Portsmouth-Specific Coronavirus Information

COVID-19 UPDATE - 02/25/2021

The next update will be issued Thursday, March 4th.

Situation to Date from
Town Administrator Richard Rainer 

CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO GET CURRENT INFORMATION

COVID19 Table of Statistics

TODAY’s NEW INFORMATION

  • SURVEY FOR HOMEBOUND PEOPLE WHO DESIRE COVID VACCINATIONS.  To gain information for those who are homebound and desire a COVID Vaccinator, the State requests those people or their caregivers complete an information survey at http://bit.ly/homeboundvax or call 844-930-1779.
  • HOW TO GET VACCINATED WHEN YOU BECOME ELIGIBLE.   Similar to COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island, there will be different ways to get vaccinated in Rhode Island. The three main ways that people will be able to get vaccinated are:  State-run vaccination centers, designated local pharmacies, and other local and regional vaccination sites, like clinics run by cities and towns, some hospitals and healthcare systems, community health centers, and other sites in the community. Everyone will be following the same vaccination timeline and eligibility requirements. However, some will move through their priority populations at different speeds due to population size and operational capacity.
    • State Run Vaccination Sites.  All Rhode Islanders 65 and older can now register for an appointment at one of the two State-run vaccination sites. The two State-run vaccination sites are the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence and Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston.  Two more mass-vaccination sites will open next week, one at a former Benny’s in Middletown and another at a former Sears in Woonsocket. Other options for vaccination still include going to a select retail pharmacy or a local or regional clinic.  Please only schedule an appointment in one place so that all eligible people can get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Once an appointment is made, people are guaranteed a vaccine for their time slot. Due to limited supply of the vaccine, appointments are expected to fill up quickly. RIDOH urges patience. If supply increases, additional appointments will be added accordingly.
      • Registering for Vaccination at a State-run Site.   To register to be vaccinated at one of the State-run sites, visit VaccinateRI.org.  People who cannot register online can get help by calling the automated line at 844-930-1779.  Going forward, the call center will be open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and weekends from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Through both systems, an individual can either make a personal appointment or an appointment for someone else who is in the eligible age category.
    • Local Pharmacies.  Limited vaccine will be available to eligible individuals by appointment only at select retail pharmacies.
      • CVS Health.  Vaccines in select retail pharmacies will be offered on an appointment-only basis via cvs.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and those without online access can contact customer service: 1-800-746-7287. Appointments are now available.
      • Walgreens.  Appointments can be made at select retail pharmacies through Walgreens' updated appointment scheduler at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or by calling retail pharmacies. Appointments are now available.
    • Local and Regional Vaccine Sites.  The Town has partnered with Raytheon Missiles and Defense to use its Providence Building, located in Portsmouth off West Main Road, to serve as our COVID-19 Vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) Clinic. The Town plans initially to use the facility for the vaccination of Portsmouth residents within the State-priority group, those 75 years of age and older, as doses become available.  Eligible residents 75 YOA and older who have signed up with the Town are now being contacted for the purpose of scheduling vaccine appointments which began Wednesday, February 17th. We will continue to provide updates on our web site and Emergency Management pages, social media sites, and notification emails regarding the vaccine timeline and COVID-19.
  • IT'S EASY TO SIGN UP FOR THE PORTSMOUTH 75+ YEARS OF AGE VACCINE ELIGIBILITY LIST.  As directed by the State, individuals 75 years of age (YOA) and older will be the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The Town of Portsmouth is compiling a list of residents 75+ YOA only for the Portsmouth COVID-19 vaccine program at this time. The vaccine program started February 17th, and the Town will vaccinate from oldest to youngest in this age group as vaccine doses are made available.

HOW TO GET ON THE PORTSMOUTH VACCINE 75 YOA OR OLDER ELIGIBILITY LIST 

 First, Gather Required Information:

 The following information is required to get on the eligibility list:

  1. Name of individual 75 years or older
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Contact phone number
  4. Contact email address (if utilized)

 Second, Choose Your Style of Communication:

 Either:

  1. E-mail vaccine@portsmouthri.com with required information OR
  2. Leave a message at our (401) 643-0323 hotline that is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; OR
  3. Go on-line and sign-up and enter information on our secure on-line form.

If you have already sent an e-mail or spoken to a Town Hall staff member and provided your contact information and age, you are already on the list.  No further action is required by you, and you will not receive a return phone call unless more information is required. Not leaving all required information may slow the process of being added to the list, though, so make sure you at least leave your full name, date of birth and contact phone number!

THAT'S IT!  YOU ARE NOW SIGNED UP.  See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at https://www.portsmouthri.com/1642/Vaccine-Eligibility-Procedures  for additional information.

