A man in a suit and tie speaking into a microphone.

Your Coronavirus Update – Dec. 31, 2021

Photo: Marc Pappas, head of RI EMA named to head COVID response in Rhode Island


Dr. Michael Fine wrote an exclusive story to RINewsToday – “What’s coming…” – see story, here:

Boosters for children ages 12 and up will be available as early as Monday.

Reidy’s Family Restaurant in Newport closed

500,000 self-test kits in Connecticut not received due to sick delivery drivers.

Kent Hospital & Women and Infants Hospital have a no visitation policy in place.

RI Correctional Officer, 55, father of 3, dies from COVID complications – the 2nd correctional officer to die.

Pilgrim Sr. Center, Warwick suspended programming from 1/3 to 1/18 – lunches available for grab & go.

Approx.1,000 Massachusetts state workers left their jobs over the vaccine mandate.

John Donegan and the Democratic Caucus of the Cranston City Council called on Gov. McKee to address poor testing availability: “With schools returning from the holiday break next week, we need immediate action to expand accessibility to tests and shorten the timeframe for results. Our state leadership must act now and leverage the full weight of our government to address this crisis”.

Massachusetts hits 2 million booster-shot milestone

Sen. Algiere of South County, RI says tests are not available in their community.

Hospitals want the National Guard now – Gov. McKee says they are still “talking with them”.

Law schools in Boston witnessed increased enrollment this academic year. First-year enrollment at the seven law schools in the region saw a combined 13 percent jump this fall, Ryan reports. That’s triple the rate from the last year.

Massachusetts officials bought 200,000 at-home testing kits that are earmarked for local districts so teachers and staff can test themselves before returning to work after the winter holiday. Every district is slated to receive enough tests so two can be handed out to each staff and students.

Governor McKee’s Press Conference:

We were ramping down when Omnicore took over and now our testing capacity is being strained – some 20,000 a day being done.

Central Falls is in need of more tests, as is most of RI. We can do a lot better and reduce the long waiting lines – appointments, no appointments, etc. TY to mayor for her vocal advocacy.

More communities can do more testing as well as more vaccinations. While we are testing more, we need to have municipalities involved in the process to do more and do better.

Open Meetings legislation – if house/senate does not act, the Gov. will act through Executive Order to assure open meetings.

RI EMA Director Marc Pappas appointed temporarily to new position as head of COVID operations – Sr. Advisor and Chief Co-Administrator in the Governor’s office – has been coordinated with Dr. Scott, etc. Devoted 100% to COVID issue in RI.

A 3rd testing lab will be used to get tests turned around quickly.

Testing sites are planned to be open on New Year’s Day – to be announced. Several thousand appointments will be made available.

Reopening mass vaccination site at RI Convention Center – and testing – week of Jan. 10th. RI National Guard will operate.

Hospital staffing – responding to requests from hospitals. National Guard will assist. Facilitating license oks for visiting medical professionals. Spoke with Marty Walsh, Labor Secretary about high cost being charged for nurses to come to RI. We had lost nurses that are in RI to this system and the Governor is meeting with people in D.C. about the payment issue.

Schools are expected to return to in-person learning next week. One of the safest places for students to be. No plans for statewide distance learning, though some districts may phase in to do testing, masking requirements, ventilation, vaccinating, etc. Press release will come out later with details.

Five days for students with no symptoms can return to school on Day 6.

Providence return to school – staggered return beginning on Monday.

Dr. Scott: We could sustain numbers through end of January that we have not seen in all of this pandemic. 2 things to do: Wear your mask, get vaccinated (with booster).

Shortened isolation period from 10 days to 5 days with NO symptoms and will wear a mask for 5 additional days.

If you are a close contact, and if you are asymptomatic and received a booster dose within last 6  months – wear a mask and get tested on day 5.

Testing – the demand is outpacing supply in almost every state in US. Reality is RI is doing a little better than other locations.


Q: MA is distributing 200K test kits to go home for school children

A: Don’t know if we have any (asks Tom McCarthy: looking to push 1Million a month out – all our test kits for home use are gone). RI has a different approach.

