RI healthcare workers ordered to wear facemasks while tending to patients


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Two Rhode Island nursing homes have been battling clusters of COVID-19 cases spreading amongst residents and employees, according to Rhode Island Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott.

Alexander-Scott said Tuesday that two of the state’s eight COVID-19-related deaths occurred at the Golden Crest Nursing Center in North Providence, and another occurred at Oak Hill Health and Rehabilitation in Pawtucket.

“I want to ensure that we are being as aggressive as we can be when handling these nursing home cases,” she said.

Alexander-Scott said all healthcare facilities, hospitals and nursing homes must ensure all employees wear face masks while in direct contact with patients.

She said since a person who contracts the coronavirus is contagious long before becoming symptomatic, the masks will prevent an employee, who may be asymptomatic, from transmitting the virus to a patient. The masks will also prevent patients from transmitting the virus to the healthcare workers taking care of them.

The mandate comes soon after Soldiers’ Home, a Massachusetts veterans care facility, reported 13 deaths, six of which were attributed to COVID-19.

Alexander-Scott said the state is allowing nursing students who have completed one semester of classes to receive a 90-day certified nursing assistant license to help both hospitals and nursing homes.

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