Rhode Island

RI to Review Vaccine Safety and Distribution

The subcommittee will be made up of epidemiologists, physicians and pharmacists, the governor said

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Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday the launch of a subcommittee to evaluate the safety of potential COVID-19 vaccines as well as their distribution to the residents of Rhode Island.

"We're not going to put a vaccine out to the people of Rhode Island until it is safe," Raimondo said during her weekly coronavirus news conference.

The subcommittee, which will be named later in the day, will be made up of epidemiologists, physicians and pharmacists, the governor said.

With all the anxiety and misinformation about potential vaccines, the governor warned residents to be skeptical of anyone fast-tracking vaccines.

"A vaccine is not a silver bullet. First we have to get it. Then we have to distribute it," she said.

Once a vaccine is available and ready to be distributed, the governor warned it will also take some time for people to build up immunity. She added that she will take an approved vaccine.

"I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do," Raimondo said.

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 145 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday and one new fatality. There have now been 1,126 confirmed deaths and 25,776 cases, according to health officials.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is 1.5%, according to the health department's daily report.

"If you look at how Rhode Island is doing relative to our neighbors or other states, you should feel confident," Raimondo said.

The governor added that the point of doing so much testing is to find the positive cases and to isolate them.

The state's K-12 testing system has identified 109 positive COVID-19 cases out of nearly 6,000 tests, Raimondo said.

"This data should give you some confidence," Raimondo said, adding that most schools that have had a COVID-19 case have had only one.

Raimondo also put out a call Wednesday to retired teachers and anyone looking to change careers to help with virtual learning and substitute teaching in Rhode Island amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"My heart goes out to teachers. These guys are stressed and stretched," Raimondo said.

The Department of Education is offering a free training course with the goal of training up to 200 people to substitute or teach online this fall. Anyone interested in training can sign up on Back2SchoolRhodeIsland.

Meanwhile, the University of Rhode Island is requiring all students to get tested for the coronavirus and is setting up two testing locations on campus.

The mandatory testing announced Monday that applies to asymptomatic students who live on and off-campus is to assess the overall health of the entire student body. The school said the goal is to continue in-person classes through Thanksgiving.

NBC10 Boston and Associated Press
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