Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 06-04-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JUNE 4-10, 2020 WOONSOCKET 3 R.I. enters phase 2 of reopening The state entered phase 2 of its reopening plan on Monday, and Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a number of relaxed restrictions leading up to it. Here are the highlights: • Gatherings are now limited to 15 people instead of five. • Domestic travel restrictions are relaxed. A 14-day quarantine remains only in effect for those traveling to the state from a place where stay-at- home restrictions are still in effect. • Office-based businesses can allow up to one-third of their staff to return, if viewed as necessary. Everyone who can stay at home should do so. • All state parks and beaches will be open with capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions. • Houses of worship can reopen at up to 25 percent capacity with restric- tions. • Restaurants are allowed to begin indoor dining at up to 50 percent capacity and with restrictions. • Non-critical retailers and malls can further relax restrictions. • Hair care and personal services can reopen with restrictions. • Gyms and fitness studios can reopen with restrictions. • Outdoor entertainment and rec- reation activities, such as the zoo and historical sites, can resume on a lim- ited basis. • And child care services can resume. Summer camp and small group sports practices can start again June 29 with restrictions. Visit www.reopeningri.com for more. WOONSOCKET – From early March through May 22, half of all city residents who tested positive for COVID-19 at Thundermist Health Center in Woonsocket were Hispanic or Latino. Of the 254 Hispanic or Latino residents who received tests at the Clinton Street health center, 15 per- cent tested positive. The overall posi- tivity rate among city residents tested at the health center was 11 percent. The rate was even higher among members of the city's African- American community, with 20.6 percent of those tested at the health center returning positive results. The data, provided to The Valley Breeze this week by Thundermist Health Center, confirms a disturbing trend across Rhode Island that sees minority communities affected by COVID-19 at far higher rates than the population as a whole. According to data updated by the Rhode Island Department of Health on Monday, 45 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the state are among Hispanic or Latino individu- als, while 13 percent are among non- Hispanic African-Americans. Latinos and African-Americans are estimated to make up about 16 percent and 8 percent of the state's population as a whole. Lauren Nocera, associate vice presi- dent of equity initiatives and program development for Thundermist, said the trend could be due to a number of factors in the community, includ- ing poverty and structural barriers to testing. "We know that Latino folks in Woonsocket have a poverty rate that's more than twice the rate of white, non-Latino folks," he said. Members of minority communi- ties, he said, are more likely to work in low-wage essential jobs, includ- ing grocery stores, delivery drivers, cleaning and hospitals. Latino individuals, he said, are also more likely to live with more people and come in contact with more peo- ple in their homes. "There's a lot of reasons that the Latino rate could be higher that are sort of based on how we know how this disease works," he said. Nocera said the numbers are a wake-up call to health care providers that more testing needs to be con- ducted in the community. According to CDC recommendations, he said, sufficient community-based testing should return positivity rates of less than 10 percent. "Especially at the beginning, because of the limited testing resourc- es, a lot of the people that were sick and had what we called suspect COVID didn't have the ability to get a test," he said. "In those early days, Thundermist and many other providers were telling patients, 'If you're sick, stay home.' As testing resources became available, the message shifted to, 'If you have symptoms, you have to get a test.'" Since the health center opened an expanded testing site in Woonsocket in May, the agency has caught up on testing and now has more testing capacity than requests from individu- als who qualify, according to Nocera. The center, he said, is launching a robust community engagement effort to reach members of the community who may not have been aware of the importance of testing or the symp- toms of the disease. That effort includes reaching out to existing community institutions – churches, nonprofit agencies and municipal departments – to com- municate with their members about the available resources. In addition to higher poverty rates, said Nocera, minority communities face factors such as immigration status and lan- guage barriers that could prevent them from seeking testing. The overall positivity rate at the health center – including individuals who may have traveled from other communities to receive a test – is 9.9 percent. That number is only slightly higher than the 9.5 percent positivity rate statewide since the start of the pandemic. According to data from the RIDOH, 544 positive COVID- 19 cases had been identified in Woonsocket as of May 29. These include at least 240 cases in the city's nursing homes, contributing to an overall positivity rate among city resi- dents of 15 percent. Thundermist COVID-19 data shows city minorities testing positive at higher rates By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com A vehicle pulls up to the test site at THUNDERMIST HEALTH CENTER in Woonsocket. Data provided by Thundermist this week shows Latino and African- American residents are testing positive for COVID-19 at far higher rates than the population as a whole. 4 WHEEL ALIGNMENT Starting at $ 89.95 WIpEr bLAdE sET Most Cars $ 20.20 RI State Inspection $55 WE'RE OPEN FOR ALL YOUR SERVICE NEEDS 36 BLACKSTONE STREET WOONSOCKET 401-766-3270 WWW.TERRYAUTOLTD.COM Gil & Meika WE BUY CARS NOW CARRYING… Falken Tires! FREE 2 Year Road Hazard Warranty. Pass/LT 2013 F150 CrEW CAb, XTr Loaded, 72K miles $ 21,495 THINK sprING! Have your vehicle checked before Summer Travel

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