Virus Updates: Immunizations Down; Phase 3 Pending

by | Jun 26, 2020

By Hope McKinney

Data: The Department of Health said there were 25 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Rhode Island to 16,661. There were also 7 deaths, for a total of 927. The number of new cases in East Greenwich remains at 78. Find all the most recent data at the DOH data hub HERE.

At Gov. Gina Raimondo’s press conference Friday afternoon, she strongly encouraged parents to bring their children to the doctor to get checked and immunized before school begins.

In the thick of the crisis in April and May, Raimondo said there was a 52 percent drop of immunization rates among children between ages 2 and 7. She also noted the significant drop in healthy visits in the past few months. As schools plan to reopen in September, Raimondo said this is unacceptable and could spiral into even worse health issues on top of COVID-19.

“We as a community have to get on this,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of time to fix it. We basically have summer to get kids immunized. If we don’t, we’ll have real issues when school opens, flu season starts and when winter comes.”

Raimondo told parents who have a child under 2 years old or are ages 4, 11 or 16 who need a vaccine to call their doctor, primary care provider or pediatrician and make an appointment today or within the next week. 

In particular, she said, pediatricians are urging parents with 4-year-olds who will start pre-K in the fall to make sure they get their vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). 

To parents still afraid to go to the doctor or to bring their children to the doctor, she emphasized that physicians are going the extra mile to make sure it’s a clean and safe environment. For reassurance, you can head HERE and click on “Healthcare” to see what it’ll look like when you go to the doctor. 

“Physicians are bending over backwards to make sure it’s safe to take children in to get immunized,” Raimondo said. “The bigger risk is you not taking your kids to be immunized.”

Every week, the Pediatric Advisory Council and Raimondo will be looking at data to keep track of the number of children receiving immunizations. The council will also have office hours late at night and on weekends. Raimondo said the state will work directly with school districts to make sure every child gets immunized. For more information or assistance, call Health Exchange at 855-840-4774 or go to their website.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the department of health, announced that Rhode Island had its first confirmed case of multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a rare condition where different parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, eyes and gastrointestinal organs. The school-aged child is hospitalized on a regular floor and is doing well. The child tested positive for COVID-19. 

Alexander-Scott said MIS-C can be serious but most children diagnosed have recovered with medical care. COVID-19 is contagious but MIS-C is not contagious.  

“Decreasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 simply means the chances of even having to deal with MIS-C in children is almost negligible,” she said. “It’s very low. This syndrome may sound concerning but we are talking about a rare condition.”

She also gave an update on the situation at the Veterans Home, where 19 residents tested positive for the virus. Of those, 5 have passed away, all of whom had underlying medical conditions. The administrators at the home worked with the National Guard to comprehensively provide testing and keep all of the residents safe. 

On Thursday, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the Christopher Columbus statue in Providence would be taken down after an increased amount of vandalism and protests to remove it entirely. It is unclear whether or not it will be removed permanently. Raimondo said she thought it was a good decision.

“I think the mayor decided if he could remove that to alleviate tension and the threat of violence, it was a good thing to do,” she said.

On Monday, Raimondo said she plans to announce when Phase 3 will officially begin. She will likely address travel restrictions from other states and very large events. She wants to take the weekend to assess, consult with experts and look at where other states are with the virus as a way to take extra caution before transitioning to more flexible guidelines. The executive order for Phase 2 expires at the end of the day on Monday. Guidelines for Phase 3 3 can be found HERE.

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