Your Coronvavirus Update – May 21, 2021

Photo: Aliza Chan (13 years old), daughter of RIDOH’s Dr. Philip A. Chan, MD, RIDOOH Twitter feed


URI requiring students to be vaccinated

Businesses are free to make their own mask regulations

The Charlestown Seafood Festival will be held August 6-8, this year.

Fitch Ratings assigned a negative outlook to the R.I. Airport Corp.’s “BBB+” bond rating, due to impact of COVID-19.

Southern Airways is now flying out of PVD to Nantucket.

2 Jewish Kosher Meal Sites for seniors are back open in Rhode Island.

Brown University has moved up vaccination requirements – students, staff and faculty should be vaccinated by 7/1

New Hampshire is getting nearly $10.7 million in federal grants through the federal pandemic relief package signed into law this March to support efforts to combat substance use disorder and increase access to mental health services,

New Hampshire will cut off all pandemic-related federal unemployment programs in June but offer “summer stipends” totaling $10 million to encourage people to find jobs

Trinity Rep’s season will kick off with A Christmas Carol in November, an annual holiday tradition. Four additional plays will be performed in 2022: Tiny Beautiful Things, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Sueño and Fairview.

The Vets Auditorium will begin with full, in-person performances in November

400 people were hired Market Basket

Connecticut is offering a $1,000 signing bonus, Starting May 24, up to 10,000 people considered unemployed on a “long-term” basis will be able to sign up.

RISCA: Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the RI Council on the Arts (RISCA), released the following statement on today’s announcement by Governor Dan McKee to lift  most COVID-19 restrictions tomorrow for those who have been fully vaccinated (5/21):  “After the most challenging year for the arts and culture community, today’s announcement means artists and cultural workers, who lost their livelihoods during the pandemic, can now return to playing their important role of enriching the lives of Rhode islanders. On behalf of the arts and culture community, we applaud and thank Governor McKee. We look forward to getting arts and culture organizations moving toward full capacity. “During the pandemic, our world class arts sector saw theaters, concert halls, museums, performances, fairs and festivals grind to a halt. The shuttering of venues, concert halls and performance spaces had an overwhelming impact on our community. According to the latest data from the RI Department of Labor and Training, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector lost 4,800 jobs between February 2020 and April 2020. From April 2020 through April 2021, 1,800 jobs have been recovered, but the sector is still down 3,000 jobs from February 2020.” Rosenbaum added: “The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports that arts and cultural production accounts for $2.06 billion and 3.3 percent of the Rhode Island economy, contributing 18,215 jobs. *Arts and cultural ‘value added’ in Rhode Island ranks fourth behind, retail, construction and education services sectors.”

Governor McKee will host a bill-signing ceremony for legislation (H-6249AS-0858aa) that changes unemployment regulations to help get Rhode Islanders back to work while still allowing them to benefit from federal support today at 2pm at Angelo’s Pizza in Cumberland.

Gov. McKee press conference:

RI will go out to vaccinate for small groups – Newport Gulls, mosques, Dunkin’ Donuts, church groups, etc. RI is flexible – call us.

Mass vaccination centers – just walk up – no appointment necessary.

Health Director:

So much talk has been about what you can’t do – now we are talking all about what  you can do – IF – you are fully vaccinated.

Key for RI is what our RI data has shown us. What we have been doing has been working. Testing, treatment and now, vaccination.

Vaccines are proving to be so effective that even if you are crowded, indoors, you have the protection you need to be safe. This is a game changer. More than 90% effective in hospitalizations and even mild disease. Break through cases are less than 1%.

Vaccines are also proving to be effective against the variants – variants are now the primary type of coronavirus here in RI.

Now know that you are less likely to spread the virus to others if you are fully vaccinated.

Messages are shifting to personal responsibility.

If you are not fully vaccinated, now is the time. Variants are looking for susceptible people. If you are fully vaccinated, go out, enjoy the summer.

If NOT vaccinated, you need to wear your mask indoors and outdoors if you can’t keep at least 3 feet from others.

