Rhode Island’s response to COVID-19 slows the spread

Rhode Island Department of Health currently shows just over 17,200 coronavirus cases while surrounded by other hot spots in the U.S. Among Rhode Island cases, only four patients are in the ICU. Meanwhile, there are more than 232,000 COVID-19 cases in Florida.

We looked at what has worked for the state of Rhode Island Thursday in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since Florida reopened its economy, we’ve watched the virus spread and positive cases spike. But Rhode Island, the nation’s smallest state, which is close to hot spots New York and Massachusetts, has figured out a way to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“Things really changed when CVS Pharmacy, which is based in Rhode Island, opened up actually in the parking lot of on of our closed casinos, a rapid testing site where people could drive up, and in 15 minutes, they would get their test result,” said Ted Nesi, an investigative reporter for WPRI News.

We reached out to Nesi who spoke to us about what has worked in Rhode Island during the pandemic. He told us, on top of testing, the governor mandated masks and reopened the economy slowly.

“There were a lot of frustrated Rhode Islanders in May, who watched Florida and other states that were reopening faster, and were pretty frustrated with the governor,” Nesi said.

But Nesi said that criticism has quieted down. At least one reason is because the percent positive rate in Rhode Island is 1.8% compared to 19.8% in Florida Thursday.

We asked Dr. Cindy Pirn, an epidemiologist at UF, where Florida goes from here. She told us contact tracing is a must. Pirn says she worries the lag in getting test results impacts contact tracing, which slows our ability to control the spread.

“We also need the testing to move faster because I think there are delays right now in the time it takes people to be told and they are positive for [COVID-19] and so that’s a control problem,” Pirn said.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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