WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s COVID-19 testing sites felt the impact of Friday’s snow storm, with some sites closing or delaying appointments for the day.
While the state’s outdoor testing sites shifted their hours later to allow people more time to get there, the storm may have deterred people from following through with their previously scheduled appointments.
The new rapid testing site at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Knight Campus opened Friday. The clinic is part of the statewide effort to meet the increased demand for testing.
Gov. Dan McKee said the CCRI testing site adds hundreds of appointments for Rhode Islanders looking to get tested.
The CCRI testing site was one of the first the state created for testing in April 2020, which was originally staffed by the Rhode Island National Guard.
The winter storm prompted the state to post special hours Friday for all of its outdoor testing sites, but starting Saturday, the clinic will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Tests are made available by appointment only.
The 750 appointments available at the new testing site were gone almost as quickly as they were posted, which is a continuing trend with state’s testing sites.
Before noon on Friday, five of Rhode Island’s 24 state-run testing sites were fully booked through Jan. 13, and several other clinics only had a limited number of appointments until at least Monday.
Coventry resident Barbara Achey visited a testing site in Warwick Friday, which is the soonest she could find an appointment for her son. (Her search for an appointment began on Monday.)
She said at-home tests have been as difficult to find as an appointment.
“I’m sure it’s been tough for everybody,” Achey said. “This is really taking everybody by surprise.”
The R.I. Department of Health announced some location changes to existing testing sites for Cumberland and Woonsocket residents on Friday.
The testing site at the Cumberland Stop & Shop will move into the former Ann & Hope storefront on Monday, while the Woonsocket state-run test site will shift to the Woonsocket Elks Lodge.
Anyone who had an appointment scheduled at either testing site should go to the new location, according to the Health Department. Both locations will continue to offer rapid and PCR testing by appointment only.
New data released Friday by the Health Department reveals the state’s daily positivity rate remains high, with 4,783 new infections being reported Thursday.
The data also shows an uptick in hospitalizations. Of the 445 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 54 are in the ICU and 43 are on ventilators.
Nine more Rhode Islanders also died after contracting the virus, bringing the state’s death toll to 3,121.