PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island on Monday started allowing residents age 65 and older to schedule appointments for a COVID-19 vaccination.
The state in a statement said it expects to schedule about 10,000 appointments Monday for shots at two state-run vaccination sites at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and the former Citizens Bank headquarters on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston.
But the agency also said because of limited supplies, not everyone who wants to make an appointment will be able to right away.
Vaccinations are also available at some CVS and Walgreens pharmacy locations and at local clinics.
About 9,900 people were vaccinated at the two state-run sites over their first three days of operation, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the health department.
Almost 142,000 people in Rhode Island have received a vaccine first dose, while nearly 62,000 have been fully vaccinated, according to health department statistics released Monday.
FIELD HOSPITALS CLOSING
A steep decrease in the number of people with COVID-19 who require hospitalization in Rhode Island is allowing the state to close two field hospitals, the state Department of Health said Monday.
Rhode Island’s daily hospital admissions are down 47% since last month, the agency said.
The field hospital at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence is expected to close on Friday.
The other one in Cranston will close within two to three weeks.
They opened in early December to deal with a surge in cases, and combined had 900 beds.
The Providence site has treated nearly 445 patients while the Cranston site has treated about 210.
After all patients are discharged, each facility will be cleaned and sanitized. The equipment and supplies will remain on site should the facilities be needed again.
Rhode Island’s largest health care organization on Monday started allowing patients to have visitors again, in line with state Department of Health guidelines announced last week.
At Rhode Island and Newport hospitals, two visitors may enter together, but the Miriam Hospital is only allowing one visitor to enter at a time, unless one visitor requires an escort, Lifespan announced in a statement on its website. All visits must be during designated visiting hours.
Maternity services will allow for a birthing partner only.
All visitors will be screened for symptoms or potential exposure to COVID-19. Those who screen positive for any symptoms will not be allowed in.
Visitation was stopped in November as coronavirus cases surged.
The state’s other major hospital group, Care New England, is still weighing its options. A spokesperson told WPRI-TV the organization “is aware of the ask to lift visitor restrictions and is carefully considering how this will affect each of our operating units, with the unique needs of patients and staff of each location.”
Care New England will announce any changes on its website.
Rhode Island had about 800 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past three days and nine more virus-related deaths, the health department reported Monday.
The state also added more than 80 deaths to the state’s death toll dating to the start of the pandemic.
“All of Rhode Island’s death data are considered provisional for at least three months,” department spokesman Joseph Wendelken told The Providence Journal. “Our COVID-19 death data, like all our death data, sometimes get adjusted upward because it takes time for causes of death to be confirmed, and for us to cross reference our different data sets.”
The state has now had almost 124,000 confirmed cases and almost 2,500 fatalities.
The department does not update its figures on weekends.
The average seven-day positivity rate in Rhode Island has now dropped below 2%, going from 2.57% on Feb. 7 to 1.97% on Sunday. State health departments are calculating positivity rates differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has dropped from about 455 on Feb. 7 to 223 on Sunday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.