Update from the Medical Center

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 12:00pm

The following was issued by The Block Island Medical Center on Thursday, June 11:

Dear Block Island community,

There are no new suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community at this time. This is good news and a direct result of the diligence and care everyone is exercising in their daily routines. As the State and the Island gradually reopen, it is inevitable that new cases of COVID-19 cases will be confirmed on the island. The local Emergency Ordinance has been modified and now falls in line with the guidance coming from the Governor’s Office and the Rhode Island Department of Health. The ReOpen RI plan is available at https://www.reopeningri.com/ the website includes useful tools and templates for reopening businesses, printable signage and guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The ReOpen RI Plan includes three phases and to move between phases there must be a 14-day downturn in the number of cases or a 14 day trend in stable or declining hospitalizations. The decision to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 was made based on four indicators from state-wide data from after the stay at home order was lifted:

  • Hospital capacity less than 70% (Currently at 30%)
  • New hospitalizations less than 30 per day (Currently well below)
  • The Rate of Spread (R-Value) less than 1.1 (Currently <0.7)
  • Doubling rate of hospitalizations 30 days or less. (Currently rate is declining; 6 weeks-ago doubling occurred every 3 days)

It is encouraging to see improved data from metropolitan areas around Rhode Island and the country, but the epidemic is not over. As more visitors come and go from the Island it is important to remain vigilant in our efforts to mitigate the spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across all states, including Rhode Island, and remains a threat to the health of our community. As of June 9, Rhode Island has 15,691 confirmed cases and 808 deaths. The sobering fact is that the United States now has more than 1.9 million cases and 110,925 deaths.  The immense human toll cannot be exaggerated.   

Stay alert!

It is critical that we consider the implications of spreading the virus and maintain safe health practices.

Everyone should follow these daily habits:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you

have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.
  • Do not gather in groups. Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
  • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.


RIDOH has developed an app for easy access to resources and information about COVID-19. The app also includes a location diary and symptom checker.

The good news is that outdoor activities are encouraged, as long as you can continually maintain social distancing or wear a face covering. State Parks are opening with guidelines and on Block Island, our beaches and trails offer a great way to get outside, relieve stress through exercise and improve health and well-being.

COVID-19 TESTING on Block Island Status Update

  • Serologic Testing: The Medical Center now has the ability to obtain limited serological tests (antibodies) in addition to tests for the presence of the virus itself.  It is important to note that although there are manufacturers who have notified the FDA that their serology tests (antibodies) have been validated, and the FDA has approved the distribution of the evidence, data demonstrating the accuracy and reliability of the tests have not been reviewed by the FDA. In addition, while antibody detection is helpful, it does not definitively determine the time of infection, whether the infection is still active or not, and whether the tested individual remains contagious. The standardization and interpretation of serological test results are currently being developed by the scientific community. We are following these events closely.  At this time, we can offer serological testing on a case-by-case basis.
  • Point-of-care testing: Rapid testing is available and negative results will be confirmed with an additional test sample sent off-island for laboratory processing. The tests and the lab processing fees are paid for through federal funding; office visit fees are in accordance with insurance guidelines.
  • We encourage anyone with symptoms, possible exposure or concerns to contact the Medical Center by phone to discuss their signs and symptoms or the possible need for testing.
  • Keep in mind that the symptoms of COVID-19 are varied.  Most people are aware that it can cause fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, loss of smell, cough and tightness in the chest, however it can also cause sore throat, GI symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea or severe fatigue.
  • People who have been in direct contact with a COVID-19 patient are at increased risk.

There are free testing clinics on the mainland. Please click here for information.

RI's Department of Health  has information on services and helplines to help during this crisis.

Mental and Behavioral Health Resources 24/7 Crisis Lines

  • BH Link • Tel: 401-414-5465 • Location: People can also introduce in person to 975 Waterman Ave, East Providence, RI 02914
  • Kids' Link RI (specifically for children and adolescents) • Tel: 1-855-543-5465
  • Disaster Helpline • Tel: 1-800-985-5990
  • Community Care Alliance • Tel: 401-235-7120
  • Gateway Healthcare • Tel: 401-723-1915 or 401-553-1031
  • Newport County Mental Health Center • Tel: 401-846-1213
  • The Providence Center • Tel: 401-274-7111
  • Thrive Behavioral Health • Tel: 401-738-4300
  • Safe call now (for first responders and their families) • Tel: 1-206-459-3020 24/7

Lines of text

  • TalkWithUs Text at 66746
  • Send CONNECT text to 741741
  • BLUE Text to 741741 (law enforcement only) 24/7

Suicide prevention lines

  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

Current Medical Center operations

The Medical Center is open and returning to in-person visits. Telehealth visits are still available as well.

The Medical Center recognizes the need for continued primary and urgent care for our patients and that unique health concerns arise at a time of uncertainty or crisis. We are here and continue to respond to the needs of our community.

The Medical Center is scheduling phone visits and face-to-face visits. Call (401) 466-2974 ext. 3, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to schedule an appointment.

  • The Medical Center continues to respond to all acute care and urgent problems.
  • We are making phone service or video call visits when needed, but we have resumed regular face-to-face appointments. Calls or appointments can be scheduled by calling (401) 466-2974 ext. 3, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
  • BIHS behavioral health services will continue by phone or videoconference. Call the Medical Center if you need help contacting a provider.
  • PT telehealth visits are still available; REGULAR PT visits have resumed with precautions; please call Alison Warfel to make an appointment. (401) 466-2974 ext. 6
  • All visits to the BIHS Wellness and Risk Reduction Program are resuming on a case-by-case basis with precautions.
  • Call the Medical Center for any questions or if you want to schedule a telehealth in person or for medical or behavioral health.
  • During this anxiety provoking time, if you or a loved one is having difficulty coping, contact the medical center for help.  We are here to help, and our behavioral health team is here to provide telehealth services as needed.

Online resources to support your health, check them out!