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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Short Takes: how RI is coping with the pandemic

Cases up in Charlestown and the rest of coastal RI as beaches fill up
By Will Collette

By Mike LuckovichAtlanta Journal-Constitution
Rhode Island earned national praise for its effective early response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A combination of credible information, strict rules, effective enforcement and cooperation from the public “flattened the curve” and kept us out of crisis.

We ended up not needing the emergency hospital space Gov. Gina Raimondo had leased (drawing criticism from our local right-wing politicians led by Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi). I just wonder what they would have said if we had needed the extra beds and not had them.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the country, we’re starting to slip backwards slightly as Phase 3 re-opening kicks in. Between relentless politicization against anti-virus measures by Republicans and plain old pandemic fatigue, we’re seeing some significant warning signs such as a rise in the rolling 7-day average of cases to 99 a day.

Rhode Island’s confirmed cases just topped 18,000 and the death toll is at 997. Gov. Raimondo said that when the death count hits 1,000, she will order flags lowered to half-staff.

What do Charlestown and Central Falls have in common?

Both are seeing sharp new spikes in cases. WPRI investigative reporters found cities and towns along the shoreline – including Middletown, Charlestown, Narragansett, Jamestown, Barrington, Newport and Bristol” – are showing the highest percentage increase in new COVID cases.

Charlestown and Middletown led with positive case spikes of 25%, though for Charlestown that meant we now have a total of 30 confirmed cases, a relatively small number.

State and local authorities are drawing the logical conclusion that crowded beaches, reopened bars and restaurants and some lapses in mask wearing and social distancing are behind these spikes.

The data shows that 3% of the new confirmed cases are out-of-state “summer people.” Oh, PLEASE set up the State Police checkpoints again!

The state and towns have been adjusting beach parking to reduce the crowds at the beach and have been aggressively ticketing cars parking illegally on streets near the beaches after the Governor was most critical of Misquamicut and Scarborough beach crowding.

Central Falls is also showing an alarming increase over its already high numbers. Around 5% of Central Falls’ population have tested positive compared to the state average of 1.7%

Businesses and events continue to take a beating

By Bill BramhallNew York Daily News
Businesses that have re-opened are having a hard time with assholes who refuse the follow the rules. Some loud and abusive customers not only refuse to wear masks and maintain social distance but also abuse the staff with Trump-like slurs. 

This led Brickley’s Ice Cream to shutter its Wakefield store for the season. The Narragansett location is still open, at least for now.

I reported on other closures or service cutbacks in the last Short Takes along with my hope that these incidents are being caused by summer people and not locals.

Local hero Arrowhead Dental just announced the cancellation of its annual “Dentistry with a Heart” event – postponed until Fall 2021 – due to the pandemic. Arrowhead has been doing this for years, serving all comers for a day of free dental services ranging from cleaning to oral surgery. Last year, they helped more than 150 patients.

It’s only July, but the annual Charlestown New Year’s Eve bonfire has already been cancelled. Frank Glista has been treating the town to this magical event for years now, but it takes a lot of lead time to put the donated wooden pallet supply together.

Since we don’t know whether we will still be in the throes of the pandemic come New Year or whether it will “magically disappear, Frank decided to pull the plug, breaking a 13-year string.

This is the kind of “cancellation culture” that worries me, not Trump’s worries over the Confederacy.