  • VACCINE INTEREST NOTIFICATION LIST FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE YOUNGER THAN 65.  While people who are younger than 65 years of age cannot yet register to be vaccinated, they can add their contact information to a Vaccine Information Notification List to get updates as eligibility opens to new groups. Enrolling in this list does not guarantee an appointment for vaccination. To enroll in the Vaccine Information Notification List, visit portal.ri.gov
  • NEW GUIDANCE ON VISITATION TO HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES.  Anyone who isn’t sick can visit people in hospitals after going through a screening process, which is less restrictive than previously when visitors were allowed only for specific reasons, such as end-of-life visitation.  Similarly, visitation will be allowed at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities if the facility hasn’t had any new COVID-19 cases within the past two weeks. Facilities with an outbreak of more than two people are expected to contact the Health Department to discuss visitation guidelines.
  • “HIGH RISK” SPORTS CAN RESUME.  High schools will be allowed to resume “higher-risk outdoors sports,” notably football and lacrosse, with COVID-19 modifications in place. Attendance at youth sports games is still limited to family members, but interstate play will be allowed depending on current travel restrictions.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • PORTSMOUTH STATE OF EMERGENCY.  The Portsmouth State of Emergency Declaration issued March 16, 2020 has been extended through March 17, 2021.
    • Town Hall remains closed.  Business is being conducted online or via phone.
      • In person service is by appointment only.
    • The original declaration can be found here.
    • The extension order can be found here.
  • STATE GUIDANCE REGARDING COVID:

Category
Guidance
In-Person Schools
Open.
Child Care
Open.
Manufacturing / Construction
Open.
Personal Services
Open.
Retail
1 person / 100 sq. ft.
(big box = 1 / 150 sq. ft.)
Houses of Worship
40% capacity, 6 ft. spacing
Max of 125 people.
Catered Events30 people indoors.
50 people outdoors..
Bar Areas
Max 4 people (2 households) per party
Min 6 ft. spacing or 3 ft. w/barriers
Max 90; 11 p.m. closure.
Indoor Dining
50% capacity.
Two households per table.
Up to 8 people.
Offices
Remote recommended.
In-person allowed up to 33% capacity.
Gyms and Sports Facilities
Reduce spacing restriction to 6 ft.
Indoor Recreation
Reduce spacing restriction to 6 ft.

These restrictions still present additional barriers for small businesses during a time when they are already struggling.  Please shop local – they really need our support.

  • RI QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS.  Quarantine if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.  Close contact means you have been within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period.
    • 14 Days: Recommended for residents and staff of long-term care facilities and immunocompromised persons.
    • 10 Days with no testing: Quarantine at home for ten days.  Released from quarantine after 10 days but watch for symptoms and be cautious.
    • 7 Days with testing: Quarantine at home for seven days. Released from quarantine after receiving negative test result, but watch for symptoms and be cautious.
  • AVOID COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS.  As COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins, here are signs of potential scams:
    • You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
    • You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
    • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
    • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

Protect Yourself. Do not give out your personal information to unknown sources.   If you believe you have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to:

