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R.I. Governor McKee is facing pressure to lift the mask or proof-of-vaccine policy

Packaged masks ready for distribution in Central Falls.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Happy Tuesday! I’m Dan McGowan and I’m on the hunt for the best chocolate chip cookie in Rhode Island. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to

Coronavirus updates

Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 503.8 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days

Vaccinated with two shots: 835,229 (of about 1.1 million residents)

New cases: 306

Test-positive rate: 8.9 percent

Currently hospitalized: 286

Total deaths: 3,363

More stats from the R.I. Department of Health

Globe Rhode Island COVID-19 news and resources

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Leading off

It’s decision week for Governor Dan McKee.


As other states in the region begin to relax COVID-19 restrictions, two of Rhode Island’s leading small business advocacy groups are calling on Governor Dan McKee to lift a policy that requires masks or proof of vaccination for entry beginning Friday, ahead of Super Bowl weekend and Valentine’s Day.

The Ocean State Coalition and Rhode Island Small Business Coalition are citing the dramatic reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates following a spike in December and January. The state reported 286 residents in the hospital with COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest total since Dec. 10.

”While we recognize everyone has the right to wear a mask at any time of their choosing, a mandate is no longer needed,” the groups said in a prepared statement. “Ending this mandate on the 11th will help lift consumer confidence as we celebrate Valentine’s and Super Bowl weekend. We must remain competitive with our neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. We thank the Governor for listening to the small business community as he makes his decision along with the Department of Health.”

Rhode Island currently requires masks to be worn in all indoor venues with a capacity of at least 250 people, like The Dunk. Small businesses, like most restaurants and offices, require employers and patrons to show proof that they have had the COVID-19 vaccine or wear a mask indoors.


Connecticut and Massachusetts did not implement statewide mask or proof-of-vaccine requirements during the most recent wave of COVID-19, but both states are considering ending a mask requirement in schools. McKee is expected to address masks (for schools and businesses) at his press conference on Wednesday.

A survey from the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States showed that nearly 67 percent of Rhode Islanders reported wearing a mask outside their home during the month of January. Support for a vaccine requirement for all Rhode Islanders has hovered between 60 percent and 74 percent over the past year, and was at 63 percent in January.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ Being a Rhode Island legislator can be a rewarding experience, providing the opportunity to shape state law and budget priorities. But being a former state legislator can be rewarding in a different way. Read more.

⚓ A proposed redistricting bill establishing new House, Senate, and congressional boundaries came under fire from the left and the right during a House committee hearing on Monday. Read more.

⚓ In an opinion piece for Globe Rhode Island, URI Research Foundation COO Christian Cowan writes that the state can lead the way on closing the technology and innovation gap created over the past 40 years. Read more.

Frontier’s new flight from Rhode Island to Cancun will be the first scheduled international passenger service from T.F. Green since Air Canada took a hiatus in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.


Also in the Globe

⚓ Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius will depart from her post in June, school and city officials announced Monday, leaving the city mere months to find a leader prepared to take control of a struggling school system still grappling with a pandemic that has upended two years of education. Read more.

⚓ President Joe Biden’s top science adviser Dr. Eric Lander resigned Monday, hours after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff. Read more.

⚓ Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Monday that a Snapchat story recorded by a Boston police officer who friended a suspect using a pseudonym — and then used the clip to charge him in an illegal gun case — did not violate the privacy rights of the man who posted the video. Read more.

What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at

⚓ Democratic congressional candidate Joy Fox is formally kicking off her campaign with a tour of small businesses through the 2nd District.

⚓ The state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education meets at 5:30 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

⚓ At 3:30 p.m., the House Committee on Small Business will discuss the proposal to permanently allow alcoholic drinks-to-go at restaurants.

My previous column

What more does Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza have to do to convince state leaders to take the city’s pension problems seriously? If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.


Rhode Island Report podcast

Ed Fitzpatrick talks to former CVS executive Helena Foulkes about her campaign for governor. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Boston Globe App

You can get alerts about Rhode Island news on the Globe’s app (iOS and Android). Just tap the gear icon, then “Edit Alert Settings,” and choose Rhode Island.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.