Public health officials are facing an unhealthy amount of vitriol

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Al Drago/Bloomberg

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Edward Fitzpatrick and I wouldn’t mind hearing Brown University graduate Andrew Yang speak at the Democratic National Convention. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 20,053 positive tests as of Tuesday, after adding 99 more confirmed cases. The most recent test-positive rate was 2.5 percent. The state announced one more death, bringing the total to 1,016. There were 88 people in the hospital, nine in intensive care, and two were on ventilators.


Public health experts in Rhode Island say the level of vitriol directed at public health officials across the country is reaching unprecedented levels amid the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s family has received threats. California’s public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, was just ousted. And a review by KHN and The Associated Press finds at least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired, or been fired since April in 23 states.

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, knowing both personally and systematically the level of vitriol and hatred targeted at scientists and public health professionals, but I am saddened,” said Dr. Megan L. Ranney, a Brown University associate professor of emergency medicine.

Rhode Island is fortunate to have “an executive branch and a Department of Health that are in sync,” Ranney said. Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott have spoken together at numerous news conferences during the pandemic.

But she said the nation is seeing too much hatred directed at public health officials who are trying their best to protect people from a deadly virus.


While any public official can expect to be questioned or criticized, she said some critics need to “take a deep breath,” Ranney said. “Don’t necessarily believe the conspiracy narratives that are being spun. If you speak out, do so with respect.”

Marybeth MacPhee, a public health professor at Roger Williams University, said public health officials are dealing with high expectations and insufficient resources, and they can get castigated for asking people to take simple precautions such as wearing a face mask.

“It’s like the economy and public health are at war, and the people on the front lines — the public face of public health — are taking the brunt of that antagonism,” she said.

MacPhee urged people to remember that everyone is responsible for public health, not just public health officials. “It has to come down to every person being part of the solution,” she said. “That is the best way to get the economy back, the best way to get back to school.”


Governor Gina M. Raimondo will announce during Wednesday’s news conference that she “will likely” delay the start of the school year by a couple of weeks.

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office on Tuesday filed notice that it will seek a harsher sentence under the state’s hate crimes sentencing act for a Barrington man accused of assaulting his neighbor while spewing racial slurs. At a rally in Barrington on Tuesday, Black Lives Matter Rhode Island organizer Mark Fisher said, “A hate crime is a hate crime.”


⚓ The governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey have lifted their orders that travelers from Rhode Island must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in their states, removing the Ocean State from the tri-state list of locales with relatively high rates of COVID-19 infections.

⚓ In a thinly disguised zinger aimed at Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence tweeted: “Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.” Actually, Biden is the fourth Catholic major-party presidential nominee in U.S. history, following John Kerry in 2004, John F. Kennedy in 1960, and New York Governor Al Smith, the Democratic nominee in 1928. Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, is Catholic.

⚓ A piping plover chick taken by vacationers from a Rhode Island beach died at a wildlife center on Cape Cod, despite efforts to save it.


Politics: James Pindell writes that the reason Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris is clear: “her lack of political ideology combined with her killer political instinct and high-wattage charisma.”

Sports/Labor: New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower tried to inspire his fiancée, Morgan Hart, while she was in her 17th hour of labor by chanting, “28-3, 28-3” -- the score of Super Bowl LI, in which the Patriots came back to win after trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3. He added, “Never give up.”


Sports/Coronavirus: Competing out of state has become a common workaround for many youth sports teams, despite growing concerns that the virus may be spreading more rapidly in Massachusetts.

Coronavirus: President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the federal government has signed a deal with Moderna to buy 100 million doses of the Cambridge drug company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine.


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.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Governor Raimondo’s coronavirus press briefing is at 1 p.m.

U.S. Representative David N. Cicilline, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and activist Pilar McCloud will take part in a virtual dialogue with Rhode Island youth and adults examining how out-of-school programs are addressing youth development, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest. The Rhode Island Afterschool Network Youth Town Hall will run from noon to 1 p.m. via Facebook Live.

⚓ The Public Utilities Commission will hold a virtual meeting at 2 p.m. to discuss the Providence Water Supply Board’s application for approval for a multi-year rate plan with a three-step rate increase.


⚓ The Providence Board of Licenses will hold a virtual meeting at 12:30 p.m. and the agenda includes a “review of reopening” for the Wild Zebra strip club on Allens Avenue. In June, a federal judge found the board had left the club without a way to seek judicial review and therefore unable to engage in the constitutionally protected expressive conduct of nude dancing.

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