  • HHS-OIG Hotline: 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at tips.hhs.gov
  • FBI Hotline: 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at ic3.gov
  • CMS/Medicare Hotline: 1-800-MEDICARE
  • UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FRAUD.  The Department of Labor and Training is increasing efforts to detect and combat UI fraud. They have implemented artificial intelligence analysis of applications and DLT is no longer automatically approving applications from employers that pay claims directly (rather than through the UI payroll tax).
  • EVERYONE IS ENCOURAGED TO GET TESTED.  Every Rhode Islander is encouraged to get tested through the PORTAL.  Individuals do not need to belong to a certain age group or industry to qualify. The State has also reserved 3,000 more tests daily on PORTAL.RI.GOV  for people with symptoms.
    • TEST RESULTS.  If you have received a COVID-19 test and are awaiting results, go to https://portal.ri.gov/covidtestresults/s/. You do not need to wait for an email directing you to the site.
    • COVID-19 SCREENING.  COVID-19 screening is now available by appointment at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Screening at this location will be done using the BinaxNOW test, which is a type of rapid test that results in about 15 minutes. Appointments are required and can be scheduled in advance on portal.ri.gov.   
      • Results for this type of test at this location will only be communicated verbally. Testing at this location should only be used as a screening tool for people without symptoms. Rhode Islanders requiring proof of a negative test result for travel-related purposes should schedule a PCR test at a different location.
  • PLEASE STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK.  Restrictions in Rhode Island are not easing up during the coronavirus pandemic until numbers of new coronavirus cases start going down.  Of the new cases that have been examined, many of these people who tested positive had been to work while sick.  Please call 866-487-9243 if your current employer forces you to work when sick.
  • FLU SEASON AND FLU SHOTS.  The Governor has issued a plea for all Rhode Islanders to get a flu vaccination shot this season.  The goal is to avoid a situation where the flu and COVID are straining our health care system simultaneously.
  • SOCIAL GATHERINGS.  Social gathering limits are two households indoors and three households outdoors.
  • CONTACT TRACING.  The Governor and Public Health Official are urging everyone to keep track of the places you visit each day and the names of people you encounter.  If you get sick, you will be expected to give those records to the R.I. Health Department, so public health officials can track down others who might have also been exposed to the disease.
    • CRUSH COVID RI APP.  The State has released a new update of the Crush COVID mobile app designed to track people’s locations, monitor their symptoms and connect them with services and testing.  The app is named “CRUSH COVID RI” and can be downloaded at the Apple App store or Google Play.  The app offers users a way to track their travel histories and making it easier for state health officials to analyze how the disease might be spreading after someone tests positive.
    • The latest update allows users to track and log symptoms for everyone in their household.
    • It is totally voluntary, and the location tracking is user controlled.
    • The app can be used even if the user opts not to share their location data.
  • THE PORTSMOUTH EMERGENCY FOOD BANK.
    • PLEASE NOTE:  No longer send donations to Town Hall or mail to Town of Portsmouth for the Food Bank!  Please see below for instructions on how to support the Food Bank going forward.
    • Food Bank Location: St. John’s Lodge No. 1, 81 Sprague Street, Portsmouth. People in need or donating food may come to the parking lot and follow the signs.
    • Operating Hours: Wednesday and Friday 10 AM to 4 PM to get or donate food.
    • Contact the Emergency Food Bank:  Call Scott Jamieson at 401-835-3819 (or email stjohns1foodbank@gmail.com) if you have any questions or need information.
    • To Get Food: Enter the marked food lane at the Food Bank. A Food Bank volunteer will come out to your car to assist you. Please do not park or get out of your vehicle. Unfortunately, we are only able to provide food for one family per vehicle without prior arrangements. We may ask for some type of identification, but the Food Bank is available to ALL in need and NOT restricted to Portsmouth residents.
    • To Donate Food. Donations are most truly appreciated. Non-perishable, non-expired food items can be dropped off anytime between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM Wednesday and/or Friday. Bring your donation to the lodge parking lot, follow the signs and a volunteer will come out to your car to receive it. Please do not park or exit your vehicle.
      • Items needed are such things as: cereal, pancake mix, syrup, mac & cheese, peanut butter, jelly, powdered milk, baked beans, canned fruit, pasta sauce, canned pasta, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, crackers, Minute Rice packages, canned soups, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or similar.
    • To Make a Monetary Donation:  Make checks payable to the “St. John’s Lodge”. Note “Food Bank” on the check and either hand-deliver to the Food Bank or mail to “St. John’s Lodge #1, P.O. Box 587, Portsmouth, RI 02871. Please hand deliver cash donations directly at the Food Bank at St. John’s Lodge, 81 Sprague. Gift Cards to area markets will also be accepted and used primarily to purchase needed items for the Food Bank supply.
  • OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL.   If you are planning to travel to a state that requires a COVID-19 test in order to avoid extended quarantine, you can schedule a test through portal.ri.gov. Individuals will receive their results within 24-48 hours.
    • Rhode Islanders who travel to or from the states with a positivity rate greater than 5% must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island and schedule an asymptomatic test.
    • If you are traveling to Rhode Island from one of these states with a COVID-19 positivity rate of higher than 5%, you must quarantine for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms. RIDOH recommends those people get tested for COVID-19 in their home state, if possible.  RIDOH is asking out-of-state visitors to complete this certificate of compliance with out-of-state travel quarantine/testing requirements upon arriving in Rhode Island and complete this out-of-state travel screening form.
    • As an exception, you may provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 that was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island.
    • People visiting Rhode Island from out-of-state can find a place for asymptomatic testing at this link
  • USE OF MEDICAL EMERGENCY DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (MEDS) FOR FUTURE COVID-19 VACCINATIONS.  The town has a MEDS Point of Distribution (POD) plan which is being used to start dispensing a vaccine to all people in town.  The POD is partially staffed by Town Department personnel but requires many volunteers to staff the numerous positions required to operate the POD.  Although licensed medical professionals (MDs, RNs, Pharmacists, EMTs, etc.) are needed, many positions do not require any medical certifications or training.  For COVID vaccinations, those who volunteer to staff the vaccination site will be afforded the option to register for a COVID vaccination if doses are available.  There is no required training and being on the volunteer list requires no obligation to serve when called.  If you are interested in being on the MEDS POD volunteer list, please contact Rich Talipsky (401-643-0382, rtalipsky@portsmouthri.com). 
  • DUE TO THE IMPACTS UPON OUR HOUSEHOLDS BY COVID 19, Portsmouth established a team of volunteers ready to provide families with information and access to essential services.  Residents may seek assistance by completing a COVID-19 Wellness Survey that can be found by clicking here, or may call the WELLNESS CENTER HOTLINE at (401) 643-0444.
    • The survey may also be completed online at https://bit.ly/PEMA-COV19-Wellness-Survey
    • Participation in this survey is optional, but we highly encourage responses.
    • You may contact the WELLNESS HOTLINE and leave a message any time.  The Center is usually staffed workdays and messages are checked daily during regular Town Hall business hours.
    • The Team is presently updating its operational guidelines so that it may also serve during other major emergencies such as hurricanes.
    • If you have questions about this initiative, or would like to participate as a volunteer member of the team, please feel free to call Ray Perry, CEM, our Town Emergency Manager, at 401-477-2172 or e-mail him at COVID@portsmouthri.com.


