PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee was joined by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator and Senior Counselor to the President, Dr. Ashish Jha, to announce a new federally-supported Test-to-Treat site opening in Rhode Island, making the State and its partners the first in the nation to stand up a brick-and-mortar location where eligible Rhode Islanders can get tested for COVID-19 and then, if positive, immediately receive a prescription for oral antiviral medication all at a single location.
"With today's announcement, Rhode Island continues to be a leader in addressing COVID-19," said Governor McKee. "Our first-in-the-nation Test-to-Treat model will provide critical COVID-19 treatment for Rhode Islanders who test positive in an easy and convenient way. I thank the Biden Administration, and in particular Dr. Jha who continues to be an advisor to me, for their partnership and collaboration. I also want to thank the team at Clínica Esperanza for stepping up and partnering with us on this important initiative. We're proud that in launching this model we can serve as a best practice for the nation."
"The Biden Administration is thrilled to announce today that Rhode Island will officially launch the nation's first federally-supported Test-to-Treat site, with more sites planned in the coming weeks across the country. These sites are critical to ensuring easy access to lifesaving treatments that are helping to prevent serious illness and saving lives," said Dr. Jha. "COVID isn't over, but we now have more tools than ever to protect ourselves—and that's real progress. I thank Governor McKee for his partnership and extraordinary leadership in this fight."
The Test-to-Treat pilot site will be hosted by the State's nonprofit partner at Clínica Esparanza/Hope Clinic at its 85 Eagle St. location in Olneyville. Anyone who tests positive at the clinic will be referred to a clinician onsite to see if they are eligible for an oral antiviral treatment. If they are, they can receive the antiviral treatment onsite immediately. Someone may be eligible for treatment with oral antivirals if they test positive for COVID-19, are age 12 or older, are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 due to age or medical conditions, and started having mild to moderate symptoms in the last five days.
In addition to access to testing and treatment, patients can also access vaccines and boosters at this convenient one-stop shop. These services are free of charge to patients. Services will be provided to all individuals, regardless of insurance status. Patients will be accepted for same-day, walk-up visits.
This program is another important component of the State's COVID-19 endemic management strategy, as COVID-19 is a preventable, treatable disease. The initiative will be funded fully through the Biden Administration's FEMA Federal Public Assistance Program.
"When the pandemic began, I was a Providence City Councilwoman representing the 02909 zip code, which had the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state," said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, Chair of the COVID-19 Equity Council. "At that time, Clínica Esperanza and I quickly mobilized to open a walk-in test site for underinsured and uninsured community members. Today, I am proud to announce that Clínica Esperanza will offer the nation's first COVID-19 Test-to-Treat service. On behalf of 02909 and all Rhode Island, I want to thank the Biden-Harris administration for helping us launch the next phase of our COVID-19 response."
"This test-to-treat site is an important step to help ensure that all Rhode Islanders have equal access to treatment for COVID-19, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Clínica Esparanza continues to be an invaluable partner for RIDOH and the State in our work to keep health equity at the heart of our response to COVID-19," said Interim Director of Health James McDonald, MD, MPH. "Treatment is enormously effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19. I urge all eligible Rhode Islanders who test positive for COVID-19 to take advantage of treatment today."
"Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, a volunteer-run free clinic serving the communities on the West side of Providence in 'the Valley,' is looking forward to expanding our healthcare services to include the first Test-to-Treat site at the CEHC Neighborhood Health Station at 85 Eagle Street," said Anne Searls De Groot MD, Executive Director at Clínica Esperanza. "The overall COVID test positivity rate at that site has been 27% over the last 12 months, and often runs 10 times higher than the rate at other sites in the state. We are ready to provide Paxlovid to individuals who test positive at the new Test-to-Treat site. We will continue to provide vaccines and boosters for those who test negative. We thank the Biden Administration, the Rhode Island Department of Health, RI EMA and the State of Rhode Island for their willingness to focus on one of the hardest hit communities for this critically important Test-to-Treat effort. Making Test-to-Treat available to our community will save lives."
The Biden-Harris Administration launched the first phase of the Test-to-Treat initiative in March 2022 to give individuals another important way to quickly access free lifesaving treatment for COVID-19.