DEM Director Janet Coit announced Thursday there will be abbreviated high school football, girls volleyball and unified volleyball seasons this year – with precautions – with games held March into April. All three sports normally run in the fall but were not allowed this past fall due of the higher virus risk level last September.
Coit’s announcement, made at Thursday’s weekly COVID-19 press conference, comes amid a passel of positive local news about dropping COVID-19 rates and related hospitalizations, improved vaccination rates, and even a $64 million FEMA grant to help the state and cities and towns distribute vaccines.
According to Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the state Department of Health, the state’s percent positivity dropped to 1.8, below the oft-heralded goal of 2 percent. And hospitalizations were down to 163 people. “This number has been steadily falling since early December,” she said, noting Rhode Island had seen a 65 percent decrease in hospitalizations since December, compared to the national average of 45 percent.
Alexander-Scott has said the reason for the precipitous drop in hospitalizations was Rhode Island’s approach to vaccinations, targeting the very highest risk individuals first. That approach, harder to carry out than the take-all-comers approach implemented by some states, caused the Rhode Island to land at the very bottom of the vaccination rate just a week ago. Since then, Rhode Island has been rising, with the opening of two state-run vaccination sites as well as the continued efforts of municipalities and retail pharmacies Walgreens and CVS.
Since Monday – when the state opened vaccine appointments to those 65 and older – more than 40,000 people have booked appointments through March 10.
“Our vaccination rate has increased 100 percent since last week,” said Alexander-Scott, who said the state overall was delivering 6,600K doses a day. She announced the opening of two additional state-run mass-vaccination sites, one in Middletown (in the old Benny’s on West Main Road) and the other in Woonsocket at the old Sears building at Mendon and Diamond Hill roads).
One request from Alexander-Scott? Do NOT arrive more than 15 minutes before your scheduled vaccination time. Doing that causes traffic and other logistical headaches, she said.
If you are 65 or older here’s how to get a vaccine appointment:
- To make an appointment through the state, go to vaccinateRI.org. Vaccine appointments are added beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and beginning at 5 p.m. on Fridays.
- Register HERE with the Town of East Greenwich, which will contact you when appointments at Swift Community Center are available.
- To make an appointment at CVS (do NOT call your local store). Go to www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.
- To make an appointment at Walgreens (do NOT call your local store). Go HERE.
Back to sports, EG Athletic Director Casie Rhodes said they were working on making football as safe as possible. “If the weather can stay like this, we’re great,” she said Thursday evening. Rain is OK – the turf field drains well. But colder temps could bring ice, decidedly not what you want for running the field.
Rhodes said they had a crew on the field Thursday working to have it ready for play. “We’re going to take it day-by-day.”
The football team started conditioning workouts this week, with a five-game schedule planned. Scrimmages can start the week of March 15, with the first scheduled games planned for the last weekend in March. Rhodes said she was aiming for Saturday daytime games to keep things as warm as possible.
Meanwhile, the girls volleyball season begins Monday, with the first game set for March 19. The Unified Volleyball team will play five games – no playoffs this year – and the first game will be the end of March.
Of course, winter sports are not done, thanks to a lot of EG winning. The girls basketball team plays La Salle at La Salle Friday night; the Boys play in the quarter finals on Monday, versus the winner of a Johnston-Coventry matchup.
Oh, and if you’re keeping track and all things proceed as hoped for, the spring sports season will begin April 26.