fb-pixel Skip to main content

Doctor McDonald prescribes resilience

Dr. James McDonald, medical director of the state Department of Health, spoke about the coronavirus outbreak at a news conference in April.
Dr. James McDonald, medical director of the state Department of Health, spoke about the coronavirus outbreak at a news conference in April.Kris Craig, The Providence Journal/Kris Craig

If you have friends or relatives who would like their own free copy of this daily briefing about Rhode Island, tell them they can sign up here.


Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Edward Fitzpatrick, and I can’t picture Boston Billy running a virtual Boston Marathon. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 14,494 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, after adding 124 new cases. The state announced 22 more deaths, bringing the total to 677. There were 222 people in the hospital, 53 in intensive care, and 36 on ventilators.


Amid all the facts and figures, announcements and pronouncements at Thursday’s daily coronavirus news conference, it’s unlikely a word of what Dr. James McDonald said made it into the daily news coverage.

But it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the personal stories and the bits of empathy and wisdom that McDonald, medical director for the state Department of Health, offered during his turn on the stage.

McDonald said he’s glad the state is going to start allowing youth sports, with certain restrictions, beginning Monday.

“Being outside is a wonderful thing to be, and I think it’s in many ways protective,” he said. “You get outside, you get your mind off what’s going on, and you do things that matter.”

This has been a tough stretch for young people, McDonald said. “I think a lot of us feel like we’ve been grounded and we don’t really know what we did wrong,” he said.

And it has been a particularly tough year for high school graduates, McDonald said, adding that his daughter, Sarah, is an 18-year-old senior set to graduate in a couple of weeks.


“I tell Sarah 2020 has been hard,” he said. “It has been a year of ‘shouldn’t,’ a year of ‘wasn’t,’ and a year of ‘can’t,’ and those are three words I don’t like using in the McDonald family, because we are a family of ‘can’ and ‘do.’ “

Students have missed a lot during the pandemic, McDonald said. His daughter was supposed to take a trip to Ecuador, but that got canceled. She was planning to go to the prom with “the boyfriend,” but that got canceled.

The pinnacle of the year came when she landed the starring role in the school production of “Hello Dolly,” he said.

“It was one of the happiest times I’ve ever seen her,” he said. “When that got canceled, that was hard. There were tears.”

But along the way, he watched his daughter face adversity and move on. He watched her learn to accept things she couldn’t control.

”This is what adults do. This is called resilience,” McDonald said. “You know, life isn’t just cupcakes and roses, as much as I want it to be for my kids.”

In responding to the pandemic, we as a people need to display resilience, McDonald said. And we should realize that not every graduate has a mother or father to guide them at this moment, he said.

So, McDonald said, “I think it’s important that if you are that person in someone’s life — if you have that wisdom, that clarity of what’s going on — can you walk alongside that graduate?”



Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ Good news for young athletes and video lottery terminal veterans: Governor Gina M. Raimondo on Thursday announced that youth sports can commence in Rhode Island on Monday, and the Twin River casinos will open on either June 8 or June 15.

Seven press and open government groups called for Raimondo to stop giving public bodies extra time to respond to public records requests, saying, “Government transparency is more, not less, critical during emergency situations.” Raimondo is reviewing her executive order and “expects to make a determination in the coming days,” a spokeswoman said.

⚓ Because of the pandemic, the Boston Marathon has been officially canceled for the first time since 15 runners lined up in Ashland in 1897. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said it would not be “responsible or realistic” to hold the race, which now draws 30,000 runners, on Sept. 14 or anytime this year. The Boston Athletic Association will offer a virtual marathon, with runners getting medals if they verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own between Sept. 7 and 14. But it’s not the Boston Marathon if you don’t physically go through the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel, climb Heartbreak Hill, and turn onto Boylston.

⚓ The Board of Elections voted 7-0 to let voters place mail ballots in drop boxes at all city and town halls on Tuesday, when Rhode Island will holds its presidential primary. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea had suggested the board accept ballots received up to three days after the election if they were postmarked by Tuesday. But board Vice Chair Stephen P. Erickson said the prepaid envelopes aren’t postmarked, so there’d be no way to know when they were mailed. He said the board is getting a late influx of mail ballots and he wishes they’d been sent out a lot sooner. The secretary of state’s spokesman said the first batch went out May 18 after a vendor’s coding problem delayed it a couple of days.


⚓ Providence officials on Thursday condemned the actions of Minneapolis police in the death of Gregory Floyd, a black man who died after pleading for help as an officer knelt on his neck. "Mr. Floyd died because of inappropriate and excess use of force by police officers that took an oath to protect and serve," Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré and Chief of Police Colonel Hugh T. Clements Jr. said. "The Providence Police Department further condemns the kneeling on the neck or throat as a proper use of force tactic."

⚓ Students in the Rhode Island School of Design’s master of arts in adaptive reuse program offered ideas for the future use of the vacant former Industrial Trust tower, known as the Superman Building. And I’ve got to say my favorite “Saving Superman” idea involves rock climbing, bungee jumping, and indoor skydiving.



Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ Governor Raimondo’s daily coronavirus update is at 1 p.m.

⚓ The Pawtucket City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. to consider entering into a lease agreement with Fortuitous Partners for property along the Seekonk River. As WPRI’s Eli Sherman and Walt Buteau report, Pawtucket is considering leasing the land for $1 per year for 50 years to Fortuitous, which has proposed building a $400 million project anchored by a new professional soccer stadium.

⚓ Providence City Council member Nirva LaFortune and the Providence Public Schools are organizing a three-part virtual webinar series to help young adults transition to college and beyond. The first session, at noon, will focus on the importance of civic engagement. Panelists include Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, Kristina Piers from Generation Citizen at Brown, and Michael Steiner from the US Census Bureau.

⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Leonora Pressly (2), Reid Raia (4), Nora Crowley (36), Alexa Grace Bell (17), Sam Sholes (36), David Sholes, and Bill Fischer.

⚓ Do you ️♥ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you on Monday.

Please tell your friends about Rhode Map! They can sign up here. The Globe has other e-mail newsletters on topics ranging from breaking news alerts to sports, politics, business, and entertainment — check them out.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.