McKee speaks out at Portsmouth vaccination site for first time since criticizing vaccine rollout

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WLNE) – Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee joined local leaders at Portsmouth’s first vaccination clinic on Wednesday at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

The community vaccination site is run by the Portsmouth Emergency Management Agency, and some residents aged 75 and older received their first doses on Wednesday morning. More than 10,000 square feet of space inside Raytheon’s building was retrofitted for the vaccination site, and 160 doses were administered.

“Right now it’s enough to get us through the four weeks of the initial doses for the 75 and older,” Portsmouth’s town administrator Richard Rainer explained. “More doses will become available in the coming weeks. We have more than enough space, more than enough volunteers, more than enough vaccinators to handle that increase in doses as they come.”

It was at the opening event that McKee addressed reporters for the first time since stating that he was “not satisfied” with the Raimondo administration’s handling of the vaccine rollout.

“I think I’ve made it pretty clear this week that speeding up vaccine distribution is a top priority, and it’ll be a top priority of my administration as well. When I become governor, I want to be able to improve distribution, and right now my team and I are gathering that information to make that happen.”

The incoming governor dodged questions of what exactly he’d like to see changed with the state’s vaccine rollout, or what policies we can expect from his administration.

“I’ve said more and more over and over again, I’m not the governor,” McKee said, “and I certainly don’t have the authority to create strategies or policies. All I can do is get the background right now and I’ll be able to answer those questions next weeks when I’m governor.”

McKee said right now he’s focusing on doing the ‘background’ work and has assembled what he calls a top-notch community advisory group.

“We’ve been on calls now for the last few weeks with municipal leaders around the state of Rhode Island as we prepare our efforts to get ready when I become governor in the short order.

He said he’s visited local vaccine clinics in Central Falls, and planned to spend the afternoon visiting vaccine sites in Cranston and Johnston. He’s also toured the two state-run vaccination sites.

McKee added that part of the background work he’s doing is research on how Rhode Island can do better, like reaching out to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and checking in with Harvard on why they rated the Ocean State an ‘F’ for vaccine rollout.

“We’re doing the work that is really important right now, the people of Rhode Island need to know that we’re preparing to get the shots in the arms as quickly as we can once I’m governor, and it’s starting today right here in Portsmouth.”

© WLNE-TV 2021

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Regional News, Rhode Island