Pawtucket, Central Falls team up to ‘Beat COVID-19’


PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls have created an Incident Command System in an effort to streamline the fight against COVID-19.

The Beat COVID-19 team’s goal is to reach out to every single household in both cities and identify symptomatic residents as soon as they get sick so they can immediately be put in isolation.

As of Friday afternoon, data from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) shows the number of COVID-19 patients in the two cities make up nearly 15% of the state’s total cases.

Earlier on Friday, a new hotline for both cities became active. Volunteers at Collette travel agency in Pawtucket are among those staffing the lines.

Dr. Michael Fine, RIDOH’s former health director, is spearheading the effort. He now serves as a health liaison for the city of Pawtucket in addition to acting as the Health Policy Advisor for the city of Central Falls. The new hotline operates in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Creole.

“We believe that there are about 50,000 people in both cities who likely don’t have primary care doctors, so we want to make sure they have access to someone who can talk to them,” Fine told Eyewitness News on Thursday.

Mayors in both cities say the hope is to make sure its lower-income and minority residents get the help they need during the pandemic.

“They don’t have primary care, they don’t have coverage — the undocumented — so people are afraid,” Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said. “How do we get them the information and where do they go?”

The new hotline (855-843-7620) can connect people with information on where to get tested, as well as how to make an appointment.

As the first part of the Beat COVID-19 initiative, a multilingual testing site opened at the former Memorial Hospital site in Pawtucket last Thursday.

A week later, a new testing site in at the Rhode Island College “Hub” opened in Central Falls. The testing facility at 934 Dexter St. will serve as a walk-up and drive-up facility.

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