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COVID-19 cases still growing quickly in some RI communities two months into crisis

Target 12

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The state’s most densely populated cities remain at the top of the list for concentration of COVID-19, but case totals have recently spiked in several other communities, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

Central Falls, Providence, North Providence and Pawtucket have been the top four in that order based on cases per capita cases for several weeks. All four had their respective totals climb by about 20% since last Monday, but there was a 39% jump in East Providence during that time.

Mayor Bob DaSilva attributed the sudden increase in the state’s fifth most populated municipality to more testing at the city’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

DaSilva also pointed out a remote testing facility recently opened in East Providence and there are plans to open a second one in the city’s senior center.

“As you get more testing, the numbers become scarier when you start to see an increase and a spike,” DaSilva said. “But it also allows you to keep tabs and contact trace those people who have it.”

R.I. Department of Health data indicates Orchard View Manor in East Providence has the highest number of nursing home deaths related to COVID-19, with between 40 and 44.

The 140 to 144 confirmed cases at Orchard View is the second highest total in the state. (Berkshire Place in Providence – with 165 to 170 cases – has had the most so far.)

DaSilva said Evergreen House Health Care is also dealing with a recent jump in confirmed cases, according to data he received directly from the facility on Monday.

“It worries me a great deal,” DaSilva said. “Because I know it’s hitting our elderly population the hardest.”

West Warwick and Johnston, both with populations just under 30,000, also saw sharp climbs during the past week. West Warwick with a 35% increase and Johnston with 31% more confirmed cases.

There was a 29% spike in Woonsocket, a city of nearly 42,000 people. All three of those municipalities are now in the state’s top 10 in cases per capita.

There were also alarming percentage jumps in some rural communities, where a relatively small number of cases can cause a statistical surge.

In North Smithfield, cases were up by 60% — from 43 to 69 — since last Monday.

There was a 47% escalation in Glocester, a town of just over 10,000 that had 28 cases this week, compared to 19 last week.

New Shoreham remains the state’s lone location with fewer than five cases.

At Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said one goal of testing more people is to spot the trends and guard against spikes.

“We’re expanding testing and bringing those services and support to insure equity and to make sure there aren’t any repeat waves,” Alexander-Scott said.

The Health Department’s city and town data is lagging about 1,400 cases behind the cumulative total of 11,614.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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