Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 410.7 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days
Vaccinated with two shots: 838,603 (of about 1.1 million residents)
New cases: 517
Test-positive rate: 4.3 percent
Currently hospitalized: 279
Total deaths: 3,369
More stats from the R.I. Department of Health
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With Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office set to hold its third and final public comment meeting on the proposed merger of Lifespan and Care New England at 6 tonight, the deal has picked up a major supporter in the union that represents about 4,000 health care workers at the two hospital systems.
The United Nurses and Allied Professionals announced Wednesday that its members plan to testify in favor of the merger, making the case that it “will result in increased opportunities for our members, including career advancement and enhanced job security.”
”We support the merger of the two health systems into a truly local, integrated, and comprehensive health care system,” said Lynn Blais, UNAP’s president. “In recent years, we have seen for-profit corporations and private equity money flow into our state’s health care system from out of state. These corporations and private equity firms are not, in our view, committed to the state, our members, and/or the Rhode Island community. Lifespan and Care New England most certainly are.”
Lifespan and Care New England, the state’s two largest health care systems, are seeking to partner with Brown University on what they’re calling the Rhode Island Academic Health Care System. Brown has committed to investing $125 million as part of the merger. The deal would mean one system would control approximately 80 percent of the market’s hospital beds.
Neronha’s office is in the process of reviewing the merger application, and it has until March 16 to approve it as proposed, approve it with stipulations, or deny the application. The Department of Health also is reviewing the proposal.
What it means: UNAP’s endorsement is significant because it means the hospital groups have won over a union with plenty of influence at the State House. While the deal could have moved forward without the union’s support, the path is smoother now.
What to watch: The General Assembly doesn’t have oversight over the proposed merger, but that hasn’t stopped the two hospital groups from spending more than $30,000 a month on top lobbyists. Lifespan’s roster includes former House speaker Nicholas Mattiello (he’s at Westminster Consulting with Mark Ryan), George Caruolo, Robert Goldberg, and Lenny Lopes. Care New England has former House speaker Bill Murphy and Stephen Alves as its lobbyists.
The Globe in Rhode Island
⚓ My latest column: Meet Travis Wiggins, an underpaid, overworked social worker in Providence who deserves a little more respect from the state. Read more.
⚓ On this week’s Rhode Island Report podcast, Alexa Gagosz talks to Jason Tranchida about the little-known Newport naval sex scandal of 1919. Read more.
⚓ Governor Daniel McKee announced Wednesday that the state’s requirement for masking or providing proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for indoor public places and large venues will expire on Friday. And he’s leaving the decision for masking in schools up to local districts. Read more.
⚓ Virginia Commonwealth University has apologized to a URI radio broadcaster with a disability who was blocked from working earlier this week. Read more.
Also in the Globe
⚓ Masks will no longer be required in Massachusetts schools as of Feb. 28, Governor Charlie Baker announced Wednesday, joining a growing list of governors, including several in the Northeast, who have recently made face coverings optional as COVID-19 cases wane across much of the country. Read more.
⚓ Susan M. Collins, a Harvard- and MIT-trained economist with extensive experience in government and academia, will be the next president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the first woman of color selected to lead one of the 12 regional Fed branches since the central bank system was created in 1914. Read more.
⚓ Dan Shaughnessy writes that Tom Brady is quickly becoming “The Man in the Arena Who Won’t Go Away.” Read more.
What’s on tap today
E-mail events to 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.
⚓ House and Senate committees are expected to vote on Rhode Island’s redistricting map this afternoon.
⚓ A special commission seeking to reduce the incarceration rates of women meets at 2 p.m. Here’s the agenda.
⚓ The state Board of Elections meets at 3 p.m. Here’s the agenda.
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
Alexa Gagosz talks to Jason Tranchida about his effort to put a spotlight on the 1919 Newport Naval sex scandal. Listen to all of our podcasts here.
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