ORDERS, CLOSURES and SERVICES

  • EXECUTIVE ORDERS.  All RI Executive Orders can be found here.
  • TOWN HALL.  To ensure the safety of town employees due to the risk of COVID infection and in compliance with applicable Governor’s executive orders, Town Hall business is being conducted online or via phone.  In person service is by appointment only, and only if pre-arranged with the appropriate department.  Contact details for each Town Department can be found at the Town website by clicking here.
  • PORTSMOUTH LIBRARY.  Portsmouth Free Public Library has increased its service hours.  Hours are now Monday & Tuesday from 9 AM to 8 PM, Wednesday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM, and Saturday 9 AM to 1 PM.  Patrons are requested to limit their visits to 30 minutes.  Masks are required and social distancing must be maintained.  7 public access computers are available for use by appointment or on a space available basis.  Browsing is allowed but “Grab and Go” service is also available for those who prefer it.   For further information, please call the Library at 683-9457.  
    • You can still download books and audio.  Find out more here.   Additionally, Portsmouth Free Public Library will fulfill requests for materials and have them ready for “Grab and Go” service right inside the entrance.  Items may be requested via phone at 683-9457 x 2 or via email at porlibref@gmail.com.  The items must show as AVAILABLE in the online catalog at www.portsmouthlibrary.org.
    • Wi-Fi is available 24/7 in the library parking lot.
  • PORTSMOUTH PLAYGROUNDS.  Portsmouth Playgrounds are open.  Portsmouth Department of Public Works will sanitize playground equipment on a regular basis.  Signs will be posted reminding patrons to:
    • Maintain proper social distancing of at least 6 feet.
    • Use hand sanitizer prior to and immediately after using the equipment.
    • Stay home if you feel sick.
    • Avoid crowds and seek an alternate playground if a large group is present.
    • Wear face masks as appropriate.
  • RI METRICS FOR MOVEMENT BETWEEN REOPENING PHASES.  Governor Raimondo announced four metrics the State will use to determine reopening decisions.
IndicatorMove Ahead a PhaseMove Back a Phase
Hospital CapacityLess than 70% of beds filled85% or more beds filled
New HospitalizationsConsistently 30 or fewer new hospitalizations dailyConsistently 50 or more new hospitalizations daily
Rate of SpreadR Value = 1.1 or lowerR Value = 1.3-1.5 or higher
Doubling Rate of HospitalizationsHospitalizations doubling 30 days or moreHospitalizations doubling every 20 days or less

Note: R Value is the rate at which the disease is spreading from one infected person to another.

  • DOG PARK.  The Portsmouth Dog Park is open under the following guidelines:
    • The park is limited to 10 total people (family members included) at a time in the large dog area and 5 people total at a time (family members included) in the small dog area.
    • One dog owner and their dog(s) in the entry gate areas at a time.
    • All people visiting the park should wear a personal mask and maintain social distancing.
    • There will be no water bowls or dog toys available.
      • Please DO bring water for your dog but do NOT bring your own toys.
  • PORTSMOUTH RECREATION AREAS.
    • Parks and Beaches are open. Sandy Point Beach and McCorrie Pt are open to residents only. All patrons are mandated to comply with social distancing guidelines established by Governor Executive Orders and the RI Department of Health.  Specifically, patrons must maintain 6 feet of social distance, and everyone must wear a cloth face covering in all indoor or outdoor public places.  Out of state visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days before any outdoor activity if they have traveled to or from an area with a current infection rate of greater than 5%.


PERSONAL PROTECTION

  • THERE IS A NATIONWIDE CALL FOR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT.  If you are a researcher, supplier, manufacturer, business, organization, or individual in possession of needed items and willing to donate or sell them, please visit COVID 19 Medical Supply Donations.
    • A Protective Equipment Team was established under Portsmouth’s lead, and is locating sources N-95 masks and other needed items for local emergency response and Health Workers.  Please contact us at covid@portsmouthri.com or 401-643-0350 if you can help us source these much needed supplies.
  • CLOTH-BASED FACE MASKS.  The Governor has directed everyone wear cloth-based coverings for their mouths and noses while out in public.
  • MASK WEARING 101: HOW TO PROPERLY USE & RE-USE A MASK.  For a mask to offer protection — rather than becoming a vehicle for COVID-19 germ-spreading — it must be handled, worn and stored properly.  This step-by-step video on mask-wearing covers the how-to’s and the do’s and dont’s of mask use:  Mask Wearing 101 .


COVID-19 TESTING

  • COVID-19 TREATMENT.  Rhode Island now has a doctor-recommended treatment for COVID-19 that's fast, easy, and highly effective. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are 65 or older or have an underlying health condition, immediately call your healthcare provider and ask about treatment. The earlier you start treatment, the more effective it is.
  • RIDOH QUARANTINE/ISOLATION LETTERS.  Rhode Islanders who require a letter to verify their quarantine/isolation, or their test negative or positive results, may request a letter which may be sent by encrypted (secure) email within 72 hours upon verification by submitting this online form.
  • TESTING FOR RHODE ISLANDERS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18 AND 39.  Due to recent increases in positive cases among this age group, RIDOH is urging individuals between the ages of 18 and 39 to self-schedule a free asymptomatic test through portal.ri.gov. You may now select "I am part of an age group that has been asked to get tested" as a reason for requesting an appointment through the online scheduling system.
  • PRE-K THROUGH 12TH GRADE COVID TEST SCHEDULING SERVICE.  This student testing service is open seven days a week, from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm.  Tests can be scheduled by calling (844) 857-1814.   All tests are free and offered same day (except Sunday).  Tests are available to any student or school staff member who is symptomatic or is a close contact of a positive case.
  • SEROLOGY ANTIBODY TESTING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS. The RI Department of Health released additional information about the serology testing available for first responders.   First responders (police, fire, and emergency medical services), Rhode Island National Guard members, RIDOH staff, correctional facility workers, and hospital and nursing home staff can schedule a test online.  Testing is voluntary.  Results will be made available to participants approximately four days after they are tested. Additional information is available at https://www.ri.gov/press/view/38841
  • RI COVID SELF-CHECKER.  You can assess your COVID-19 Health Risks by visiting the RI COVID SELF CHECK site at https://covidselfcheck.ri.gov or download the CRUSH COVID RI App.
  • COVID-19 TESTING FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC.  RI Dept. of Health (RIDOH) is recommending anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea) to be tested.  Information for those with and without insurance, and ways to get tested, can be found at the RIDOH Website.
    • TRANSPORTATION TO COVID-19 TEST SITES:
      • MTM has procedures/policies in place to transport Medicaid and ETP (Elderly Transportation Program: individuals 60 years of age and older) individuals to COVID-19 testing sites. MTM will confirm individuals are eligible for transport and have no other transportation options prior to scheduling a trip. Eligible individuals can call: 1-855-330-9131 (TTY: 711) or visit their website by clicking here
      • This service is only available if no other transportation options are available.


