• Gov. McKee promises actions next week to address rising COVID cases in RI

    Gov. McKee promises actions next week to address rising COVID cases in RI

    The Providence Journal | Read the original article here

    PROVIDENCE — Gov. Dan McKee will announce a series of actions early this week "to address the increase in COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island'' and "alleviate pressures" on the state's hospitals, his office announced Friday night.

    Elaborating on Saturday, his staff said, "the comprehensive set of actions the governor is focused on are vaccination, testing, masking and staffing capacity," his staff said Saturday, 

    The governor has been under pressure from the medical community, his opponents in the 2022 race for governor and some voices within the business world to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

    “Wearing masks indoors while transmission is high is a small price to pay to enable our economy to remain open and allow for families to gather for the holidays,” Erin Donovan-Boyle, executive director of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce told The Journal.

    And on Saturday, Rhode Island confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.


    New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Friday that her state would require that masks be worn indoors at all public spaces that do not require vaccination for entry, starting Monday.

    At a news conference on Thursday, McKee said, he was "not ready" to take that action.

    He nonetheless extended his executive order requiring mask-wearing in schools until Jan. 8.

    The statement issued by his office on Friday said: 

    McKee met Friday met with "health professionals from Rhode Island’s medical community, representatives of the state’s small business community, our large employers and members of his whole of government COVID response team.

    "Additionally, Governor McKee and members of his staff spoke with their counterparts in New York and Connecticut."

    "Early next week, '' the statement said: "Governor McKee will be announcing actions to address an increase in COVID-19 cases, alleviate pressures on our hospital systems, while at the same time keeping our schools open for in-person learning and preventing economic disruptions to our small businesses. 

    "Over the weekend, the Governor will continue meeting with the Department of Health, Commerce, and the whole of government team to finalize the executive actions he will undertake."

    Latest COVID data: 5.5% positivity rate

    The Rhode Island Department of Health on Friday reported six coronavirus-related deaths and 1,078 additional cases of COVID-19, along with 18,689 negative tests, for a 5.5% positive rate. The state has reported an average of 917 new cases a day over the last seven days. There were 206 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, down from 222 reported Thursday, with 16 in intensive care.  

    Hospital leaders say a persisting staff shortage compounded by the latest pandemic surge has prompted some hospitals in the state to adjust operations, including limiting some elective surgery. Wait times for treatment of noncritical conditions at some emergency departments have also increased.

    At his news conference on Thursday, McKee said hospital leaders had asked him to take several steps, including, for example, issuing an executive order to reinstate the immunity from lawsuits in effect during the early stage of the pandemic. He said they also asked for some action to address emergency ambulance runs to hospitals, already at their maximum capacity.

    He said he is also exploring use of the Rhode Island National Guard. 

    He said then he would have more information on what actions he intended to take, in response, this] week.

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