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Brown switches to remote-only classes a week early

November 17, 2020 GMT

Brown University is switching to online-only classes a week earlier than originally scheduled in response to a rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases both in the community and on campus, President Christina Paxson said in a statement Tuesday.

Remote-only learning for all undergraduate and graduate classes will begin Wednesday, instead of Nov. 25, she said in a statement on the Ivy league school’s website.

“The safety of our community members and their families remains our top priority,” Paxson wrote. “With one week until Thanksgiving Break, and especially for members of our community who want to avoid carrying infection to their homes or wherever they may travel in and beyond Providence to be with family or friends, this is the time to be especially vigilant about following public health measures at all times.”

After Thanksgiving break, Brown’s fall term is scheduled to conclude with a weeklong remote reading period from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, followed by a remote final exam period Dec. 7 to 11.

Residence halls will remain open until Dec. 12, including through Thanksgiving break, for students who wish to remain on campus.

Students won’t be allowed to leave for Thanksgiving and then return to campus.

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PROVIDENCE GATHERING LIMITS

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza disclosed publicly for the first time on Tuesday that his mother nearly died after contracting the coronavirus.

An emotional Elorza said his parents as well as an aunt and uncle fell sick with the disease in March. He revealed that during a news conference to announce new limits on social gatherings in the city that are tougher than current statewide standards.

His mother got so sick she spent two weeks in the hospital on a ventilator.

“We almost thought that we were going to lose her,” he said.

He disclosed her sickness to drive home the seriousness of the disease.

“I wanted to share this message because there are still a lot of folks out there in the community that still say that this sickness is nothing but a bad flu,” Elorza said. “For a lot of us thankfully, it doesn’t hit us as hard as it does for others. But when it hits hard, this thing is lethal.”

Elorza said starting Sunday, social gatherings will be limited to five people, half the state limit, or only those within an immediate household.

Indoor catered events will be limited to 10 people, down from the state limit of 25, while outdoor catered events will be limited to 25 people, down from the state maximum of 75, he said.

All such events will require a city permit and a coronavirus prevention plan.

The city will try to accommodate larger events that are already scheduled, he said.

The executive order was based on data that shows the virus is spreading in small informal social gatherings and what he called larger “superspreader” events.

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UPWARD TRENDS

Rhode Island’s seven-day average positivity rate and seven-day average of daily new cases continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island has risen over the past two weeks from 3.39% on Nov. 2 to 6.03% on Monday. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has risen over the past two weeks from more than 442 on Nov. 2 to almost 845 on Monday.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported 605 new confirmed cases and eight more fatalities. The state’s death toll from the disease is now 1,278 people.

The number of patients in the hospital with the disease rose to 265 as of Sunday, the latest day for which the information was available, up from 256 the previous day, and the most since May 17.

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CENTRAL FALLS RESTRICTIONS

Restaurants and bars in Central Falls have been ordered by the mayor to offer takeout and delivery only in response to a surge of coronavirus cases across the city.

“The second wave of COVID-19 is proving to be brutal to our state; but especially harsh in our city as Central Falls residents continue to suffer a disproportionate burden of disease,” Mayor James Diossa said in a statement Monday. “Restrictions like these are difficult for businesses and workers, but we must do everything we can to preserve the health and safety of our residents and to preserve human life.”

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The order takes effect Thursday.

Also starting Thursday, access to City Hall is being restricted. Although residents can pay taxes without an appointment, appointments will be required to conduct business in the Clerk’s office, Diossa said.