URI cancels spring break; nursing homes to take on testing

KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) — A look at developments related to the coronavirus in New England on Saturday.

RHODE ISLAND

The University of Rhode Island has joined a growing number of U.S. colleges canceling spring break to reduce travel and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

University officials announced the measure Friday evening, a week after the Faculty Senate approved the change, according to The Providence Journal. It was also supported by university President David Dooley.

Classes will continue from March 22 to 28, the period originally set aside as spring break, and the semester will end on April 27, a week earlier than initially planned.

In a statement announcing the change, officials cited “uncertainty” created by the virus, “and the need to prepare for the likely persistence of existing outbreaks and potential for a new wave of infections.”

Several large universities have announced similar measures in recent weeks, including Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Nursing homes in New Hampshire will be in charge of testing their staff for the coronavirus starting next month.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been operating a surveillance testing program in long term care facilities, but in mid-October will start transitioning that to individual facilities, Commissioner Lori Shibinette said last week.

The state is recommending facilities test all staff during the same week once a month, and then every other week test 10% of staff chosen at random. The state will reimburse them at $100 per test, she said.

Having the nursing homes run their own programs will allow the state to start similar surveillance programs elsewhere, including in assisted living communities and correctional facilities, Shibinette said.

As many as 20 nursing homes once were dealing with coronavirus outbreaks at the same time, but now there is only one facility with an outbreak.

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VERMONT

The Vermont Health Department on Saturday reported eight new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total number of cases to more than 1,730 since the pandemic began.

The number of deaths remained at 58, a figure that has not changed since July 28. There were no reported cases of people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday.

In total, nearly 1,600 people have recovered from the virus in Vermont, according to the health department.

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