to condoms and testing. These programs can help Rhode Islanders stay health and safe during this time of rapidly increasing STI rates."

"If you are sexually active, make sure to have a discussion with your medical provider regarding the need to be tested periodically for STIs," said Dr. Philip Chan, Consultant Medical Director for RIDOH's Division of Emergency Preparedness and Infectious Disease. "This is especially true if you have multiple sexual partners or are contemplating pregnancy."

Testing and consistent, correct use of condoms are important parts of safer sex. RIDOH's free condoms by mail program and TESTING 1-2-3, which allows people to get tested for HIV and STIs at the lab of their choice without a trip to the doctor's office, are examples of RIDOH programs launched in these areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about these programs at http://health.ri.gov/findcondoms and testing123ri.com [testing123ri.com]. RIDOH also offers the RIghtTime sexual health app (righttimeapp.com [righttimeapp.com]), which provides information on prevention, testing, and treatment resources.

The RIDOH and CDC STI surveillance reports indicate:

- From 2012-2021, there has been a 21% increase in chlamydia cases in Rhode Island, from 4,313 cases in 2012 to 5,199 cases in 2021. Nationwide, 1.6 million chlamydia infections were reported in 2021. Most chlamydia cases in the last 10 years have been diagnosed in females. In 2021, nearly twice as many cases were diagnosed in females than in males in Rhode Island. This difference is likely due to two factors. First, women generally access routine healthcare and subsequent screening more frequently than men and are screened for chlamydia more often. Second, men who have chlamydia often do not have symptoms and do not seek healthcare for screening and treatment. From 2017-2021, the highest rates of chlamydia were in people in their 20s, followed by people ages 30-39 and those age 19 or younger.

- From 2012-2021, there has been a 232% increase in gonorrhea cases in Rhode Island, from 507 cases in 2012 to 1681 cases in 2021. More than 700,000 gonorrhea cases were reported nationwide in 2021. In the last 10 years, more gonorrhea cases have been observed in males than in females. In the last five years, case rates for gonorrhea have been consistently highest among people in their 20s, followed by people in their 30s.

- From 2012-2021, there has been a 382% increase in infectious syphilis cases in Rhode Island, from 68 cases in 2012 to 328 cases in 2021. Reported cases of syphilis (all stages) totaled more than 176,000 cases nationwide in 2021. These data represent diagnosed cases based on positive test results and history. In 2021, more cases of infectious syphilis were observed among females compared to prior years; however, males still account for the majority of the reported cases reported. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) are disproportionately affected by STIs, including infectious syphilis in Rhode Island, a trend that is also observed nationally.

- In the last two years, RIDOH received its first reports of congenital syphilis in over 10 years. Congenital syphilis continued to surge nationwide in 2021, increasing 203 percent since 2017. In 2021, 38 jurisdictions, including 37 states and the District of Columbia, reported an increase in congenital syphilis cases.

For more information on STIs in Rhode Island, download RIDOH's RIghtTime app or visit http://health.ri.gov/sti.

Scenic Fruit Company Recalls Frozen Organic Strawberries and Frozen Organic Tropical Blend

2023-03-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumes that the Scenic Fruit Company is recalling frozen organic strawberries sold to Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, PCC Community Markets, and frozen organic tropical blend sold to Trader Joe's due to an outbreak of Hepatitis A illnesses.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.

Illness occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. Persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department to determine if a vaccination is appropriate, and consumers with symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care professionals or the local health department immediately.

The products subject to this recall are listed online. The lot codes and best by dates are found on the back of each bag.

Although Hepatitis A has not been detected on this product, out of an abundance of caution, consumers should stop consuming the product and return it to their local store for a refund. The company has ceased the production and distribution of the product as FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.

All inventories of the affected lot should be removed from sale. Consumers who have purchased the products are urged to destroy or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at customer.service@scenicfruit.com

Powdered Infant Formula Recalled

2023-03-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Perrigo Company is issuing a recall of certain lots of Gerber Good Start SootheProTM Powdered Infant Formula that were manufactured at the company's Gateway Eau Claire, Wisconsin facility from January 02, 2023 to January 18, 2023. This product is being recalled due to the potential presence of Cronobacter sakazakii.

Cronobacter sakazakii is a bacteria commonly found in the environment. In most people it causes no symptoms but in some, particularly premature infants, infants under 2 months of age, or infants with weakened immune systems fever, poor feeding, excessive crying, or low energy as well as other serious symptoms can occur.

This product is sold at retailers across the U.S. Consumers who purchased the product after March 5, 2023 should look for the following Lot Codes and "use by" dates, which can be found on the bottom of the package. No other lot codes are impacted by this recall. Any consumers who purchased product with matching codes should discontinue use and dispose of the product.

Gerber Good Start SootheProTM 12.4 oz:

300357651Z – USE BY 04JUL2024

300457651Z – USE BY 05JUL2024

300557651Z – USE BY 06JUL2024

300557652Z – USE BY 06JUL2024

300757651Z – USE BY 08JUL2024

300857651Z – USE BY 09JUL2024

301057651Z – USE BY 11JUL2024

301057652Z – USE BY 11JUL2024

301157651Z – USE BY 12JUL2024

Gerber Good Start SootheProTM 30.6 oz:

301357652Z – USE BY 14JUL2024

301457652Z – USE BY 15JUL2024

301557651Z – USE BY 16JUL2024

Gerber Good Start SootheProTM 19.4 oz:

301557652Z – USE BY 16JUL2024I

Consumers can request refunds for impacted products and find more information about Gerber Good Start by contacting the Gerber Parent Resource Center on behalf of Perrigo at 1-800-777-7690 anytime 24/7. Consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider.

No distributed product has tested positive for the presence of this bacteria, no adverse events have been reported and no other products manufactured at this facility or any other of Perrigo's facilities are affected by this recall.

Clio Snacks Recalls Strawberry Granola & Greek Yogurt Bars Due To Possible Contamination with Listeria

2023-03-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Clio Snacks, is recalling 581 cases of its Strawberry Granola & Greek Yogurt Parfait Bar that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled product was distributed to certain Walmart stores between March 5 and March 8, including Walmart stores in Rhode Island.

The recalled product comes in a single-serving box with UPC Code 854021008152, Lot Number 048C2023 and an expiration date of 4/30/2023 stamped on the side of the box. Strawberry Granola & Greek Yogurt Parfait Bar is the only product impacted. No other products are being recalled.

Consumers should check any products they may have bought recently. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

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.

In Advance of Extreme Cold, McKee Administration Reminds Rhode Islanders to Take Health Precautions

2023-02-02

In advance of the extreme cold expected this weekend, the McKee Administration is reminding all Rhode Islanders about ways to stay healthy and safe.

According to the National Weather Service, Rhode Island will experience temperatures and wind chills below freezing Friday, February 3 into Saturday, February 4. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and can contribute to events like household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. The best way to protect your health against extreme cold is to prepare yourself, your home, and your car before extremely cold weather.

Prepare yourself:

--Dress in layers.

--Cover exposed skin. Wind chills this low may result in frostbite on exposed skin in as few as 15 minutes.

--Limit outdoor time.

--Add blankets to your home's emergency kit.

--Eat frequently. Food gives the body energy to produce heat.

--Do not drink a lot of alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine cause your body to lose heat faster.

--Check on older family and friends; infants and older adults are more at risk for health problems related to extreme temperature.

--Your baby should wear the same layers adults would comfortably wear plus one additional layer. Avoid using one big, bulky blanket.

--Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

Prepare your car:

--Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

--Make a winter emergency kit for your car. Add extra blankets and a windshield.

--Make sure your tires have enough air pressure and that your heater works.

--Check your car's antifreeze levels.

--Tell your friends and family if you are traveling somewhere. If you can, bring a mobile phone with you.

Prepare your pets:

--Limit outdoor time for your pets.

--Bring outdoor pets inside.

Prepare your house:

--Extreme cold can cause your water pipes to freeze and sometimes break. Leave your water tap open so they drip. Open the cabinets beneath the kitchen sink to let warm air near the pipes.

--Be careful with indoor heaters; keep space heaters three feet away from anything that may catch fire.

--Conserve heat. Don't open doors or windows unless necessary. Close off unneeded rooms.

--Do not use generators, grills, or camp stoves inside.

--Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Put a carbon monoxide detector near your bedroom so you can hear it if you are sleeping.

Watch for warning signs

When exposed to cold temperatures, your body can lose heat quickly and develop frostbite or hypothermia or both. Frostbite most often impacts noses, ears, cheeks, chins, fingers, and toes. Signs of frostbite include discolored (red, white, or greyish-yellow) skin and numbness. If you notice signs of frostbite, get into a warm area as soon as possible and call a healthcare provider. Warm the affected area with warm water or with body heat. Frostbitten areas can be easily burned because they are numb. Do not use hot water, heating pads, or the heat of a stove or radiator for warming.

Signs of hypothermia include shivering; exhaustion; confusion, memory loss, slurred speech; bright red, cold skin in infants, and very low energy in infants. If you notice signs of hypothermia, take the person's temperature. If their temperature is below 95°F, this is an emergency, and the person should get medical attention immediately.

More information:

--Some cities and towns have warming centers open to those who need shelter during periods of extreme cold. To find a warming center near you, call 2-1-1 or visit: https://riema.ri.gov/planning-mitigation/resources-businesses/warming-centers.

--For information about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, see this resource from the Rhode Island Office of the State Fire Marshal: https://fire-marshal.ri.gov/sites/g/files/xkgbur726/files/documents/safety/alarms.pdf

--For more information, see RIDOH's page on Winter Health Tips https://health.ri.gov/seasonal/winter/ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page on Extreme Cold https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.html [cdc.gov].

Public Advised to Discontinue Use of Artificial Tears Product Linked to Multidrug Resistant Infections

2023-02-02

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting consumers and healthcare providers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people nationwide to discontinue the use of preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears. The product has been linked to cases nationwide of a strain of extensively drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The over-the-counter product, sold at Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers nationwide, is packaged in multidose bottles.

Although the product is not yet under an official recall, health officials and the product's manufacturer are advising patients and healthcare providers to immediately discontinue using EzriCare artificial tears pending additional guidance from CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While the majority of the cases reported use of EzriCare artificial tears, more than 10 brands of artificial tears were reported to be used by the patients involved, and some reported using multiple brands. CDC laboratory testing has identified this bacterium in opened EzriCare bottles with different lot numbers collected from two states.

Patients had a variety of presentations including eye infection, respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, and sepsis. Vision loss resulting from cornea infection, hospitalization, and one death due to systemic infection were reported. A CDC Health Alert Network Health Advisory distributed by CDC and RIDOH to healthcare providers on Wednesday advises the following guidance to members of the public:

--Discontinue using EzriCare Artificial Tears pending additional guidance from CDC and FDA.

--If patients were advised to use EzriCare Artificial Tears by their healthcare provider, they should follow up with their healthcare provider for an alternative artificial tears product to use.

--Patients who used EzriCare Artificial Tears and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection, such as discharge from the eye, eye pain or discomfort, redness of the eye or eyelid, feeling of something in the eye, increased sensitivity to light, or blurry vision, should seek timely medical care and let your provider know that you have used this product. At this time, CDC does not recommend testing of patients who have used this product and who are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection.

Healthcare providers should review the clinical guidance in the Feb. 1 CDC Health Alert Network Health Advisory. For more information, please call CDC at 1-800-232-4636.

Daniele International Recalls Ready-To-Eat Sausage Due To Possible Contamination with Listeria (Ingles y Espanol)

2023-01-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Daniele International, LLC, is recalling more than 50,000 pounds of ready-to-eat sausage that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The products were produced on various dates from May 23, 2022, through November 25, 2022, and shipped to retail locations nationwide on various dates from December 23, 2022, through January 17, 2023. The following products are included in this recall:

--6-ounce plastic tray of "FREDERIK'S by meijer SPANISH STYLE charcuterie sampler tray" with a sell-by date of 4/15/23;

--6-ounce plastic tray of "Boar's Head CHARCUTUERIE TRIO" with sell-by dates of 4/13/23, 4/14/23, and 4/15/23;

--7-ounce plastic tray of "COLAMECO'S PRIMO NATURALE GENOA UNCURED SALAMI" with sell-by date of 12/23/23;

--7-ounce plastic tray of "COLAMECO'S PRIMO NATURALE BLACK PEPPER UNCURED SALAMI" with use-by dates of 12/22/23, 12/30/23, and 1/17/24;

--1-pound plastic tray of "DEL DUCA SOPRESSATA, COPPA & GENOA SALAMI" with sell-by dates of 4/13/23 and 4/14/23;

--1-pound plastic tray of "DEL DUCA CALABRESE, PROSCIUTTO & COPPA" with sell-by date of 5/6/23;

--1-pound plastic tray of "DEL DUCA GENOA SALAMI, UNCURED PEPPERONI & HARD SALAMI" with use-by date of 5/4/23; and

--12-ounce plastic tray of "Gourmet Selection SOPRESSATA, CAPOCOLLO, HARD SALAME" with sell-by date of 4/14/23.

These products have EST. 54 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Consumers should check any products they may have in their refrigerator. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

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.

***

El Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH) informa a los consumidores que la compañía "Daniele International, LLC" está retirando del mercado más de 50,000 libras de salchichas listas para comer que pueden estar contaminadas con Listeria "monocytogenes".

Los productos fueron fabricados entre el 23 de mayo de 2022 al 25 de noviembre de 2022 y se enviaron a tiendas minoristas en todo el país en entre el 23 de diciembre de 2022 al 17 de enero de 2023. Los siguientes productos están incluidos en este retiro:

- Bandeja de plástico de 6 onzas de "FREDERIK'S by meijer SPANISH STYLE charcuterie sampler tray" con fecha de vencimiento del 04/15/23;

- Bandeja de plástico de 6 onzas de "Boar's Head CHARCUTUERIE TRIO" con fecha de vencimiento del 13/04/23, 14/04/23 y 04/15/23;

- Bandeja de plástico de 7 onzas de "COLAMECO'S PRIMO NATURALE GENOA UNCURED SALAMI" con fecha de vencimiento del 12/23/23;

- Bandeja de plástico de 7 onzas de "COLAMECO'S PRIMO NATURALE BLACK PEPPER UNCURED SALAMI" con fechas de vencimiento del 12/22/23, 30/12/23 y 17/1/24;

- Bandeja de plástico de 1 libra de "DEL DUCA SOPRESSATA, COPPA & GENOVA SALAMI" con fechas de vencimiento del 04/13/23 y 04/14/23;

- Bandeja plástica de 1 libra de "DEL DUCA CALABRESE, PROSCIUTTO & COPPA" con fecha de vencimiento del 6/5/23;

- Bandeja de plástico de 1 libra de "DEL DUCA GENOVA SALAMI, PEPPERONI SIN CURAR Y SALAMI DURO" con fecha de vencimiento del 4/5/23; y

- Bandeja plástica de 12 onzas de "Selección Gourmet SOPRESSATA, CAPOCOLLO, SALAME DURO" con fecha de vencimiento del 04/14/23.

Estos productos tienen "EST. 54" dentro de la marca de inspección del USDA. Vea muestras de etiquetas de productos en línea. Vea ejemplos de los rótulos en View sample product labels online. [t.sidekickopen60.com [t.sidekickopen60.com]]

Los consumidores deben revisar cualquier producto que puedan tener en su refrigerador. Cualquier persona que haya comprado alguno de estos productos no debe comerlo. Los consumidores deben tirarlos o devolverlos al lugar donde se ha comprado.

No ha habido informes de enfermedades relacionadas con estos productos.

Cualquier persona que ingiera alimentos contaminados con listeria monocytogenes puede contraer listeriosis, una infección grave que afecta principalmente a adultos mayores, a personas con sistemas inmunes débiles y a mujeres embarazadas y a sus recién nacidos.

Los síntomas de la listeriosis incluyen fiebre, dolores musculares, dolor de cabeza, rigidez en el cuello, confusión, pérdida del equilibrio, convulsiones, diarrea u otros síntomas gastrointestinales. En las mujeres embarazadas, la infección puede causar abortos espontáneos, partos prematuros o infecciones potencialmente mortales del recién nacido. Además, se producen infecciones graves y, en ocasiones, mortales en adultos mayores y personas con sistemas inmunes débiles. La listeriosis se trata con antibióticos. Cualquier persona en las categorías de mayor riesgo que tenga síntomas similares a los de la gripe dentro de los dos meses posteriores a la ingestión de alimentos contaminados debe buscar atención médica e informar al proveedor de cuidado médico que ha consumido estos alimentos contaminados.

Cualquier persona que haya comido estos productos retirados y tenga síntomas de listeriosis debe llamar a su proveedor de atención médica.

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2023-01-20

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. All five counties are now at the "medium" level. (Providence County had the "high" designation previously.)

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates, data on hospital admissions, and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should take certain prevention measures.

- Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses. The Omicron booster doses currently being administered are providing good protection against the dominant variant circulating in Rhode Island.

- Ventilate indoor spaces as well as possible.

- Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

- Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

- Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with a healthcare provider about additional prevention actions.

Additionally, CDC recommends that people in "medium" counties consider self-testing and masking when around those who are at high risk for getting very sick. The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online.

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2023-01-13

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. Four counties – Bristol County, Kent County, Newport County, and Washington County – are at the "medium" level. (Kent County and Newport County decreased from being "high" last week.) Providence County still has the "high" designation.

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates, data on hospital admissions, and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should take certain prevention measures.

- Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses. The Omicron booster doses currently being administered are providing good protection against the dominant variant circulating in Rhode Island.

- Ventilate indoor spaces as well as possible.

- Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

- Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

- Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with a healthcare provider about additional prevention actions.

Additionally, CDC recommends that people in "medium" counties consider self-testing and masking when around those who are at high risk for getting very sick. CDC recommends that people in "high" counties wear high-quality masks while in crowded, indoor public settings. (This is a recommendation, not a requirement.) The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online. (See link below.)

2022 News

Preliminary List of Top Baby Names in 2022

2022-12-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is sharing a preliminary list of the most popular baby names in Rhode Island in 2022.

Female

1. Charlotte

2. Amelia

3. Isabella

4. Olivia

5. Emma

6. Luna

7. Sophia

8. Ava

9. Isla

10. Scarlett and Violet (tie)

Male

1. Liam

2. Noah

3. Owen

4. Theodore

5. Oliver

6. Benjamin

7. Julian

8. Luca

9. Henry

10. Lucas

In 2021, the three most popular female names were Olivia, Sophia, and Amelia. The three most popular male names were Liam, Noah, and Julian.

RIDOH's Center for Vital Records finalizes the prior year's birth data by the end of February.

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2022-12-30

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the weekly COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. Three Rhode Island counties are designated as "medium" - Bristol County, Washington County, and Newport County. Two Rhode Island counties are designated as "high" - Providence County and Kent County. The relatively small increase in COVID-19 activity that Rhode Island is currently seeing is not expected to last long.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. Respiratory viruses (such as the flu) spread more readily when people gather, and when those gatherings are indoors. Local and national health officials anticipated an increase in respiratory virus activity, including COVID-19 activity, around the holidays.

CDC's COVID-19 recommendations

Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should take certain prevention measures to stay healthy and safe.

• Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination, including recommended booster doses.

• Ventilate indoor spaces as well as possible.

• Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

• Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

• Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

• If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with a healthcare provider about additional prevention actions.

Additionally, CDC recommends that people in "medium" counties consider self-testing and masking when around those who are at high risk for getting very sick. CDC recommends that people in "high" counties wear high-quality masks while in crowded, indoor public settings. (This is a recommendation, not a requirement.) The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online. (See link below.)

General measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses

COVID-19, the flu, and RSV are common examples of respiratory viruses.

• Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see http://health.ri.gov/flu.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.

• Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor's office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.

About COVID-19 community levels

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates, data on hospital admissions, and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Advisories for Blue-Green Algae

2022-12-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the recreational advisories at Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir in in Cranston, Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence, Mashapaug Pond in Providence, and three lakes in Roger Williams Park (Pleasure, Cunliff, and Elm) in Providence. The recreational advisories were associated with high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Three other water bodies in Roger Williams Park remain under advisories (Roosevelt, Polo, and Willow Lakes) due to continued visual evidence of blue-green algae.

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. 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Upper and Lower Melville Ponds and Almy Pond

2022-12-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recommend lifting the advisory restricting recreational activities at Lower Melville Pond and Upper Melville Pond (also known as Thurston Gray Pond) in Portsmouth and at Almy Pond in Newport. The advisories related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and associated toxins.

