PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Coronavirus testing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence is ending Friday, and the sports arena will eventually be converted into a mass vaccination site, a state health official said.
“We have built out our testing infrastructure significantly over the last several months,” state Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said in an email to WPRI-TV. “We have testing sites all throughout Rhode Island at this point, so we decided that this will be the best use of this space going forward. We want these large, state-run sites to be as accessible as possible.”
Vaccinations won't be available at the Dunkin' Donuts Center right away.
The state plans to open five to 10 state-run vaccination sites to supplement pharmacy and local vaccination clinics, department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said Thursday.
“We don’t expect these state-run locations to be open until a little later this month, when we will have the vaccine needed to run these mass vaccination sites,” Wendelken said.
Testing will still be available at other sites in the city, including at the adjacent Rhode Island Convention Center.
More than 82,000 vaccine first doses and nearly 32,000 second doses have been administered in the state so far, the department said Friday.
Rhode Island has 600 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three more COVID-19-related deaths, the state Department of Health announced Friday.
Of the new cases, 450 were people who tested positive for the first time Thursday, and 150 were positive tests from previous days. There have now been almost 118,000 confirmed cases and 2,212 deaths in the state.
The number of people hospitalized with the disease has fallen to 288 as of Tuesday, the latest day for which the information was available, the lowest one-day total in almost three months.
The latest seven-day average positivity rate in Rhode Island is now 3.07%. 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 fallen over the past two weeks, going from about 771 on Jan. 21 to 505 on Thursday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
COUNTRY CLUB VACCINATIONS
A Rhode Island country club that usually hosts elegant weddings is now hosting coronavirus vaccination clinics for intellectually and developmentally disabled people and their caretakers.
About 750 people were inoculated Thursday during the latest clinic at the Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln. Two more clinics are scheduled for next week, officials said.
They are organized by the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island, a nonprofit group for care providers.
The clinic, the only one of its kind in Rhode Island, is an all-volunteer operation, said Executive Director Tina Spears.
The country club offers the space, the Lincoln Police Department provides security and traffic control, and the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team’s Medical Reserve Corps Program provides volunteer doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to administer the vaccine.
Intellectually and developmentally disabled people, of which there are about 4,000 in Rhode Island, are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 as many have other underlying health issues and live in congregate care environments, officials said.
Michael Andrade, president of the providers association board, said many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities don't understand the pandemic and why their normal lives have been upended.
“Many of them just want to see their friends,” Andrade said.