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McKee Delivers on Expanded COVID-19 Testing, Vaccine Pledge

[CREDIT: CDC] The Health Department urges people to get COVID-19 booster shots as soon as they're eligible. The additional shots for vaccinated people are shown to boost your defense against both the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant, which is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States.
[CREDIT: CDC] The Health Department urges people to get COVID-19 booster shots as soon as they're eligible. The additional shots for vaccinated people are shown to boost your defense against both the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant, which is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States.
[CREDIT: CDC] The Health Department urges people to get COVID-19 booster shots as soon as they’re eligible. The additional shots for vaccinated people are shown to boost your defense against both the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant, which is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States.

PROVIDENCE, RI — Last week, Gov. Dan McKee announced investments expanding COVID-19 rapid tests and at-home test access, urging vaccines and boosters, all of which he’s making easier days before the holidays cap 2021.

During his weekly update about the pandemic, McKee said the state would be able to test about 10 percent of population within the next few weeks. He also said the state had ordered 1 million at-home tests from FEMA for all 39 cities and towns.

Monday, McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the expanded access to rapid testing and to COVID-19 booster doses and primary series vaccines:

COVID-19 Testing

A test site open Monday at the Chapel View Shopping Center in Cranston. This site will be open seven days a week for rapid testing by appointment only. To make an appointment, visit portal.ri.gov. Additional new rapid testing sites will open in the coming weeks. Details on those new sites will be posted online.

For those Rhode Islanders who are asymptomatic but are looking for a test before the holidays, the state is expanding access to rapid testing at six existing testing sites. (Previously, people who were asymptomatic received PCR tests at these sites.) Testing is also available for symptomatic people at these locations. Appointments are still needed for these rapid tests. These six sites are:

  • Barrington Shopping Center
  • Blackstone Valley Community Health
  • Cranston Parkade Storefront
  • Rhode Island Convention Center Ticket Booth
  • Smithfield VFW
  • Warwick Shopping Plaza

People must make appointments to be tested at these sites at portal.ri.gov. PCR tests will still be used for asymptomatic K-12 tests at these sites. To help the testing sites run smoothly, people are asked to arrive on time for their appointments.

In addition to making this change at these sites, RIDOH has allocated 100,000 COVID-19 self-tests to community partners located in Rhode Island’s hardest-hit communities. RIDOH is working to obtain one million additional self-test kits for broader distribution.

 While expanding access to rapid tests in advance of the holidays, these measures will also help reduce turnaround times for PCR tests at State-run sites. Additionally, the State is currently onboarding additional private laboratories to expand PCR testing capacity, according to the RIDOH.

Aside from State-run test sites, COVID-19 testing is also available at some respiratory clinics and local pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens. For more information about when and where to get tested for COVID-19 in Rhode Island, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.

COVID-19 Vaccination

The Sockanosset Cross Road and East Providence vaccination sites will continue operating at least through the end of December. It was previously announced that the last day of vaccinating at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston) would be December 18th, and that the last day for regular operations at the East Providence vaccination site (585 Taunton Avenue, East Providence) would be December 29th.

Early indications are that the protection someone gets against the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more than doubles with a booster dose (compared to what they received from the primary series of the vaccine).

Everyone who is 16 and older is eligible to get a booster dose in Rhode Island. (Someone who received a Pfizer or Moderna primary series can get a booster dose six months later. Someone who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccination can get a booster dose two months later.) Primary series COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 years of age and older.

To make a vaccination appointment and to get additional information about COVID-19 vaccine, go to C19vaccineRI.org. People can also call the State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment line at 844-930-1779.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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