BUSINESS INFORMATION

  • SECOND ROUND OF PPP LOANS.  The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, has re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications.  SBA/Treasury also released accompanying guidance documents; the full statement and these documents may be accessed here.
  • BUSINESS RELATED COVID QUESTIONS AND COMPLAINTS.  The RI Department of Business Regulation (DBR) has created a webpage for COVID-10 questions and complaints which can be found here.  Additionally, the State has announced they will be increasing enforcement of current guidelines. DBR issue new enforcement policies and fine structures which will be posted at their website.
  • EVENT PLANNING DURING COVID.  Go to the re-opening RI web site and complete the appropriate event template for your event.  For private events, have a copy of the completed template ready for State official review during the event.  For public events, submit the completed form for review to “Business Development Director, 2200 East Main Road, Portsmouth RI 02871” or email the completed form to rtalipsky@portsmouthri.com at least 10 business days before your event.  If you require deviations from the event template, use this form.
  • COVID BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT TEAM (CBET).  In partnership with Governor Gina Raimondo’s Office and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Tech Collective has formed the COVID Business Engagement Team (CBET), a volunteer task force that is reaching out to local business owners to gather information and identify a primary COVID point of contact.  The purpose is to:
    • Identify each company’s primary COVID testing point of contact.
    • Review important business centered COVID safety and health guidelines.
    • Collect information on each company’s plans for testing and reopening.
    • Review outbreak response plans. 
    • Determine if each company has classified their employees as low, medium, or high risk.
    • Aggregate data on companies’ testing plans.

More information can be found here, or by calling (401) 521-7805.

  • ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS AND ADVANCE PROGRAM.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal  to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.
    • The program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit.
    • These loans can provide economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue.
    • EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses.
    • Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
    • Local small businesses with questions about EIDL or any other SBA program should email RhodeIsland_DO@sba.gov.
  • BUSINESS MICROENTERPRISE STABILIZATION GRANT (MICROE) PROGRAM.  The Town of Portsmouth began accepting applications for the MicroE program on a first-come, first-served basis on May 27, 2020.  Under this program, eligible microenterprises adversely impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for working capital grants. 
    • More information is available at the Town website by clicking here.
  • RI DOH RULES FOR ESTABLISHMENTS.  For the duration of the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, covered entities that have establishments that they wish to open and/or remain open, must take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.  The Governor is forming an “Enforcement Task Force,” which will first help businesses understand the new rules.  More information on compliance and penalties is at the State Department of Business Regulation Web Site. A convenient checklist for compliance can be found here.
  • MARINA, YACHT CLUB AND HARBOR MASTER GUIDANCE.  Due to Covid-19 and the Governor’s Executive Order, RI DEM and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council is providing guidance for the operation of marinas, yacht clubs and harbor masters.  This will allow for business operations, provide safety measures for staff and ensure as much as possible to prevent the transmission and spread of the virus.  In addition to the guidance found at the CRMC web site:
    • Owners/operators must post signage advising employees and patrons of COVID-19 guidance including postings on boat ramps.
    • Marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs should remain secure so that admittance can be monitored by owners/operators.
    • The number of patrons on the property or in an area is limited in accordance with current Executive Orders and other appropriate guidance or regulations, including social distancing guidance to ensure all persons remain 6 feet apart at all times.
    • High-touch areas in restrooms or porta johns should be cleaned at least every 2 hours; in the absence of the ability to have areas cleaned every two hours, and in instances when restrooms are infrequently in use, cleaning wipes and/or cleaning materials must be available for individuals to clean surfaces before and after.
      • Ensure that the facility is always supplied with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
      • Signage must be provided to alert users of last official cleaning and encourage users to clean surfaces before and after use.
    • Any communal areas should be closed, including but not limited to:
      • Ice machines, refrigerators, gas shacks, storage areas, or the like in any other areas that members may have used to store food, drinks, gas tanks, etc.
    • Consistent with the Executive Order allowing travel to Rhode Island for work purposes, the use of boat ramps by out of state residents (“non-residents”) for Commercial Fishing purposes is allowed.
    • Facilities located indoors and all amenities belonging to the marinas, boatyards, or yacht clubs remain closed to members and the public, including bars, restaurants, clubhouses, and communal kitchens.
      • Sales from a marina retail store are allowed but must be done by curbside pickup only.
      • Licensed food establishments can offer take-out food orders only, for pick-up or delivery from associated food businesses.
      • All transactions should be done electronically.
  • COVID-19 ECONOMIC RECOVERY.SBA is helping small businesses with their economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19.  
  • HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS.  The RI Commerce Corporation has established COVID-19 Resources for small businesses affected by COVID-19.  Information can be found at RI Commerce Help or by calling 401-521-HELP.
  • EMPLOYERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19.  Employers forced to limit or cease operations due to COVID-19 should review the RI Department of Labor and Training Website for relief options.  Quick facts are located here.
  • SUPERIOR COURT INITIATIVES FOR BUSINESSES.  The Rhode Island Superior Court will start a business protection program in response to disruptions caused by COVID-19.  Under the Business Recovery Plan, the Court will supervise and provide protections for Rhode Island businesses so they can remain operational, access new working capital and pay debts.  More information can be found by clicking here.