Recent consecutive visual surveys by DEM at these sites found blue-green algae reduced to acceptable levels. The findings meet State guidelines to support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae are generally less active as seasonal changes reduce light and temperature in the winter. As the blue-green algae monitoring season ends due to this naturally reduced activity and less recreational contact with waters, RIDEM is conducting visual surveys to determine if blue-green algae has diminished at all lakes and ponds with active advisories. Melville Ponds and Almy Pond met the visual threshold this week to lift the advisories. Advisories remain in effect for waters in Roger Williams Park, Wenscott Reservoir, and J.L. Curran Reservoir due to continued visual evidence of blue-green algae.

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 also look like green paint or thick pea soup.

For more information and a list of active and 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.

Byheart Recalls Five Batches of Infant Formula

2022-12-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Byheart is recalling five batches of ByHeart Whole Nutrition Infant Formula due to the potential for cross-contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii.

The product being recalled is ByHeart Whole Nutrition Infant Formula, Milk Based Powder with Iron for 0-12 Months in 24 oz containers (see image of label attached). The formula under recall was distributed directly to consumers and can be identified by the number on the bottom of the can. Recalled product batches are 22273 C1, 22276 C1, 22277 C1, 22278 C1, and 22280 C1 printed with use by 01 JAN 24 or 01JUL 24.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine). Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis may include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes), grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other parts of the body.

ByHeart owns its entire manufacturing supply chain with the exception of final canning, which is done by a third-party packager. ByHeart is taking this precautionary measure because one test sample collected from the third-party packaging facility tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii. All product packaged that day, and the first production on the next day, was isolated for destruction and not distributed. Out of an abundance of caution, this recall is happening for all product produced during the entire production run.

To date, Byheart has not received any consumer complaints that would indicate any illnesses. (Illness complaints are an early detection of safety concerns.)

Customers who purchased ByHeart product should check the bottom of the can and dispose of product from batches 22273 C1, 22276 C1, 22277 C1, 22278 C1, and 22280 C1. ByHeart is setting up a webpage at https://byheart.com/noticesExternal [byheart.com] Link Disclaimer with additional information about its measures. Should customers have any other questions or want to find out if the product they have is included in the voluntary recall, they should email notices@byheart.com or text ByHeart at 1-909-506-2354. The company will also be reaching out directly to all customers via email who purchased orders from these identified batches.

RIDOH Advising the Public of Unintended Information Release

2022-12-07

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising the public of a recent data breach of protected health information.

Between July 28, 2022, and October 20, 2022, a link to a spreadsheet was accidentally included in emails sent by RIDOH staff. The file contained information about people receiving food box deliveries while in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. This file contained information for approximately 8,800 people. The people listed in this spreadsheet are being notified directly of this breach through postal mail. Anyone who was impacted by this breach will receive a letter from RIDOH by December 20.

To RIDOH's knowledge, this file was inadvertently emailed to 46 people, all of whom were on the list to receive food box services. RIDOH is not aware, at this time, of any security concerns related to this breach. No medical information or financial information was included in the breach. (The spreadsheet is considered protected health information because it indicated that people were in COVID-19 isolation or quarantine.) The information in the spreadsheet included:

• Date of contact by RIDOH.

• First, middle, and last name.

• Phone number.

• Street address, apt., city, and ZIP code.

• The person's specific needs, such as food, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment.

• Household information, such as the number of children and adults in the household.

• Delivery information, such as whether contact was made and the delivery date.

• Additional notes (for example, if a person required gluten-free food).

RIDOH began investigating this breach as soon as it was discovered. The investigation has included:

• Immediately conducting extensive email searches to determine how widely the link to the file had been shared;

• Immediately restricting access to the file; and

• Identifying additional steps to prevent unintended release of information in the future, including additional trainings for staff and enhanced security measures for the handling of sensitive information.

RIDOH formed a Support Team to respond to inquiries about this issue. To inquire if your information was included in this breach, you can contact RIDOH's Support Team on or after December 12, 2022, at 844-930-1780, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Georgiaville Pond, Blackamore Pond, and Larkin Pond

2022-12-06

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

Recent consecutive surveys by DEM and sample analysis conducted by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxins are not present in detectable concentrations at Georgiaville Pond. These findings meet state guidelines to support lifting the advisory.

Blue-green algae are generally less active as seasonal changes reduce light and temperature in the winter. As the blue-green algae monitoring season ends due to this naturally reduced activity and less recreational contact with waters, DEM is conducting visual surveys to determine if blue-green algae has diminished at all lakes/ponds with active advisories. Blackamore Pond and Larkin Pond met the visual threshold this week to lift the advisory. All other ponds with current advisories remain with visual evidence of blue-green algae.

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 also look like green paint or thick pea soup.

For more information and a list of active and 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.

Exportadora Copramar Recalls Frozen Raspberries Due to Possible Contamination

2022-12-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Exportadora Copramar is recalling 1,260 cases of James Farm frozen raspberries because of a potential contamination with Hepatitis A.

The recalled frozen raspberries are packaged in 10-pound cartons and were sold at Restaurant Depot/Jetro locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. This recall is for the following product:

--James Farms Frozen Raspberries; two five-pound bags in each 10-pound carton;

--"Best if used by date" of June 14, 2024;

--"Product of Chile", UPC code 76069501010, lot code CO 22-165 The UPC code is on the top of the carton, and the lot code is on the bottom of the carton.

Consumers or food establishments who have purchased this recalled product should not eat them. Throw them away or return them to the store where you purchased them. To date, there have been no reported illnesses related to this product.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine, and pale stool. Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or who have a weakened immune system, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.

Anyone who may have eaten this recalled product should contact their healthcare provider to ask if a vaccination is appropriate. Anyone who has symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Make Health a Part of Your Thanksgiving

2022-11-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is encouraging all Rhode Islanders to make health a part of their holiday this Thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving is a wonderful day 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 help themselves stay safe," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "With several respiratory viruses circulating in Rhode Island - including flu, RSV, and COVID-19 - this is particularly important. A few basic prevention measures can go a long way in helping you and your family have a healthier holiday."

Prevent the spread of respiratory viruses

• Stay home if you are sick. Do not host others if you are sick.

• Wash your hands with soap and water regularly.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

• Consider getting tested for COVID-19 if you plan to visit someone who is at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Information about testing is available at covid.ri.gov.

• Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see http://health.ri.gov/flu.

• Be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. For many people, that means getting a booster. For information on how to get vaccinated against COVID-19, see C19vaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org].?

Food safety

• 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 165F to kill harmful germs.

• Debone the turkey as soon as possible and refrigerate leftovers at 40F 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 165F 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 165F. 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.

RIDOH Issues Reminder About Proper Use of Antibiotics

2022-11-22

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 Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, 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 and worldwide are taking similar measures to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week November 18-24.

CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and families to:

• Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause COVID-19, RSV, colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.

• 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.

• 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.

In addition to these action steps, talk with your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects from an antibiotic. Common side effects of antibiotics can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections. It particularly important to talk to a healthcare provider if you experience severe diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. Severe diarrhea could be an indication of Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated. November is also C. Diff Awareness Month.

In addition to the impact on patient health, C. diff rates have a financial impact on hospitals under Medicare's Healthcare-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction and Value-Based Purchasing Programs. To help reduce these healthcare-acquired infections, RIDOH's Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force has developed the CDI Playbook for Rhode Island healthcare providers and facilities.

More information and videos can be found at https://health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use [cdc.gov].

Health Advisory for Deli Meats and Cheeses

2022-11-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising people who are at higher risk for severe illness from Listeria to not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165F or until steaming hot.

People are considered higher risk for severe Listeria illness if they are pregnant, are 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments.

National health officials are investigation an outbreak of Listeria linked to deli meat and cheese. To date, 16 illnesses, 13 hospitalizations, and one fatality have been associated with this outbreak. Although no cases have been identified in Rhode Island, cases have been identified in Massachusetts and New York.

Listeria can cause severe illness (known as invasive listeriosis) when the bacteria spread beyond the gut to other parts of the body. Symptoms of severe illness usually start within two weeks of eating food contaminated with Listeria but may start as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks after.

Deli meats (cold cuts, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pates sold at the deli) and cheeses are known sources of Listeria illness. This is because Listeria can easily spread among food on deli countertops, deli slicers, surfaces, and hands. Listeria is a hardy germ that can be difficult to fully remove once it is in the deli. It can survive and grow at cold temperatures in the refrigerator.

What People at Higher Risk Should Do

People who are pregnant, are 65 or older, or who have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments are at higher risk for severe Listeria illness. These individuals should take the following steps:

• Avoid meat or cheese from any deli counter, unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165F or until steaming hot. Listeria can grow on foods kept in the refrigerator, but it is easily killed by heating food to a high enough temperature.

• Clean your refrigerator, containers, and surfaces that may have touched deli meat or cheese from the deli.

• Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of severe Listeria illness after eating meat or cheese from a deli. Symptoms can include fever, muscle ache, fatigue, headache, and stiff neck.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information online about how the signs and symptoms of Listeria infection vary depending on the person infected (https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/symptoms.html [cdc.gov]).

What Businesses Should Do

• Follow USDA-FSIS best practices for controlling Listeria contamination in deli areas (https://www.fsis.usda.gov/guidelines/2015-0014 [fsis.usda.gov]).

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

2022-11-17

With several respiratory viruses currently circulating in Rhode Island and with the holidays coming, State health officials and hospital leaders gathered today to again urge the public to only go to emergency departments for issues that require emergency care. Hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island are experiencing significant crowding and prolonged waiting times.

At a press event, leaders reminded Rhode Islanders that many health issues can be treated quickly and effectively by a primary care provider, in an urgent care facility, or at a health center. 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"). Although many outpatient settings are also currently seeing a very significant number of patients, seeking care for less serious health issues in non-hospital settings will help ensure that emergency care is available to people who truly need it.

State leaders also announced at the press event that a new, temporary health regulation will allow emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to work under the supervision of an on-site healthcare provider in a hospital or other licensed healthcare facility in Rhode Island. This regulation is in response to the staffing shortage in emergency departments, which is contributing to the overcrowding challenges at facilities. Additional measures being taken at the State level to respond to the emergency department overcrowding issue are outlined below.

"Similar to last fall and winter, we are seeing longer waits at local emergency rooms. While COVID-19 and influenza are circulating again, there are also additional challenges at hospitals throughout the country this year due to RSV, behavioral health needs, and healthcare worker shortages," said Ana Novais, Acting Secretary of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services. "There are several steps the state is taking, in partnership with our local hospitals and providers, to ease the strain on our healthcare system but these issues are complex and require all of us to seek care in the most appropriate setting."

Rhode Island and states throughout the region are currently seeing high rates of RSV, a common virus that can be serious for some higher risk children and adults. Cases of RSV usually peak in Rhode Island in early January. Flu is starting to circulate in Rhode Island as well, and hospitals are still treating patients with COVID-19. The ongoing behavioral health crisis and the national healthcare workers shortage are creating additional challenges for the hospitals in Rhode Island, in addition to the circulation of these respiratory viruses.

"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 Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Some simple prevention measures can help you stay healthy. Regular hand washing and staying home from school or work when sick are two other steps that everyone should be taking, especially kids and people who are in regular contact with school-age children, older adults, and people with underlying health conditions."

At the press event, State leaders highlighted http://health.ri.gov/rightplace. This 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.

"These past months we have experienced a steady increase in young patients needing hospitalization due largely to the early peak of the respiratory viral season. This, combined with a national staffing shortage during an ongoing severe children's behavioral health crisis, has created an unprecedented 'perfect storm' for children's hospitals nationwide. We are doing our best to creatively use our resources and expand where we can to serve the region's most vulnerable children and support our community providers where most pediatric health care is delivered. For those patients using the ED, please understand there have been long wait times for non-urgent conditions and we know this can be frustrating. We ask for patience as limited staff triage the most critical patients while we devise alternative ways to improve emergency care access. Our valued staff are working tirelessly to provide the best care possible and ensure all patients receive the treatment they need," said Frank Overly, MD, medical director, Hasbro Children's Hospital emergency department.

"Emergency Department overcrowding is a serious threat to patients and staff and has intensified through the pandemic," said Laura Forman, MD, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Kent Hospital. "Hospital staff across the state are working to ensure that all patients have access to timely care during this crisis."

"The increase in the number of patients with respiratory illness is pushing our hospitals to capacity and in some instances over capacity. It is incredibly important for the public to have the information they need to protect their loved ones; protect those around them; and know where, when, and how to get the best care possible," says Teresa Paiva Weed, President of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

When to seek emergency care

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

• Choking

• Stopped breathing or turning blue

• Head injury with passing out, throwing up, or not behaving normally

• Injury to neck or spine

• Seizure that lasted 3 to 5 minutes

• Bleeding that cannot be stopped

• Severe allergic reaction

• New weakness in an arm, leg, or face

• New difficulty speaking or confusion

• Inability to wake or stay awake

• Suddenly not able to speak, see, walk, or move

This is not a complete list of health issues that require emergency medical attention. For more information, see https://health.ri.gov/rightplace.

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 hospitals are facing. They include:

• Promulgating an emergency regulation allowing emergency medical services (EMS) professionals to work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

• Launching a broad public education campaign on seeking the right care in the right setting. Messaging is happening through social media, traditional media, schools, and other channels.

• Messaging to the primary care provider community about measures that can be taken in that setting to lessen emergency department overcrowding. Examples include making more same-day sick appointments available for patients and offering expanded and/or non-traditional office hours; and seeing patients who have non-urgent symptoms in the office or by telemedicine, instead of referring them to the emergency department.

• Expediting the licensure process to ensure that all new healthcare workers are able to join the workforce in Rhode Island as quickly as possible.

• DCYF is focusing on expediting discharges from Hasbro and Bradley Hospital, especially for children who can go home if supportive services can be made available.

• Daily, weekday meetings with BHDDH and all hospitals, BH Link and three Community Mental Health Centers with stabilization units to identify openings to place clients.

• Throughout this year, we are building the infrastructure for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which we expect to come online in FY24.

• RIDOH's PediPRN Program is available to pediatric providers to help diagnose, assess, and manage mild to moderate behavioral health issues in children

• Sharing a Family Behavioral Health Crisis Plan that is available multiple languages, to help all families plan for behavioral health emergencies.

• Launching Mobile Response Stabilization Services, which is a mobile crisis service that can help prevent youth from having to go to or stay at the Emergency Department.

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

Non-behavioral health

• Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see http://health.ri.gov/flu.

• Be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. For many people, that means getting a booster. For information on how to get vaccinated against COVID-19, see C19vaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org].

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are at high risk for getting sick should wear masks when COVID-19 levels are "medium," and everyone should consider wearing masks in crowded indoor settings when COVID-19 levels are "high."

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.

• Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor's office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.

Behavioral health

• If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is experiencing a non-life-threatening mental health or substance use crisis, call 988.

• Contact Kids' Link RI if it is needed. Kids' Link RI is a behavioral health triage service and referral network. A program offered in collaboration with Gateway Healthcare, Lifespan, Hasbro Children's Hospital and Bradley Hospital, Kids' Link RI is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help triage children and youth in need of mental health services and refer them to treatment providers. To contact Kids' Link RI, call 1-855-543-5465.

• Contact BH Link if it is needed. BH Link's mission is to ensure all Rhode Islanders, 18 and over, experiencing mental health and substance use crises receive the appropriate services they need as quickly as possible in an environment that supports their recovery. To contact BH Link, call 401-414-LINK (5465)

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

2022-11-16

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/Johnston and at Stafford Pond in Tiverton. The advisories related to high levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and associated toxins.

Recent consecutive surveys by DEM and sample analysis conducted by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxins are 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 these waters 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 Islanders Reminded About Respiratory Virus Prevention Measures (ingles y espanol)

2022-11-03

With Rhode Island and states throughout the region currently seeing the circulation of several respiratory viruses, including RSV, flu, and COVID-19, all Rhode Islanders are reminded to take basic prevention measures to help themselves and their family members stay healthy and safe.

"While RSV is a common virus that we see every year in Rhode Island, we are seeing cases earlier than usual, and we are seeing more virus circulating in the community," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "The good news is that many of the prevention measures that help prevent the spread of the flu and COVID-19 also help prevent the spread of RSV. Regular hand washing and staying home from school or work when sick are two steps that everyone should be taking, especially kids and people who are in regular contact with school-age children, older adults, and people with underlying health conditions."

All Rhode Islanders should:

• Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see http://health.ri.gov/flu.

• Be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. For many people, that means getting a booster. For information on how to get vaccinated against COVID-19, see C19vaccineRI.org.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.

• Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor's office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in one to two weeks. However, some infants and young children are at higher risk, such as premature infants, children younger than two years old with chronic lung disease or congenital (present from birth) heart disease, children with weakened immune systems, and children who have neuromuscular disorders. Additionally, some adults are at higher risk, including people older than 65, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems.

The current increase in RSV cases may be due to lower levels of immunity in the community, resulting from the prevention measures that were taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as social distancing. Lower levels of immunity in the community may also result in a more severe flu season.

Cases of RSV usually peak in Rhode Island in early January. RSV cases are currently at roughly double what is seen during a typical January peak. The flu is starting to circulate in Rhode Island as well. The flu typically circulates in Rhode Island through the spring. Although rates of COVID-19 are lower than they have been previously, more than 100 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and with people increasingly spending time indoors, health officials across the country are expecting case increases in the coming weeks and months.

In addition to the prevention messages listed above, Rhode Islanders should know about the right places to seek care. Hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island are currently very crowded. Children and adults in emergency departments with less serious health issues are experiencing long wait times. People who do not need emergency medical care should not go to the emergency department. Long waits in the emergency department are frustrating, and they expose people to new sicknesses.

Many health issues can be treated more quickly and effectively by a primary care provider, in an urgent care facility, or in a health center. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has lists of primary care providers, urgent care centers, and health centers posted at http://health.ri.gov/rightplace. The health issues best treated in these settings include back pain, sprains, minor cuts, colds, sore throat, low-grade fevers, and most cases of norovirus (sometimes called "the stomach flu").

Some health issues need emergency medical care (either by calling 911 or going to the emergency department). Examples include trouble breathing; persistent chest pain; new difficulty speaking or confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; heavy bleeding; deep wounds; serious burns; possible broken bones (especially if the bone is pushing through the skin); and severe allergic reactions.

This is not a complete list of health issues that require emergency medical care. For more information, see http://health.ri.gov/rightplace.

Recordatorio para los habitantes de Rhode Island acerca de las medidas para prevenir los virus respiratorios

Dado que Rhode Island y los estados de toda la región actualmente están experimentando la circulación de varios virus respiratorios, incluidos RSV, flu y COVID-19, se recuerda a todos los habitantes de Rhode Island que tomen medidas básicas de prevención para mantenerse y mantener a sus familiares saludables y seguros.

"Si bien el RSV es un virus común que vemos todos los años en Rhode Island, estamos viendo casos antes de lo habitual y estamos viendo más virus circulando en la comunidad", dijo la directora interina del Departamento de Salud, la doctora Utpala Bandy. "La buena noticia es que muchas de las medidas que ayudan a prevenir la propagación del flu y el COVID-19 también ayudan a prevenir la propagación del RSV. Lavarse las manos regularmente y no ir a la escuela o al trabajo cuando están enfermos son dos pasos que todos deberían seguir, especialmente los niños y las personas que están en contacto regular con niños en edad escolar, adultos mayores y personas con problemas de salud subyacentes".

Todos los habitantes de Rhode Island deben:

• Vacunarse contra el flu. Todas las personas mayores de seis meses de edad deben vacunarse todos los años. Para obtener información sobre dónde vacunarse contra la gripe, consulte http://health.ri.gov/flu.

• Estar al día con sus vacunas contra el COVID-19. Para muchas personas, eso significa recibir un refuerzo. Para obtener información sobre cómo vacunarse contra el COVID-19, consulte C19vaccineRI.org.

• Toser o estornudar en la parte interior del codo.

• Lávarse las manos frecuentemente con agua y jabón.

• Limpiar y desinfectar las superficies que se tocan con frecuencia en el hogar, el trabajo y la escuela.

• Quédarse en casa si está enfermo.

• Mantener en casa a los niños (no los lleve a la guardería o la escuela) si tienen fiebre, especialmente con tos, dificultad para respirar o falta de aire, congestión, secreción nasal o dolor de garganta, hasta que estén sin de fiebre durante 24 horas sin medicamentos para bajarla.

