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Rhode Island gets $70M to boost testing, vaccinations

PROVIDENCE (AP) — Rhode Island has received an infusion of more than $70 million in federal funding to bolster the state's coronavirus testing and vaccination programs, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced Monday.

The money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used to expand COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution across the state, the Democrat said in a statement.

Nearly $61 million is allocated to support the state’s COVID-19 testing capacities, contact tracing and containment and mitigation efforts, while an additional $9.5 million will enhance vaccine distribution.

The money comes from a $900 billion emergency COVID-19 relief and rescue measure passed and signed into law in December.

“This is a life-saving investment," Reed said. "Increased COVID-19 testing, along with social-distancing protocols and mask wearing, can help us control outbreaks and make it safer to get people back to work and return students to fulltime classroom learning.”

More than 59,000 Rhode Islanders have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and nearly 15,000 have received their second dose, the state Department of Health said Monday.

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WEEKEND NUMBERS

The Rhode Island Department of Health on Monday reported more than 2,000 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 27 additional virus-related deaths in the state over the past three days.

The state has now had almost 112,000 known cases and more than 2,100 fatalities.

The report was the first since Friday because the state does not update in weekends.

The latest seven-day average positivity rate in Rhode Island is 4.21%, down from 6.59% on Jan. 10. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has now dropped over the past two weeks from almost 1,138 on Jan. 10 to almost 502 on Sunday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

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ROGER WILLIAMS TESTING

Roger Williams University in Rhode Island is starting the spring semester with a robust coronavirus testing program that requires students to get tested twice per week.

The Bristol school plans on conducting about 2,000 tests per day in the recreation center, school officials told WJAR-TV.

The university had the lowest reported positivity rate during fall for all colleges and universities in Rhode Island, and officials plan on keeping it that way.

“The responsibility of being a college student during a pandemic is something our students have thrived to, and we’re incredibly proud of our students,” school chief of staff Brian Williams told the station.

Testing time slots are built into each student's schedule. The goal is to make testing a habit, Williams said.

Musiwa Nyambe, a second-year law student, said Sunday the testing is “super easy."

There’s a 10- to 15-hour turnaround for results, and if positive the student is isolated in a designated space.

Williams said students are also required to sign a “COVID Compact" reminding them to adhere to campus and state guidance. Failure to comply could result in removal from campus, he said.

 

 

 

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