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PROVIDENCE — In her last COVID press briefing of the year Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo had a specific ask of all Rhode Island residents: Get tested twice between now and the end of the year.
The state’s percent positive rate is going in the right direction, giving the governor both hope and relief, she said, but they still want to see it at 5% or below.
“We are not yet there, but we’ve turned a corner,” Raimondo said. “Now we’re coming down — because of the pause, because we’re doing more testing and because our contact tracing is getting better and faster.”
For the past few days, Rhode Island is hovering around a 6% test positivity rate, a significant improvement from where the state was a month ago. Despite the lowering numbers, Raimondo is asking residents to continue to be vigilant and protect their households by staying with the people you live with through the holidays and get tested.
Rhode Island continues to lead the country in testing and Raimondo is asking everyone in Rhode Island to make a plan to get tested twice between now and the end of the year.
“Go get tested. It’s free, it’s painless, it’s quick and you’ll know,” she said. “Because if you’re positive we need you to quickly get into isolation and tell all your people you were near that they need to get tested. So make a plan two times everybody before the end of the year. And stick with the folks you live with.”
Testing has ramped up statewide and the governor said there’s no excuse to not get tested with plenty of capacity at locations across the state.
Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott who herself found out she was positive through regular testing, spoke as well on Tuesday about the importance of testing for every resident encouraging them to do testing whether they have symptoms or not.
“Even if you do not have symptoms you should get tested and also get tested regularly,” Alexander-Scott said. “You can do it up to every week — going and getting tested — to get into that rhythm. That’s a major tool to be able to protect the people in your household.”
Where and How to Get Tested
Testing is free to all Rhode Island residents regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. Currently there are 10 sites offering testing by appointment online.
Additional pop-up testing sites are opening up across the state. Right now they are located at the Warwick Mall, as well as at the Chapel View Shopping Center in Cranston and 79 Dorrance St. in Providence. You can find the full list of pop-up testing sites here.
Alexander-Scott said the purpose of these pop-up sites is to make testing accessible to where people already are. She added that pop-up testing sites are not intended to be places to go to specifically be tested, but more so where to get a regular test when they are out and about.
Make a test appointment: Don’t wait in line
Some residents are weighing the risks of visiting an indoor pop-up testing location versus drive-through and outdoor locations.
The CDC says the risk of COVID-19 spread is higher based on the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction takes place. Plus, at these locations, you will be engaging with people who do not live with you, so extra precautions must be taken to stay safe. If you’re standing in line at a pop-up location you’ll want to make sure you can keep a 6-foot space between you and others and everyone needs to be wearing a mask.
For those weighing the benefits between getting tested and having to wait in line at a pop-up site, Joseph Wendelken, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said you don’t have to wait in line and scheduling a test through the state’s portal is the fastest, easiest and most convenient way to get tested.
“If your sole aim is to go somewhere to get tested, the best thing to do is to make an appointment through portal.ri.gov,” he said. “You log in, submit some information, and then head to a testing site near you later that day, and you’re in and you’re out VERY quickly. No waiting, no lines, and no cost. It’s free.
He added that at some of the state sites, such as the Dunkin Donuts Center, you’ll have your results before you leave in 15 minutes and that there are thousands of testing slots available at the Dunkin Donuts Center every day with free parking in the North Garage.
“If we can stay vigilant and stay focused on the things that will have the greatest impact — vaccinations, testing, treatment, wearing your mask, staying with your household, keeping them protected. That’s what’s going to get us through this as quickly and as safely as possible,” Alexander-Scott said.