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Rhode Island focuses vaccination effort on high schoolers

JOHNSON, R.I. — Gov. Daniel McKee and other state officials urged high school students Wednesday to get a coronavirus vaccine if they want to ensure a normal school year that includes a full range of extracurricular activities including sports.

“One key piece of being a team player is caring for your teammates," the Democratic governor said during a news conference at Johnston High School with dozens of the school’s student-athletes assembled behind him. “All of us here, your coaches and friends, want to be able to continue to practice together, play together and work harder."

The way to do that is by getting vaccinated, he said.

“You can be an MVP by getting the V-A-X,” he said.

The school also hosted a popup vaccination clinic for students Wednesday. It was the latest of about 100 such school-based clinics that have administered about 3,000 shots, the governor said.

There is a full slate of high school sports this fall, said Mike Lunney, executive director of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, the governing body of high school sports in the state.

There have been a few coronavirus-related disruptions to the season, he said, but the best way to prevent more is by getting vaccinated.

Emily Iannuccilli, a senior basketball and softball player who is fully vaccinated, said the pandemic has already stolen so much from her class, like proms, homecoming, concerts and her entire sophomore year softball season.

“As a senior, I do not want to miss one more game because of COVID,” she said. “My teammates and I want to be able to create some great memories before we graduate from high school."

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, who is also a registered nurse, also urged students to get their shots.

Rap concert canceled

The University of Rhode Island has canceled a rap concert scheduled for later this week as it reassesses school guidelines for large campus events in light of surging coronavirus numbers nationwide.

The general admission show by Polo G was scheduled to take place on Friday at URI's basketball arena.

“When the concert was booked in June, the outlook was that normal activities such as this concert would resume," URI said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, conditions have changed and we find ourselves needing to revisit guidelines for large campus events to reduce risks of infection in our community in light of current data about COVID-19 transmission."

Ticket holders will receive a refund and the school said whether the concert will be rescheduled is subject to the “future availability” of Polo G, whose real name is Taurus Tremani Bartlett.

The university’s COVID-19 tracker shows 22 confirmed positive cases on campus out of 2,652 tests administered between Sept. 8 and Sept. 14.

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