Top Doctor Says RI Needs New Strategy to Combat Coronavirus Disaster in State

Thursday, November 12, 2020

 

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Governor Gina Raimondo

The pace of growth of new coronavirus cases is now doubling in less than a week and on Wednesday, Rhode Island recorded 919 new cases.

At the present pace, Rhode Island will potentially face close to 2,000 new cases daily by Thanksgiving — a number that will overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

Covid Act Now --  the non-profit data organization comprised of researchers from Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center, and Harvard Global Health Institute -- has tapped Rhode Island's trajectory as “Critical” for two weeks.

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Modeling by the University of Washington’s IHME finds that at a worst-case scenario, Rhode Island could realize more than 1,800 additional deaths by the end of January.

Rhode Island’s cases are exploding.

Dr. Michael Fine, the former Rhode Island Director of Health who flagged the state’s upswing in cases in September and has warned that the state needed be more aggressive in controlling the spread, says Rhode Island needs a new strategy.

“What we are doing is simply too little and too late,” said Fine.

He said the state needs to implement seven new strategies to slow the spread and avoid a health and economic disaster. He said the state cannot wait for the federal government 70 days from now. "We need a Marshall Plan approach," said Fine, referring to the post-WWII effort by the U.S. to inject billions to rebuild Europe.

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Dr. Michael Fine

Fine recommends the immediate implementation of the following:


- Deploy More Healthcare Workers: 4,000 additional healthcare workers immediately be deployed, working on population management, isolation housing support, and masking compliance

- Isolate Infected in Hotels; Isolation Housing for 7000-10000 people a night - if someone has the virus they leave their home to avoid family spread

- Lockdown and Pay Businesses to Close: Statewide lockdown with full financial support for people and businesses for 2-6 weeks, until each city is down to 2 new cases per 100,000 a day -- a standard far lower than the Raimondo administration's failed standard of 100 new cases per 100,000 per week

- Transform Testing Strategy: Twice a week asymptomatic PCR testing for anyone working out of their house  (likely 100,000 tests per day).  Need 24-hour turn around on testing to be most effective. Fine says state should stop symptomatic testing unless a person needs hospitalization.  Symptomatic people belong in out-of-home isolation - hotels 

- De-Emphasis of Contact Tracing - It is Too Late: Use Contact tracing for institutional outbreaks only. There is too much virus to trace infections now

- Regional Approach: A regional compact with Mass and Connecticut for all openings and closings

- Keep Schools Open, But Expand Testing: "In a first iteration, I might keep schools open as they are," said Fine. We have good control there.  Only move testing of teachers student and staff to two times a week. 

- Masking and Penalties: A strong public education campaign to promote masking and citations for those who do not comply.

Fine warns that without dramatic action and immediate action Rhode Island could be devastated over the next few months both from a public health level and economically.

The pace of growth of new coronavirus cases is now doubling in less than a week and on Wednesday, Rhode Island recorded 919 new cases. 

At the present pace, Rhode Island will potentially face close to 2,000 new cases daily by Thanksgiving — a number that will overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

 
 

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