• Comunicarse con su pediatra o proveedor de atención médica si cree que su hijo necesita atención médica. Su proveedor puede ofrecer consejos sobre si su hijo necesita ser evaluado en persona, hacerse una prueba de COVID o del flu, y la mejor ubicación para recibir atención (consultorio médico, atención de urgencia, sala de emergencias).

El RSV por lo general causa síntomas leves parecidos a los de un resfriado. La mayoría de las personas se recuperan en una o dos semanas. Sin embargo, algunos bebés y niños pequeños corren un mayor riesgo, tales como los bebés prematuros, los niños menores de dos años con enfermedad pulmonar crónica o enfermedad cardíaca congénita (presente desde el nacimiento), los niños con sistemas inmunes débiles y los niños con trastornos neuromusculares. Además, algunos adultos corren un mayor riesgo, incluidas las personas mayores de 65 años, los adultos con enfermedades cardíacas o pulmonares crónicas y los adultos con sistemas inmunes débiles.

El aumento actual de casos de RSV puede deberse a niveles más bajos de inmunidad en la comunidad, como resultado de las medidas de prevención que se tomaron durante la pandemia de COVID-19, tales como el distanciamiento social. Los niveles más bajos de inmunidad en la comunidad también pueden resultar en una temporada de flu más severa.

Los casos de RSV generalmente alcanzan su punto máximo en Rhode Island a principios de enero. Los casos de RSV actualmente son aproximadamente el doble de lo que se observa durante un pico típico de enero. El flu también está comenzando a circular en Rhode Island. El flu normalmente circula en Rhode Island hasta la primavera. Aunque las tasas de COVID-19 son más bajas que antes, más de 100 personas están actualmente hospitalizadas con COVID-19. Los funcionarios de salud de todo el país esperan aumentos de casos en las próximas semanas y meses debido a que las personas cada vez incrementan más el tiempo que pasan en recintos cerrados.

Además de los mensajes de prevención enumerados anteriormente, los habitantes de Rhode Island deben conocer los lugares adecuados para buscar atención. Las salas de emergencia de los hospitales en Rhode Island están actualmente muy concurridas. Los niños y adultos en las salas de emergencia con problemas de salud menos graves experimentan largos tiempos de espera. Las personas que no necesitan atención médica de emergencia no deben acudir a las salas de emergencia. Las largas esperas en las salas de emergencias son frustrantes y exponen a las personas a nuevas enfermedades.

Muchos problemas de salud pueden ser tratados con mayor rapidez y eficacia por un proveedor de atención primaria, en un centro de atención de urgencia o en un centro de salud. El Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH) tiene publicadas en http://health.ri.gov/rightplace, listas de proveedores de atención primaria, centros de atención de urgencia y centros de salud. Los problemas de salud que se tratan mejor en estos entornos incluyen dolor de espalda, esguinces, cortes menores, resfriados, dolor de garganta, fiebre y la mayoría de los casos de norovirus (a veces llamado "virus estomacal").

Algunos problemas de salud necesitan atención médica de emergencia (ya sea llamando al 911 o yendo al departamento de emergencias). Los ejemplos incluyen dificultad para respirar; dolor de pecho persistente; nueva dificultad para hablar o confusión; incapacidad para despertar o permanecer despierto; sangrado abundante; heridas profundas; quemaduras graves; posibles huesos rotos (especialmente si el hueso está atravesando la piel); y reacciones alérgicas graves.

Esta no es una lista completa de problemas de salud que requieren atención médica de emergencia. Para obtener más información, consulte http://health.ri.gov/rightplace.

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

2022-10-31

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

Recent consecutive surveys by DEM and sample analysis conducted by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxins are 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 Johnson'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.

Health Officials Kick Off Flu Vaccination Campaign

2022-10-20

Leaders from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) gathered today at PCHC's Chafee Health Center to officially kick off Rhode Island's 2022-2023 flu vaccination campaign.

"Rhode Island is a national leader for COVID-19 vaccination. Now it's time for us to be national leaders with our flu vaccination rate," said Governor McKee. "Getting a flu shot is your best protection against serious illness from the flu, and it's also the best way to protect the people you love. If you're like me and plan to get together with family and friends for the holidays over the coming weeks and months, the time to get vaccinated is now."

The attendees at the event included Merrill Thomas, Chief Executive Officer for PCHC; Dr. Andrew Saal, Chief Medical Officer for PCHC; and Dr. Philip Chan, a Consultant Medical Director for RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease and Emergency Medical Services.

"Even if you are healthy, you can still spread the flu to someone older or with a chronic condition like asthma or diabetes," says Dr. Andrew Saal, Chief Medical Officer of the Providence Community Health Centers. "Flu vaccines are one of the easiest things we can do to interrupt the spread of the virus in our community. Take five minutes today to help protect your mom, your dad, your family, and everyone in our community."

"It's important to get your flu shot every year," said Acting EOHHS Secretary Ana Novais. "Local pharmacies, health centers, and primary care providers have plenty of vaccine on site. We are grateful for our partnerships in the community, including those with community-based providers, work-site clinics, and schools as we work to protect all Rhode Islanders. Vaccinations are an important part of disease prevention - please join us in protecting your family and loved ones, and get your flu shot scheduled today."

"For the past two flu seasons, our flu rates have been at historic lows because of masking, social distancing, and other measures related to COVID-19. As things get back to normal, we could see a severe flu season," said Dr. Chan. "This makes it that much more important to get your flu shot and to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. You can get your flu shot and your COVID-19 booster at the same time. Both the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine help decrease the severity and duration of illness if you do get sick, and they help keep you out of the hospital."

The flu is a serious virus. During typical flu seasons prior to COVID-19, the flu would result in more than 1,000 hospitalizations and many fatalities. For example, during the 2018-2019 flu season, the flu resulted in 1,032 hospitalizations and there were 39 flu-associated deaths.

RIDOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu shots for everyone older than six months of age. Flu shots are especially important for certain people, including:

• Anyone 50 and older (CDC recommends the use of specific flu vaccines for adults 65 years and older, including higher dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines),

• Healthcare workers,

• Anyone who lives in a long-term care facility,

• Children younger than 5 years of age,

• People who are pregnant, and

• People with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma.

There are many places in Rhode Island where flu shots are available at no out-of-pocket cost and are available to people without health insurance. Those locations include clinics at schools that are open to all Rhode Islanders, some pharmacies, and other vaccination venues that RIDOH partners with. Additionally, vaccine is available in the offices of many primary care providers and at community clinics, such as worksite clinics.

After getting a flu shot, some people may experience a slight ache at the injection site or a low-grade fever. That means the vaccine is working-your body is learning to fight the virus. These mild symptoms 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 flu vaccination, RIDOH and CDC also recommend that Rhode Islanders stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine. Newer COVID-19 boosters are bivalent, meaning that they help protect against two strains of COVID-19, the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant, which is causing most current cases. Everyone five or older who has received a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine should get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last dose. This recommendation applies no matter how many boosters a person has already received. For example, if a person received their primary series and two booster doses, they should still get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last booster dose.

In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19, Rhode Islanders can take other steps to stay healthy and safe over the coming months.

• Wash your hands often during 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 to prevent other people from getting sick.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

Additional resources:

• List of vaccination clinics and general information about the flu: http://health.ri.gov/flu

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

• People with additional questions, including questions about where to get vaccinated if you do not have insurance, can call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact and Water Recreation with a Section of Stafford Pond

2022-10-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact Stafford Pond in Tiverton in the vicinity of the boat ramp located off Stafford Pond Road (aka Route 81) due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. The RIDOH State Laboratory detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria cells in the water collected by DEM at the boat ramp.

People should be careful not to ingest untreated 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.

Stafford Pond is a drinking water source maintained by the Stonebridge Fire District. Even when a cyanobacteria bloom is present in a pond, the treated water that Stonebridge Fire District distributes to homes is safe. Stonebridge Fire District follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirement to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the water is safe to drink, including state regulations required for cyanobacteria. Drinking untreated water from any pond at any time is not recommended.

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, Community Partners, Businesses Organizing Additional Monkeypox Clinics

2022-10-17

In an effort to expand access to monkeypox vaccine to all eligible Rhode Islanders, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is partnering with community organizations and businesses to offer vaccination clinics for hospitality workers and others who may not have been able to attend previously scheduled clinics.

As has been the case at the previous 33 monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccination clinics organized by RIDOH, vaccine will be free of charge. People do not need health insurance to be vaccinated.

"While the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders continues to be low, we are doing everything we can to ensure that people who are eligible to be vaccinated can access vaccine," said Governor Dan McKee. "We have worked diligently to secure a significant amount of vaccine from our federal partners and will continue to monitor demand and bring more vaccine into Rhode Island if needed."

"Access to vaccine for all eligible Rhode Islanders is a priority in our response to the monkeypox outbreak," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Unlike several months ago, we now have an ample supply of vaccine. People who are eligible are urged to get vaccinated. Vaccine is one of our most effective tools of prevention."

New clinics scheduled

These clinics in downtown Providence are being held on weekdays to best accommodate the schedules of many people, including hospitality industry staff (such as restaurant, bar, and hotel workers), who often work on weekends. However, these clinics are open to anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated (see eligibility criteria below). These clinics are being promoted in partnership with the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

The Beneficent Church, 300 Weybosset Street, Providence

Tuesday, Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Dark Lady, 19 Snow Street, Providence

Monday, Oct. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Registration information: https://health.ri.gov/monkeypox

Beyond these two new clinics, RIDOH has organized additional MPV vaccination clinics.

Johnson and Wales University, 305 Shipyard Street, Providence

Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston

Thursday, Oct. 27 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

CCRI Warwick, 400 East Ave., Warwick

Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

AAA Offices, 70 Royal Little Drive, Providence

Saturday, October 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Registration information: https://health.ri.gov/monkeypox

Additional vaccination opportunities

There are currently several other vaccination clinics scheduled through the month of November where people can receive first or second doses. A full list of clinics scheduled for the next 30 days is available online at https://bit.ly/MPVvaccine [bit.ly]. In addition to these clinics, some healthcare facilities in Rhode Island are vaccinating patients against MPV. Those health centers are Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, Tri-County Health Center, and Thundermist Health Center. RIDOH is coordinating with some Rhode Island-based independent pharmacies to make the vaccine available in their locations in the coming weeks.

In addition to those health centers, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and RIDOH are grateful for the partnership of many organizations, colleges and universities, and businesses statewide in supporting MPV vaccination clinics, including: Rhode Island College, Providence Public Schools, Providence Emergency Management Agency, Community College of Rhode Island, the Mega-Plex, AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project RI, Project Weber/RENEW, Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, the Town of South Kingstown, Providence Gay Flag Football League, Johnson & Wales University, AAA Northeast, the Eagle's Nest, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, The Beneficent Church, The Dark Lady, and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

Eligibility for MPV vaccine

Rhode Island is vaccinating people who meet any of the following criteria:

• People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with a known case of MPV

• People who are age 18 or older AND are:

Any gay, bi, queer, or other man who has sex with men (or with people assigned male at birth) OR

Any person who has sex with a partner who is gay, bisexual, or a man who has sex with men (or with people assigned male at birth) OR

People of any gender who are commercial sex workers OR

People who work in or have sex in group or public sex venues OR

People who are currently on PrEP to prevent HIV* OR

Healthcare workers who are caring for individuals with confirmed or suspected MPV or are testing or vaccinating people who are at risk for MPV OR

Laboratory workers who handle MPV specimens

*PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is medicine that reduces your chances of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

About MPV vaccine

In Rhode Island, like other states, the JYNNEOS MPV vaccine is being administered. This is a two-dose series, with the second dose coming roughly 28 days after the first dose. You are considered fully vaccinated and protected 14 days after your second dose.

Unvaccinated people were 14 times more likely to get infected with the MPV compared with those who had one dose of the MPV vaccine, according to data from 32 states, including Rhode Island, released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two-doses are recommended for full protection.

General information about MPV

The U.S. and the world are currently responding to an outbreak of MPV. Rhode Island has identified 79 cases and more than 26,000 cases have been identified nationally. MPV is a virus that can be serious. It spreads through close physical contact with body fluids, MPV lesions, items that have been contaminated with fluids or lesion materials (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

An individual becomes contagious when symptoms first appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Nationally, many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with other men have been diagnosed with MPV, especially those who have reported multiple or anonymous sexual partners. However, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected with MPV.

MPV prevention

In addition to getting vaccinated, people can take other prevention measures. Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores. Additionally, if you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with MPV (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with MPV), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with MPV:

• Stay home and isolate from household members

• Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible for an evaluation

• Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact

• Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing

• Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing

• If contacted by public health officials, answer their questions to help protect others who may have been exposed

For more information about MPV, please visit https://health.ri.gov/monkeypox. People can also call 401-222-5960.

Do Not Drink Notice Issued for Confreda Greenhouses and Farms Customers

2022-10-17

The Confreda Greenhouses and Farms public water system (2150 Scituate Avenue, 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 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 4, 2022 that had a nitrate level of 12 mg/L. A confirmation sample collected on October 5, 2022 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact and Water Recreation at Slack Reservoir and Georgiaville Pond

2022-10-14

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact and water recreation at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield/Johnston and Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. The State Laboratory identified high concentrations of cyanobacteria toxins that exceed safe levels in water samples collected by DEM from both sites.

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.

Survey Results Spotlight Health and Well-being of Rhode Island High School Students

2022-10-12

While Rhode Island high school students report decreases in the use of some substances, mental health challenges persist for many adolescents in the state, according to new results from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The YRBS is an optional, anonymous survey conducted every two years in randomly selected Rhode Island high schools to provide a snapshot of how many students are engaging in behaviors or face challenges that may put their physical and mental health at risk. The survey also sheds light on student perceptions of their home and school environments. RIDOH uses these data to develop health programs that address the needs and challenges of Rhode Island youth.

"Supporting the healthy development of high school students requires us to have an accurate, comprehensive understanding of the issues they face. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an invaluable tool in our work to develop such an understanding, and to do all we can to help Rhode Island kids be healthy and safe," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "The YRBS also helps us understand how students are disproportionately affected by different health issues. Understanding these disparities allows us to address the community level factors that affect students' decisions and behaviors. All students in Rhode Island deserve an equal opportunity to be healthy."

According to responses collected in 2021, 32% of respondents had ever e-vaped (a decrease from 49% in 2019) and 18% reported currently using e-vape products (a decrease from 30% in 2019). While alcohol use remained the same as in the 2019 survey, students reported decreases in:

--Ever smoking cigarettes

--Using any type of tobacco product (including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, or e-cigarettes) in the previous 30 days

--Ever using marijuana and using marijuana during the previous 30 days

Students who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (27%) or other/questioning (20%) reported higher rates of e-vaping, alcohol, and marijuana use. Rates of e-vaping and other substance use were higher among female students than males. Almost a quarter of 12th grade students who responded to the survey (24%) reported current e-vaping use.

The 2021 survey results indicate that 38% of students experienced feelings of sadness or hopelessness (up from 32% in 2019). But 22% of students reported receiving the help they needed when feeling anxious or depressed, a decrease from 33% in 2019. Fewer students said they had a teacher or adult at school they could talk to if they had a problem. Survey respondents reported less fighting and bullying on school property, but electronic bullying levels remained the same as they did in 2019.

Feelings of sadness and hopelessness varied across student demographic groups. Females (52%) were twice as likely as males (25%) to report these feelings. Additionally, students who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (66%) and other/questioning (62%) reported higher rates of sadness and hopelessness than students who identified as heterosexual (29%). Students who did not identify as heterosexual or cisgender also reported higher rates of bullying than students who did identify as heterosexual or cisgender.

The 2021 survey included two new measures related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs):

--One in three students (32%) reported that they have lived with someone who was depressed or suicidal.

--One in four students (24%) reported that they have lived with someone who was having a problem with alcohol or drugs.

RIDOH collaborates on the YRBS with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). Students in randomly selected Rhode Island high schools responded to the anonymous survey in the fall of 2021. All respondents were in school full time and were not using remote or hybrid learning.

"The survey results show once again that we, as providers, advocates, families, and peers, must be attuned to the needs and circumstances of our youth and be ready to provide help or direct them to get help, if needed," said BHDDH Director Richard Charest. "Substance use is always a concern, and when nearly one-third of our youth report living with someone who is depressed or suicidal, and nearly a quarter report living with someone who has a substance use condition, we know that this is going to create stress in their lives, and it is our charge to assist them in obtaining the services they need."

Students who responded to the 2021 YRBS reported a decrease in sexual activity. Twenty seven percent of students had ever been sexually active (down from 41% in 2019), while 21% of students said they were currently sexually active (a decrease from 32% in 2019). In 2021, fewer students also reported receiving education about sexual health. Of survey respondents, 49% reported being taught about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and 56% reported being taught about HIV (a decrease from 72% and 77% in 2019, respectively). Five percent of students reported being tested for STDs, a decrease from 15% in 2019.

"The YRBS survey is a valuable tool that allows us to hear directly from our youth so that we can determine how we can better support their social-emotional, health, and academic needs," said Education Commissioner Infante-Green. "We know the last few years have been especially challenging for youth not only here in Rhode Island, but across the nation. With this data and insight, we are better positioned to continue working closely with our State, education, and community partners to ensure our students have access to resources and tools that will allow them to grow and thrive."

To view data from the 2021 YRBS, visit RIDOH's website.

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Falafels From Aldi Recalled

2022-10-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Cuisine Innovations Unlimited is recalling its Earth Grown Vegan Traditional Falafel and Garlic & Herb Falafel due to the possible presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. These products were distributed and sold exclusively by Aldi.

Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli is an organism that can cause foodborne illness. Symptoms of infection may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. The illness primarily impacts older adults, children, and people with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.

The recalled products were sold by Aldis in Rhode Island and several other states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York.

The product comes in a bag in a box marked with any of the following lot numbers: 1472, 1481, 1531, 1532, 1541, 1552, 1561, 1581, 1601, 1611, 1612, 1661, 1682, 1732, 1752, 1762, 1782, 1802, and 1812. There products were shipped to stores after June 24, 2021. The lot number can be found in the "Best if used by" area on the outside flap of the box. An image of the product label is attached.

There have been 20 reported cases of Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli in six with onset dates reported between July 24, 2022 and September 19, 2022. There have been five hospitalizations and no deaths. None of these cases were in Rhode Island.

Consumers who have purchased Earth Grown Vegan Traditional Falafel and Garlic & Herb Falafel are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Old Europe Cheese, Inc., Expands Recall to Include Baked Brie Products

2022-10-06

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Old Europe Cheese, Inc., is expanding its voluntarily recall of Brie cheeses to include additional products, specifically baked Brie cheeses, because of a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Old Europe baked brie products with best-by dates through 12/14/2022 are being added to the recalled product list. All recalled products were distributed from August 1, 2022, through September 28, 2022, and were sold at supermarkets, wholesale, and retail stores nationwide and in Mexico. For a list of recalled baked brie products and pictures of product labels, visit FDA's website. Also on the FDA website is a list of products included in the original recall of Brie and Camembert cheeses.

If you have any of the recalled products, do not eat them. Throw them away or return them to the store where you purchased them. This recall has been linked to multiple illnesses nationwide.

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, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Governor McKee Announces Major Life Sciences Development Project to Move Forward in the I-195 Innovation and Design District

2022-10-04

Governor Dan McKee today announced that a major life sciences development project is moving forward in the State's Innovation and Design District on the former I-195 land. The 212,000 square foot, seven-story building will house a new public health lab for the State of Rhode Island, while also providing additional lab space available for lease to organizations in the local life sciences community. Ancora L&G - a 50:50 partnership between the alternative asset origination arm of leading United Kingdom financial services group, Legal & General, Legal & General Capital, and North Carolina-based real estate developer, Ancora - has been selected as the developer for the State Health Laboratories following a competitive RFP process.

"Rhode Island has momentum - and this project is crucial to ensuring the momentum continues in the areas of public health and our economy," said Governor Dan McKee. "We're grateful for all the partners who came together to ensure Rhode Island maximizes this significant economic development opportunity while advancing the state's important public health goals."

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) State Health Laboratories will anchor the facility, with the remaining floors available to academic and industry partners in the biotechnology field. The 80,000-square-foot state-of-the-art State Health Laboratories will provide updated and flexible space to accommodate biological and chemical testing for a variety of infectious disease, environmental, and forensic testing services.

To help attract additional tenants and encourage a thriving mix of public and private entities focused on health and medicine, Brown University has signed a letter of intent with Ancora to lease 20,000 square feet of laboratory space in the building.