SOCIAL WELFARE

  • CONGRESSIONAL STIMULUS.  Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief.  The final package includes aid for struggling households, in the form of an additional round of $600 stimulus payments, a $300 unemployment insurance supplement through March 14, 2021, and extensions to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed or gig workers and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which covers unemployment for workers who exhaust state benefits.  The relief package  includes:
    • Another round of direct stimulus payments of up to $600 per person for most Americans, with another $600 for each dependent child living in the same household;
    • $25 billion for rental assistance;
    • 11 additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, including for the self-employed and independent contractors, and an additional $300 unemployment benefit for all;
    • An additional 11 weeks of federal financing for work-sharing programs to help businesses keep workers on the job;
    • $69 billion to support vaccines, testing, and contact tracing, including roughly $32 billion for vaccine procurement and distribution, more than $22 billion for testing, tracing, and COVID-19 mitigation, $4.5 billion in mental health and substance use disorder funding, and $9 billion to support health care providers;
    • $325 billion in small business aid ($284 billion of which is another round of modified PPP loans, along with $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program funding and $15 billion to support closed performance and entertainment venues);
    • $45 billion for transportation, including $14 billion in additional transit support, $10B in additional surface transportation block grant funding that can be used directly by communities above 200,000 and across the state, as well as $2 billion additional for primary and general aviation airports;
    • $54.3 billion for public K-12 schools, $10 billion for childcare (funding the Child Care & Development Block Grant and Head Start);
    • $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program;
    • $7 billion for broadband ($3.2 billion of which is dedicated to a low-income broadband emergency subsidy for households, and another $300 million for rural broadband);
    • $4.25 billion to provide increased mental health and substance abuse services and support, including $1.65 billion for the Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grant;
    • And $2 billion to support the motor coach and bus industry, including intercity bus services, charter bus operators, and school bus service providers.
  • EVICTIONS.  If you are at risk of eviction due to non-payment of rent, assistance may be available from agencies such as Crossroads, United Way, and the various community action agencies. For help, you can call 211.
    • Free legal help for low-income tenants is available from:
      • Rhode Island Legal Services: 401-274-2652
      • The Rhode Island Center for Justice: 401-491-1101
  • CALLING ALL RETIRED, UNEMPLOYED, OR UNDEREMPLOYED HEALTH CARE WORKERS.  The state will again start issuing certain temporarily medical licenses, repeating action taken in the spring, and anyone interested in participating is encouraged to visit www.skillsforri.com, or the websites of Lifespan Inc. and Care New England.
  • CALLING ON VOLUNTEERS.   The State is calling on volunteers to help in various needed capacities in response to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.  People looking to volunteer can look for opportunities at www.riresponds.org.
  • WER1 RI RELIEF FUND.  There is still money left in the “WeR1” RI Relief Fund.  This is a program to provide cash assistance to undocumented immigrants who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The program can provide $400 through a pre-paid debit card.  Only one member per household may receive this cash assistance.
    • All monies in the fund are derived from donations. There are no State dollars in the program.
    • Information regarding how to donate or apply for this benefit can be found here.
  • HARDEST HIT FUND FOR COVID-19 MORTGAGE PAYMENT ASSISTANCE. The Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island (HHFRI)is offering assistance to Rhode Island homeowners negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to make their mortgage payments. HHFRI is offering eligible homeowners a five-year, zero interest forgivable loan to pay up to six months of mortgage payments. The loan will be forgiven and the lien will be discharge if the homeowner continues to occupy the property as their primary residence and does not sell, transfer title or refinance.  Eligible homeowners must:
    • Own and occupy a one-to four family property or condominium in Rhode Island
    • Be or have been unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic
    • Receive or have received unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor and Training or another provider beginning March 1, 2020 or after
    • Have been current on their mortgage payment on March 1, 2020
    • Have less than $20,000 in non-retirement, liquid assets. Non-retirement, liquid assets include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, investments and cash value of life insurance
    • Have an original mortgage balance no greater than $820,500
    • Meet household income limits
      • ≤$97,646 for 1-2-person households
      • ≤$112,293 for 3 or more-person households 
  • MENTAL HEALTH.  COVID has been here for months now…and winter is looming.  Mental health issues related to our lock down and pandemic are especially hard for people with depression and other mental health disorders.   The relapse and overdose rate has increased by 30% since March 2020, as of the end of October 2020.
