Dr. Alexander-Scott tests positive for COVID-19; Raimondo negative and in quarantine

Coronavirus
12 on 12: Vaccine 101

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the R.I. Department of Health, has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson announced Saturday night.

Alexander-Scott is asymptomatic and will continue working from home, according to a statement from Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office. Alexander-Scott tested positive Saturday during routine testing.

“In accordance with Department of Health guidance, Governor Gina Raimondo and several members of her senior leadership team will be self-quarantining,” the governor’s communications director, Josh Block, said in a statement.

He said Raimondo tested negative Saturday and will continue to get tested during her quarantine, which will last seven days per new guidance that has shortened the required quarantine length.

On Sunday, Raimondo said that she tested negative again and thanked people for their support.

Block told 12 News he is also quarantining himself, as are Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and consultant medical director Dr. Philip Chan, who attended the weekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday to discuss the distribution of the just-authorized vaccine.

Pryor tested negative on Saturday, according to Commerce spokesperson Matt Sheaff. Block said he has also tested negative, while Chan is being tested on Sunday.

“In addition, all of us will get tested again on day 5 after exposure,” which is Tuesday, Block said.

Alexander-Scott is the second member of Raimondo’s cabinet to test positive this week, after Director of Administration Brett Smiley tested positive on Thursday. He had not seen the governor since the Thursday briefing the week before, according to his spokesperson, and then was exposed to the virus last weekend.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the health director contracted the virus, but Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said the agency is “doing the standard case investigation process.”

Alexander-Scott has been highly visible during the pandemic as the leader of the state’s efforts to battle the virus, appearing alongside the governor — and often Smiley and Pryor — during the spring at daily televised coronavirus briefings, which are now held weekly.

Alexander-Scott, Raimondo, Pryor and Chan were all at the weekly briefing this past Thursday.

Block said this upcoming Thursday’s briefing would be delayed until Friday, which would be a full seven days after Raimondo’s exposure to Alexander-Scott.

Raimondo signed an executive order two days ago that changed the quarantine guidance from ten days without a test, or seven days with a negative test taken at least five days after exposure.

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