CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The city of Central Falls on Thursday announced that it will require members of the public to wear face masks in city-owned buildings beginning Monday.
The city is also is recommending that people wear face masks when they are inside public buildings such as supermarkets, restaurants, laundromats, and schools with people who are not members of their households, said Dr. Michael Fine, the city’s chief health strategist.
Central Falls said it was following new guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by encouraging everyone to wear a face mask “in areas of substantial or high transmission,” regardless of whether they are vaccinated.
Last year, the virus ravaged this impoverished, 1.29-square-mile, majority-Latino city, and the state made it a priority for vaccinations, bringing down the infection rate. But over the past month, the city has had some of the highest rates of new cases in Rhode Island, prompting concern that it could re-emerge as a hot spot.
On Thursday, city officials cited the “rise in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the Delta variant throughout Rhode Island” in announcing that face masks will be required, regardless of whether people have been vaccinated, in public buildings such as City Hall and the Police Department.
”We know what it’s like when COVID spreads like wildfire and causes complete destruction in our city. We can’t let that happen again,” Mayor Maria Rivera said in a statement. “Right now, too many of our families remain unvaccinated and are extremely vulnerable to this very dangerous variant of the virus.”
Rivera said she hopes that an increase in masking, testing, and vaccinations will keep the city safe. “We need to take these next few weeks very seriously,” she said.
City employees will be required to wear a face mask while engaging with the public or in common areas within city-owned buildings.
Fine said the city wants the rate of community transmission to be less than 14 new cases per 100,000 per week. But it’s now at 57 cases per 100,000 per week, and the actual rate might be even higher because undocumented residents are sometimes reluctant to get tested, he said.
The city announced that free COVID-19 tests are available for all Central Falls residents at Jenks Park Pediatrics, at 577 Broad St., or Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, at 9 Chestnut St.
Also, COVID-19 pop-up vaccine clinics are being held weekly throughout Central Falls, with the next pop-up clinics including:
- July 31 (Higginson Avenue) – Colombian Festival pop-up clinic at Francis Corrigan Sports Complex (register here).
- Aug. 7 (Higginson Avenue) – a food-truck event pop-up clinic at Francis Corrigan Sports Complex (register here).