COVID-19 upticks; feds secure money for shots

As slight upticks in COVID 19 are being recorded in Rhode Island, the state’s congressional delegation has secured federal dollars to continue vaccinating its constituency.

Public health officials, moreover, are reminding people about the precautions they can take to protect their families because these once-frequent reminders became less common in 2022 compared to 2020-21.

“Rhode Island has long led the way in vaccinations, and we want to keep building on that progress in the New Year,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

A new $350 million program by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in an effort to combat a winter surge of illness, has earmarked $2 million for Rhode Island to increase vaccination rates. The money will go to community health centers, including $137,299 for the East Bay Community Action Program in Newport, which serves Jamestown residents.

“It is important that we continue to boost vaccine delivery and increase access while giving folks more chances to protect themselves against COVID 19,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Jamestown resident, said.

The money comes on the heels of increased community levels in two Rhode Island counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While Bristol, Washington and Newport counties remain at a medium level, Providence and Kent counties have been elevated to high. This was anticipated, however, because of the surge in indoor gatherings during the holidays.

“The relatively small increase in COVID-19 activity that Rhode Island is currently seeing is not expected to last long,” said the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The CDC recommends for people in medium counties to consider self-testing and masking when around family and friends who are at high risk for getting very sick. People in high counties should wear high-quality masks while in crowded, indoor public settings.

Since the outbreak in March 2020, there have been 1,370 positive cases in Jamestown, which is the second lowest level of transmission per 100,000 population after Little Compton. The 38 hospitalizations for Jamestown residents is the third fewest behind Little Compton and New Shoreham, and fewer than five people from Jamestown have died from COVID-19. For comparison, Providence has experienced 2,022 hospitalizations and 695 deaths.