As Rhode Island runs its one millionth COVID-19 test, State officials are urging Rhode Islanders to recommit to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including getting tested whenever you are experiencing symptoms and getting tested regularly if you are eligible to participate in Rhode Island's asymptomatic testing program.
"While Rhode Island's COVID-19 numbers are not moving in the right direction, we absolutely have the power to change our trajectory. We all need to be wearing our masks when we're around people we don't live with, limiting our groups, and avoiding non-essential activities with people outside our households as the holidays approach," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). "Testing is also critical. By getting tested, you are helping to keep the people around you safe by limiting the spread of infection, and you are helping the entire state's fight against COVID-19. In particular, testing in our hardest hit communities is key to our work of narrowing health disparities and ensuring that people in certain ZIP codes and people of color do not continue to suffer the impacts of COVID-19 disproportionately."
Starting with the work happening at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories, Rhode Island has emerged as a national testing leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Rhode Island has run 1,015,720 tests. 408,302 unique people have been tested. 29,594 cases have been identified.
People who have symptoms of COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider to schedule a test. The symptoms of COVID-19 are a new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, recent loss of taste or smell, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose or stuffy nose, and fatigue.
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home until they get tested and receive all their test results. You should also let the people in your life know that you have symptoms and are being tested, and encourage them to stay at home as well (and monitor for symptoms). If a person has symptoms of COVID-19 – especially a new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or recent loss of taste or smell – everyone in the household should stay home until that person has been tested (and has a negative result).
People can get tested if they are asymptomatic if they are in one of the following groups:
- People who work in high-contact occupations. This includes, but is not limited to, barbers, child care workers, clergy, cosmetologists, first responders, gym and exercise trainers, healthcare professionals, personal care services (nail technicians, massage therapists, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmeticians, manicurists, body piercers, and tanning facility staff), public transit drivers, and restaurant workers. - Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 39. - People who recently attended a large protest or demonstration. - Rhode Islanders planning to travel to a state that requires a COVID-19 test to avoid extended quarantine. - People who are coming to Rhode Island from a place with elevated cases.
To schedule a test, asymptomatic people should visit portal.ri.gov. Tests are run at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, at the Stop & Shop sites in Cumberland and Newport, and at the Block Island Fire and Rescue station. Appointments are required at these State-run sites.
There are many other sites throughout Rhode Island where asymptomatic people can get tested that are not operated by the State, including urgent care centers, healthcare facilities, and community health centers. A list of those sites is available online.
Rhode Island has implemented a targeted testing strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 statewide, with an emphasis on more vulnerable populations. The three facets to Rhode Island's COVID-19 testing strategy are:
- Symptomatic testing – All people with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. This allows Rhode Island to quickly identify cases and get people into isolation and quarantine. - Outbreak rapid response – Rhode Island uses testing as a guide to implementing infection prevention measures in higher risk and higher density settings where outbreaks are occurring, such as nursing homes and other congregate living settings. - Sentinel Early Warning System – Rhode Island is doing broad, population-level testing and testing in high-risk groups to monitors incidence of COVID-19. This enables quick, targeted responses to potential clusters. (Asymptomatic testing is a part of Rhode Island's Sentinel Early Warning System.)
- More information about testing is available online (health.ri.gov/covid). - For general questions about COVID-19, call 401-222-8022. - To report a concern about a business and COVID-19 non-compliance, call 401-889-5550 or write to taskforce.dbr.ri.gov. - To report a concern about a large gathering, call 401-764-5554.
Reminders for the public:
- Practice the three Ws:
Wear your mask whenever you are around people you don't live with.
Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day (or use hand sanitizer).
Watch your distance. Try to stay at least six feet away from others when possible.
- Keep your groups consistent and small. The social gathering maximum in Rhode Island is 15 people. The smaller the group the better.
- Resources are available for people who need to stay home because of COVID-19. Please do not go into work if you are sick. (https://health.ri.gov/publications/resourceguides/COVID-19-Relief-for-Workers.pdf)