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RI Coronavirus Update – Today, Sept. 17, 2020

Photo: From the front cover of the Vaccine Distribution Plan

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL

Much discussion about vaccine development, distribution, and timelines – most indicators are that the vaccine will be distributed in stages, with the most at risk going first, as soon as late October – with other demographics taking more months, and as long as spring to complete.

Pfizer, one of the front-runners in the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine, said its candidate vaccine looks safe, and the company expects to have data next month on how well it protects people against the coronavirus.

People in Indonesia who refused to wear masks in public were ordered by a local official to dig graves for COVID-19 victims.

United Arab Emirates’ government authorized Emergency Use Authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China for “first line defense heroes”.

Southwest Airlines will leave middle seats empty.

California falls off the mandatory quarantine travel list of states.

In Florida, the Miami- Dade Police Department has cited hundreds of businesses and individuals for not following face mask rules, and the county has collected nearly $300,000 in fines.

In Austin, Texas, fines for not wearing a mask can be as high as $2,000 per day for individuals, although the police department rarely levies them.

Florida COVID19 cases are down 73% since May, 2020

Alabama expected a spike after Labor Day but it has not happened.

More than 100 veterans, health care workers and relatives of residents who died in a New Jersey state-run veterans home, demonstrated yesterday, demanding an investigation and the resignation of local managers.

Neal Patrick Harris, his children and husband have all recovered from COVID19

The Iowa State Fair is canceled.

Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals officially canceled.

The Halloween Costume Association has published a county map of the US with risk levels noted, in conjunction with Harvard, so parents can gauge their comfort level with trick of treating. The interactive map is here: https://www.halloween2020.org/  – much more about Halloween options, here:  https://www.halloweencostumeassociation.org/

The Maine super-spreader wedding is now responsible for 6 deaths and 176 cases. None of the deaths were people who attended the wedding – they were contacts of those people who did attend.

Univ. of Pittsburgh researchers have discovered a “tiny antibody” which may destroy the coronavirus.

LSU has had 754 positives in the last month and 50 positives from Sept. 11 – 13. Their football coach says he believes just about all of his players have had coronavirus, with 3 or 4 currently  positive, and coach says he hopes players can’t catch it again.

A new antibody treatment is to be trialed on Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals. Monoclonal antibodies, which are potent, laboratory-made antibodies, will be given to about 2,000 people to see if they are effective against coronavirus.

Europe is dealing with coronavirus as an “unwelcome neighbor” and learning how to live with it – the virus is “here for the long haul” – with less talk of a vaccine – and no talk of shutdowns again.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief.

Gov. Cuomo said he would not ban Halloween.

NAACP Annual Meeting/Conference will not be held this year – it will be held in 2023 in Boston

Four more Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC will reopen on Friday.

A Wrentham, MA nursing home is associated with a cluster in the community.

Baltimore, Maryland has 4,400 jobs available at a new Amazon expansion.

Delta Airlines says it will not furlough employees after unemployment runs out.

Russia to sell COVID-19 vaccine to India’s Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

Big Ten Football Back on – starting 10/24

PRESIDENT TRUMP PRESS CONFERENCE

President Trump said at his press conference to Pack 12 – get going – you’ve got time now, the Big Ten is in – get going.

Announced the vaccine distribution plan has been done.

Distribution plans here:

“From the Factory to the Frontlines” https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/strategy-for-distributing-covid-19-vaccine.pdf

Other documents:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/downloads/COVID-19-Vaccination-Program-Interim_Playbook.pdf

RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY

Lifespan has received $130 million from the federal government, having treated 80-85% of all RI patients at one of their hospitals. Care New England’s financial position is not as green, as both hospital groups begin a merger act.

Boston restaurants are now being allowed to offer outdoor dining in public spaces well into the onset of cold weather – up to Dec. 1st.

First Student bus company said another bus company failed to pick up special-education students in Portsmouth, Middletown and East Providence

Members of the Rhode Island House Republican Caucus will submit legislation to address COVID-19 mandates that have denied access to individuals in hospitals, group homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and Veterans Homes.

Employee from Carnevale School in Providence has tested positive – principal and vice principal were close contacts so they will be quarantined for 2 weeks. School will continue after access to area is shut off for a deep cleaning.

Upper school teacher/staff/or student tested positive for coronavirus at the private Lincoln School, where one person has tested positive. Students 9-12 will be remote for rest of week.

Attleboro High School has one staff member test positive – today’s news says that they also had a student who went to school knowing he was positive, and parents were aware – now two dozen students/staff are in quarantine

Two student teachers have tested positive for COVID at two elementary schools in East Providence – the Whiteknact Elementary School and the Hennessey Elementary School. Some quarantines were put into place. .

Blackrock School in Coventry has 1 staff member test positive

Portsmouth Abbey residential student tested positive and had attended school one day,

The Old Grist Mill in Seekonk is up for sale.

Birch in Providence will close.

Rhode Island College to lay off 35 non-faculty employees

RIC and CCRI say they each will face a budget shortfall of at least $10Million. CCRI with $12-14M and RIC with $10-12M – lack of state funding is blamed.

Providence Virtual Learning Academy has problems such as family outreach, technical problems, class oversizes, etc.

The cost of a liquor license in Pawtucket is $1,500, which normally would have to be paid in full by December 1. Mayor Grebien has license holders to pay their annual fee in quarterly installments, with the first installment due on December 1st. Said Grebien.,“I thank the City Council and the RI Hospitality Association for their assistance on this matter. Private clubs, whose liquor renewal fee is $500, will also be allowed to pay their fee in two installments to be paid semi-annually. Like restaurants, they have seen a sharp decline in their finances due to the COVID pandemic.

The RI Interscholastic League (RIIL) has decided on sports: all athletes and spectators must wear masks and socially distance. If athletes are more than 10 feet apart they may briefly remove their masks. Sports that will play are: soccer, field hockey, tennis, and cross country. No football or volleyball. Cheerleaders cannot do stunts, pyramids, etc. and cannot share pom-poms or signs, and must wear masks.

Warwick decides to return Kindergarteners to in-person learning, all at Warwick Vets Middle School, 2 days a week. Schools will be moving supplies over with 8 children in each of 52 classrooms, with extra custodians in place. Arrangements will take a few days. 

Warwick continues to work on old buildings and air filtration systems with hope to bring students back in later this year – they have $750,000 budget in place to do this.

PC upper class students will continue virtually as a student has tested positive.

PC requiring off-campus students to take online classes unless they show negative COVID-19 test

RI Data:

86 new cases – 84 people hospitalized – 9 in ICU – 5 on ventilators – 3 deaths (2 in 60s, 1 in 70s)

1.8% positivity rate is a very good number. A good, safe number, according to the Governor. We have to keep our guard up because it is higher than it was before.

Business Inspections: Good news, consistently excellent compliance over the past week. Last week out of 1,000 inspections, 96% customer and employee mask wearing; 99% complied with spacing regulations. Decrease in compliance with bartender / customer separation. 87% doing health screenings at the door – but it should be at 100%.  Crush Covid app gives you a green smiley face that can be used for the whole day.

Schools: Big week, exciting week. Excellent return to school. It wasn’t perfect, but we’ll get better every day. Vast majority of students – over 100K – chose in-person learning. Most cities/towns stepped up to the plate. K-12 testing sites are up and running – make appointments through the site. 844 857 1814.

Testing Sites: Swabbed about 300 people; 8 positive cases. Another 11 positive cases from other sites. We will continue to see cases in schools.  We have a separate system, please use that system for school screenings. Important point is school continued.

Education System: Over 100 calls taken for clarification, information exchange, etc. Deployed more than 12 assistance teams to schools.

Take it Outside Campaign – really taken off in RI, inspired by innovation. Companies “moving their businesses outside”, exercise classes outside, meetings outdoors, etc. We should be able to do this for the next few months. Additional $1Million to municipalities, chambers of commerce, businesses to fund initiatives to do business outside – wifi, tents, heating lamps, furniture, lighting, etc. Go to TakeItOutsideRI.com.

CommerceRI has another $50 million  in Restore RI for grants for businesses with 50 employees and less – and beginning to include sole proprietors and businesses with no employees. Small business grant program is being significantly expanded — more businesses will be eligible and will now include businesses up to 50 employees as well as sole proprietors. Revenue loss of 30%, not 50%. $7Million so far for 800 small businesses so far. Over $100M of RI’s CARES money is designated for small businesses. Call 521-HELP. Money will go through tertiary groups – particularly Chambers of Commerce – and they will buy the items for the businesses.

Back to Work Initiative: It is brutal out there. Might need to get new skills, re-educate yourself. Initiative includes commitments from a group of companies to hire 3,000 Rhode Islanders by the end of the year. RIDLT is in charge – federal stimulus dollars will pay for it – free to you – free for transportation, childcare if needed. “This isn’t train and pray; it’s train and get a job”.  NEW service – Jobcase – 3rd largest job seeking platform in country – is partnering with RI. Create a free Jobcase acct and join the group to find a job. 2 ½ months to reemploy 3,000+ people.

Supplemental $900 of unemployment – went out to many people. Additional 3 weeks is coming – another $900. Automatically deposited – first $600 by early next week. FEMA funds. Federal govt says this is going to be the end.

Dr. Scott:

We have had cases in schools this week, but it was relatively low.

8 cases through testing program – another 11 from other testing modalities = 19.

Of the 11 cases, swabs took place over last few days.

Of the 19 cases, 7 were teachers/staff. 12 were among students.

9 went to school; 10 never went to school.

Cases were across 18 schools.

RIDOH unit responded to all of these right away.

Example: Carnevale School adult staff member – felt sick at school, isolated, scheduled for test, swabbed, results back, case investigation, contact tracing. By10pm, called all families involved. All who needed to be quarantined, were, and set up for testing. School is still open today.

Regular communication about school data – will be a weekly update similar to how nursing home data is shared.

Real time investigations: 434 new cases. Workplaces 147 – 86 worked while symptomatic. Businesses that do active screenings of employees do better – and those that support their employees in the need to stay home do better.

Questions:

Pat Ford:

Q: Bristol/Warren says they have significant problems in their ability to open.

A: Mostly they are trying – we don’t think it is a failure – if they have a problem, then it needs to be fixed. It’s also still be phased in.

Q: The Bristol/Warren NEA is saying that don’t have nurses in certain schools and the complaints are outlined in a document, not tweets or social media posts. Parents are looking for accountability.

A:  Supt. should put out the information. RIDE will intervene with them.

Q: Elementary PTO took the outside program to heart – cost prohibitive to rent or buy outdoor equipment – they raised their own money but the fire dept. would not allow them to be put up because they weren’t fire approved. Reached out to the state and have heard nothing.

A: Would consider a waiver, or see what they can do to help out. $3,000 tents sitting in a garage. Gov. said they will call her today. “If there is a way….” They will help make it work.

Q: 9 cases where people went to school. Did people go to school with symptoms?

A: Potential that some people went to school who should not have.

Q: Heard that the $50M to schools is a reimbursement – schools do not have upfront money to purchase. What are the standards – Aramark isn’t cleaning well enough.

A: Each district knows how much they are eligible for. Responsible thing is for them to manage their own budget. All metrics are on the Back2School website.

Q: Restaurants that are closing and cannot go outside, and are going out of business – any help for them?

A: By the way, it’s worse elsewhere. We have a couple of months with solid good weather. Hope heat lamps, lighting, seating can help them open. Impossible to know where we are going to be. Maybe a vaccine. Right now I would not expand indoor dining or going into Phase 4.

Q: Halloween? What will that look like in RI?

A: We haven’t gotten that far yet. Halloween has to go on…Gov. said.

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