RI issues new rules for nursing home visitation as COVID-19 surge continues

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Anyone looking to visit a loved one at a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Rhode Island will now have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.

All visitors must also wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Gov. Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health announced the changes Monday, saying it’s an effort to keep residents, staffers and visitors safe.

“With COVID-19 case rates elevated in Rhode Island and across the country, we need to take steps to safeguard the members of our community who are more vulnerable,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said. “If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, the best way to visit safely with that person is to get vaccinated. However, to ensure that residents can still see their loved ones, testing is also an option.”

Facilities can document frequent visitors’ vaccination status so they don’t have to show proof before every visit, according to McKee’s office.

Those going the testing route can show either a negative antigen (rapid) test taken within the previous 48 hours or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. McKee’s office said both paper and electronic versions will be accepted.

Fifteen more Rhode Islanders have died after contracting COVID-19, new data released Monday by the R.I. Department of Health shows.

The state continues to see extremely high case counts each day, according to the Health Department, with 11,398 new infections recorded since data was last released on Friday and 2,367 more added to the daily totals prior to that.

Revised data shows the state topped 6,000 daily cases from Tuesday through Thursday last week, with a new all-time high of 6,549 on Wednesday.

The most recent data available shows there were 410 patients with COVID-19 in the state’s hospitals as of Saturday, with 51 in the intensive care unit and 39 on ventilators.

That’s a significant decline in total hospitalizations compared to the past several days, in which the state hit a recent high of 464. However, since hospitalization data has a two-day lag in reporting, the number of hospitalizations on Saturday may end up getting adjusted by the Health Department.

Rhode Island is on pace this week to surpass 2 million total vaccine doses administered. The Health Department’s data estimates more than 77% of Rhode Islanders are now fully vaccinated, and 32% have received a booster dose since those became available.

With frigid temperatures expected throughout the day on Tuesday, several state-run testing sites including the Rhode Island Convention Center are moving operations inside temporarily.

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McKee’s office also announced several community-based vaccination clinics that will be held on Tuesday:

  • Providence: West Broadway Neighborhood Assoc., 1560 Westminster St. – 9:30 a.m. to noon (Pfizer 12+)
  • Providence: JWU Harborside Campus, 305 Shipyard St. – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Pfizer 12+, Moderna)
  • Pawtucket: Leon Mathieu Senior Center, 420 Main St. – 2 to 3:30 p.m. (Pfizer 12+, Moderna)
  • Westerly: Westerly Education Center, 23 Friendship St. – 2 to 4 p.m. (Pfizer 12+)
  • Tiverton: Pocasset Elementary School, 242 Main Road – 4 to 7 p.m. (Pfizer 5-11)
  • Pawtucket: Pawtucket Library, 13 Summer St. – 5 to 7 p.m. (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J)

McKee has scheduled his next COVID-19 briefing for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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