Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. It's another eventful day, and it started with an announcement that no one saw coming.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who has in many ways been the face of Rhode Island's fight against the coronavirus over the last two years, is resigning from the Department of Health. Alexander-Scott did not provide a reason for her departure, but it comes as Rhode Island is experiencing near-record COVID cases and hospitals are under considerable strain. Gov. Dan McKee's rivals in the gubernatorial campaign faulted the governor for her departure, but others said that "she's given all that she can to the job" and is just ready to move on.
President Joe Biden announced that U.S. military teams are headed to hospitals in six states around the country, including Rhode Island Hospital, to assist as they confront the current surge. Hospital president Dr. Saul N. Weingart called it welcome news for a hospital where 300 staff members are currently out of work with COVID.
Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Department of Health today reported 12 coronavirus-related deaths and 5,670 additional cases of COVID-19, along with 26,117 negative tests, for a 17.8% positive rate. There were 484 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, down from 485 reported yesterday, with 50 in intensive care. Rhode Island has reported an average of 5,171 new cases a day over the last seven days, up 25% from a week ago and up 164% from two weeks ago. But in a sign that we may have reached the peak of the omicron wave, the seven-day new-case average was down for the third consecutive day.
The news that onetime Rhode Island child welfare activist Nicholas Alahverdian has been found alive in Scotland, nearly two years after he had supposedly died of cancer, shocked those who had been drawn to his story of hardship. But some also saw warning signs in Alahverdian's past behavior.
New controversies arose last night after the committee on redistricting endorsed new maps for House and Senate districts, including an 11th-hour adjustment to the Senate district represented by one of the committee co-chairs.
While a new apartment complex for the former Route 195 land in Providence appears close to becoming a reality, despite opposition from some neighbors, a proposal for a riverfront hotel on a different parcel is dead. And as Patrick Anderson explains, it wasn't neighborhood opposition that killed it.
A former official in the Rhode Island Department of Education is suing state officials, alleging they have failed to ensure that children in DCYF care placed in residential treatment are receiving the schooling they are entitled to by law.
It looks more likely that we'll get a significant storm Sunday night into Monday morning, but the jury's still out on whether it'll be mostly rain or snow.
One of the true giants of Rhode Island sports, longtime Mount St. Charles hockey coach Bill Belisle, winner of 32 state championships, has died at age 92. As high-school sports writer Eric Rueb writes, the Belisle legacy goes well beyond hockey.
There won't be too many surprises on Saturday night when the Patriots visit the Bills in an AFC wild-card playoff matchup. After all, it will be the third time the division rivals have played in a little more than a month. Armed with the knowledge from those past matchups, Providence Journal Patriots writer Mark Daniels and Sal Maiorana, who covers the Bills for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, discussed what each team needs to do to get a win.
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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Alexander-Scott leaving, military medical team arriving in RI