PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island utilities regulators on Friday extended the state's electricity and natural gas shutoff moratorium in light of emergency conditions caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Public Utilities Commission extended the moratorium that was scheduled to expire on April 15 to the end of the school year on June 25, The Providence Journal reported.
The extension applies to customers currently unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation; recipients of the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; households that meet the definition of elderly or handicapped; households that include seriously ill customers as certified by a doctor; and households with children younger than 2 years old.
No household may have service terminated if its unpaid heating bills are $500 or less or its unpaid electric bills are $200 or less.
The commission has adopted a number of measures in response to the pandemic, voting last March to require all utilities to suspend late fees, interest charges and credit-card fees for all customers.
YOUTH VACCINE TRIAL
Several students at a Rhode Island independent school are enrolled in a clinical trial to study the effectiveness of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine in adolescents.
Moderna has enrolled 3,000 12- to 17-year-olds in the trial, including nine at the Gordon School in East Providence, The Providence Journal reported Friday.
Each one will receive either a placebo or the real vaccine, then they will be followed for 12 months after their second shot.
Peyton Riegel, a seventh-grader at the school that educates children up to eighth grade, said she volunteered because this is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something that will really help.” Her father tested positive for COVID-19 in January and although he wasn’t sick, he had to quarantine for two weeks while Peyton shifted to remote learning.
“We had to bring him meals,” she said. “Suddenly, it hit us. It really hadn’t before.”
Fellow seventh-grader Zoey Frank has also volunteered.
“It feels really awesome,” she said. “I’m really making a difference. I’m helping the cause.”
Her father, Jordan Frank, said he and his wife weighed the risks and figured enrolling Zoey in a clinical trial posed a lower risk than getting the virus.
A Rhode Island high school teacher was heard twice during a virtual lesson cursing.
The Cranston West High School teacher was teaching a pre-calculus math class when she becomes exasperated and stops writing equations on a white board, before apparently intending to mute her microphone, walking out of frame and cursing twice, WPRO radio reported Friday.
Cranston’s school superintendent said distance learning has taken a toll on everyone and the case is being “handled.”
“The issue you are referring to is being handled and is a personnel matter, so I cannot comment any further. I do look forward to the day when we are all back to school, in person,” Jeannine Nota-Masse said in a statement to the station.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA
More people in Rhode Island have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus than there have been confirmed cases of the disease in the state, according to state Department of Health numbers.
More than 146,000 people have been fully vaccinated, the department reported Friday, while — with more than 400 new confirmed cases on Thursday — there have now been over 133,000 known cases.
In addition to the new cases, the agency also reported one more virus-related fatality, for a statewide total of 2,595.
The number of patients in the hospital with the disease was 129 as of Wednesday, up slightly from the previous day.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has decreased from about 363 on March 3 to about 357 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins statistics.