Your Coronavirus Update – Today, Dec. 21, 2020

Photo: Good idea gone very wrong. Pop-Up sites seemed like a good idea, but resulted in traffic jams, sites late in opening and closing early – and this very disturbing scene at the Warwick Mall – where hundreds of people lined up indoors for tests, walking around the mall for 15 minutes, then returning for results. This created the exact opposite of the social distancing that’s wanted – and also created a social media outrage.


RI Pop-Up Testing Sites active now – this list is continuously updated – Saturday there were at least 46 of the 600+ tested were positive. The Sunday roll-out was botched with parking lots full, traffic backed up – with some 2 hour delays. Same issues at a variety of sites. State of RI saying these sites were not intended for this type of testing, it was only if you were already there.

The other testing sites can be found here: (we would advise double checking as sites may change after the problems on Sunday.

  • The Chapel View Shopping Center at Soackanasset Cross Road in Cranston, opening on Monday.
  • The Stop & Shop on Cottage Street in Pawtucket, opened on Saturday.
  • The Stop & Shop at 333 W. River Street in Providence, opening on Monday.
  • The Downtown Providence Storefront at 79 Dorrance Street, opening on Tuesday.

From the RI Dept. of Health: The goal of pop-up testing sites is to offer convenient rapid screening for people WITHOUT SYMPTOMS. These testing locations are intended for the customers of these locations who are already shopping there; not for people who are only seeking testing. Written results are not available at these locations. Pop-up testing sites are not intended to have the same function as the traditional general public testing sites, such as the RI Convention Center and the Dunkin Donuts Center. Rapid tests for those without symptoms and with written results available, may be made by appointment only at the Dunkin Donuts Center at Those with symptoms should make an appointment for testing at or by calling your primary care provider or a respiratory clinic.

An inmate at the Adult Correctional Institutions has died of COVID-19. He was 66 and maximum-security since 1988, serving a life without parole sentence for the sexual assault and resulting death of a 73-year-old woman. DOC says he had “other complicating comorbidities that likely contributed to his death.

Rhode Island National Guard will be offered vaccines from the Dept. of Defense.

RIDOH to RI employers: Employers: At minimum, the State of Rhode Island requires all businesses to screen employees for self-reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19 upon entering the building. Limit entrances and exits to control site traffic and make screening easier.

Rhode Island was third in the US for new cases of coronavirus per capita among the 50 states in the last 7 days.

All State-operated COVID-19 test sites will be closed on Friday, December 25. There will be limited availability for appointments at some locations on Thursday, December 24. Testing will resume on Saturday, December 26.  

From Governor Raimondo:

“After a couple months of our numbers ticking up week after week, we’re ​finally seeing our COVID-19 numbers turn around and start ​heading in the right direction. This isn’t a fluke – it’s a trend ​that’s been going on for more than a week now, and we know exactly why.

… after two months of exponential growth, the numbers leveled off around December 2 and have been steadily declining since. And now that we’re more than a week into sustained decreases in percent positive, we’re also starting to see a leveling-off of hospitalizations. A month ago, I stressed that we were at risk of completely overwhelming our hospital system – which is to say, having more COVID-19 patients than our health care staff is able to care for – near the end of the year.

Because of all of you – because you took the pause seriously over the past few weeks – we have, for now, averted that outcome. However, we still need to be cautious. I want to share with you what our projections are showing.

Above is a slide showing the trajectory of hospitalizations, as well as three projections of where they could go from here.   In the red is what our model shows would have happened without the effect of the pause. As you can see, the line continues upward, reaching 800 hospitalizations around the beginning of the year. That level of hospitalizations is beyond what our ​health care staff can handle and would have required us to cancel non-emergency operations and implement crisis standards of care.   ​The blue shows ​what the effect of the three-week pause would be if, on Monday, we immediately went right back to where we were before the pause. As you can see, that path does delay the strain on our hospitals for several months, but by early spring it starts growing exponentially again.   Finally, in purple, ​you’ll see the path we announced last week – a three-week pause, followed by a slow dial-up of our economy beginning on Monday. That path has the best outcome – leveling off our hospitalizations in a way that prevents overwhelming our hospital system at any point.   ​Our pause will end this Sunday as planned, and the new guidance we announced last week will take effect on Monday, December 21.   This will only work if we all take the dial-up just as seriously as we took the pause, and that means stay​ing with your household. That’s the key – it’s all about protecting your household over the next few weeks. If we all think about what we can do in our own lives to protect those we live with this holiday season, we’ll stay on that purple path and keep our loved ones safe.   We’re all in this together.