Josh Parker, CEO of Ancora L&G, said, "We are delighted to have been selected as the developer for the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. The development will deliver much-needed infrastructure for Rhode Island, including state-of-the-art public health labs that will enhance the State's ability to test for and manage a broad range of infectious diseases and illnesses, together with private-sector lab space to support expansion of the area's growing bioscience ecosystem. We are excited to be working on this project, demonstrating our ability to deliver against the needs of our anchor institution partners."

This public/private partnership follows a condominium model with ownership of the State Health Laboratories unit conveyed to the State of Rhode Island on completion, and Ancora L&G retaining ownership of the private laboratory space. Funding for the $81.7 million state laboratory comes from an Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The total project cost is expected to be $165 million.

"This new facility will not only make our state safer, but it will make our state more attractive for investment in the life sciences," said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. "This is a smart, two-pronged investment in supporting both our economy and our health experts at RIDOH."

"The old lab space is past its prime and this new one will be a game changer. It will be better designed and equipped to enhance the State's ability to test for serious health threats. This federally-financed project will serve Rhode Island for generations. When it's completed, it will help guard against future public health emergencies and pandemics," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

"I'm pleased that the state has selected the former 195 land for our new federally funded state-of-the-art public health lab," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "The significant federal investment we secured will help keep Rhode Islanders safe from infectious diseases and add a landmark addition to the District's growing life sciences cluster."

"The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that preparedness is key when public health emergencies strike," said U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin. "I'm thrilled that Governor McKee and his administration are partnering with Ancora L&G to expand our public health infrastructure by breaking ground on a new state health lab. This facility will help ensure that we have state-of-the-art technology at the ready if and when the next crisis arrives. In the meantime, it will deliver fast and reliable medical results to patients all across Rhode Island."

"This CDC grant and public-private partnership will create critically needed bioscience infrastructure in Rhode Island," said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. "The new facility will provide a modern space for the state's Department of Health and other scientists to conduct cutting-edge research, helping to ensure we are prepared to identify and respond to new viruses and infectious diseases. I look forward to not only breaking ground on the new facility, but to the groundbreaking innovation that it will support."

The project is the result of a multi-partner collaboration, which alongside Ancora L&G and its development partner GRE, a regional development services company serving the Science and Technology sector, includes the Rhode Island Department of Administration, the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and RIDOH.

Building on its long-standing commitment to supporting Jewelry District projects that contribute to the economic vitality of the city and the state, Brown University has signed a letter of intent with Ancora Partners to lease 20,000 square feet of laboratory space in the building for a period of 10 years. Brown has a substantial amount of academic activity relevant to the mission of RIDOH located nearby, including education and research at the Warren Alpert Medical School, Laboratories for Molecular Medicine and School of Public Health. This summer, Brown began work toward creating an integrated life sciences building in the district and simultaneously developed an expansive plan to significantly increase the impact of its research benefiting communities locally, nationally and globally.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson said the University will continue to prioritize investments related to life sciences research and economic activity in the Jewelry District, especially when Brown's participation can help to incentivize investments from new partners seeking a presence in Rhode Island.

"Often, the certainty that comes with tenancy from a Rhode Island anchor institution is an essential factor as private developers consider new investments in Providence," Paxson said. "We're pleased that Brown's role in this project will help drive other investment, much in the way we did for South Street Landing and the Innovation Center at 225 Dyer. We can act as a catalyst for further development while we also strengthen our infrastructure to enable even more high-impact research in health, medicine and other fields that makes a positive difference in the lives of people in Rhode Island and well beyond."

"The pandemic proved how critical it is to have a modern State Health Lab to meet such increased health demands," said Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio. "We strongly support this facility, and we are pleased the federal government provided funding to enable our state to make such an important investment."

The public design review process will begin at the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission meeting on October 19 where Ancora L&G will present their design. There will also be an opportunity for public comment and a presentation by the Commission's design consultant.

"This public-private partnership is exactly the catalyst needed to propel life science development in the District," said Robert Davis, Chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. "The 130,000 square feet of private lab space could not have been built except through this kind of partnership and its presence will pave the way for more life science businesses to grow and energize Rhode Island's economy."

"The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for public health laboratories to rapidly scale up testing and apply new technologies like pathogen genomic sequencing," said Glen R. Gallagher PhD, the Director of RIDOH's State Health Laboratories. "The commitment of this new laboratory space will allow our staff to work more efficiently and safely while positioning the laboratory to respond to emerging infectious disease and chemical public health concerns for decades to come."

With 50,000 square feet of direct usable space, the new lab will offer a larger, more modern and technologically advanced workspace than the current state health lab located at 50 Orms Street. Like the Orms Street location, the new lab will include a Biosafety Level 3 facility and will be able to provide critical services for a variety of infectious disease, environmental, and forensic testing needs. The updated space will allow the State Health Laboratory to be more flexible in response to emerging threats and applying new technologies including the expanding field of genome sequencing.

Old Europe Cheese, Inc., Recalls Brie and Camembert Cheeses Due to Possible Contamination

2022-10-03

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Old Europe Cheese, Inc., is voluntarily recalling its Brie and Camembert cheeses because of a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

All Old Europe Cheese Brie and Camembert products with best-by dates through 12/14/2022 are impacted by this recall. The recalled products were distributed from August 1, 2022, through September 28, 2022, and were sold at supermarkets, wholesale, and retail stores nationwide, and may include Albertsons, Safeway, Meijer, Harding's, Shaw's, Price Chopper, Market Basket, Raley's, Save Mart, Giant Foods, Stop & Shop, Fresh Thyme, Lidl, Sprouts, Athenian Foods, and Whole Foods. For a complete list of recalled products and pictures of product labels, visit FDA's website.

If you have any of the recalled products, do not eat them. Throw them away or return them to the store where you purchased them. This recall has been linked to multiple illnesses nationwide.

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 not in one of the high-risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections occur in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Anyone 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.

Chai Concentrate Mix Recalled

2022-09-30

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the Chai Box is recalling certain glass and plastic bottles of chai concentrate mix due to potential under-processing, which may lead to Clostridium botulinum contamination.

Recalled products:

• 16 oz glass bottles of Chai Concentrate Mix - UPC 7 93611 81925 2

• 64 oz plastic bottles of Chai Concentrate Mix - UPC 7 93611 81926 9

• 16 oz glass bottles of Unsweetened Chai Concentrate Mix - UPC 793611819252

• 64 oz plastic bottles of Unsweetened Chai Concentrate Mix - UPC 793611819269

The products have Best By dates between 09/22/2022 and 03/16/2023. These products should not be consumed.

No other production codes or products are affected by this recall. There have been no reports of illness associated with these products to date.

These products were shipped nationwide to consumers, retailers, and wholesalers.

RIDOH and DEM Expand Recommendations to Avoid Contact with Wenscott Reservoir

2022-09-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Wenscott Reservoir in North Providence due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. A previous advisory this summer specified to avoid the area of Wenscott Reservoir near Douglas Pike, just past Cavalry Drive. This advisory is now expanded to include all of Wenscott Reservoir. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. RIDOH's State Laboratory detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria toxins in water collected by DEM at Governor Notte Park.

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 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 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 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. For further information visit: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

###

Update on Woonsocket Remains

2022-09-23

The Office of the State Medical Examiners at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has identified the second of two decedents recovered at a home in Woonsocket on September 19th as Daniel Grabowski. Earlier this week, RIDOH identified the other decedent recovered in the home as Susan Menard. The cause of death for Susan Menard was determined to be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The cause of death for Daniel Grabowski was determined to be type 2 diabetes.

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

2022-09-21

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with J.L Curran Upper 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 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.

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.

Woonsocket Remains Identified

2022-09-21

The Office of the State Medical Examiners at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has identified one of the two decedents recovered at a home in Woonsocket on September 19th as Susan Menard. The identity of the second decedent has not yet been finalized. The causes of death for these individuals are still pending.

RIDOH Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus in 2022

2022-09-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing Rhode Island's first human case of West Nile Virus in 2022. 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 70s and is currently hospitalized after starting to experience symptoms of West Nile Virus almost three weeks ago.

Connecticut has confirmed one West Nile Virus cases in a human and Massachusetts has confirmed four human cases this year. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has confirmed two positive findings for West Nile Virus in mosquito traps this year.

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.

"The best way to prevent West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, 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 use repellent, and 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."

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.

Health Advisory Issued for Ground Beef in HelloFresh Meal Kits

2022-09-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that ground beef products in HelloFresh meal kits may be associated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 illness. The meal kits containing ground beef for this public health alert were shipped to consumers between July 2, 2022 and July 21, 2022.

The ground beef products came in 10-oz. plastic vacuum-packed packages with the label "GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN/15% FAT" and codes "EST#46481 L1 22 155" or "EST#46481 L5 22 155" on the side of the packaging. (See link below for product label.)

Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 and raw ground beef is the probable source of the reported illnesses. Traceback information identified that multiple case-patients received these HelloFresh ground beef products.

Some product may still be in consumers' freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Lifting Restrictions for Blue-green Algae in Spring Lake

2022-09-09

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

Recent consecutive surveys by DEM and sample analysis conducted by RIDOH's State Health Laboratories confirmed that blue-green algae has been at acceptably low levels and that cyanotoxins are 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 Spring Lake 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.

Updated COVID-19 Booster Doses to be Available in Rhode Island

2022-09-06

With a new, more comprehensive COVID-19 booster dose now authorized and recommended by federal health officials, these updated booster shots will start to become available in Rhode Island this week and next.

"This is a good reminder that one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to stay up to date on vaccination," said Governor Dan McKee. "The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to monitor vaccine availability closely and will ensure that this new, more comprehensive booster dose is available for Rhode Islanders as soon as possible."

The more comprehensive booster doses are bivalent vaccine, meaning that they target two strains of COVID-19. The bivalent COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna target the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant, which is the strain causing most current cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that everyone age 12 or older who has received a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last dose. (This bivalent booster dose is not available to children younger than 12.) This recommendation applies no matter how many boosters a person has already received. For example, if a person received their primary series and two booster doses, they should still get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last booster dose.

Rhode Island is working to ensure that bivalent booster doses are available to residents in long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities, as residents of these facilities are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Some Rhode Island primary care providers have begun ordering bivalent COVID-19 booster doses. After receiving vaccine, primary care providers work with patients to schedule appointments. People should contact their primary care providers to learn about bivalent vaccine availability. Separately, some independent pharmacies and retail pharmacies (such as CVS and Walgreens) are beginning to schedule appointments for bivalent COVID-19 boosters for this week. Vaccines.Gov [vaccines.gov] is an additional tool people can use to learn about the availability of bivalent COVID-19 booster doses.

The Pfizer bivalent booster is recommended for people age 12 or older and the Moderna bivalent booster is recommended for people age 18 or older. The bivalent boosters will replace existing Pfizer and Moderna monovalent boosters. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC have repealed their authorization and recommendation for the current Pfizer and Moderna monovalent boosters. This means that anyone age 12 or older who would like a COVID-19 booster will get a bivalent booster.

For more information about COVID-19, see covid.ri.gov.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Blackamore Pond

2022-09-02

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 in Cranston due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. RIDOH's State Laboratory detected high concentrations of cyanobacteria cells and toxins in water collected by DEM at Blackamore 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 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 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 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Spring Lake (also known as Herring Pond)

2022-08-26

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Spring Lake (also known as Herring Pond) in Burrillville due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Toxins were present in recent samples.

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the lake. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest lake 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 lake 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.

Mighty Sesame Tahini Recalled

2022-08-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Rushdi Food Industries is recalling their Mighty Sesame 10.9 Oz Organic Tahini (squeezable) with the specific expiration date of 3/28/23. This recall is due to potential Salmonella contamination.

The recalled product was sold in Walmarts in Rhode Island, and retailers in other states, including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This recall was initiated when the company received a notification by the FDA and the West Virginia Department of Health of the potential presence of Salmonella in this specific lot. The company has received no reports of illness or injury to date.

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 severs illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers who may have purchased this product are advised to discontinue use immediately and discard or return the product for credit or refund. If a consumer experiences the symptoms listed above and believes they may have been exposed to Salmonella, they are urged to contact a healthcare provider.

Nutritional and Beverage Product Recall Expanded

2022-08-19

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Lyons Magnus is expanding its recall of nutritional and beverage products to include many additional products. An initial Lyons Magnus recall of nutritional and beverage products was announced on August 1.

The recalled nutritional and beverage products were sold under the brand names: Lyons Barista Style, Lyons Ready Care, Cafe Grumpy, Tone It Up, Uproot, Organic Valley, Sated, Aloha, Rejuvenate, Optimum Nutrition, Sweetie Pie Organics, Intelligentsia, Ensure Harvest, PediaSure Harvest, Glucerna, Kate Farms, Pirq, Oatly, Premier Protein, Stumptown, and Imperial. Product details are listed in a table online.

This recall is being conducted due to the potential for microbial contamination, including from the organisms Cronobacter sakazakii and Clostridium botulinum. Although Clostridium botulinum has not been found in products, consumers are warned not to consume any of the recalled products even if they do not look or smell spoiled. The list of recalled products does not include products intended for infants (i.e., under the age of one).

While infection related to Cronobacter sakazakii is rare, the common symptoms of illness could include fever, vomiting and urinary tract infection. However, vulnerable and immunocompromised populations may be more susceptible to infection.

Clostridium botulinum may cause a severe form of food poisoning. It can begin from six hours to two weeks after eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness. Botulism poisoning can cause respiratory paralysis, resulting in death, unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.

Root cause analysis indicates that the products did not meet commercial sterility specifications.

Anyone who has a recalled product in his or her possession should dispose of it immediately or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Eligible Rhode Islanders Reminded to Sign Up for Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List

2022-08-18

As Rhode Island continues to expand its monkeypox vaccination campaign, eligible Rhode Islanders are reminded to add their names to the State's confidential Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List. As additional doses of monkeypox vaccine become available in Rhode Island, eligible Rhode Islanders will be contacted directly about vaccination opportunities at community clinics.

"While the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders is low, people who are eligible to be vaccinated because they are at higher risk should get vaccinated. Through the Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List, you will get a direct communication, either through email or text, about vaccine availability," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Given the national shortage of monkeypox vaccine, this is the quickest way to access vaccine as soon as it comes into Rhode Island."

This reminder about signing up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List comes in advance of four additional community vaccination clinics that have been scheduled for August 19, August 20, September 2, and September 3. People who had already added their names to the Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List when these clinics opened have been contacted directly about how to register. These clinics are nearing capacity. Additional clinics will be scheduled in the coming weeks. For more information about registration, see: http://health.ri.gov/monkeypox

RIDOH previously held two community vaccination clinics on August 5 and August 6. In addition to RIDOH-sponsored community vaccination clinics, health facilities such as Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, and Thundermist Health Center have received limited amounts of monkeypox vaccine.

Eligibility for vaccination

--People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with confirmed monkeypox (these people will be contacted directly by RIDOH)

--Rhode Island residents who are 18 or older, AND

--Had multiple sex partners, or at least one anonymous sex partner, during the

past 30 days

AND is:

--Gay, bi, queer, or other man who has sex with men, OR

--Transgender, non-binary, or gender diverse individual who has sex with

any men who have sex with men.

Signing up for the Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List

To sign up for the Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List, visit http://health.ri.gov/monkeypox and scroll to the Vaccination section. The Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Notification List is only for notifications about community vaccination clinics.

General information about monkeypox

The US and the world are currently responding to an outbreak of monkeypox. Rhode Island has identified 33 cases and more than 12,600 cases have been identified nationally. Monkeypox is a virus that can be serious. It spreads through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox lesions, items that have been contaminated with fluids or lesion materials (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

An individual becomes contagious when symptoms first appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Nationally, many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with other men have been diagnosed with monkeypox, especially those who have reported multiple or anonymous sexual partners. However, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected with monkeypox.

Monkeypox prevention

There are vaccines that help protect against monkeypox. In Rhode Island, the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine is being administered. This is a two-dose series, with the second dose coming roughly 28 days after the first dose. Full protection is achieved 14 days after the second dose.

In addition to getting vaccinated, people can take other prevention measures. Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores. Additionally, if you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with monkeypox), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox:

--Stay home and isolate from household members.

--Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible for an evaluation.

--Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact.

--Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing.

--Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing.

--If contacted by public health officials, answer their questions to help protect others who may have been exposed

Wild Cherry Capri Suns Recalled

2022-08-17

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Kraft Heinz is recalling approximately 5,760 cases of Capri Sun Wild Cherry Flavored Juice Drinks. This recall comes after diluted cleaning solution, which is used on food processing equipment, was inadvertently introduced into a production line at a Kraft Heinz factory.

The "Best When Used By" date on the products is June 25, 2023. The products came in 6.6 fluid ounce pouches. Additional product information, including UPCs for the recalled products, is available online.

The issue was discovered after Kraft Heinz received several consumer complaints about the taste of the affected product. The company is actively working with retail partners and distributors to remove potentially impacted product from circulation.

Consumers who purchased these items should not consume them. They can be returned to the stores where they were purchased.

Pretzel Buns and Bites Recalled

2022-08-16

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that King's Hawaiian is recalling its Pretzel Slider Buns, Pretzel Hamburger Buns, and Pretzel Bites following a recall of an ingredient used in these products from the supplier Lyons Magnus. Lyons Magnus is recalling this ingredient due to the potential for it to cause microbial contamination including from the organisms Cronobacter sakazakii and Clostridium botulinum. While no illnesses associated with King's Hawaiian pretzel bread have been reported, and no pathogens have been found in any King's Hawaiian products to date, the recall is being conducted to ensure consumer safety.

These products were sold at Walmart, Stop and Shop, and Target locations in Rhode Island. These products may have been sold by additional retailers in Rhode Island. Consumers in possession of any King's Hawaiian Pretzel Slider Buns, King's Hawaiian Pretzel Hamburger Buns, or King's Hawaiian Pretzel Bites should dispose of the product.

This recall does not impact any other King's Hawaiian products, as no other products use this ingredient from Lyons Magnus.

Company Expands Recall of Nutritional and Beverage Products

2022-08-11

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Lyons Magnus is expanding its recall to include additional brands and code dates due to the potential for microbial contamination, including from the organism Cronobaster sakazakii.

A complete list of recalled products is available on FDA's website. To identify the Lot Code and Best By Date, refer to the top of the carton for individual cartons or the side of the case for multi-carton cases. The products were distributed nationally, including to Walmarts and BJ Wholesale Clubs in Rhode Island.

While infection related to Cronobacter sakazakii is rare, the common symptoms of illness could include fever, vomiting, and urinary tract infection. However, vulnerable and people with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to infection. To date, no illnesses or complaints related to the recalled products have been reported.

The recalled products should not be consumed. Consumers who have any of the recalled products should throw it away or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Consumers may also contact the 24/7 Lyons Recall Support Center at 800-627-0557 or visit the company's website.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Water Recreation at Camp Hoffman and a Section of Wenscott Reservoir; Lifting advisory for Slack Reservoir

2022-08-05

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 on Larkin Pond in Kingston and the area of Wenscott Reservoir near Douglas Pike, just past Cavalry Drive in North Providence, due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.

For Slack Reservoir in Smithfield, recent consecutive surveys and sample analyses 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 waters that are under advisories. 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. Caution should be used when recreating in other areas of Larkin Pond and Wenscott Reservoir as conditions may change and extend the cyanobacteria bloom to other areas.

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.

Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Wraps Recalled

2022-08-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Rachael's Food Corporation is recalling approximately 2,250 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry wrap products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. The ready-to-eat meat and poultry wraps were produced from July 15, 2022, through July 20, 2022. The following products are subject to recall:

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "ATLANTIS FRESH MARKET Italian Style Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Enjoy before" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "RACHAEL'S FOOD CORPORATION Italian Style Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Sell Through" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "ATLANTIS FRESH MARKET Turkey Club Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Enjoy before" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "RACHAEL'S FOOD CORPORATION Turkey Club Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Sell Through" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "ATLANTIS FRESH MARKET Buffalo Style Chicken Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Enjoy before" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 7.5-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "RACHAEL'S FOOD CORPORATION Buffalo Style Chicken Wrap" and with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Sell Through" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 8-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "ATLANTIS FRESH MARKET Chicken Caesar Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Enjoy before" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 8-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "RACHAEL'S FOOD CORPORATION Chicken Caesar Wrap" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Sell Through" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

• 8-oz. sealed plastic container packages containing "ALL TOWN CHICKEN CAESAR WRAP" with lot codes 22195, 22196, 22199 and 22200, and "Sell Through" dates of 07/30/22. 07/31/22, 08/01/22, 08/02/22 and 08/03/22 represented on the label.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST 34657" or "P34657" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumption of food contaminated with 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, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Nutritional and Beverage Products Recalled

2022-08-01

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Lyons Magnus is recalling nutritional and beverage products due to the potential for microbial contamination, including from the organism Cronobacter sakazakii.

