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Rhode Island to close 6 school COVID-19 testing sites

July 16, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is shutting down six state-run COVID-19 testing sites that since September 2020 have exclusively served school and child care students and staff.

The sites will not be needed as testing will be available on-site at schools in the fall, and because testing is now more accessible in traditional health care settings, the state Department of Health said in a statement Thursday.

The sites will end operations on July 31.

They are at the Stop & Shop in Bristol; the Stop & Shop in Cranston; the YMCA in Lincoln; the Manton Avenue Stop & Shop in Providence; Fidelity Investments in Smithfield; and the Walmart in Westerly.

The state’s plan for full in-person learning for the fall includes on-site testing, with school districts able to design and resource their plans. Options will include symptomatic testing, outbreak testing, and asymptomatic testing.

The sites were opened in September to support the return to in-person learning and child care.

Five school and child care testing sites will remain open.

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RMV APPOINTMENTS

An online reservation system put in place at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic has proved so successful that it is being made permanent, an agency spokesperson said.

The reservation system has cut the average wait time from three and a half hours in 2017 to 12 minutes now, Paul Grimaldi told The Providence Journal.

The system was put in place in March 2020 to control the number of people in DMV offices.

But it wasn’t perfect. Some people complained that it can take weeks to get an online reservation.

An upgrade to the agency’s computer system should alleviate that and “will make more appointments available to more people faster,” Grimaldi said.

The new system will also put an end to a reservation “black market” in which someone would book 20 or 30 appointments then try to sell them to people desperate for one.

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA

Rhode Island’s coronavirus transmission rate remains in the moderate zone, although it is inching upward, according to state Department of Health data released Friday.

The number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days was 23.5 on Friday, up from 16.2 on Monday. Anything under 49.9 is considered moderate.

The department also reported 45 new confirmed cases, a 0.9% daily positivity rate, but no new virus-related deaths.

The number of people in the state fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is now nearly 647,000.