In RI, there are still places we must wear masks:

Healthcare settings – schools, childcare settings – nursing homes – home health workers in someone else’s home – public transportation – airports – homeless shelters and programs – prisons – correctional facilities – cities/states outside RI where required – businesses in RI that are requiring it. We want to help and support our businesses.

Don’t just ditch your mask. Keep it nearby. You don’t know when one will be required or you will feel more comfortable wearing one. If you get asked to put on a mask, be patient, be tolerant, or be respectful – know that a business may have a reason to ask you. Try to support each other. This is a time of adjustment.

If you aren’t comfortable at work or in a supermarket, that’s fine – wear the mask – everyone else should be respectful of each other’s decisions.

Tom McCarthy:

74,000 doses given out last week. Good rate of return for 2nd shot.

Vaccination records: best proof you have if the card you received – make a copy of it – take a photo for your phone, laminate it… – look up your record and print it out – problems, call 222-8022

Phase 3 of vaccination campaign – less reliant on large mass vaccination centers – some will be shutting down – move out into the community.

At ReopeningRI:

Governor’s Press Release: “The number of Rhode Islanders fully vaccinated and those with at least one dose – more than 400,000 Rhode Islanders – puts the Ocean State in a strong position to reopen safely on May 21, a week earlier than originally planned,” Governor McKee said. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reset Rhode Island and I trust that our business community and neighbors will respond respectfully and courteously as we navigate this next phase.”
The provided guidance is safer to adopt for fully vaccinated individuals. Establishments may (but are not required to) supplement these rules with their own rules regarding mask wearing, proof of vaccination, testing, and other mitigations. Signage guiding expectations around the following topics is recommended at establishments. As of Friday, May 21, the following adaptations, by sector, will be effective:

  • No physical distancing is required
  • Indoor Dining: No restrictions
  • Bar Areas: No restrictions. Indoor standing service allowed; no plexiglass required
  • Catered Events: No restrictions: 100% capacity with no cap; indoor and outdoor standing/bar service/cocktail hours; open dance floors
  • Houses of Worship: No restrictions
  • Retail: No restrictions
  • Gyms, Sports, Recreation: No restrictions
  • Personal Services: No restrictions
  • Venues of Assembly: No restrictions 
  • Funeral Homes: No restrictions
  • Offices: No restrictions
  • Social Gatherings: No restrictions
  • Pools: No restrictions
  • Casinos: No restrictions
  • Sports: Mask requirements remain in place for all youth sports, indoor and outdoor. The CDC has recommended this through the end of the school year because young people are not fully vaccinated yet. This policy will be reassessed on July 1st. Adult sports will have no restrictions and will follow CDC guidance.

In the following sectors that are considered “higher-risk,” CDC masking guidance for vaccinated individuals is especially important.

  • Live Vocal Performances: Status quo. Can move to no restrictions if vaccination proof is required. 
  • Nightclubs: Remain at 50% capacity. Can move to no restrictions if vaccination proof is required. 
  • Indoor Hookah: Status quo (not permitted). Permitted and can move to no capacity restrictions if vaccination proof is required.

There are three key sectors that are remaining status quo:

  • Healthcare settings
  • Congregate care settings
  • Youth and school-based events

Reiteration of Masking Recommendations
Who still has to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

  • People who are not fully vaccinated. This includes children from 2 to 12 years of age. Children younger than 12 cannot be vaccinated. 
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in healthcare settings. Examples of healthcare settings include doctors’ offices, home nursing facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people traveling on public transportation. No capacity restrictions. Other applicable state and federal rules remain in effect. 
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness, including residents and employees. 
  • In prisons and correctional facilities. 
  • Teachers, students, school administrators, and staff should continue to wear masks while in school and in school-based settings, even if they are fully vaccinated.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and customers of businesses that require masks.
  • In other states, cities, towns that have different masking rules that differ from Rhode Island’s rules.
  • Masking required for student catered events/strongly recommended for other catered events.