The products are packed in various formats under many different brand names, including Lyons Ready Care, Lyons Barista Style, Pirq, Glucerna Original, Aloha, Intelligentsia, Kate Farms, Oatly, Premier Protein, MRE, Stumptown, and Imperial. Product details are listed in a table online (see link below). To identify the Lot Code and Best By Date refer to the top of the carton for individual cartons or the side of the case for multi-carton cases. The products were distributed nationally, including to Walmarts and BJ Wholesale Clubs in Rhode Island.

A preliminary analysis indicated that products did not meet commercial sterility specifications.

While infection related to Cronobacter sakazakii is rare, the common symptoms of illness could include fever, vomiting, and urinary tract infection. However, vulnerable and immunocompromised populations may be more susceptible to infection. To date, no illnesses or complaints related to these products have been reported. The recalled products should not be consumed.

Anyone who has a recalled product in his or her possession should dispose of it immediately or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Consumers in all time zones with questions may contact the Lyons Recall Support Center at 1-800-627-0557, or visit its website at www.lyonsmagnus.com [lyonsmagnus.com]. This recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with the Bridge Area of Island Drive of Johnson's Pond

2022-07-29

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with the Bridge Area of Island Drive of Johnson's Pond in Coventry due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Bloom conditions can change quickly, and other areas of the waterbody may be affected, so users in other areas should exercise caution.

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 affected waters 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 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 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Water Recreation at Roger Williams Ponds, Slack Reservoir, and Mashapaug Pond

2022-07-22

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid water recreation at Slack Reservoir in Smithfield/Johnston, Mashapaug Pond in Providence, and the 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 Roger Williams Park ponds at Cunliff and Elm Lakes, but they are likely to be present in other park water bodies (Roosevelt, Edgewood, Pleasure, Polo, and Willow Lakes). 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.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Heat Precautions

2022-07-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about safety tips to keep themselves healthy and safe during extreme heat.

Normally, when you get hot, your body cools itself by sweating. But when it is very hot and humid, sweating isn't enough, and your body temperature can rise very quickly. High temperatures can cause heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps. Certain populations are at increased risk for heat-related illness during periods of extreme heat. These populations include babies and young children, older adults, and people who work outdoors.

When you are outside during extreme heat:

• Stay out of the direct sun. Try to stay in shaded areas.

• Wear a hat with a brim and wear sunscreen for protection.

• Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

• Pace yourself when you exercise.

• Schedule outdoor events early in the morning, when it is cooler and the air quality is better.

• Wear light-colored and light-weight clothing.

When you are inside during extreme heat:

• Use air conditioning or fans, windows, and shades or curtains to keep your house cool.

• Take cool showers or baths. Avoid cooking hot food indoors when the day is at its hottest.

• Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

• Never leave a child, pet, or older adults in an unattended car during periods of extreme heat.

Watch for warning signs:

Check on friends, family, and neighbors during periods of extreme heat. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; cold, pale, and clammy skin; nausea or vomiting, tiredness; dizziness; or headache. If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a cool place; put a cool, wet cloth on their body; and have them sip water. Call medical help if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

Cooling centers:

Some cities and towns have cooling centers open to those who need shelter during periods of extreme heat. To find a cooling center, call 2-1-1 or visit: https://riema.ri.gov/planning-mitigation/resources-businesses/cooling-centers

Dog Treats Recalled

2022-07-18

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Stormberg Foods is recalling various sizes and batches of Beg & Barker Chicken Breast Strips Dog Treats, Billo's Best Friend Chicken Breast Strips Dog Treats, and Green Coast Pets Chicken Crisps Dog Treats due to a potential contamination of Salmonella.

The products were distributed between June 8, 2022 and June 22, 2022. They were packaged in branded plastic bags in carboard master cases and shipped primarily to warehouses in Rhode Island, California, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Products are then shipped nationwide to retail facilities and consumers via the internet.

Information about the UPCs and batches affected is available online. (See link below.)

Salmonella can affect pets eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with these products should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled products and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Consumers who have purchased these products and/or have pets who have become ill are urged to notify stormbergship@gmail.com immediately with all product information for return or proper disposal information. Consumers with questions may contact the company's customer services department at 919-947-6011.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Cunliff Lake; Lifting Advisory for Roosevelt Pond, Turner Reservoir, and Lake Tiogue

2022-07-15

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

Recent consecutive surveys and sample analyses from Turner Reservoir in East Providence, Roosevelt Pond (Roger Williams Park) in Providence and at Tiogue Lake in Coventry 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 Cunliff Lake and Elm Lakes (also under advisory) at Roger Williams Park. 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 lakes. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice. Caution should be used when recreating throughout Roger Williams Park as conditions may change and extend the cyanobacteria bloom to other areas.

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 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.

Free Skin Cancer Screenings to be Available at Rhode Island Beaches

2022-07-15

Between tomorrow and the end of August, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), Brown Dermatology, and partners statewide will be making free skin cancer screenings available at select Rhode Island parks and beaches on six dates.

"Along with using broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and seeking shade, getting a skin check is the most important thing you can do to protect against skin cancer this summer," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Skin cancer can affect people of all skin tones and complexions, which is why all Rhode Islanders should take advantage of these free, convenient skin cancer checks. A cancer screening has the power to save a life."

"We are thrilled to be able to participate in Skin Check again after having to cancel it the last few years due to COVID-19," John C. Kawaoka, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical School. "Getting screened is incredibly important as one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Every year at the beaches we find a number of skin cancers, including melanoma, many of which people had no idea that they had."

"After a pandemic pause, Lifespan is excited to resume free skin cancer screenings at local beaches and parks," said Carrie Bridges Feliz, MPH, Vice President of Lifespan's Community Health and Equity. "We are especially focused this year on reaching a more diverse audience and when needed, to provide the extensive follow-up to ensure that anyone with an abnormal result receives the care they need."

All screenings will be private and provided by dermatologists and dermatology residents affiliated with Brown Dermatology. The first 100 people at each event will be screened. People who require follow-up will be referred for dermatology consults. People are asked to wear bathing suits or clothing that can easily be removed.

WJAR is the primary sponsor of the screening events. Other partners include the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, Lifespan Community Health Institute, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and the Roger Williams Park Conservancy.

Free Cancer Screenings Dates And locations

Narragansett - Scarborough North State Beach

Saturday, July 16th, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

970 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, RI 02882

*Spanish language interpreters available

Narragansett - Roger W. Wheeler State Beach

Friday, July 22nd, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

970 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, RI 02882

Lincoln - Lincoln Woods Freshwater Beach

Saturday, July 30th, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

101 Table Rock Rd., Lincoln, RI 02865 (At the beach)

*Spanish language interpreters available

Newport - Easton's Beach (First Beach)

Friday, August 12th, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

175 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI 02840

South Kingstown - East Matunuck State Beach

Friday, August 19th, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

950 Succotash Rd., South Kingstown, RI 02881

Providence - Roger Williams Park

Friday, August 26th, 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, RI 02907 (Broad St. entrance)

*parking available at baseball field lot

*Spanish language interpreters available

Prevention and Early Detection

The two ways to stay sun safe this summer are prevention (using sunscreen, wearing protective apparel, and staying out of the direct sun) and early detection (getting screened).

Prevention:

• Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more with both UVA and UVB protection ("broad spectrum" sunscreen). Make sure to put it on all areas of skin exposed to the sun, including ears, neck, nose, eyelids, fingers and toes, and reapply every two hours.

• Use water-resistant sunscreen while swimming, boating or exercising;

• Seek shade, especially when the sun rays are the strongest between 10 AM and 2 PM;

• Wear protective clothing, such as UPF clothing (UV resistant);

• Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck;

• Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection where possible;

• Use caution near water, sand and snow because they reflect and intensify the rays of the sun and can increase your chances of sunburn;

• Avoid indoor tanning.

Early detection:

• Talk with your primary care provider about seeing a dermatologist and getting screened for skin cancer, especially if you have a family history of it.

• Watch your moles and skin spots over time. If you see changes in their size, color, number, or thickness, they need to be checked by a primary care provider or a dermatologist.

• Get your kids screened. Skin cancer is a growing concern for children, especially among adolescents. Talk with your child's pediatrician about skin cancer screening.

• If you work outdoors, you should be screened annually by a dermatologist.

RIDOH's Monkeypox Task Force Taking Prevention and Control Measures (ingles y espanol)

2022-07-14

As national health experts continue to track the ongoing global outbreak of monkeypox, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s Monkeypox Task Force is coordinating with healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, and communities on monkeypox prevention and control measures.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. As part of this current outbreak, six monkeypox cases have been identified in Rhode Island. More than 1,000 cases have been identified nationally, including 49 cases in Massachusetts, and 159 cases in New York. Current evidence from around the country suggests that the virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.

"At this time, the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders is low. However, we are taking this global outbreak very seriously," said Governor Dan McKee. "We are coordinating with our federal partners and are ensuring that healthcare providers throughout the state are prepared to identify any cases and get patients into the appropriate treatment and care."

"At RIDOH we are working to help the public understand how to prevent monkeypox now, with a focus on communities at higher risk," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "At the same time, we are laying out future plans to get more prevention tools and resources into the community as they are made available by the federal government."

There is ample testing capacity for monkeypox, anti-viral treatment (Tecovirimat), and an FDA-approved vaccine (JYNNEOS) available to prevent this infection. However, the vaccine is currently in short supply nationally.

The measures currently being taken by RIDOH's Monkeypox Task Force include:

• Performing case interviews and contact identification to collect the clinical and epidemiological information needed for isolation, contact monitoring, and post-exposure vaccination.

• In consultation with patients' healthcare providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessing cases to determine whether they are appropriate candidates for antiviral treatment (Tecovirimat).

• Coordinating the post-exposure preventive vaccination of close contacts. (All vaccination is being coordinated through RIDOH on a referral basis.)

• Coordinating with select healthcare facilities to serve as vaccination sites. These sites serve communities at the highest risk of exposure.

• Regularly communicating with healthcare providers on clinical recognition, specimen collection, and case reporting 24/7.

• Coordinating specimen collection, transport, and analysis at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories for clinically compatible cases 24/7.

• Partnering with community organizations and businesses that serve higher risk populations on prevention education.

RIDOH's Monkeypox Task Force includes staff from RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medical Services; the Office of Immunization; the State Health Laboratories; the Health Equity Institute; and RIDOH's Center for Public Health Communication.

Monkeypox Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Muscle aches and backache

• Swollen lymph nodes

• Chills

• Exhaustion

• A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus

Sometimes people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. Most infections last two to four weeks and resolve on their own, but some cases can become severe.

Monkeypox Transmission

An individual becomes contagious when symptoms first appear. Transmission occurs through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox lesions, items that have been contaminated with fluids or lesion materials (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. The infectious period ends when all skin sores have crusted over. This may take between two and four weeks. Deaths and hospitalizations from monkeypox are rare.

Monkeypox is much less transmissible than COVID-19, which spreads through the air. Nationally, many gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men have been diagnosed with monkeypox, especially those who have reported multiple or anonymous sexual partners. RIDOH has shared information about monkeypox and sexually transmitted infection prevention for this group on its "Sexual Health Information for Gay/Bisexual Men and Gender Diverse People" web page. However, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox. RIDOH urges everyone to avoid stigmatizing a particular group or person for monkeypox, but rather support those at highest risk and ensure that all communities remain vigilant.

Monkeypox Prevention

There is a vaccine to help prevent monkeypox virus infection. However, this vaccine is currently in short supply nationally. The CDC is using a very specific formula to allocate monkeypox vaccine to states, considering factors such as population size, current monkeypox case counts, and historical data on sexually transmitted infections. For this reason, Rhode Island has been allocated much less vaccine than other states (for example, Massachusetts). At this time, Rhode Island has only been allocated enough vaccine to vaccinate close contacts of cases. Vaccination of contacts within four days of exposure can prevent illness and if given within 14 days of exposure can significantly reduce severity of illness should the person develop illness.

If a person has symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox (even if they do not think they were in contact with anyone with monkeypox), or if they have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, they should:

• Stay home and isolate from household members

• Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible for an evaluation

• Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed

• Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing

• Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing

• If contacted by public health officials, answer their questions to help protect others who may have been exposed

More information about monkeypox is available at http://health.ri.gov/monkeypox.

###

A medida que los expertos nacionales en salud continúan rastreando el brote mundial en curso de viruela del mono, el Equipo Especial sobre la Viruela del Mono del Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH) está coordinando con los proveedores de atención médica, los centros de atención médica y las comunidades las medidas de prevención y control de la viruela del mono.

La viruela del mono es una enfermedad rara causada por la infección con el virus de la viruela del mono. Como parte de este brote actual, se identificaron seis casos en Rhode Island. Se han identificado 1,814 casos a nivel nacional, incluidos 51 casos en Massachusetts y 489 casos en Nueva York. La evidencia actual de todo el país sugiere que el virus se está propagando principalmente a través del contacto cercano e íntimo con alguien que tiene viruela del mono.

"En este momento, el riesgo de viruela del mono para la mayoría de los habitantes de Rhode Island es bajo. Sin embargo, estamos tomando muy en serio este brote mundial", dijo el gobernador Dan McKee. "Nos estamos coordinando con nuestros socios federales y nos aseguramos de que los proveedores de atención médica en todo el estado estén preparados para identificar cualquier caso y hacer que los pacientes reciban el tratamiento y la atención adecuados".

"En RIDOH estamos trabajando para ayudar al público a comprender cómo prevenir la viruela del mono, con un enfoque en las comunidades con mayor riesgo", dijo la directora interina de salud Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Al mismo tiempo, estamos diseñando planes futuros para obtener más herramientas y recursos de prevención en la comunidad a medida que el gobierno federal los ponga a disposición".

Existe una amplia capacidad de prueba para la viruela del mono, tratamiento antiviral (Tecovirimat) y una vacuna aprobada por la FDA (JYNNEOS) disponible para prevenir esta infección. Sin embargo, la vacuna actualmente escasea a nivel nacional.

Las medidas que está tomando actualmente el Equipo Especial contra la Viruela del Mono de RIDOH incluyen:

• Realización de entrevistas de casos e identificación de contactos para recopilar la información clínica y epidemiológica necesaria para el aislamiento, seguimiento de contactos y vacunación post-exposición.

• En consulta con los proveedores de atención médica de los pacientes y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC), evaluar los casos para determinar si son candidatos apropiados para el tratamiento antiviral (Tecovirimat).

• Coordinar la vacunación preventiva post-exposición de los contactos estrechos. (Todas las vacunas se coordinan a través de RIDOH con referencia).

• Coordinar con centros de salud seleccionados para que sirvan como sitios de vacunación. Estos sitios sirven a las comunidades con mayor riesgo de exposición.

• Comunicarse regularmente con los proveedores de atención médica sobre el reconocimiento clínico, la recolección de muestras y la notificación de casos las 24 horas del día, los 7 días de la semana.

• Coordinar la recolección, el transporte y el análisis de muestras en los Laboratorios Estatales de Salud de RIDOH para casos clínicamente compatibles las 24 horas del día, los 7 días de la semana.

• Asociarse con organizaciones comunitarias y empresas que atienden a poblaciones de mayor riesgo en educación preventiva.

El Equipo Especial contra la Viruela del Mono de RIDOH incluye personal de la División de Preparación, Respuesta, Enfermedades Infecciosas y Servicios Médicos de Emergencia de RIDOH; la Oficina de Vacunación; los Laboratorios Estatales de Salud; el Instituto de Equidad en Salud; y el Centro de Comunicación de Salud Pública de RIDOH.

Síntomas de la Viruela del Mono

Los síntomas pueden incluir:

• Fiebre

• Dolor de cabeza

• Dolores musculares y de espalda

• Ganglios linfáticos inflamados

• Escalofríos

• Agotamiento

• Un sarpullido que puede parecerse a granos o ampollas que aparece en la cara, dentro de la boca y en otras partes del cuerpo, como las manos, los pies, el pecho, los genitales o el ano

• A veces, las personas tienen un sarpullido primero, seguido de otros síntomas. Otros solo experimentan una erupción. La erupción pasa por diferentes etapas antes de curarse por completo. La mayoría de las infecciones duran de dos a cuatro semanas y sanan por sí solas, pero algunos casos pueden volverse graves.

Transmisión de la Viruela del Mono

Un individuo se vuelve contagioso cuando aparecen los primeros síntomas. La transmisión ocurre a través del contacto físico cercano con fluidos corporales, lesiones de viruela del mono, artículos que han sido contaminados con fluidos o materiales lesionados (ropa, ropa de cama, etc.), o a través de gotitas respiratorias luego de un contacto cara a cara prolongado. El período infeccioso termina cuando todas las llagas en la piel han formado costras. Esto puede tomar entre dos y cuatro semanas. Las muertes y hospitalizaciones por viruela del mono son raras.

La viruela del mono es mucho menos transmisible que el COVID-19, que se propaga por el aire. A nivel nacional, muchos hombres homosexuales, hombres bisexuales y otros hombres que tienen sexo con hombres han sido diagnosticados con viruela del mono, especialmente aquellos que han reportado parejas sexuales múltiples o anónimas. RIDOH ha compartido información sobre la viruela del mono y la prevención de infecciones de transmisión sexual para este grupo en su página web "Información de salud sexual para hombres homosexuales/bisexuales y personas de género diverso". Sin embargo, las personas de cualquier orientación sexual o identidad de género pueden infectarse y propagar la viruela del mono. RIDOH insta a todos a evitar estigmatizar a un grupo o persona en particular por la viruela del mono, sino a apoyar a los que corren mayor riesgo y garantizar que todas las comunidades permanezcan vigilantes.

Prevención de la Viruela del Mono

Existe una vacuna para ayudar a prevenir la infección por el virus de la viruela del mono. Sin embargo, esta vacuna actualmente escasea a nivel nacional. El CDC está utilizando una fórmula muy específica para asignar la vacuna contra la viruela del mono a los estados, considerando factores como el tamaño de la población, el recuento actual de casos de viruela del mono y los datos históricos sobre las infecciones de transmisión sexual. Por esta razón, a Rhode Island se le ha asignado mucha menos vacuna que ha otros estados (por ejemplo, Massachusetts). En este momento, a Rhode Island solo se le ha asignado suficiente vacuna para vacunar a los contactos cercanos de los casos. La vacunación de los contactos dentro de los cuatro días posteriores a la exposición puede prevenir la enfermedad y, si se administra dentro de los 14 días posteriores a la exposición, puede reducir significativamente la gravedad de la enfermedad en caso de que la persona desarrolle la enfermedad.

Si una persona tiene síntomas, particularmente un sarpullido compatible con la viruela del mono (incluso si no cree que haya estado en contacto con alguien que tenga la viruela del mono), o si ha estado en contacto con alguien a quien le diagnosticaron la viruela del mono, debe:

• Quédese en casa y aíslese de los miembros del hogar

• Comuníquese con un proveedor de atención médica lo antes posible para una evaluación

• Evite el contacto piel con piel o el contacto cercano con otras personas, incluido el contacto sexual, hasta que se haya completado una evaluación médica.

• Informe a sus parejas sexuales sobre cualquier síntoma que esté experimentando

• Cubra la erupción con ropa limpia, seca y holgada

• Si los funcionarios de salud pública lo contactan, responda sus preguntas para ayudar a proteger a otras personas que puedan haber estado expuestas

Más información sobre la viruela del mono está disponible en http://health.ri.gov/monkeypox.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Elm Lake in Roger Williams Park

2022-07-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with 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.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Lower Melville Pond

2022-07-07

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 blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. An advisory associated with the bloom in Upper Melville Pond (as known as Thurston Gray Pond) remains in effect. 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.

Rhode Island Launches Participatory Budgeting Process for Health Investments

2022-06-30

As a part of work to advance health equity and strategically address social determinants of health, the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are announcing today the launch of a Participatory Budgeting pilot project. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with two Health Equity Zone (HEZ) partners (http://health.ri.gov/hez).

