- Associated Press - Monday, March 29, 2021

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Public health officials are monitoring a recent rise in new confirmed COVID-19 cases among children ages 10 to 14 in Rhode Island.

The 10- to 14-year-old age group, which is not yet eligible for vaccines, now has the third-highest rate of weekly infections with nearly 260 cases per 100,000 people, WPRI-TV reported Monday. Only the 15- to 18-year-old and 19- to 24-year-old groups have higher weekly infection rates, according to state statistics.

“We have seen a modest increase in cases among children over the last few weeks,” state Department of Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told the station. “While much smaller in magnitude than what we have seen at other points in the pandemic, it’s something we’re watching closely.”

The reason for the uptick is still under investigation, but children have become more active in recent weeks, he said. For example, the state has seen a rise in sports-related infections, with 85 already this month compared to 65 in all of February.

“Schools continue to require regular testing of athletes, which may detect some asymptomatic cases,” Wendelken said. “Even beyond sports, we are all a little more active and mobile now. That means more people, and more young people, are in recreational venues and settings.”



Other states are seeing similar situations among young people.

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HEALTH CENTER GRANTS

Eight community health centers across Rhode Island are sharing more than $33 million in federal funding to boost coronavirus vaccination efforts, authorities said Monday.

The funding is Rhode Island’s portion of $6 billion in federal allocations to community health centers nationwide meant to expand vaccine access to underserved communities and to support essential workers, according to a statement from the office U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.

While more doses of vaccine are coming to Rhode Island, more needs to be done to increase vaccination rates and this new funding will help immunize in communities that have been hit hardest, the statement said.

The facilities in Rhode Island receiving grants are Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc. in Pawtucket; Comprehensive Community Action Family Health Services in Cranston; East Bay Community Action Program in Newport; Northwest Community Health Care in Pascoag; Providence Community Health Centers; Thundermist Health Center in Woonsocket; Tri-County Community Action Agency in Johnston; and Wood River Health Services, Inc. in Hope Valley.

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LATEST NUMBERS

Rhode Island health officials on Monday reported nearly 230 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and four new deaths, pushing the confirmed death toll since the pandemic began to 2,613.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate inched slightly higher to 2.1%, and nearly 120 people were hospitalized.

More than 212,000 Rhode Islanders are fully vaccinated, and another 330,000 have gotten an initial dose of vaccine, officials said.

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