Lawmaker addresses COVID-19 vaccination discrimination

Rep. Thomas Noret (D-Coventry, West Warwick)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island lawmaker has introduced legislation that would bar discrimination against people who choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The bill would prohibit Gov. Dan McKee from creating a vaccine mandate and protect employees from being fired by their employer, from being refused a hotel room, and from being refused a loan from a financial institution based on vaccination status.

Democratic state Rep. Thomas Noret told The Providence Journal the bill is not based on any anti-vaccination sentiment, but was based on concerns he heard from constituents fearful they would be punished if they didn’t get a coronavirus shot.

The Rhode Island Department of Health expressed concerns about the bill in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, pointing out it would jeopardize existing vaccination requirements for non-coronavirus diseases.

Attorney Mark Dana told WJAR-TV that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that mandating vaccinations is legal for public and private organizations.

Lawmakers behind the current proposal said they are open to making any necessary changes. The bill was held for further study Tuesday.



The University of Rhode Island has ended its football season early after confirming positive COVID-19 tests within the program, the school announced Wednesday.

The Rams were scheduled to host Maine on Saturday and then play at Stony Brook on April 17. But because all team activities must be halted for 10 days, there is not enough time to prepare to play either game.

The Football Championship Subdivision delayed its fall season until this spring because of the pandemic and finishes with a 2-1 record.



Providence has received a donation of 25,000 face coverings that will be distributed to residents and nonprofits to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

The masks were donated by Massachusetts-based AIS Inc.

“Providence is incredibly grateful to receive such a generous donation from AIS and we encourage residents and local nonprofits to immediately call 311 to request face coverings to help protect our residents in need,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said in a statement.

Masks are available on a first-come, first-served basis.