A look at COVID-19 news from around Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut:
Health officials in Provincetown are asking the state to make it possible to get results for tests for the coronavirus within 48 hours as a way to help contain its spread.
The population of Provincetown has increased in the busy summer tourist season even during the pandemic and because of an increase in owners of second homes working remotely.
The Cape Cod Times reports the town and Outer Cape Health Services recently started testing for asymptomatic hospitality and retail workers, but the test result turnaround time is seven days.
“As a rural community that is doing its part, we deserve a shorter turnaround for our proactive testing initiatives,” the Provincetown Board of Health wrote in a letter sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders on Thursday. “We ask that the Baker Administration develop standards for testing turnaround time of not more than 48 hours. With each positive result comes contact tracing, and delaying contact tracing increases the potential for additional exposures.”
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Saturday 25 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19. No new fatalities were reported.
The new cases brings the total since the pandemic began to just under 3,940.
The number of deaths remains at 123.
A plane on Saturday brought to New Hampshire 450,000 protective gowns, which will be shipped to Veterans Affairs medical facilities throughout the country.
This is the eighth flight secured by the state of New Hampshire, with the help of inventor and Segway founder Dean Kamen and others, to have landed at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport carrying personal protective equipment. The earlier equipment has since been distributed to the areas of greatest need across the state and country. The VA will reimburse the state for the gowns.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu were on hand for the plane’s arrival.
A downtown street in Providence is shutting down to traffic on Saturday's starting this weekend to allow socially distanced shopping and dining.
WJAR-TV reports Westminster Street will close to cars between Eddy and Union streets every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Open Air Saturdays” is part of a new initiative to help downtown Providence, which has suffered badly during the coronavirus shutdown.
“Everyone’s a little desperate to get outside. It’s kind of hard to know what’s safe, where to go,” said Ashley Symons, community affairs and social media manager for the organization In Downcity. “So, we’re just creating literal, physical space to do that, to come downtown to support small businesses that need our support now more than ever."
Vermont's new mask requirement takes effect on Saturday, but at this time there is no penalty for people who don't wear masks.
Gov. Phil Scott announced last month that, beginning Aug. 1, people would be required to wear facial coverings in public spaces, including in stores. Stores are not required to enforce the mandate.
As of Saturday, all public and private businesses must display signs saying masks are required for anyone over age 2.
There are a number of exemptions, including people who are eating or drinking, engaged in strenuous exercise or those who have a medical exemption.
The Vermont Health Department reported five new cases Saturday of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to just over 1,230.
No new deaths have been reported. The total remains at 57.
An online portal has been launched to help Connecticut residents who need housing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department of Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said the website came about after a call center that opened on July 15 was swamped with calls, resulting in busy signals and long wait times for callers.
“Callers must answer a series of questions on eligibility, so each call takes several minutes,” she said in a written statement. “We realized pretty quickly that we were going to need another option, and adding a web portal was best the solution.”
Connecticut is offering two new programs that provide rental assistance and mortgage assistance for those struggling to pay their housing costs due to a job loss, a reduction of work, a furlough or the closing of a business because of COVID-19.
Both programs have been funded with $10 million each to help people struggling with housing costs. Officials said they’re designed to help people remain in their homes as rent extensions, eviction moratoriums and other relief measures are scheduled to end soon.