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process that allows community members to directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Following a structured process, residents in each community will have the opportunity to come together to identify community needs, generate ideas on how to meet them, and then vote directly on how to spend public funds to address upstream social determinants of health and racial inequities. Winning projects will then be announced and implemented.

Between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2024, $900,000 will be allocated by two Health Equity Zones (HEZs) - Central Providence Opportunities HEZ (CPO-HEZ), supported by the backbone agency ONE Neighborhood Builders, and Pawtucket Central Falls HEZ, backed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Each HEZ will receive $450,000. Additionally, Central Providence Opportunities HEZ will deepen its impact by investing an additional $550,000 in private grant funding. The Central Providence community will, therefore, have a total of $1 million to invest through its Participatory Budgeting process.

"At EOHHS and the agencies under our umbrella, we are committed to active engagement opportunities for the communities we serve," said Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services' Acting Secretary Ana Novais. "What makes participatory budgeting different from traditional budgeting and decision-making processes is that it creates intentional space at the table for those who experience systemic racism and income inequality. It gives community members true decision-making power over real money."

"Health disparities result from underlying factors in our physical, social, political, and economic environments," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "It's exciting to see a project like this take root in Rhode Island. Not only do I look forward to seeing the innovative projects and solutions that come out of this work to promote health equity, but also how resident participation in the process itself enhances community cohesion, health, and wellbeing. Healthy communities are connected and collaborative communities."

Initiatives utilizing participatory budgeting have taken place in Rhode Island with great success.

"Participatory Budgeting has played such an important role in Central Falls for the past few years," said Central Falls Council President Jessica Vega. "Providing a space where residents are encouraged to think critically on how to improve the quality of life for their community. Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services' initiative of scaling up Participatory Budgeting through the Central Falls/Pawtucket and Central Providence HEZ is exciting, timely, and important to improve the health and promote equity in our communities."

New community leaders develop and emerge from the process, like Karen Figueroa, 2021 graduate of Central Falls High School and current first year student at Salve Regina University, who was a member of the first Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee in Central Falls and has been involved in participatory budgeting processes in Central Falls ever since. "Participatory budgeting grants underrepresented individuals the right to have their voices heard and allows them to be at the forefront of change in their communities," said Figueroa.

"Six years ago, Rhode Island took the transformational step toward a groundbreaking approach to address community health by creating the Health Equity Zone initiative as a mechanism to listen to residents who deeply understood the needs of their community. This place-based, community-led approach has led to important changes in service delivery and improvements in social determinants of health," said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Rhode Island. LISC is the backbone agency for the Pawtucket Central Falls HEZ. "This participatory budgeting process -- where the community comes together to decide how funds are invested-- is the next logical step in the process of cultivating agency, transferring power, and promoting residents as agents of change."

"Community members will help shape the decision-making process, allocate resources, and build connections with each other. We believe the process of participatory budgeting is equally important as the financial investment," ONE Neighborhood Builders' Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins said. "We invite residents of 02908 and 02909 ZIP codes to contact us to learn more about how they can share the issues that impact them and work together to help fund equitable solutions."

The initial investment of $900,000 is in Health System Transformation Project (HSTP) funds. The Health System Transformation Project is Rhode Island Medicaid's signature value-based payment initiative which aims to reduce healthcare costs, improve quality of care and improve population health outcomes.

Originating in Brazil in 1989, participatory budgeting has since been implemented by governments and organizations in more than 7,000 cities worldwide and demonstrated impacts in increasing civic engagement resulting in more equitable and effective public spending.

For more information about how to get involved in the participatory processes in your city, contact:

Providence:

pb@onenb.org

Pawtucket, Central Falls:

Becki Marcus

Assistant Program Officer

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

rbmarcus2@lisc.org

RIDOH destaca eventos y servicios de pruebas en conmemoración del Día Nacional de Pruebas de VIH

2022-06-27

El 27 de junio de cada año, el Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island (RIDOH) y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) observan el Día Nacional de la Prueba del VIH (NHTD), un día para enfatizar y fomentar la prueba del VIH.

"Todas las personas entre las edades de 13 y 64 años deben hacerse la prueba del VIH al menos una vez como parte de la atención médica de rutina", dijo el director de salud interino James McDonald, MD, MPH. "Las personas con ciertos factores de riesgo continuos, como aquellos que tienen más de una pareja sexual desde su última prueba de VIH o que tienen relaciones sexuales con alguien cuyo historial sexual no conocen, deben hacerse la prueba anualmente. Y algunas personas sexualmente activas pueden beneficiarse de pruebas más frecuentes. Alentamos a los habitantes de Rhode Island a que se hagan la prueba para que conozcan su estado serológico".

El tema del Día Nacional de la Prueba del VIH de este año es "La prueba del VIH es autocuidado". La Organización Mundial de la Salud define el autocuidado como "la capacidad de las personas, familias y comunidades para promover la salud, prevenir enfermedades, mantener la salud y hacer frente a enfermedades y discapacidades con o sin el apoyo de un proveedor de atención médica".

Según los CDC, el 13 % de los aproximadamente 1,2 millones de personas que viven actualmente con el VIH en los EE. UU. no conocen su estado. El diagnóstico y tratamiento tempranos son vitales para preservar la salud y prevenir la transmisión.

Algunas de las agencias asociadas comunitarias financiadas por RIDOH están organizando eventos de prueba para el Día Nacional de la Prueba del VIH.

• 27 de junio: AIDS Care Ocean State estará en Walgreens en 533 Elmwood Ave., Providence, de 10 a. m. a 8 p. m. ofreciendo pruebas, distribución gratuita de condones y folletos informativos. Walgreens y Greater Than AIDS, una iniciativa de información pública de KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), se están asociando con departamentos de salud y organizaciones comunitarias en más de 250 ciudades, incluida Providence, para organizar el evento coordinado más grande del Día Nacional de la Prueba del VIH (NHTD) en la Nación.

• 27 de junio: Project Weber/RENEW ofrecerá pruebas de VIH gratuitas en sus centros de acogida, ubicados en 124 Broad Street, Pawtucket y 640 Broad Street, Providence, así como en Amos House Block Party, 460 Pine Street, Providence de 11am a 3pm. Hay tarjetas de regalo de $10 disponibles para las personas que se hacen la prueba.

Por separado, RIDOH ha creado un programa Testing 1-2-3 para ayudar a los habitantes de Rhode Island a hacerse la prueba del VIH y otras infecciones de transmisión sexual (ITS) sin tener que ir al consultorio de un médico. Con el programa TESTING 1-2-3, RIDOH ha hecho que las pruebas de VIH e ITS sean lo más fáciles posible en tres pasos:

1. Complete el formulario en línea.

2. Diríjase al laboratorio clínico que haya elegido (nota: este no es un servicio gratuito).

3. Los resultados de las pruebas se le enviarán por correo electrónico.

La orden del médico se genera automáticamente y se envía al laboratorio clínico que la persona solicita en el formulario. Para obtener más información sobre las pruebas 1-2-3, visite https://www.testing123ri.com [testing123ri.com]. Los habitantes de Rhode Island interesados en la prueba del VIH en el hogar pueden solicitar un kit de prueba del VIH en el hogar en línea a través de AIDS Project Rhode Island en https://aidsprojectri.org/get-tested/at-home/ [aidsprojectri.org]

Según lo exige la Ley del Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio, la prueba de detección del VIH está cubierta por el seguro médico. Para las personas sin seguro, las pruebas gratuitas están disponibles en muchos centros de salud comunitarios y otros lugares. Visite http://health.ri.gov/hiv y http://health.ri.gov/sti para obtener más información. Para obtener información en español, visite http://health.ri.gov/vih y http://health.ri.gov/ets. Los horarios y lugares para los servicios de pruebas gratuitas y confidenciales de VIH y hepatitis C también se pueden encontrar en los sitios web de AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project Rhode Island y Project Weber/RENEW para conocer los horarios de las pruebas gratuitas.

RIDOH para cualquier persona en Rhode Island. Para pedir condones gratis entregados por correo, visite http://health.ri.gov/findcondoms. También puede llamar al Departamento de Salud de Rhode Island para obtener más información y lugares de prueba al 401-222-5960.

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Roosevelt Pond and Tiogue Lake

2022-06-27

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Roosevelt Pond in Roger Williams Park in Providence and Tiogue Lake in Coventry due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals and toxins were present in recent samples at both sites.

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.

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 Upper Melville Pond and Turner Reservoir

2022-06-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Upper Melville Pond in Portsmouth and Turner Reservoir in East Providence due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. While toxin production is variable during blooms, the sample from Turner Reservoir did have a potentially harmful level of a cyanotoxin.

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 Highlights Testing Events and Services in Observance of National HIV Testing Day

2022-06-24

On June 27th each year, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observe National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to emphasize and encourage HIV testing.

"Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare," said Interim Health Director James McDonald, MD, MPH. "People with certain ongoing risk factors - such as having more than one sex partner since their last HIV test or having sex with someone whose sexual history they don't know - should get tested annually. And some sexually active people may benefit from more frequent testing. Not knowing is not knowing. Get tested so you know your status."

This year's National HIV Testing Day theme is "HIV Testing is Self-care." Self-care is defined by the World Health Organization as "the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider."

According to the CDC, 13% of the estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV today are not aware of their status. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to preserving health and preventing transmission.

Some of RIDOH's funded community partner agencies are holding testing events for National HIV Testing Day.

• June 25th: AIDS Care Ocean State will be offering free, rapid HIV and Hepatitis C testing, free condom distribution and informational pamphlets at the first West Warwick Pride event at the West Warwick Civic Center from noon until 4 p.m.

• June 27th: AIDS Care Ocean State will be at Walgreens at 533 Elmwood Ave., Providence, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. offering testing, free condom distribution, and informational pamphlets. Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a public information initiative of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), are teaming up with health departments and community organizations in more than 250 cities, including Providence, to host the largest coordinated National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) event in the nation.

• June 27th: Project Weber/RENEW will be offering free HIV testing at its drop-in centers, located at 124 Broad Street, Pawtucket and 640 Broad Street, Providence, as well as at the Amos House Block Party, 460 Pine Street, Providence from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $10 gift cards are available for people getting tested.

Separately, RIDOH has created a Testing 1-2-3 program to help Rhode Islanders get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) without a trip to a doctor's office. With the TESTING 1-2-3 program, RIDOH has made HIV and STI testing as easy as possible in three steps:

1. Complete the online form.

2. Go to the clinical laboratory you have chosen (note: this is not a free service).

3. Results of the tests will be sent to you via e-mail.

The physician's order is automatically generated and sent to the clinical lab that the person requests on the form. For more information about Testing 1-2-3, visit https://www.testing123ri.com [testing123ri.com]. For information in Spanish, visit https://bit.ly/pruebas123RI [bit.ly]. Rhode Islanders interested in at-home HIV testing may request an in-home HIV test kit online through AIDS Project Rhode Island at https://aidsprojectri.org/get-tested/at-home/ [aidsprojectri.org]

As required under the Affordable Care Act, HIV screening is covered by health insurance. For uninsured people, free testing is available at many community health centers and other locations. Visit http://health.ri.gov/hiv and http://health.ri.gov/sti to learn more. For information in Spanish, visit http://health.ri.gov/vih and http://health.ri.gov/ets. Hours and locations for free, confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing services can also be found on the websites of AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project Rhode Island, and Project Weber/RENEW to learn about free testing hours.

Free condoms are available from RIDOH to anyone in Rhode Island. To order free condoms delivered by mail, visit http://health.ri.gov/findcondoms. You may also call the Rhode Island Department of Health for more information and testing locations at 401-222-5960.

Daily Harvest Recalls French Lentil + Leek Crumbles

2022-06-24

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that Daily Harvest is recalling all French Lentil + Leek Crumbles due to consumer reports of gastrointestinal illness and potential liver function issues.

From April 28 to June 17, 2022, approximately 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed to consumers in the United States through online sales and direct delivery, as well as through retail sales in Illinois and California. Daily Harvest directly notified by email those consumers who were shipped the affected product. Consumers who may still have the recalled product in their freezers should immediately dispose of it.

French Lentil + Leek Crumbles is a frozen product packaged in a 12 oz. white pouch with the words "Daily Harvest" at the top, a large "CRUMBLES" immediately below the top and the words "French Lentil + Leek" in bold (see attached). All lot codes of the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles are affected. No other Daily Harvest products are affected or part of this recall.

To date, the company has received approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions. A root cause investigation is ongoing.

This recall is being made in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should contact Daily Harvest by email at crumbles-recall@daily-harvest.com by calling 1-888-302-0305 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2022-06-24

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. Case and hospitalization metrics for all Rhode Island counties are now designated as "low." All five Rhode Island counties previously had the "medium" designation.

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates and data on hospital admissions and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. (There can be a lag in updating the map by county on CDC's website.) The CDC has recommendations by community level available online. Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. (This means getting the recommended booster dose when you are eligible.)

Governor McKee Statement on Interim Director of Health

2022-06-23

Governor Dan McKee today announced the appointment of Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH as Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

"Dr. Bandy has vast experience as a public health leader and infectious disease epidemiologist in Rhode Island. She has been at the center of our state's COVID-19 response and dozens of other major public health initiatives over the last three decades," said Governor McKee. "In addition to her work in infectious disease, she has extensive knowledge of preventive services and health promotion. Her steady hand will be critical as we continue getting as many Rhode Islanders vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible, and as we try to make Rhode Island the healthiest place in the country to live, work, and play."

Dr. Bandy currently serves as the Director of RIDOH's Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medical Services. She has led RIDOH's infectious disease division since 2012. In that time, she has helped steer the State's response to the COVID-19 and H1N1 global pandemics, and she has led efforts to prevent or control outbreaks of diseases of significant concern, including tuberculosis, measles, rabies, and meningococcal disease. She has helped guide efforts to dramatically reduce rates of new HIV infections over the last 30 years in Rhode Island, and manages the federal grants received by RIDOH to do routine infectious disease surveillance and response work.

"Rhode Island has one of the best public health workforces in the country, thanks to the talented professionals at RIDOH and the community partnerships that we have developed over the years," said Dr. Bandy. "I look forward to partnering with Governor McKee and his team to support the crucial work happening throughout the Department to promote healthy living in every community throughout the state."

Dr. Bandy completed a pediatric residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard University School of Public Health. She joined RIDOH in 1993 as Rhode Island's State Epidemiologist and the Medical Director for the division that oversaw RIDOH's infectious disease prevention and control work. She became the Director of RIDOH's Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in 2012.

Dr. Bandy will assume the role of Interim Director on Sunday, June 26. Dr. McDonald's last day of state service will be July 29.

Governor McKee and Dr. Bandy will be available for a media availability next week.

Freshpet Recalls One Lot of Dog Food

2022-06-20

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising pet owners that Freshpet is recalling one lot of Freshpet Select Fresh From the Kitchen Home Cooked Chicken Recipe (4.5 lb. bag), with the sell by date of 10/29/22, due to potential contamination with Salmonella.

This product was sold in several states, including Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Vermont, West Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans when handling contaminated products, notably children, older adults, and people who are immunocompromised.

This is especially true if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever. Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare provider.

Dogs with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some dogs will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy dogs can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your dog has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

If pet parents have products matching the following description and sell by date in their possession, they should stop feeding it to their dogs and dispose of it immediately.

RIDOH Recommends Reopening Gooseberry Beach for Swimming

2022-06-12

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends reopening Gooseberry Beach in Newport for swimming because bacteria counts have returned to safe levels.

RIDOH will continue to monitor and review beach water quality regularly to ensure safe bathing throughout the summer season. The status of a beach may change as new data become available. The most up-to-date beach information is available through a recorded message on RIDOH's beaches telephone line (401-222-2751).

RIDOH and DEM Recommend Avoiding Contact with Almy Pond

2022-06-09

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 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

RIDOH Announces Probable Case of Monkeypox; Risk to Rhode Islanders Remains Low

2022-06-09

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced the first probable monkeypox case in a male in his thirties and a resident of Providence County. The person has tested positive for an orthopox virus, and confirmation for monkeypox is pending testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This case is believed to be related to travel to Massachusetts.

RIDOH is conducting contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the patient while he was infectious. Contacts will be monitored by RIDOH for three weeks after their last day of exposure. This contact tracing approach is the most appropriate given the nature and transmission of the virus. The individual is hospitalized and in good condition.

To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided. RIDOH is identifying and monitoring the patient's close contacts. No additional positive cases have been detected in Rhode Island.

"While monkeypox is certainly a concern, the risk to Rhode Islanders remains low - even with this finding. Monkeypox is a known - and remains an exceedingly uncommon - disease in the United States. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for monkeypox that can be given before or after exposure to help prevent infection," said Interim Health Director James McDonald, MD, MPH. "RIDOH continues to engage in active case finding and we have been communicating the latest information with healthcare providers so that they have the information they need to help us 'identify, isolate, and inform'."

Monkeypox is not known to spread easily among humans; transmission generally does not occur through casual contact. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through direct contact with body fluids, including the rash caused by monkeypox. Transmission might also occur through prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. The time from someone becoming infected to showing symptoms for monkeypox is usually 7?14 days but can range from 5?21 days. Infected people are not contagious before they show symptoms.

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. Infected people develop a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body, that turns into fluid-filled bumps (pox). These pox lesions eventually dry up, scab over, and fall off. The illness typically lasts 2?4 weeks. Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, though the limited evidence available indicates that smallpox treatments may be useful. Most people recover with no treatment.

Anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox should call their healthcare provider before going to the office for an appointment. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed.

CDC is also tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported in recent weeks in several countries that don't normally report monkeypox, including Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. While anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox case can acquire monkeypox, people who have recently traveled to a country where monkeypox has been reported or men who have sex with other men are currently at a higher risk for monkeypox exposure. It is important to avoid stigmatizing any groups that may be considered at higher risk of exposure to the disease.

Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox virus can also spread between people through respiratory droplets typically in a close setting, such as the same household or a healthcare setting. Common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.

RIDOH Recommends Closing Gooseberry Beach for Swimming

2022-06-08

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends closing Gooseberry Beach in Newport for swimming because of high bacteria levels.

RIDOH will continue to monitor and review beach water quality regularly to ensure safe bathing throughout the summer season. The status of a beach may change as new data become available. The most up-to-date beach information is available through a recorded message on RIDOH's beaches telephone line (401-222-2751).

Rhode Island Department of Health Announces Endemic Strategy for COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing

2022-06-07

As part of its strategy to address COVID-19 as a manageable endemic disease, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing its plan for the transition of State-supported testing and vaccination to traditional partners and settings for providing COVID-19 services. COVID-19 services, like testing and vaccination, are now widely available through multiple accessible channels, similar to how services for other endemic diseases are made available to the public.

"Shifting these resources into our existing public health infrastructure means that COVID-19 is causing fewer disruptions to everyday life, and that ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts can be managed by our provider partners who traditionally offer these services to Rhode Islanders," said Interim Director of Health James McDonald MD, MPH. "While this is an important step toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease, it is still important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines for the best protection. Now, you can easily do that at your doctor's office or a pharmacy, just like you would for the flu."

Vaccination Resources

The COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be widely available at no out-of-pocket cost across Rhode Island through various channels. State-run COVID-19 community vaccination clinics and at-home vaccination services will be available through June 30, 2022. You can find a clinic near you at C19VaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org] by clicking on Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics. Beginning July 1, people who want to get vaccinated or boosted can call their healthcare providers or use other options available at C19VaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org], such as retail pharmacies and Vaccines.gov [vaccines.gov].

If there is an increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccine that Rhode Island's long-standing, traditional health care infrastructure cannot support, the State is fully prepared to re-engage State-supported vaccination sites.

Community partners who want to hold vaccination clinics can email RIDOH's Office of Immunization at RIDOH.C19VaxClinics@health.ri.gov. RIDOH will provide a list of mass immunizers that can best meet your community's needs. This is similar to how RIDOH supports flu clinics. In addition, community partners who want to facilitate at-home vaccination services for their patients or community members can also use this list to identify immunizers who can provide at-home vaccination.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine in Rhode Island, visit C19VaccineRI.org [c19vaccineri.org].

Testing Resources

Pending a final evaluation of public health conditions later this month, testing will transition from State-run COVID-19 test sites to multiple traditional health care channels and self-testing options on July 1, 2022. The State is fully prepared to reopen certain mass testing sites for symptomatic individuals if COVID-19 Community Levels are high. If most of the State moves to the "high" Community Level at the end of the month, sites will remain open until Community Levels return to medium.

