How end of COVID-19 emergency will affect Southern New England

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — This Thursday, the state of Rhode Island and the nation will no longer consider COVID-19 a public health emergency. For Southern New Englanders, this marks some noticeable changes for the future.

Dr. Phillip Chan, Consultant Medical Director at Rhode Island’s Department of Health, says some of the free resources like masks, medication, and take-home tests will be less accessible.

“Widespread availability of homebased COVID testing will no longer be as easily accessible for free,” said Chan. People will still be able to get them of course at pharmacies and other places where they can buy them over the counter. But, that’s one example of where people may have to pay more, and where the public health emergency may have an effect.”

Chan cited falling COVID transmission, but says masks could potentially return if rates rise this Fall.

He added, “Vaccinations will continue to be free throughout the state… We may see a return to masking specifically in health care settings and in other settings that care for people who may be more vulnerable to COVID.”

Care New England’s Robin Neale told ABC 6 their three Rhode Island hospitals will no longer require employees to wear masks and will expand guest policies.

“Visiting hours will continue to change,” said Neale. “We’re not at pre-pandemic levels, but we are more open than we were during the pandemic. It’s very facility-based due to the varying conditions. But, we do allow visitors now whereas during the pandemic we did not.”
Care New England says the majority of its patients and staff are in favor of loosening restrictions in the near future.
Neal finished, “One of the first messages I got back from my staff has been, ‘Oh, we don’t have to wear the mask anymore.’ It’s, ‘Wow, I can treat my patients with a smile, and I can connect with them.’ They were really happy.”
Categories: News, Rhode Island