CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — The square mile of Central Falls is now home to the state’s highest per capita concentration of COVID-19, but Providence’s total continues to climb and now accounts for nearly a third of all cases in Rhode Island.
On April 5, Providence had 96 cases and was ninth in the state per capita. Now, the capital has 1,937 cases, representing the third most per capita with about 11 cases for every 1,000 residents.
The total in Providence is more than the combined number for the state’s next six most populated municipalities — Cranston (408 cases), Warwick (234 cases), Pawtucket (600 cases), East Providence (291 cases), Woonsocket (191 cases), and Cumberland (147 cases).
The total in Central Falls, meanwhile, has grown steadily in recent days to 265 cases. The city of about 20,000 is now No. 1 per capita with 14 cases for every 1,000 residents.
Dr. Michael Fine, the city’s chief health strategist, noticed the jump and said the city’s dense population is one factor.
He also theorizes more testing due to the Memorial Hospital location opening has contibuted to the increase.
But he cites another factor involving Central Falls’ economics and racial and ethnic makeup.
“80% of our population cannot work from home like other places,” Fine said. “They have to leave their homes and go to work to pay their bills.”
Fine suspects city residents unknowingly bring the virus back to multi-family homes where he said in many cases several family members have to share one bathroom.
“That is a major factor,” Fine said. “Knowing the location data of the virus is vital for us to decide how to use our resources.”
The high number of multi-family homes have been blamed for hot spots in other areas of the state’s densely populated urban core that now accounts for about 75% of the state’s total number of confirmed cases.
Nursing homes also continue to impact totals in several locations, including North Providence where just under a third of the town’s total is connected to Golden Crest Nursing Centre. The state’s ninth most populated community of just over 32,000 people is second per capita with 11 cases per 1,000 residents.
The northern communities of Woonsocket, Cumberland and Smithfield are also in the top 10 on a per capita scale, with about five cases per 1,000 in each of those locations.
As expected, the rural corners of the state continue to have fewer cases and low per capita numbers.
Burrillville, on the borders of Connecticut and Massachusetts, is one exception with a relatively low number of 48 cases. But that’s enough for it to be 13th per capita cases with just under three cases per 1,000 residents.
Charlestown and Hopkinton are about tied for the lowest per capita rate with less than one confirmed case per 1,000 based on seven cases in each location.
The Department of Health does not release the exact number of cases for communities with fewer than five. New Shoreham is now the only place on that list.
As of Friday, the cumulative total for the state’s 39 towns and cities is about 1,000 cases behind the overall total.
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