COVID-19 testing will continue to be widely available across the state. There are many places where Rhode Islanders are able to access free COVID-19 testing. Federal programs are available to support access to free COVID-19 testing for people without health insurance. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone who tested positive, call your primary care provider or your child's pediatrician. Ask if they offer COVID-19 testing in their office or if they can order a test through a laboratory. Other testing options include:

• Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) for COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's ICATT program can help you find where to get a free COVID-19 laboratory test whether or not you have insurance.

• Test To Treat Program: Through this program, people can get tested and - if they're positive and treatments are appropriate for them - get a prescription from a healthcare provider, and have their prescription filled all at one location. A?Test to Treat locator?is available to help find participating sites. A call center is also available at?1-800-232-0233?to get help in multiple languages.

• Self-test distribution program: You can order free COVID-19 tests through the mail by visiting covidtests.gov [covidtests.gov]. You won't be asked for insurance or payment information when you order your free tests. If you have health insurance, you can also purchase self-test kits online or at local pharmacies and get reimbursed for up to eight tests per month. Contact your insurance carrier for more information.

• Some local pharmacies and clinics offer free COVID-19 testing to people who don't have health insurance. These locations may only test you if have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who tested positive. If you don't have insurance, the pharmacy or clinic will submit the cost of your test to a federal program for the uninsured.

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

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McKee Administration Provides Update on Baby Formula from the UK and Australia

2022-06-07

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) was notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the baby formula from the United Kingdom and Australia is approved and determined to be a healthy alternate formula for use in the United States. (This shipment is expected to help mitigate the impacts of the ongoing, national formula shortage.) The first batch of formula includes Kendamil Classic, Kendamil organic formula, and seven types of Bubs brand formula, and is expected to be in Target stores in Rhode Island this week.

"We are grateful that the United Kingdom and Australia's formula manufacturers were able to make these products available to families here in Rhode Island and the United States, through the President's Operation Fly Formula," said Governor Dan McKee.

"Although the labels look a little different, this formula has been approved by the federal government and is safe for parents to use," said Interim Director of Health James McDonald, MD, MPH. "This is just the first batch of formula that will be available soon in retail stores. More is coming. Please buy just what you need, as we want to assure that everyone has the chance to buy some."

Anyone with questions about which formula to use should call RIDOH's Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 or their child's pediatrician.

Just like formula that is made in the US, parents should follow the manufacturer's directions on how to prepare it. Directions on these cans of formula use metric measurements. The conversion from milliliters (mL) to fluid ounces is:

1 fluid ounce = 30 mL

2 fluid ounces = 60 mL

3 fluid ounces = 90 mL

4 fluid ounces = 120 mL

5 fluid ounces = 150 mL

6 fluid ounces = 180 mL

7 fluid ounces = 210 mL

8 fluid ounces = 240 mL

Details on products

--Kendamil EU Classic First Infant Milk Stage 1; 900 g/31.75 oz.; Similar to US standard infant formulas like Similac Advance or Enfamil Neuro PRO;

Kendamil Stage 1 is only for infants up to six months

--Kendamil EU Organic First Milk Infant Milk Stage 1; 800 g/28.22 oz.; Similar to US standard infant organic formulas like Similac Organic; Kendamil Stage 1 is only used for infants up to six months

--Kendamil EU Goat First Milk Infant Milk Stage 1; 800 g/28.22 oz.; No US equivalent

--Bubs Organic Grass Fed Infant Formula Stage 1; 800 g/28.19 oz.; Similar to US standard infant organic formulas like Similac Organic; Bubs Stage 1 is only used for infants up to six months

--Bubs Organic Grass Fed Follow-On Formula Stage 2; 800 g/28.19 oz.; Similar to US standard infant organic formulas like Similac Organic; Bubs Stage 2 is only used for infants age six to 12 months

--Bubs Supreme A2 Beta-Casein Protein Infant Formula Stage 1; 800 g/28.19 oz.; Similar to US Similac Organic because both Bubs and Similac contain A2 beta casein milk protein. Stage 1 formula is only used for infants up to six months

--Bubs Supreme A2 Beta-Casein Protein Follow-On Formula Stage 2; 800 g/28.19 oz; Similar to US Similac Organic because both Bubs and Similac contain A2 beta casein milk protein. Stage 2 formula is only used for infants age six to 12 months.

--Bubs Easy-digest Goat Milk Infant Formula Stage 1; 800 g/28.19 oz.; No US equivalent

--Bubs Easy-digest Goat Milk Infant Formula Stage 2; 800 g/28.19 oz.; No US equivalent

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2022-06-03

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. The one area that had been designated as "high" - Newport County is now considered "medium." All other areas in Rhode Island - Bristol County, Kent County, Providence County, and Washington County remain at "medium".

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates and data on hospital admissions and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. In counties designated as "high," the CDC recommends people wear high-quality masks while in indoor public settings. Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. (This means getting the recommended booster dose when you are eligible.)

The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online.

COVID-19 Booster Dose Availability and Recommendations

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding families that booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine are now available for children 5 through 11 years of age in Rhode Island. National and local health experts are now recommending booster doses for everyone age 5 or older. (Previously, boosters were only recommended for people age 12 and older.)

The CDC recommends that children ages 5 through 11 get a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine at least five months after their primary series. Children age 5 through 11 with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should get a booster dose at least three months after their additional dose.

To find a Pfizer booster dose near you, talk to your child's pediatrician or visit C19VaccineRI.org.

The CDC has also strengthened their recommendations for second boosters, stating that people age 50 or older and people age 12 or older who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems should get a second booster at least four months after their first booster. (Previously, CDC stated that people in these groups had the option to get a second booster.)

Only mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are authorized for us as second boosters. Currently, only Pfizer has COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by people younger than 16.

FDA Announces Outbreak Investigation of Hepatitis A Potentially Linked to Fresh, Organic Strawberries

2022-05-31

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Canadian and local public health officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A in the United States and Canada potentially linked to fresh, organic strawberries.

The strawberries were sold under the brand name FreshKampo and HEB and were sold between March 5, 2022, and April 25, 2022. The strawberries were sold at retail locations, including, but not limited to, Aldi, HEB, Kroger, Safeway, Sprouts Farmers Market, Trader Joe's, Walmart, Weis Markets, and WinCo Foods.

The potentially impacted strawberries are past their shelf life; however, consumers may have purchased the strawberries and frozen them for later use. Consumers should check their freezer to see if they have any strawberries from FreshKampo and/or HEB.

• If you have these strawberries in your freezer, do not eat them. Throw them away.

• If you do not know what brand of strawberries you bought or where you bought them, you should throw the strawberries away.

• In the last two weeks, if you have eaten fresh, organic strawberries branded as FreshKampo or HEB purchased between March 5 and April 25 and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, call your healthcare provider immediately and ask if you need post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP can prevent hepatitis A if given within 14 days of exposure. Anyone who has already had the hepatitis A vaccination or has had hepatitis A before does not need PEP.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses in Rhode Island associated with this investigation.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, and pale stool. Sometimes, especially in children younger than six, the individual has no symptoms. People with hepatitis A infections usually completely recover within one to two weeks; however, in rare cases, hepatitis A may become chronic. Chronic hepatitis A infection can lead to more severe health problems, including liver failure, and death.

If you have symptoms of hepatitis A and have eaten fresh, organic strawberries in the last two weeks, contact your healthcare provider.

Additional Peanut Butter Products Recalled

2022-05-27

In connection with the J. M. Smucker Co. Jif peanut butter recall announced earlier this week, additional products containing this peanut better are being recalled.

• Fudgeamentals is recalling fudge made with Jif peanut butter, packaged in 8 oz. plastic containers and 16 oz. plastic trays. These products were shipped to Walmart locations nationwide. More information about this recall is available online. (See link below)

• Fresh Del Monte is recalling fresh-cut fruit and vegetable products containing ready-to-eat Jif peanut butter dip. The specific products being recalled are Del Monte Apples with Peanut Butter (5 oz.), Peanut Butter Snack Pack (4.25 oz.), Apples and Peanut Butter (6 oz. and 5.5 oz.), and Sandwich with Peanut Butter Cup. These products were shipped to Walmart, Stop & Shop, and Dave's Marketplace locations. More information about this recall is available online. (See link below.)

Consumers who purchased these items are urged to not consume them and to dispose of them or return them to their local store.

The initial Jif recall was related to possible Salmonella contamination. 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.

Rhode Islanders Reminded to be Prepared for Harmful Algae Blooms this Summer

2022-05-27

With the weather turning warmer and recreational activities on lakes, ponds, and rivers set to increase, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reminding all Rhode Islanders to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms.

In freshwaters, blooms are caused by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which are naturally present in bodies of water. Increased temperatures, slow moving water, and excessive amounts of nutrients cause the cyanobacteria to grow excessively and create potential for harmful blooms. These algae blooms are capable of producing toxins, which can be harmful to humans and animals.

RIDOH and DEM work to collaboratively screen and respond to conditions indicating a harmful algae bloom is developing and issue recreational advisories when thresholds are met. Initial site visits this week indicated that Almy Pond in Newport is experiencing an algae bloom. Confirmation sampling for laboratory analysis is planned. During an algae bloom, all recreation including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking should be avoided. People also should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from affected waterbodies. Pets owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in this water. State and local officials post warnings around bodies of water when harmful algae blooms are present. However, members of the public should be on the lookout for these harmful blooms and know to avoid affected waters, should they encounter a bloom before warnings have been posted.

Affected waters may be bright to dark green in color and have dense, floating algal mats on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Should these conditions be observed, it is best to refrain from contact with the water and keep pets from entering the water.

Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing blue-green algae include stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at particular risk for health effects associated with harmful algae blooms (because they are more likely to swallow water when in or around bodies of water).

If you come into contact with water affected by a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People who have had contact with water with algae blooms and who experience the symptoms described above should contact a healthcare provider.

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. For a list of current advisories, visit: http://www.dem.ri.gov/bluegreen

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2022-05-26

Updates provided on COVID-19 booster dose availability and recommendations

CDC Community Levels

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 community levels for Rhode Island's counties. The areas that had been designated as "high" - Bristol County, Kent County, Providence County, and Washington County - are now considered "medium." Newport County, which was "medium," is now designated as "high."

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates and data on hospital admissions and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. In counties designated as "high," the CDC recommends people wear high-quality masks while in indoor public settings. Regardless of the designation of someone's county, everyone should get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. (This means getting the recommended booster dose when you are eligible.)

The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html [cdc.gov]).

COVID-19 Booster Dose Availability and Recommendations

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding families that booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine are now available for children 5 through 11 years of age in Rhode Island. National and local health experts are now recommending booster doses for everyone 5 years of age and older. (Previously, boosters were only recommended for people age 12 and older.)

The CDC recommends that children ages 5 through 11 get a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine at least five months after their primary series. Children ages 5 through 11 with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should get a booster dose at least three months after their additional dose.

To find a Pfizer booster dose near you, talk to your child's pediatrician or visit C19VaccineRI.org.

The CDC has also strengthened their recommendations for second boosters, stating that people age 50 or older and people age 12 or older who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems should get a second booster at least four months after their first booster. (Previously, CDC stated that people in these groups had the option to get a second booster.)

Only mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are authorized for us as second boosters. Currently, only Pfizer has COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by people younger than 16.

More information about COVID-19 is available at https://covid.ri.gov/.

Additional Peanut Butter Products Recalled

2022-05-25

In connection with the J. M. Smucker Co. Jif peanut butter recall announced earlier this week, 11 store-prepared items are being recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination

These products include Readymeals PB & Trail Mix Snacks, which were sold at Shaw's and Star Market locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. A list with descriptions of the 11 store-prepared products in available online. (See link below.)

Consumers who have purchased these items are urged not to consume these products and to dispose of them or return the items to their local store for a full refund.

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.

J. M. Smucker Recalling Certain Jif Peanut Butter Products

2022-05-23

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that J. M. Smucker Co. is recalling select Jif peanut butter products due to potential Salmonella contamination.

The recalled peanut butter was distributed nationwide in retail stores and other outlets. The recalled products have lot codes 1274425 - 2140425. Lot codes are printed alongside the products' best-if-used-by date. More information about these products is available online. (See link below.)

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.

If consumers have these products, they should dispose of them immediately. Consumers who have questions should visit www.jif.com/contact-usExternal [jif.com] or call 800-828-9980 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM ET.

Rhode Islanders Reminded About Heat Precautions

2022-05-20

In advance of the heat expected this weekend, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders about safety tips to keep themselves healthy and safe.

Normally, when you get hot, your body cools itself by sweating. But when it is very hot and humid, sweating isn't enough, and your body temperature can rise very quickly. High temperatures can cause heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps. Certain populations are at increased risk for heat-related illness during periods of extreme heat. These populations include babies and young children, older adults, and people who work outdoors.

When you are outside during extreme heat:

• Stay out of the direct sun.

• Try to stay in shaded areas.

• Pace yourself when you exercise.

• Schedule outdoor events early in the morning, when it is cooler and the air quality is better.

• Wear light-colored and light-weight clothing.

• Wear a hat with a brim and wear sunscreen for protection. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

When you are inside during extreme heat:

• Use air conditioning or fans, windows, and shades or curtains to keep your house cool.

• Take cool showers or baths. Avoid cooking hot food indoors when the day is at its hottest.

• Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

• Never leave a child, pet, or older adults in an unattended car during periods of extreme heat.

Watch for warning signs:

Check on friends, family, and neighbors during periods of extreme heat. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; cold, pale, and clammy skin; nausea or vomiting, tiredness; dizziness; headache. If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a cool place; put a cool, wet cloth on their body; have them sip water. Call medical help if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.

More information:

Some cities and towns have cooling centers open to those who need shelter during periods of extreme heat. To find a cooling center near you, call 2-1-1 or visit: https://riema.ri.gov/planning-mitigation/resources-businesses/cooling-centers

For more information, see RIDOH's page on Extreme Heat https://health.ri.gov/healthrisks/extremeheat/ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page on Extreme Heat https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html [cdc.gov]

CDC Updates COVID-19 Community Levels for Rhode Island Counties

2022-05-19

RIDOH continues to promote "7 Tools for Protection Against COVID-19"

Mirroring increases being seen throughout the region and country, the COVID-19 community levels in four Rhode Island counties are now designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as "high" - Bristol County, Kent County, Providence County, and Washington County.

Each week the CDC identifies the COVID-19 community level in every county in the country as "low," "medium," or "high" using case rates and data on hospital admissions and percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. In counties designated as "high," the CDC recommends people wear high-quality masks while in indoor public settings. The full recommendations by community level from the CDC are available online (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html [cdc.gov]).

Rhode Island has seen increases in cases and hospitalizations over the last several weeks. However, these data are still considerably lower than they have been at prior points in the pandemic. Given the availability of COVID-19 tools and resources in Rhode Island, such as vaccines and treatment, these numbers are not expected to reach the levels of Rhode Island's January surge.

"With COVID-19 now an endemic disease in Rhode Island, we should expect moderate increases and decreases in our COVID-19 levels over the coming months. However, serious illness from COVID-19 is now largely a preventable, treatable disease because of the tools and resources we have," said James McDonald, MD, MPH, the Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Taking a few simple prevention steps when more COVID-19 is circulating, such as wearing a mask in public indoor settings and getting a booster dose, can help keep you and your loved ones safe."

When you wear a mask you protect the people around you, and a high-quality mask also provides the wearer with protection. Booster doses significantly increase your protection against COVID-19. If you are boosted, you are 55 times less likely to be hospitalized because of COVID-19.

In addition to these recommendations from CDC by community level, RIDOH has unveiled "7 Tools for Protection Against COVID-19" (see image at: https://health.ri.gov/publications/toolkits/Seven-tools-protection-against-covid-19.pdf). Using a Prevent, Detect, Treat framework, this simple guide will help all Rhode Islanders limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 at home and in the community.

7 Tools for Protection Against COVID-19

Prevent

• Vaccination - Stay up to date with your vaccines and recommended boosters.

• Ventilation - Outdoor or well-ventilated areas are safest.

• Masking - Wear a high-quality mask in crowded indoor se¬ttings.

Detect

• Symptom screening - Watch for symptoms after travel or large gatherings.

• Testing - Get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed.

Treat

• Isolation - Stay away from others if you test positive.

• Treatment - Ask a healthcare provider about treatment if you test positive.

Detailed data about COVID-19 in Rhode Island is available online (https://ri-department-of-health-covid-19-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com/ [ri-department-of-health-covid-19-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com]). Additional information about booster doses, treatment, and other COVID-19 tools and resources are also available online at https://covid.ri.gov.

RIDOH Announces 2023-2027 Hepatitis C Elimination Plan: Cases Increasing, Rhode Islanders advised of new Hep C screening guidelines

2022-05-18

During Hepatitis Awareness Month, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and partners statewide are rolling out plans to raise awareness about hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C as major public health threats and are encouraging all Rhode Island adults and pregnant women to get tested for hepatitis C at least once.

RIDOH is sharing the CDC's new hepatitis C testing recommendations in advance of Hepatitis Testing Day, which is May 19th. People with risk factors should be tested regularly. An estimated 2.4 million people are living with hepatitis C in the U.S. People can live with hepatitis C without symptoms or feeling sick, but it is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. If untreated, hepatitis C can cause significant liver disease which is why it's important to get tested. Getting tested for hepatitis C is important, because treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in eight to 12 weeks.

Rhode Islanders can talk to their primary care providers about getting tested for hepatitis C. Additionally, Project Weber/RENEW will be holding free and confidential testing events at its two drop-in centers (124 Broad St., Pawtucket, and 640 Broad St., Providence) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday, May 19th.

RIDOH, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services' (EOHHS) Medicaid Office, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Hepatitis Action Coalition (RIHAC), this month published a new multi-year strategic plan to eliminate hepatitis C virus in Rhode Island.

According to data published in the new Rhode Island Hepatitis C Elimination Plan: 2023-2027, hepatitis C was a leading infectious disease case of death in Rhode Island between 2015 and 2019. The state ranks 10th overall in prevalence of hepatitis C per capita and 10th in the prevalence of the disease among non-Hispanic Black/African Americans per capita. Of the more than three million people in the United States who are living with hepatitis C, 75% were born between 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers have a 1 in 30 chance of infection.

"We have a bold, five year-plan to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island," said Acting EOHHS Secretary, Ana Novais. "Our collective actions have already made a big impact on this State. By working with our stakeholders, including those with lived experience and policy makers, we have identified all the building blocks needed for this robust public health intervention."

"Thousands of people in Rhode Island are living with hepatitis C without knowing it, and hepatitis C cases are on the rise nationally. We strongly recommend that every adult Rhode Islander follow the CDC's recommendation and get checked for hepatitis C," said Interim Director of Health James McDonald, MD, MPH. "RIDOH is pleased to partner with the State's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department of Corrections, and advocates from the Rhode Island Hepatitis C Action Coalition on our State's ambitious plan to make Rhode Island a national leader in hepatitis C elimination."

This plan is being developed to strengthen cross-sector partnerships to improve current systems and address gaps related to the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis C. Several developments in the field of hepatitis C have emerged in recent years that will play important roles in the roll-out of this strategic plan.

These developments include:

• Increased funding to RIDOH from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invest in HCV surveillance and prevention activities.

• Increased federal funding and focus on overdose prevention among people who use drugs, creating opportunities to expand harm reduction and hepatitis C testing for this high priority population.

• Passage of State legislation to create harm reduction centers and to ensure privacy and confidentiality of health services.

• Elimination of Medicaid restrictions related to access to antiviral therapies.

• Updated clinical guidelines and recommendations for routine opt-out screening in clinical settings, including hepatitis C screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults 18 years and older.

• Expansion of access to hepatitis C clinical care for high-priority populations, e.g., in correctional settings, opioid treatment provider sites, and high-risk neighborhoods.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus, a blood-borne virus that is not spread through casual contact. It is not a classic sexually transmitted infection. Hepatitis C is only spread when blood from another person who has hepatitis C gets put into the bloodstream of another person. Some people acquired hepatitis C via a blood transfusion before 1992, or via hemodialysis. Others become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.

RIDOH continues to work to end the hepatitis C epidemic in Rhode Island by funding community partners to provide free and confidential rapid hepatitis C screening to anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to hepatitis C. As highlighted in the Hepatitis C Elimination Plan, Rhode Island has one of the most comprehensive statewide community-based programs in the nation to prevent hepatitis C transmission among people who use drugs. RIDOH works closely with ENCORE, the state's needle-exchange program, to provide brand new needles and other injecting equipment and harm-reduction counseling for people who use injection drugs.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, such as avoiding injection and intranasal drug use.

