by Max Waite ’21
As of Feb. 22, eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has expanded in Rhode Island to those who are 65 and older. Though this age group is now eligible, it has already proven to be difficult to book vaccination appointments at various testing centers and pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. Appointments are quickly being booked extending into the immediate future as more groups are becoming eligible for the vaccine, and citizens have expressed their frustrations with the online format’s technical issues.
Approximately 9,900 citizens were vaccinated across both state-run testing facilities during the first three days of operation. Over the past six weeks, the vaccine administration rate has increased by 89 percent in Rhode Island, with more than 211,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine having been administered to date.
Overall, the state has seen a steady decline in new cases and hospitalizations. Field hospitals in Providence and Cranston will be taken out of service, as Rhode Island has seen a 47 percent decline in hospital admissions since last month. The Rhode Island Convention Center will have its last day of patient care on Friday, Feb. 26, and Cranston’s site is scheduled to shut down within the next couple of weeks. On another note, Rhode Island has placed New Hampshire back on the state travel advisory list, along with Louisiana.
In the past seven days, Rhode Island reported the most COVID-19 deaths as a percentage of its population in the country. For the past year, the state has had the fourth-highest COVID-19 death rate in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Six percent of the population in Rhode Island has been fully vaccinated.
For Providence College students, the routine of weekly testing remains the same. Over the past week, the number of positive test results at the PC testing center has significantly declined. On Feb. 18, Rhode Island reported a 1.72 percent COVID-19 positivity rate, with an average of 2.2 percent over the course of that week. Though eligibility for vaccinations is expanding across the state, the College continues to urge students to remain conscientious of social distancing guidelines, having students remain in their pods and encouraging them to only leave for essential purposes. There have been concerns regarding the continuation of large gatherings off campus, and if the positive numbers increase significantly again, there may be trouble ahead in Friartown. In the meantime, as vaccination efforts continue to progress, it is best for everyone to continue to do whatever they can to stop the spread of the virus.