This article originally appeared in the Rhode Map newsletter. If you would like to get the newsletter as a convenient e-mail Monday through Friday, just sign up here.
Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Ed Fitzpatrick and I promise you I will climb the podium when cornhole becomes an Olympic sport. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to email@example.com.
ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 153,269 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 91 new cases. The overall daily test-positive rate was 1.8 percent. The state announced no new deaths, keeping the total at 2,738. There were 20 people in the hospital, and 650,607 residents were fully vaccinated. Check our dashboard for more data.
Is Central Falls re-emerging as Rhode Island’s hot spot for COVID-19?
That’s the concern that has been gnawing at Dr. Michael Fine, the city’s chief health strategist and a former state Health Department director.
In recent weeks, however, Central Falls has had the highest or one of the highest rates of new cases in Rhode Island. For example, the rate was 72 cases per 100,000 residents between July 4-10 -- highest in the state -- during a period when the statewide rate was 14 cases per 100,000. That was based on 14 new cases in Central Falls, a city of less than 20,000 people, according to state Department of Health data.
”For me, this is kind of an uncomfortable echo of where we were a year ago, when we were seeing the numbers creep up in Central Falls and Pawtucket,” Fine said. “This is not the moment to take a victory lap.”
The good news is the rate dropped for the week of July 11-17, when the city saw fewer than five new cases. But Fine said the raw numbers are too small to place too much significance on one week’s data, and he remains concerned about the trend over the past month, when comparing Central Falls to the rest of the state.
”In the last three or four weeks, we are just about the only place with consistent positive cases,” Fine said. “That tells me the disease is still circulating in Central Falls, Providence, and Pawtucket.”
Central Falls worked hard to get about 70 percent of its adult residents vaccinated, he said. “But like every place else, demand for vaccine dwindled,” he said. “And that means 30 percent are not vaccinated.”
Fine noted that Central Falls residents, especially older and at-risk residents, were among the first Rhode Islanders to receive vaccinations, more than six months ago, and preliminary evidence out of Israel indicates vaccine protection might start fading after six months.
Also, the highly contagious Delta variant is spreading around the nation, “meaning we are at some risk,” he said.
So what should be done? “This is the moment to double and triple our efforts to get to full vaccination,” Fine said.
He said he’d like to see the state provide funding so Central Falls could develop neighborhood maps showing vaccination rates and go door-to-door to try to get everyone vaccinated. The city has run out of funding for its successful health ambassador program, he said. He also called for the state to try to vaccinate the workers getting on mini-buses each morning on Cowden Street to work at factories around New England.
As a personal choice, Fine said he is once again wearing a face mask when he goes inside stores or movie theaters, and he suggests that others wear masks when in public indoor settings.
THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND
🎤 Podcast: This year, many national music festivals like Coachella scrapped their 2021 plans. But on this week’s Rhode Island Report podcast, Jay Sweet, executive producer and director of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals at Fort Adams, tells Alexa Gagosz the “show must go on.” Read more. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Google Podcasts.
⚓ R.I. news alerts: Rhode Islanders have a new way to get notified of breaking news in the Ocean State with a feature just rolled out in the Boston Globe app. To activate the new feature, download the Boston Globe app in the Apple Store, or Google Play. Open the app and go to the gear icon in the upper right hand corner, then personalized alerts, and edit alert settings. Another screen allows you to tick a button to receive Rhode Island notifications.
⚓ My colleague Amanda Milkovits reports that two Providence police officers are suspended with pay during an investigation into their use of force in arresting three local teenage boys who were allegedly speeding around the city for hours, shooting or aiming BB rifles at people, including a police officer. Read more.
⚓ Brian Amaral writes the latest chapter in a story that has played out for the past decade or so in towns around Rhode Island, whose official state bird is a chicken: People want to keep chickens, both for pets and for their eggs, but those efforts can run into roadblocks on the local level. Read more.
⚓ The East Providence City Council has yanked approval of a new dedicated two-way bike lane on the East Bay Bike Path, just a week into what was supposed to be a monthlong pilot. Read more.
⚓ Rhode Island’s congressional delegation announced that seven “high-risk” nonprofits would receive funding to upgrade their physical security to defend against a future, violent attack. All seven have links to the Jewish faith. Read more.
⚓ The Miriam Hospital in Providence is enrolling residents who have active, acute Lyme disease into a new, international clinical research study to learn more about the condition. Read more.
⚓ Former state senator Tom Coderre, now US acting deputy assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, testified in front of the US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, talking about his road to recovery. Read more.
MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM
⚓ Life and death: Former Boston Globe writer Jack Thomas has been a journalist for more than 60 years, so after doctors told him he has only months to live, he sat down to do what came naturally, if painfully: He wrote this story. It’s a must-read.
⚓ Diplomacy: President Biden intends to nominate Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Edward M. Kennedy, to be US ambassador to Austria. Read more.
⚓ Sports: Here’s your guide to the Tokyo Olympics: How to watch, what is new, and the top story lines to follow. Read more.
⚓ Politics: My colleague James Pindell writes that polling in the 2020 election turned out to be even worse than in 2016, so the way that reporters and news consumers read these polls will need to change in three ways. Read more.
WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY
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 Daniel J. McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, and Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor will hold the ninth “Rhode Island 2030 Community Conversation” at 5:30 p.m. The conversation will focus on Rhode Island’s workforce and will be livestreamed on the governor’s Facebook page.
⚓ Governor McKee will attend a celebratory reception at 6:15 p.m. for the first Breeze Airways flight from Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport to Charleston, S.C.
⚓ The Woonsocket City Council meets at 7 p.m. to discuss, among other agenda items, the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds.
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