For more information, visit https://health.ri.gov/hepc.

Quick Facts: The ABCs of Viral Hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis

• Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; many do not know they are infected.

• Viral hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants.

• People with hepatitis B and hepatitis C have the greatest risk of liver cancer. In fact, more than 60 percent of liver cancer cases are caused by hepatitis B or C.

Hepatitis A

• Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe, effective vaccine.

• Unfortunately, in recent years the number of people infected with hepatitis A has been increasing because there have been multiple outbreaks across the United States.

• Recent outbreaks of hepatitis A have primarily been from person-to-person contact, especially among people who use drugs, people experiencing homelessness, and men who have sex with men.

Hepatitis B

• An estimated 862,000 people are living with hepatitis B in the U.S.

• Nearly 2 in 3 people with hepatitis B do not know they are infected.

• People with Hepatitis B often have no symptoms.

• Left untreated, 1 in 4 people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems, including liver disease and liver cancer.

• CDC recommends all people born in regions of the world where hepatitis B is common and other adults at risk get tested for Hepatitis B.

• Hepatitis B can be prevented with a safe, effective vaccine. In addition to groups for whom hepatitis B vaccination is already recommended, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all adults aged 19-59 years should receive hepatitis B vaccines.

Hepatitis C

• An estimated 2.4 million people are living with hepatitis C in the U.S.

• About 4 in 10 people living with hepatitis C do not know they are infected.

• People can live with hepatitis C without symptoms or feeling sick.

• Left untreated, hepatitis C can cause serious liver damage, liver cancer, and even death.

• Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants.

• CDC now recommends all adults and pregnant women get tested for hepatitis C. People with risk factors should be tested regularly.

• Treatments are available that can cure hepatitis C.

Boil Water Notice Issued for The Apartments at 970 Victory Highway Complex Public Water System

2022-04-27

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 Apartments at 970 Victory Highway Complex collected two samples in the water system on April 22, 2022, that had E. coli present, which were confirmed by additional samples collected on April 25, 2022. 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 Thomas Tzeremes at 508-208-7926.

Lakeside Refrigerated Services Announces Voluntary Recall of Ground Beef Products

2022-04-27

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, and have the establishment number EST. 46841 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Recalled items were distributed to retail locations nationwide.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with consumption of the ground beef.

Anyone who has purchased these products should not eat them. Consumers who may have ground beef in their refrigerators or freezers should check to see if they have recalled product. Any recalled products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Do not eat recalled product.

Many clinical laboratories do not test for this strain of E. coli (STEC) because it is harder to identify than the more common strain STEC O157:H7. People can become ill from STECs two to eight days after eating contaminated product.

Symptoms can include diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Most people recover within a week, but, rarely, some develop a more severe infection, Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a type of kidney failure and is not usually associated with this strain of E. coli. HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children younger than five, older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Anyone who has eaten these recalled products and has any symptoms of E.coli infection should call their healthcare provider.

Department of Health's Office of Vital Records Closes Three Days for Office Move

2022-04-26

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 Cannon Building location will close for business on April 26 at 3:30 p.m., and the Cranston office will be open for business on May 2 at 8:30 a.m. Any emergency vital records business requests that cannot be fulfilled by a city or town hall during the office closure can be directed to 401-602-7156 or doh.riversassistance@health.ri.gov.

Vital Records (birth, death, and marriage records) can also be requested at:

• City or town halls

o Certificates for births after 1960: any city/town hall

o Certificates for deaths in 2022: any city/town hall

o Certificates for deaths before 2022: city/town hall where death occurred

o Marriage certificates: city/town hall where ceremony occurred

• Online: http://health.ri.gov/records/about/copies

• By US mail: 6 Harrington Rd., Cranston 02920

• Drop box at Cranston or Providence office (Cranston drop box available May 2)

• By appointment (Call 401-222-2813).

The only thing that will change is that the office will have a new mailing address. All staff phone numbers and emails will stay the same.

The new office has ample free parking, is accessible by RIPTA bus route 21, and is located near other State agencies who provide critical services to the public (DMV, Office of the Attorney General).

There will be customer drop boxes in Cranston and, for three months after the move, in Providence. All of Vital Records' forms will be updated with the new mailing address. (An incorrect mailing address on a Vital Records form does not affect the validity or legality of the document.)

Bakkavor USA Announces Voluntary Recall of Whole Foods Market Red Lentil Dal

2022-04-22

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 recalled Whole Foods Market Red Lentil Dal is sold in 12-ounce plastic trays, UPC 1 95515 02394 8, with the following codes:

• USE BY 4/15/2022;

• USE BY 4/17/2022;

• USE BY 4/18/2022;

• USE BY 4/19/2022;

• USE BY 4/22/2022;

• USE BY 4/24/2022;

• USE BY 4/25/2022; and

• USE BY 4/26/2022.

Recalled items were distributed to Whole Foods Market stores in all states except Hawaii.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with this recall to date.

Anyone who has purchased these products should not eat them. Consumers who still have any of these products in their refrigerators should throw them away.

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.

Kinder Chocolate Products Recalled

2022-04-08

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 Y Supermarkets.

Product details:

Kinder Happy Moments Milk Chocolate and Crispy Wafers Assortment

• Size and Package Type - 14.1 OZ (400g) square box with lid

• Best By Date and location - July 18, 2022 (back panel)

• Lot Codes and location - 48RUP334; 48RUP335; 48RUP 336; 48RUP337 (back panel)

• UPC Code and location - 09800 52025 (right side panel)

Kinder Mix Chocolate Treats Basket

• Size and Package Type - 5.3 OZ (152g) cardboard basket

• Best By Date and location - July 30, 2022 (bottom of package)

• Lot Codes and location - 03L 018AR - 306 (bottom of package)

• UPC Code and location - 09800 60209 (bottom of package)

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.

The products are being recalled because they were manufactured in a facility where Salmonella typhimurium was detected. Consumers who have purchased the affected product should not eat the product.

Twa Mushrooms Recalled

2022-03-23

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. The recalled products come in a 14.11 ounce, clear plastic packages marked with UPC6957937481850.

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 headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by the California Department of Public Health revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in 14.11 ounce packages of Twa Agriculture Mixed Mushrooms. The production of the product has been suspended while FDA and the company continue to investigate the source of the problem. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Recall Expanded for Powder Infant Formulas

2022-03-09

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, Michigan). This is in addition to lots of Similac Alimentum and EleCare powder formula that were already recalled.

This action comes after learning of the death of an infant who tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii and who had consumed Similac PM 60/40 from this lot. (This child was not a Rhode Island resident.) This case is under investigation, and at this time the cause of the infant's Cronobacter sakazakii infection has not been determined.

No distributed product has tested positive for the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii. Additionally, recently tested retained product samples of Similac PM 60/40 Lot # 27032K80 (can) / Lot #27032K800 (case) were negative for Cronobacter.

On February 17th, Abbott initiated a recall of lots of Similac Alimentum?and EleCare powder formulas manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan at one of the company's manufacturing facilities. This action came after reports of four infant illnesses related to products from the facility. There were reports of three Cronobacter sakazakii infections and one Salmonella Newport infection. During testing in the facility, evidence of?Cronobacter sakazakii?was found in the plant in non-product contact areas. No evidence of?Salmonella?Newport was found.?

No distributed product has tested positive for the presence of either of these bacteria. Abbott conducts quality checks on each completed batch of infant formula, including microbiological analysis prior to release. All finished?infant formula powder products are tested for?Cronobacter,?Salmonella,?and other pathogens, and they must test negative before the product is released.

Contact a healthcare provider if an infant is experiencing symptoms?related to?Cronobacter?or Salmonella?infection. These include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice, grunting breaths, abnormal movements, lethargy, rash, or blood in the urine or stool.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Updates

2022-02-25

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 updates are aimed at making vaccination accessible and ensuring that the State's testing program is helping people at highest risk for serious illness get into treatment. Ensuring access to prevention tools and ensuring treatment for those at higher risk is a traditional public health model for responding to an endemic disease, which is a more predictable, manageable disease.

Rhode Island's COVID-19 cases have decreased by more than 95% since early January, and the state's new hospital admissions have decreased by 83% from mid-January to the end of February.

Testing

In alignment with the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rhode Island will shift the testing strategy at State-run COVID-19 testing sites on March 7th to focus on people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and people who are close contacts of someone who tested positive.

There is now an abundance of testing available in the community. People who are asymptomatic and aren't a close contact but want to be tested for COVID-19 can access testing through most pharmacies, clinics, and primary care providers throughout the state. (These same testing options should be used by people who need to be tested before travel.) Kits that you can use to test yourself for COVID-19 are also available through community organizations, local pharmacies, and online retailers.

Focusing testing efforts at Rhode Island's State-run testing sites on people who are symptomatic and people who are close contacts will ensure that people who are positive and eligible for treatment can be quickly connected to treatment. Treatment is one of the many reasons why we have seen such a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Vaccination

As part of a renewed effort to increase primary series and booster dose vaccination rates in communities where they are lower, the State is also coordinating a faith-based vaccination program. This effort involves a community of worship welcoming a physician to speak and answer questions during a service, and then hosting a vaccination clinic after that service.

Additionally, the State is planning an on-site vaccination clinic at schools in several communities where the student vaccination rate is below 20%. More than 40 clinics are currently scheduled. These clinics are follow-ups to the vaccination clinics the State organized at schools during the spring and fall of 2021.

Part of this renewed focus on community vaccination settings entails shifting away from larger, centralized vaccination venues. On Feb. 26, the Rhode Island Convention Center will cease offering vaccination appointments. Current conditions and the prevalence of vaccination sites across the State have reduced the need for mass vaccination sites.

The State has the capacity to quickly stand-up large vaccination sites and events, should the data on COVID-19 transmission indicate they are warranted.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Sites: Opening Delays and Closures

2022-02-24

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 Warren will be closed all day on Friday.

People with vaccination appointments between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at Rhode Island Convention Center have been contacted by email. These people can walk in and be vaccinated later in the day. These people can also reschedule by visiting http://portal.ri.gov. (The other State-run vaccination site, at Sockanosset Cross Road, does not normally open until 11 a.m.)

People with testing appointments at State-run sites have been contacted by email and text message. These people can walk in and be tested later in the day. These people can also reschedule by visiting http://portal.ri.gov.

Health Advisory Issued for Similac Alimentum and EleCare Powered Infant Formulas

2022-02-17

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 facility. These illnesses include three Cronobacter sakazakii infections and one Salmonella Newport infection. All four cases related to these complaints were hospitalized and Cronobacter may have contributed to a death in one case.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers not to use Similac Alimentum or EleCare powdered infant formulas if:

• The first two digits of the code are 22 through 37 and

• The code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2, and

• The expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

The code is printed on the product packaging near the expiration date (see image of product label attached). Additional information on products made by Abbott Nutrition is available on their website.

These powdered infant formulas have the potential to be contaminated with Cronobacter, a bacterium that can cause severe foodborne illness primarily in infants. Cronobacter infections are rare but are especially high risk for newborn infants.

FDA has done an onsite inspection at the Michigan facility. Findings to date include several positive Cronobacter results from environmental samples taken by FDA, and adverse inspectional observations by FDA investigators. A review of the firm's internal records also indicate environmental contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and the firm's destruction of product due to the presence of Cronobacter.

Products that do not contain the information listed above are not impacted by this advisory. This advisory does not include liquid formula products or any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas.

More information on Cronobacter and infant formula is available on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine). Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis may include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes), grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other parts of the body.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should notify your child's healthcare provider and seek medical care for your child immediately.

Royal Ice Cream Company, Inc. Expands Recall of Ice Cream Products

2022-02-14

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 monocytogenes.

All recalled products have the manufacturing plant number CT121 or CT#121 and are not past their expiration date. The effected brands manufactured at Royal Ice Cream Company, Inc in Manchester, CT with the above plant number are:

• Batch brand: pints, all flavors

• Royal Ice Cream Brand: half gallons, pints, cakes, all specialties

• Ronny Brook Ice Cream: all flavors, pints and three-gallon tubs

• New Orleans Ice Cream: all flavors, pints and 2.5-gallon tubs

• Maple Valley Ice Cream: all flavors, pints

• Art Cream: all flavors, pints

• Sweet Scoops Yogurt: all flavors, pints

• Gelato Fiasco: all flavors, pints

• Biggy Iggy's Ice Cream Sandwiches

• Munson Chip Wich ice cream sandwiches

• Giffords Ice Cream: all flavors of ice cream sandwiches

• Chewy Louie Ice Cream: ice cream sandwiches

• Snow Wich Ice Cream Sandwich

• Newport Creamery: Crazy Vanilla, Vanilla and Chocolate , Vanilla and Coffee, half gallons only

The recalled products were distributed in retail stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and New Hampshire and are packaged in pints, half gallons, sandwiches, and portion-control slices.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

Anyone who has purchased any of these products should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it 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.

Enoki Mushrooms Recalled Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

2022-02-11

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 following description "Taiwan Best Quality Enoki Natural Mushroom***Manufacturer: Changhua County Mushrooms Production Cooperative" and "Distributor Jan Fruits Inc." There is a green lettered "Premium" printed with two QR scan codes and the UPC 8 51084 00835 8 on the back side of the package.

• The Concord Farms recalled product is Lot #045633 and is packaged in a bright blue and transparent plastic packaging, with the words "fresh enoki mushrooms". The weight of the product is 5.25 oz (150g). The UPC barcode numbers are 001958939091, with no other codes. There is no lot code or dates on the package.

There have been no reports of illness related to these products.

The recalled product was distributed in California to produce distributors or wholesalers for further distribution to retail stores. Anyone who has purchased this product should not eat it. Consumers should throw it away or return it 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.

Batch Ice Cream Recalled

2022-02-07

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 children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Lots of vanilla, ginger, and mocha chip ice cream from Batch are being recalled.

The effected ice cream was distributed to Market Baskets in Massachusetts, Big Y stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Roche Brothers Markets in Massachusetts.

The products are packaged in paper 16-ounce pints with the Batch Ice Cream brand name and flavors on the front. Products are coded with the Date of Manufacture as 1/19/22 and Best By: 7/19/23, found on the bottom of the cup. UPC Vanilla - 837654968505; Ginger - 83765496856; Mocha chip - 83765496853.

No illnesses have been reported to date. The recall was initiated by Royal Ice Cream after FDA sampling revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes on processing equipment.

Consumers who have purchased Batch Ice Cream with the effected dates and flavors are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 860-649-5358, Monday thru Friday 7:30 to 5:00 EST.

In Advance of Winter Storm, Rhode Islanders Reminded to Take Health Precautions

2022-01-28

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, increasing the risk of heart attacks. Shoveling can also cause shoulder and back injuries.

Before shoveling:

• Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart trouble to make sure it is safe for you to shovel snow.

• Drink plenty of water. You can get dehydrated in cold weather, too.

• Dress warmly, and dress in several layers.

• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.

• Warm up the muscles in your arms and legs. Walk around for a few minutes and stretch your arms and legs.

While shoveling:

• Take it slow, pace yourself, and take breaks.

• Don't pick up too much snow at once. Use a smaller shovel, or only fill the shovel part way if you use a large shovel.

• Protect your back. Bend from the knees and lift with your legs bent. Stand with your feet about hip width apart for good balance and keep the shovel close to your body.

• Try not to twist. If you need to move snow to one side, move your feet to face the direction you are throwing the snow.

• Listen to your body. Stop if you feel tired or feel tightness in your chest.

• Call 911 if you or someone you are with is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain or pressure; sweating; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms; lightheadedness or sudden weakness; a fast or irregular heartbeat).

Heating

Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless. It can cause loss of consciousness or death. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

• Never use a gas range or oven to heat your house. Do not use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside your house.

• If you need to use a generator, make sure it is properly installed and vented.

• If you lose power and it is too cold inside your house, go to a friend or family's home or go to a warming center. Call 211 for a list of warming centers.

Babies should always sleep alone in their own sleep environment, even if the heat is lost in a home. Bedsharing is extremely dangerous. A parent can roll over and prevent the baby from breathing, or the baby can get trapped between the wall and the bed.

Babies typically need one more layer of clothing than adults. If your baby seems cold, the baby should be swaddled in a blanket, or dressed in an additional outfit.

Food safety during and after any power outages

During power outages, the food items that are of greatest concern are moist, perishable foods. Bacteria can easily grow on this food.

If you believe that you could lose power, turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. If you lose power, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

Power outages of more than four hours may be hazardous to food. If the food temperature is greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, or you do not know the food temperature, it is best to throw it out. In other words, when in doubt, throw it out.

For more winter health tips, see https://health.ri.gov/seasonal/winter.

For help preparing for winter storms and extreme cold, see https://health.ri.gov/publications/guidelines/preparing-for-winter.pdf.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Site Closures

2022-01-28

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 http://portal.ri.gov. Additionally, the testing site at CCRI Warwick that normally operates 24 hours a day will close at 6 p.m. today, and reopen at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

People with vaccination appointments at Sockanosset Cross Road and the Rhode Island Convention Center will be notified directly by email that their appointments have been cancelled. To reschedule, people should visit C19VaccineRI.org.

People with testing appointments at State-run sites will be notified by email and/or text message that their appointments have been cancelled. To reschedule, people should visit http://portal.ri.gov.

Dole Fresh Vegetables Announces Voluntary Recall of Certain Salads

2022-01-10

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 that were processed at its Ohio and California production facilities and contain iceberg lettuce.

Products subject to the voluntary recall are identified by a product lot code beginning with the letter W and a Best if Used By date between December 22, 2021 and January 9, 2022, OR products with a product lot code beginning with the letter B and a Best if Used By date between December 23, 2021 and January 8, 2022. The product lot codes are located in the upper-right-hand corner of the package.

A complete list of the recalled products is available on FDA's website.

Recalled items were distributed widely, including in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Anyone who has purchased these products should not eat them. Consumers who still have any of these products in their refrigerators should throw them away.

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.

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Updates In Advance of Adverse Weather

2022-01-06

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 to 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

• Cumberland Stop & Shop

• CCRI Warwick Parking Lot (new location)

• McCoy Stadium

• Pawtucket Stop & Shop

• Woonsocket State-run Test Site

People who had morning appointments at these sites will have those appointments honored at any point later in the day.

The Wickford Train Station parking garage testing site and the outdoor Pre K-12 Pine Street testing site in Pawtucket will operate tomorrow during normal hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

The test site at the Rhode Island Convention Center ticket booth will move indoors to the Dunkin Donuts Center concourse for Friday.

Vaccination

The vaccination clinic that had been planned for the Providence Public Library downtown will not be held tomorrow. People who had appointments for Providence Public Library clinic are being rescheduled at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Tomorrow will be the first day vaccinating at the Rhode Island Convention Center. There will be limited availability tomorrow, but additional availability next week. Appointments can be made at VaccinateRI.org.

Pfizer Booster Doses Now Available at 5 Months After Primary Series, Additional Primary Dose for Certain Immunocompromised Children

2022-01-05

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 six months. The booster interval recommendations for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (two months) or the Moderna vaccine (six months) have not changed.

Additionally, Rhode Island is aligning with CDC guidance and is recommending that children age 5 to 11 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional (third) dose of vaccine 28 days after their second dose. This third dose is considered part of the primary series. This is consistent with the guidance for moderately or severely immunocompromised adults. Because Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by people age 5 or older, moderately or severely immunocompromised children age 5 to 11 must get the Pfizer vaccine for this third dose.

"Our goal is to ensure that all Rhode Islanders receive a booster as soon as they are eligible to provide the added protection we need to keep ourselves and those around us safe," said Governor Dan McKee. "It's time for a boost, Rhode Island - if you haven't already, I encourage you to make an appointment to get vaccinated or boosted today."

"Throughout this pandemic, we have updated our recommendations using the latest science to ensure that Rhode Islanders are getting the best protection," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "This is particularly important now, with the more contagious Omicron variant spreading in Rhode Island. If you or someone in your family is eligible for a third dose, make an appointment or head to a walk-up vaccination clinic today."

People are considered moderately or severely immunocompromised if they have:

• Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood

• Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

• Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)

• Advanced or untreated HIV infection

• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

More information about what constituents moderately or severely immunocompromised is available online. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized and recommended for children aged 5 to 11.

General information about COVID-19 vaccination and vaccination sites is available at C19vaccineri.org [c19vaccineri.org].

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.

###

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