The CDC released its next phase of vaccine distribution with priority groups identified – frontline essential workers and persons aged 75 and over – you can access the full document, here:

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden will receive their vaccines today, at a public event

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employees could be barred from the workplace if they refused the vaccine.

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it is offering free and weekly at-home nasal swab and lab analysis COVID-19 testing for all its U.S. employees (90,000) and plans to expand the benefit globally during the next year.

The Rose Bowl will move this year from California to Texas, due to COVID19 restrictions.

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it has enrolled about 45,000 participants for the first late-stage trial of its COVID-19 single-dose vaccine candidate and that it expects interim data by late January

Thailand plans to test more than 10,000 people after a record daily surge in coronavirus cases to over 500, most of which were among migrant workers linked to a shrimp market

Canada regulator expects to complete Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approval in coming weeks

Dr. Fauci is telling children that he, personally, vaccinated Santa Claus.

California hospitals overrun even as vaccine is rolled out – patients being treated in make-shift parking lot EDs.

Walgreens and CVS have begun administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff at some U.S. long-term care facilities. Walgreens said it plans to administer the vaccine to about 3 million residents and staff in 35,000 long-term care facilities, with about 800 long term care facilities in 12 states this week. CVS said it has begun delivering vaccines at a “handful” of long-term care facilities in Connecticut and Ohio. Its national rollout begins next week in 12 states. 

Apple has shut down all California locations due to the virus emergency.

Less than 1% of the U.S. population lives in long-term care facilities, but they account for nearly 40% of all Covid-19 deaths as of Dec. 10th.

Walgreens and CVS Health officials said they expect to have vaccines for the general public at their stores in the early spring.

Israeli PM Netanyahu received his vaccine on Saturday, saying it was a “small injection for a man and a giant step for the health of us all”, urging residents to get vaccinated and assuring them that there was sufficient vaccine. The country also wants to avert new elections – “Under absolutely no circumstances should elections be held at this time. We’re dealing with the coronavirus, morbidity is rising, further restrictions are on the way and there’s an urgent need to continue to look after the economy.”

UK PM Boris Johnson has instituted a strict lockdown, in recognition of a new strain of coronavirus that is 70% more contagious than the original. Some London train stations and trains were crowded on Saturday night as people left the city for northern England. The government had announced earlier that day that the city and other parts of south east England would be under new Tier 4 restrictions come midnight. Tier 4 means people in London won’t be able to leave the city after midnight or mix for Christmas celebrations. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of England, including London, all announced new COVID-19 restriction measures on Saturday. People must stay at home and not travel outside of these areas. Non-essential retail, personal care services, gyms must close. Work from home if possible. Individuals can only meet with one person outdoors in a public space.

This new variant of the virus was actually identified in September.

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on U.K. travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be canceled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant. Anyone outside of the UK cannot come back home at this time.

Thousands of trucks at the UK, France line are lined up – could mean shortages in grocery stores and elsewhere.

Vaccines need to come in from Belgium; it is expected military transport will escort the vaccine into the UK

Canada has halted all flights from UK starting today.

The former chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Jesse Taken Alive, died of COVID after being taken ill in October. His wife, Cheryl, died in November. They were in their mid-60s.

The AP is reporting that Dr. Birx, on the day after Thanksgiving, “traveled to one of her vacation properties on Fenwick Island in Delaware. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. Birx, her husband Paige Reffe, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were present. She also owns a home in nearby Potomac, Maryland, where her elderly parents, and her daughter and family live, and where Birx visits intermittently. In addition, the children’s other grandmother, who is 77, also regularly travels to the Potomac house and returns to her 92-year-old husband near Baltimore.” Birx has issued a statement saying she followed all rules.

Death toll in France is above 60,000

A mutated version of the original coronavirus has been found in the UK also found in at least 1 case in the Netherlands and in South Africa – this version does not seem to be worse, just much more contagious. Scientists have said that while it may become more contagious, it will not become immune to the vaccine – at least not for many years, if at all.

Canada: Prime Minister Trudeau says there is every chance that the country will be able to vaccinate every Canadian way before the announced deadline of September 2021.

Washington, DC shuts down indoor dining.

General Gustave Perna gave a strong address Saturday, saying he was responsible, personally, for a mis-communication in the quantity of shipments of the Pfizer vaccine for week two.

Gen. Perna the logistics head of Operation Warp Speed claims responsibility for a miscommunication on vaccine delivery for this week.

Ellen DeGeneres on the mend – notes her unusual symptoms

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