    • NAMI, the national Alliance on Mental Health Illness has a 24-hour helpline: 1-800-950-6264.
  • STATE LOOKING FOR FULL TIME CASE INVESTIGATORS.  Full time employment as a State COVID case investigator is available for at least the next six months.  Click here for more information. 
  • NEW STATE PARTNERSHIP WITH JOBCASE.  The state will partner with a national technology company to create a Rhode Island-specific online forum connecting residents with jobs and training opportunities.
    • The partnership between Jobcase Inc. and the R.I Department of Labor and Training will specifically highlight jobs and training opportunities through the newly launched Back to Work RI workforce training program.
    • Rhode Island jobs seekers can join the Back to Work RI Jobcase page here.
  • BE SAFE CAMPAIGN DONATIONS ARE NEEDED.  “Be Safe” is a community response for needy families during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Complete a form by clicking hereto request a Be Safe Kit containing cleaning/household and safety supplies.  If you need additional assistance, please call 401-519-2283 and leave a voicemail with your phone number and name.
    • DONATE TO THE BE SAFE CAMPAIGN. Family Service of Rhode Island (FSRI), a statewide non-profit, is asking for help to provide supplies to help Rhode Islanders “be safe” from COVID-19.  Your donation supports the purchase of antibacterial soap, disinfecting wipes, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, food and grocery supplies and other items that socially isolated seniors, adults with chronic illnesses and disabilities, families with children, and others desperately need right now to protect themselves and reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission.  FSRI is doing curbside delivery of these kits across the state.
    • Text BESAFE to 44321 or  Click here to donate.
  • EMPHASIS ON MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES.  If you are in a mental health or substance abuse crisis made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and you need immediate assistance, please call 24/7 to get connected to care through BH Link:
    • 401-414-LINK (5465)
    • For under 18 call: 855-KID-LINK (855-543-5465) or click here.
  • VIRTUAL CAREER CENTER:  The State of Rhode Island and Google Cloud today announced they are working together on an initiative that will dramatically expand access to key career resources across the state. The Virtual Career Center will connect Rhode Islanders to career services on an innovative, data-driven, and easy to navigate online platform developed on Google Cloud and in partnership with the tech-for-social-impact nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL). Rhode Islanders will be able to access a Back to Work landing page and a preliminary chatbot named Skipper, to get answers to questions, navigate career resources and access job openings, training opportunities and additional support services. The Virtual Career Center and Career Matching Bot was launched in November, with additional services to become available in the coming months.   
  • BACK TO WORK RI.  Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced an investment of $45 million for a workforce development partnership that will create job opportunities for Rhode Islanders displaced by COVID-19 and help break down traditional barriers to hiring. The initiative – Back to Work RI – will use CARES Act funding.
    • Back to Work RI will offer several pathways for individuals to quickly get back to work while gaining the skills they need to succeed. Employers of all sizes will create immediate roles for Rhode Islanders, focusing on higher-paying, sustainable jobs in sectors such as healthcare, financial services and IT. Every participating employer will sign a pledge to open opportunities to Rhode Islanders through the public-private partnership of Back to Work RI.
    • More information can be found at https://www.backtoworkri.com/
  • UPDATES TO LONG-TERM CARE AND ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY VISITATION POLICY.  Long-term care and assisted living facilities can welcome visitors again, provided that they abide by strict infection control measures to keep residents, staff, and family members safe.  More information is available here.
  • CHILDREN IMMUNIZATIONS.  There has been a significant drop in the number of children receiving required pediatric immunizations.  All parents are encouraged to contact their health care providers to ensure your children’s shot records are up to date.  There are programs available for those who do not have health care coverage.  More information can be obtained from the RI Department of Health..
  • HOUSING NOW CAMPAIGN.  The State of R.I. Office of Housing and Community Development has emergency rapid re-housing vouchers that will guarantee rental income to landlords. Tenants pay 30 percent of their income toward rent to the landlord and the vouchers pay the difference of the total rent, directly to the landlord.  The vouchers are available now to rapidly rehouse individuals and families who are living in congregate shelters.  Information can be found here. There are specific financial benefits for landlords:
    • Guaranteed rental income is not dependent on the tenants’ income fluctuating – an individual will pay 30% of their monthly income and the rest is guaranteed.
    • A $2000 bonus for the first unit and a $500 bonus for each additional participating unit.
    • Up to $2000 for move-in upgrades like minor renovations and repairs.
    • First and last month’s rent.
    • Housing Retention services, which means fewer vacancies and less turnover.
    • Assistance in bringing units to code.
    • Service providers who can assist with screening to ensure a good fit and help solve any potential issues.