Q: Some doctors are frustrated over “the collapse” of the healthcare system.

A: Gov: they aren’t paying attention to the work we’re doing and no, he does not believe the systems are collapsing. Great deal of stress at RI Hospital. We are hearing they are meeting their challenges.

Q: Plans to open drive thru testing?

A: Yes, we’re expanding everywhere.

Q: How quickly can you ramp up? Today? Dunk is not for 10 days.

A: We’re doing 20K a day and we’re ramping up. National Guard is being called back in. We have stubbed our toe, here, on the testing. No doubt about that. We were working on this for a couple of weeks. 25,000 tests were done last week. We need to do better – we will lead the country.

Q: Latino Radio: are you bringing in Pappas because you have no confidence in Scott – we get questions, we don’t get answers.

A: I push back on that. We’re leading the country in testing, vaccinations, infection rates, death rates – we are all working together.

The 3,220 appointments are available across the following state sites:

  • Barrington Shopping Center 184 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806 (PCR tests)
  • Bristol Storefront 655 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809 (rapid tests)
  • Chapel View Storefront 4000 Chapel View Boulevard, Cranston, RI 02920 (rapid tests)
  • Cranston Parkade 4000 Chapel View Boulevard, Cranston, RI 02920 (PCR only)
  • Newport Wharf 22 Brown and Howard Wharf Newport, RI 02840 (rapid tests)
  • St. Joseph Hospital 21 Peace Street, Providence, RI 02907 (rapid tests)
  • Warwick Shopping Plaza 545 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, RI 02886 (PCR tests)

Rhode Islanders can book an appointment at


Booster eligible will be moved from after 6 mos of last shot to 5 mos.

Mask upgrades are urged – N95, KN95 or N94s over the blue surgical masks or cloth masks.

CDC advises all people to avoid cruises at this time, with multiple outbreaks on nearly all ships.

Airlines: Delta will cut back 2-300 flights every day through the weekend. Jet Blue will cancel 1,280 flights through mid-January. Alaska Airlines asks people not to fly unless it is essential.

Controversy as Dr. Fauci says that testing may not be very accurate with the new strain as states scramble to get sufficient millions of tests which has been the standard of detection.

Medical experts addressing test shortage are saying tests should be strategically used – kits placed in homes of high risk (if positive, they get meds delivered to their homes to start on therapeutics) – also used to bring people out of isolation and confirm they are no longer contagious.

South Korea imposed a 4-person gathering and a 9pm curfew.

Boris Johnson opted not to impose tougher restrictions but cautioned people to do what they know is right to curtail infection.

Push to end reliance on importing PPE – gloves form China, Asia, etc. Companies addressing this in US and beginning production. At beginning of pandemic, there was only one US nitrile glove maker. New tech says US technology exists to compete, economically, with “slave” labor.

Ontario is offering a 4th vaccine to the vulnerable, 3 months after their last.

13 million in Xi’an, China are locked down – food, medications, etc. being delivered by government groups – they have set up 1300 chat rooms for people to communicate with each other and officials.

The White House is pausing the order for at-home test kits until next week.

In New York City, a vital subway line shut down yesterday because so many workers were out sick.

Boston Firefighters have filed for a temporary restraining order on mandatory vaccination order of the Mayor.

Many shops have temporarily closed throughout Europe.

Universal has canceled its New Year’s eve celebration.

French cities reinstitute mandatory mask mandates.

Austria closes bars and restaurants 2 hours before midnight tonight.

L.L. Cool J has COVID and canceled his performance at NYC’s New Year’s Eve performance.

J.&J.’s booster shot offered strong protection against Omicron, a clinical trial found.

CDC urges people to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status

Jet Blue cutting 1,300 flights through Jan. 13 – due to sick staff.

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  1. Lesley Maxwell on December 31, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    @Nancy Arnold – re: Cranston Test Sites

    Your list of Cranston needs correction.

    Cranston Parkade is Garfield Ave. , not Chapel View.

    I just checked the Portal – I can’t find any place that gives a PCR test. It’s only if one tests positive on the rapid test or has symptoms.

    • RINewsToday on December 31, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      More coming out next week –