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Rhode Island Announces COVID Vaccination Status Mobile App

Gov. Dan McKee said the state will soon allow residents to prove their vaccination status with an app, which will be voluntary and businesses will still decide if they want to require proof of vaccination.

(TNS) — Following states including California, Colorado and New Jersey, Rhode Island will soon offer an app so residents can easily prove their COVID vaccination status, Gov. Dan McKee announced Wednesday.

Called 401 Health, the app will be downloadable for use on cellphones, tablets and other devices. According to Tom McCarthy, executive director of the state Health Department's COVID Response Unit, the app is being tested and should be available to the general public within about two weeks.

"We have been working for quite some time for the right national standard that will allow Rhode Islanders to travel nationally, internationally, and be recognized as a group for their vaccination status," McCarthy said. The current CDC-issued paper records of vaccination are inconvenient, he said.

The software is "a common platform that CVS, Walgreens and many of our pharmacies are using organization-wide and many other states are also using," McCarthy said. The app and the platform, known as the SMART Health Card, will draw from information on file at portal.ri.gov. It will be voluntary, not mandated, officials said during McKee's coronavirus news conference Wednesday morning at Northern Lincoln Elementary School.

According to McKee, it will still be up to individual businesses to determine whether proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Although several states have embraced what are sometimes called "vaccine passports," others including Florida have banned them or strictly limited their use. When signing legislation in May to ban them, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, "in Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected, and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision."

In other developments Wednesday, McKee and Rhode Island Department of Health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state is carefully monitoring the spread of the omicron variant. No cases have been detected in Rhode Island, Alexander-Scott said, but the CDC announced Wednesday afternoon that the first case in the nation had been identified in California.

"The state's entire COVID response team is tracking very closely the situation, watching for the omicron variant," Alexander-Scott said. As with the delta variant, which now accounts for nearly all cases of COVID in Rhode Island, the keys to protection should the latest variant arrive here are vaccination, mask-wearing in most indoor settings and regular testing, Alexander-Scott said.

The director also reported increases in positive test results for all age groups in the period from the week before Halloween through the week ending Saturday, which was two days after Thanksgiving.

Particularly striking were jumps in the 5- to 9-year-old group - from a weekly rate of 220 cases per 100,00 population to 567 per 100,000 - and in the 10- through-14-year-old group, from 164 cases per 100,000 to 486 per 100,000. Rhode Island's approximately 80,000 children age 5 to 11 became eligible for vaccination during this time, and the latest data show that 20,279, about 25 percent, have received at least one dose.

Test-to-Stay Program Expanded



Meanwhile, McKee announced that the state's test-to-stay program, which was piloted about a month ago in Westerly, would be expanded to any other district that is interested in participating.

In test-to-stay, a student who has been exposed to a COVID-19 case in the classroom but remains asymptomatic can remain in class if they receive a negative rapid test at school for seven consecutive days.

McKee said that in Westerly, the program had saved 315 school days for children who were able to go to class rather than stay home and quarantine. Deputy Education Commissioner Anna Riley said no COVID cases had been tied to children who had been allowed to attend class due to test-to-stay.

Test-to-stay has also been launched successfully in Lincoln, according to schools Supt. Lawrence Filippelli, who said "we're excited about this because with the approval of the Department of Health, we are able to keep our kids in school."

Calls for More Mask-Wearing



McKee and Alexander-Scott called on more Rhode Islanders to wear masks indoors, saying that only 20 percent of the state's residents report doing so when it is not required.

But McKee said he did not plan to implement an indoor mask mandate.

The Health Department on Wednesday reported three more coronavirus-related deaths and 978 additional cases of COVID-19, along with 19,666 negative tests, for a 4.7 percent positive rate. There were 169 COVID-positive hospital patients at last count, up from 155 reported Tuesday, with 19 in intensive care.

COVID By the Numbers


Cases in R.I.: 192,741 (978 reported Wednesday)

Negative tests in R.I.: 5,837,575 (19,666 reported Wednesday; 4.7 percent positive rate)

R.I. COVID-related deaths: 2,935 (3 reported Wednesday)

Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 169 (19 in intensive care)

Fully vaccinated in R.I.: 764,626 (853,044 at least partially vaccinated)

Cases in Mass.: 919,097

Mass. COVID-related deaths: 19,404

Cases in U.S.: 48,619,375

U.S. COVID-related deaths: 780,989


©2021 www.providencejournal.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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