PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — There will be high school proms and graduation ceremonies in Rhode Island this spring as more residents get vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Dan McKee said Thursday.
“We’re making great progress,” the Democratic governor said, noting the state is ranked among the highest in the country for how many residents are fully inoculated. “That is good news. I know the schools and all the students are looking forward to that.”
McKee said he's even optimistic the state will enjoy a “real” Fourth of July, complete with parades and fireworks displays. State officials project 70% of Rhode Islanders will have at least one dose of vaccine by mid-May, and 70% will be fully vaccinated by mid-June.
Proms and graduations will be allowed as part of new coronavirus safety guidelines state officials detailed Thursday during their weekly coronavirus briefing at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.
Non-catered indoor gatherings such as concerts and commencements are currently limited to 250 people, and similar outdoor gatherings are allowed to have up to 500 people. After May 15, those limits will double, to 500 people indoors or 1000 people outdoors, state officials said.
Dancing will also be allowed at proms, so long as students wear masks and dance only with others seated at their same table, officials said. And six feet of social distancing is so far still part of graduation plans, even though federal officials have eased that requirement to three feet in classrooms.
A look at other coronavirus developments in Rhode Island:
Visits are resuming at the Rhode Island's prisons.
The state Department of Corrections announced Wednesday that in-person visitation at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston will resume April 14 as COVID-19 cases decline and more staff and inmates get vaccinated.
The agency said its prisons now rank among safest in the country, but warned that visits will look different than before since the pandemic is ongoing.
Each prison will have varying rules and guidelines, depending on its size and layout. Visitors should review the “Temporary COVID-19 In-Person Visits Schedule” for the facility they plan to visit. The schedules are all posted on the department's website.
State health officials reported one additional death and more than 500 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
The state Department of Health also said there are more than 150 COVID-19 patients in Rhode Island hospitals.
The state has had 2,636 deaths and more than 140,000 cases of the virus since the pandemic started.
Health officials said about 400,000 Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, with about 275,000 of them fully vaccinated.
Rhode Island is averaging about 385 new cases a day, up from about 375 on March 23, according to Johns Hopkins data.