This is a real opportunity for landlords to do the right thing and help their fellow Rhode Islanders, but also get some economic security during these unprecedented times.  With that in mind, the Housing Now Campaign is challenging landlords to pledge at least 100 rental units by July 1. Units in the cities and areas close to public transportation are particularly desirable. They should be ready to rent immediately and be able to meet housing quality standards. If you are a landlord with one or more units to pledge, please call 211 and ask for the housing assistance line today.

  • For households that qualify, United Way’s Safe Harbor Housing Program can help with up to six months of rent arrearages accumulated on or after March 1, 2020. Legal services may also be available for renters who do not otherwise have representation.
  • Help is available for income-eligible tenants who are experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency and are at risk of eviction as a result. Landlords may initiate the application process on behalf of tenants who they believe to be eligible.  In order to receive assistance, tenants must meet the following criteria:
    • The household earns at or below 80% of Area Median Income, adjusted for family size; and
    • The household is in arrears because of financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Go to Safe Harbor Housing Program https://www.uwri.org/2-1-1/safe-harbor-housing-program/. They may also be reached by dialing 211.
  • SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP).  Starting today (June 10th), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants will be able to select and pay for their groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and participating Walmart stores. Households can purchase the same food online that they would normally purchase in the store at Walmart.  Rhode Island Works cash recipients will also be able to use their benefits to make food or other purchases at Walmart.
    • For Walmart, anyone in RI can purchase online.  Go to https://www.walmart.com/grocery and enter your zip code to check if delivery is available to your address.
    • SNAP benefits cannot be used to cover the cost of delivery at this time. Walmart delivery costs range from $7.95 - $9.95.
    • To learn more about SNAP acceptance at Walmart, please visit here.
    • To learn more and register for online grocery shopping on Amazon, click here.
      • Amazon has free shipping on orders over $35. Additional information is here.
  • WORKSHARE PROGRAM.  State employees are being encouraged to participate in the voluntary WorkShare program.  This program offers federal funding to help pay for employees who work fewer hours.  The goal is for between 25% and 50% of the State administration workforce to participate in the program, which would amount to about 1,000 to 2,000 employees and save the state an estimated $5 million.  The decision to reduce employees’ hours — which would translate into two fewer days per week for full-time employees — was spurred by the unprecedented deficit that’s emerged in the current and next fiscal years as revenue has slumped during the pandemic.
  • VIRTUAL FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER.  The American Red Cross extends their sympathy for the loss of loved ones to the coronavirus.  Grieving is always difficult, and they recognize the COVID-19 pandemic creates additional challenges and needs. To help, they have established a Virtual Family Assistance Center which offers information and resources they hope will help you during this time.
  • COVID SUPPORT FACTSHEET.  The RI Department of Health has published a very informative factsheet for anyone needing support during this time.  You can find it here.
  • DAILY COVID-19 INFORMATION.  The Governor has established a way for you to get daily COVID updates from her office.  Click here to fill out the request to be added to the distribution list.
  • NEWPORT COUNTY COVID-19 HOUSING ASSISTANCE GRANTS.  Working in partnership with Newport Partnership for Families and Conexión Latina with funding from Rhode Island Housing and the Rhode Island Foundation, Church Community Housing Corporation is offering one-time financial assistance for individuals facing a short-term housing crisis. Grants up to $2,000 are available. If your application is approved, funds from this grant program will go directly to third parties such as your landlord or utility providers. Go to https://www.cchcnewport.org/covid19 or contact Aubrey Collins at Church Community Housing Corporation have any questions (401 846 5114 x111, or email: ACollins@cchcnewport.org.)
  • STUDENT LOAN HELP AVAILABLE. Those with student loans can get assistance in loan extensions and other student loan help during COVID-19 by going to https://www.meetsummer.org/COVIDRelief/ or by contacting the RI Student Loan Assn (RISLA) at https://www.risla.com/.
  • SAFE AT HOME.  People who are surviving violence in their relationships or families may be experiencing increased isolation and danger caused by social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • STATEWIDE CALL FOR MEDICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS.  The State is issuing another call for available medical and health care professionals.  If you are available to join Rhode Island’s response to COVID-19, please visit Rhode Island Responds and register to volunteer.
  • SCAM WARNING.  The Rhode Island State Police Financial Crimes Unit is warning residents to be extra vigilant of scammers trying to take of advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
    • The scams include people posing as government agencies and representatives to get personal information from consumers, and fraudulent online sales and offers of coronavirus equipment or treatments.
    • There have been a large number of illegitimate unemployment insurance claims recently.
    • Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by scammers should contact law enforcement at https://risp.ri.gov/.
  • ARTS.  RI has launched a new website, RIArts.org, to connect artists with available resources and provide Rhode Islanders with an up-to-date list of virtual performances happening in the state.
  • RI DELIVERS.  RI Delivers has been established to provide food delivery help for those living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.  Their goal is to ensure that for this temporary quarantine period, you have what you need to safely remain home and monitor your symptoms. By doing so, you will help slow the spread of COVID-19.  If you are under quarantine, you should not leave your home for any reason.  Please click here for more information. If you have a question or need further guidance, call 2-1-1 or the Point at 401.462.4444.
  • PORTSMOUTH SENIOR CENTER MEALS.  Portsmouth Senior Center has established a Meal Site at their address - 110 Bristol Ferry Rd. Meals need to be made with a 24-hour reservation.  Participants can call Cynthia (Director-Portsmouth Senior Center) at 401-683-4106.  If no answer call 401-297-6102.
  • CONTINUATION OF MEDICAID.  The State is halting terminations and income verifications related to RI Medicaid for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • HEALTHSOURCE RI IS OFFERING A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD available to Rhode Islanders losing health coverage due to a change in employment status.
    • Rhode Islanders who wish to obtain coverage can do so by visiting www.HealthSourceRI.com and enrolling online, or by contacting the HealthSource RI call center Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm at 1-855-840-4774.


NEED MORE INFORMATION?

  • Portsmouth residents may call 401-643-0350 for general inquiries related to the current health situation.  Please leave a detailed message if no answer and someone will respond as soon as possible. Residents may also email requests or inquiries to covid@portsmouthri.com.
  • The town has established local information on the town website, its NOTIFY ME system, and social media as follows: