The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided the following COVID-19 testing and vaccination updates on Friday.


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.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.