 You can make an appointment at or by calling 844-930-1779. Making an appointment is the way to guarantee that you will get a shot. You do not need appointments to get vaccinated at the sites at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston) and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (1 La Salle Square, Providence). Vaccines are also available at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit: Businesses looking for more information regarding reopening can visit, Print signage resources, reopening guideline charts, and masking guidance are available on this site.
Business owners with specific questions can visit, or call and leave a message on the COVID-19 Hotline at 401-889-5550. A staff member will get back to you as soon as possible.


Q: Vaccine passports?

A: Open issue because nightclubs are asking for them. But state is not requiring passports – multiple ways to show – the vaccine card, image of card, etc.

Q: Some RI businesses want to hire illegals – but companies can’t hire them – what’s the advice?

A: Some undocumented do pay into the system. We have to stay legal. If they don’t have social security # then they should follow the law. Call DBR.

Q: Graduations – should children be wearing masks for events?

A:  Inside vs. outside – they can set their own rules

Q:  Outdoor sports – why have kids continue to wear masks, especially when MA is not.

A:  Many children are not yet fully vaccinated. CDC guidelines are for fully vaccinated.

Q: Public housing buildings – can they prohibit visitors?

A: We’ll get more information about this.

Q: Executive orders have been extended?

A: For the moment, we will keep them in place.

Q: State House reopening? Municipal government?

A: Announcement about limited state house opening coming. Municipalities are doing it on their own schedule.

Q: Small business help – ?

A: Millions going out – more to come from federal government. Continue to work on this as a priority.

Q: Difficulty getting workers…

A: The economy is growing, getting workers back is developing, unemployment changes, etc. RI is leading in this effort for now.

Q: How are we vaccinating the homeless?

A: Partnering with organizations that serve this group.

Q: RI Latino Radio – will Lt. Gov. go on to speak to the Spanish speaking community

A: Yes, we will do that, if invited.


CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat is stepping down from her role to retire this summer, Politico first reported. Schuchat’s departure marks the second high-profile exit of a CDC official in recent weeks: Nancy Messonnier, who had led the agency’s Covid-19 pandemic response, also recently announced she was leaving. 

In Maryland, outdoor stages, family entertainment, local art, diverse food and beverages will return to downtown Sept. 10-12 for the 80th National Folk Festival

Employment data shows that women lost or left more than 1.5 million net health care jobs in April 2020 alone. That represented 12 percent of all jobs held by women in health care. About 6 percent, or 196,000, of the jobs held by men were lost that month. Even as jobs have begun to rebound, the recovery has been slower for women: They were still short 480,000 jobs as of this March, the most recent month for which data is available, compared with pre-pandemic levels. Men were short 28,000. 

But for workers organizing, the adjustments fail to meet the bigger ask: That jobs pay them enough to make rent and feed their kids, so that one job is enough. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the living wage — how much individuals need to earn to meet minimum standards of living — in the United States is $16.54 per hour for a family of four composed of two working adults and two children.  Source: One Fair Wage:

The MIAA on Tuesday morning announced it was dropping the mask requirement for outdoor spring sports

FDA allows Pfizer vaccines to be stored for up to one month at standard refrigeration temperatures. 

Texas moves to ban mask wearing, including in schools.

At Walmart, sales of teeth whitener are popping as customers take their masks off.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIAWashington: The district will reopen its pools and splash parks May 29

Few senior retirement communities in Southwest Florida are requiring employees to get COVID-19 vaccines, citing concern that a mandate could lead to employee turnover

Macy’s says that special occasion dressing like prom dresses are on the upswing as well as luggage, men’s tailored clothing, and dressy sandals.

Nashville has lifted its mask mandate – its bars and restaurants are packed and they are predicting a huge summer busisness.

The first Americans to get COVID vaccinations could require a booster shot — for many, a third shot — as soon as September, the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna.

Lipstick sales increase 80%

Jet Blue is flying out of New York again.

Southwest will be at 85% capacity next month.

The EU will begin allowing travel in 27 countries – being fully vaccinated will be required.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to address the mental health and substance use disorders that have increased during the pandemic.

New research is showing an over-counting of hospitalized children with COVID and they nay have had COVID but their primary cause of hospitalization was something other than the virus.

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