Above: People lined up outside of Swift Community Center for their vaccination appointment Tuesday.
East Greenwich has begun setting up appointments for 90 doses of vaccine the town will receive next week. The town is on track to receive 90 doses a week for the next four weeks, which will go to residents 75 and older who have registered. (To register, fill out this form or call 401-886-8626, ext. 1, or 401-886-8669). The state will be distributing a total of 7,000 vaccine doses to municipalities; residents 75 and older need to check with their own municipality to sign up for an appointment.
At Monday’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Andy Nota said East Greenwich is set to receive 360 total doses over the course of four weeks. This number could be higher if they are able to pull extra doses from each vial. The vaccines will be distributed on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon for EG residents only (until now, Swift had served as a regional clinic).
Beyond the municipal vaccination programs, 14 Walgreens pharmacies across the state have begun vaccinating people 75 years or older by appointment. You can schedule an appointment HERE or by calling Walgreens. CVS began administering the vaccine at select sites in Providence and Johnson on Sunday, and the EG store on South Country Trail will also be offering vaccinations. You can schedule an appointment HERE or by calling CVS. According to the state Department of Health (RIDOH), more groups will become eligible for pharmacy vaccination over time.
At the weekly COVID-19 briefing, RIDOH Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state is opening a statewide vaccination site at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence next Thursday, Feb. 18. RIDOH will announce the computer link and phone number to use to book appointments on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Two weeks worth of appointments will be open at that time – again for people 75 and older.
A complete vaccination timeline based on age and underlying health conditions can be viewed on RIDOH’s website.
Nota explained the CVS/Walgreens vaccination program is federal, not part of the state’s response, so the list of people they have to vaccinate may differ from that at the state level. He acknowledged this has led to some confusion.
“Now [people who want to get vaccinated are] faced with options,” Nota said. “So I think there are some that are struggling with what to do and is it the right thing to be on multiple lists? ‘Am I high enough on the town’s list to get the vaccine in this next allotment?’ ‘Am I more comfortable going to a pharmacy or am I more comfortable in a more intimate setting going to Swift where I’m going to know my neighbors and other people in the community?’ So I think that’s a bit of a struggle.”
Nota also referenced the confusion some residents faced regarding when they would be eligible to receive the vaccine.
“Because all of the classifications overlap, to some degree, there’s no clean break, which makes it challenging to understand when things begin and when they end,” Nota said.
Military veterans and those with developmental disabilities are able to get the vaccine through different channels. Older veterans or those with underlying health concerns should check with the VA. People with developmental disabilities or a caregiver should reach out to their social worker or any agency with whom they are affiliated.
RIDOH expects to open between 5 to 10 mass vaccination sites later this month, depending on how much vaccine the state receives.
Nota said he anticipated use of Swift Community Center as a vaccination site will be phased out due to its relatively small size.
“I think what we’re trying to do is exit gracefully,” Nota said. “I think the town has been very generous with its support and hosting up to this point, we’re trying to get as deep into our senior population as possible. And then I think in the coming weeks, you’re going to see a transition to a different set of regions.”
Some Virus Restrictions Eased
In light of the recent continuing downward trend of COVID-19 cases, state officials are loosening some restrictions on social gatherings, bars and restaurants, and houses of worship and other “venues of assembly,” Alexander-Scott announced at Thursday’s briefing. The changes go into effect Friday (2/12).
After three months of single-household gatherings only, the state is now allowing two families to gather together indoors or three outdoors. Alexander-Scott said people should still wear masks when with people with whom they do not live.
Restaurants may allow up to four people in a group to sit together at a bar, with a maximum stay of 90 minutes and no service past 11 p.m. Bar patrons must be seated.
Capacity limits for houses of worship, theaters and other large indoor gathering spots are increasing to 40 percent (up from 25 percent), with a limit of 125 people (really large venues can appeal to the state to be able to have more than 125 people). But, Alexander-Scott said, remote worship and performances are still preferable.
While the number of cases is dropping (find the latest data HERE), she continued to urge everyone to wear a mask (a high-quality mask with a snug fit is best), maintain social distancing and wash hands, especially because of the new variants. The state has not yet identified any variants here but Alexander-Scott said she anticipated that would happen.
With additional reporting by Elizabeth McNamara.