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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Short takes #7 on COVID-19 and southern RI

Rhode Island’s war on coronavirus
By Will Collette

Source: RI Department of Health
For all our pandemic coverage, CLICK HERE.

Rhode Island’s death toll from COVID-19 has doubled to 8 and the number of cases is following the same exponential curve we saw in other parts of the world. Charlestown's count for confirmed cases remains at "<5."

For that reason, Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered RI parks and beaches closed. Burlingame state park and the state beaches up and down our coast will be shut down starting April 3. 

No mention of closures at Charlestown’s beaches and parks either on the official town website or the CCA’s unofficial town website.

In fact, the CCA is still posting its March 28 blog entry actively encouraging all to get out and enjoy Charlestown’s parks and open spaces.

Federal Emergency declaration

On March 30, Donald Trump took time away from his precious tweeting and TV watching to sign a federal emergency declaration for Rhode Island, retroactive to January 20. Gov. Raimondo says "The federal government and FEMA will be reimbursing Rhode Island for many of our expenses."
"It will give us the resources we need to fight the virus," she added.

Pollen count

In an earlier Short Takes, I noted that with our trees starting to bud, we will see high pollen counts from trees on just about every day when it’s not raining.

If your allergies make you sneeze, cough and wheeze, think first before you go into a COVID-19 panic. It may just be your allergies, though you should pay attention. 

But if you also get any combination of fever, body aches, headache or fatigue – and it doesn’t go away – it might be time to CALL (don’t go) your doctor.

You can get the daily pollen forecast for your zip code at

A personal report

I ventured out to do some shopping today for the first time in over two weeks. Hated being out of fresh produce and, besides, I needed to pick up a prescription. So off to Westerly I went.

First, I am grateful and in awe of the staffs at Job Lot, Aldi’s and CVS (my three stops) for coming in to work, keeping the stores stocked and being pleasant. I said thanks to each one of them I met - at a proper distance, of course.

I was in Westerly just after noontime and found light traffic both on the roads and in the stores. I was also surprised at how well stocked they were – plenty of produce, dairy products, canned goods and staples.

To my shock, I found everything we needed. Job Lot even had to large supply of paper towels. Aldi’s made what I felt was a wise decision to set buying limits on a lot of essentials, usually a maximum of two for things like eggs.

I found prices were at least normal and, in some cases, lower than usual.

Again, I feel deep gratitude to everyone in the supply chain – from the farmworkers to the workers in the processing plants to the delivery truckers to the warehouse workers and to the staff in the stores. Even the execs who figured out how to keep things going rate an attaboy.

When I was in Job Lot, I noticed little signs all over the store that said a 2% surcharge was being tacked onto every bill to be paid to the workers!

Wow. When I got home, I looked for more information on Job Lot’s COVID-19 policy for its workers (CLICK HERE) and found this:
First, each store associate and distribution center associate will receive a $2 per hour increase in pay until further notice.
Second, all OSJL associates will be allowed to purchase merchandise at 30% off regular prices.
Third, we are adding a temporary 2% surcharge to all customer purchases. Store associates will receive 100% of the proceeds of this surcharge in addition to the $2 pay increase mentioned above. (For example, a $10 purchase will now cost $10.20)
Customers may decline to participate at the register, but we hope you will embrace the opportunity to thank our associates for their extraordinary efforts.
I would like to meet any Job Lot customer who “declined to participate at the register” and hawk a COVID-19 loogie in their face.

In these times of trouble and stress when our country faces a terrible challenge with its worst president at the helm, it’s great to see how many people have retained their sense of decency and their ability to get things done.

Out of staters

On my aforementioned trip, I saw the State Police checkpoint on Route One, just north of the Westerly airport. These checkpoints enforce the Governor's controversial order to make sure that all out-of-state visitors are told they need to self-quarantine for two weeks.

First you see a flashing sign telling folks with non-RI tags to pull into the checkpoint on the southbound side of Route One. There's a State Trooper with flashers on backing up that message.

In the actual checkpoint, there was another State Trooper. When I passed by, there were no out-of-staters in evidence.