PROVIDENCE, RI — The COVID-19 Delta Variant, twice as contagious as the original, is highly spread in RI, so Gov. Dan McKee has extended a school masks mandate and declared an ongoing emergency.
The continued precautions, in effect till Dec. 11, were punctuated Monday when Warwick Public Schools announced it would continue recent remote learning at Pilgrim High instituted as a result of an uptick in COVID-19 cases at the school through this week.
A letter urging students and staff to get tested for COVID-19 attributed the uptick in cases to a “recent school-related gathering.”
“As of 11/15, there has been a concerning uptick in COVID-19 cases identified among Pilgrim High students and staff,” the RIDOH stated.
The Rhode Island Department of Health will visit Pilgrim Wednesday, according to the announcement, to provide testing for Pilgrim High students and staff only:
- Nov. 17 for COVID testing of staff and students. Whether vaccinated, non-vaccinated, symptomatic or asymptomatic it is strongly recommended that you take part in this voluntary testing event. There is no cost, no pre-registration, and 16-18 year olds do not need consent.
- Testing will take place in the cafeteria starting at 8 a.m. and continuing until 11 a.m.. Anytime learning will take place Wednesday morning to allow for students and staff to get tested. Google meets will take place during long and last periods (periods 5 & 6). This event is for Pilgrim staff and students only. Siblings, etc. can register to get tested at numerous locations. (Please see the attached letter from RIDOH for further information).
Pilgrim High isn’t alone in recorded upticks of COVID-19 cases. With RI 5-11 year-old vaccination just begun two weeks ago, Rhode Island’s number of positive tests per 100,000 clocked in at 222, or 2.3 percent, a jump from 1.9 percent last week.
Warwick Schools urge Pilgrim Student, staff COVID-19 testing
The concerning local trend prompted Warwick Schools to urge testing for Pilgrim students and staff (who will be able to access testing at the school Wednesday, but also for their families, and the public in general, who will not be able to get tested at Pilgrim.):
- You can schedule a free test online at a State-run COVID-19 test site at portal.ri.gov or by calling 401-222-8022. You can also call your primary care provider to ask about scheduling a COVID-19 test or you can make an appointment at a pharmacy near you.
- Now is the time to act to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community – especially with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up. Even if you do not havesymptoms, given the current high rate of transmission, it is recommended that all students and staff from Pilgrim High School get tested.
COVID-19 pandemic precautions reminders
The Schools also urged students, staff and parents to continue following pandemic precautions:
● If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home, isolate, and get tested.
● Get tested whether or not you are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are
effective at preventing most infections. However, like other vaccines, they are not
100% effective. People who get vaccine breakthrough infections can be
● Wear a mask when indoors in public places. Even if you are fully vaccinated,
if you live in an area with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, you – as
well as your family and community – will be better protected if you wear a mask
when you are in indoor public places. Kent county is currently designated as an
area of high transmission.
● Wear a mask when outdoors in crowded places. The Rhode Island
Department of Health (RIDOH) and CDC guidance states that during high
transmission rates in the community, mask wearing is recommended even if fully
● Get vaccinated for COVID-19 if you have not already. Getting vaccinated is
the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by Delta or
other variants. If you get COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, are less likely to
develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19.
● Get vaccinated for the Flu. While last year there was little Influenza activity in
Rhode Island, we are now seeing the reemergence of Influenza.
Mask advice reminders
In February, as the U.K. variant began to concern virologists (which was later overtaken by the Delta variant), local health officials recommended seeking out the most effective masks possible to help fight the pandemic:
- KN95 masks, made in China, are said to filter out 95 percent of particles including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Only a handful of the KN95 masks have been certified by the FDA, however, according to Health.com.
- Dr. James McDonald, RIDOH Medical Director, has also recommended using the KF-94 mask (view at 21:59), the Korean-made version of the KN95 which filters 94 percent of particles. The masks are common in South Korea to filter dust from the air in that country. A small study last year showed the masks roughly equal to the U.S. version of the masks – N95 masks. They’re also cheaper, $2 a piece.
RI COVID-19 update Tuesday
Gov. Dan McKee, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, and Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott will provide a COVID-19 update during a joint media availability on Tuesday, 2 p.m. The event will be live-streamed on the Governor’s Facebook page.
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