Ph: 401.466.2974 | Fax: 401-466-5476 | DIAL 911 IN AN EMERGENCY [email protected]

BIHS COVID-19 Update
Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day greetings to the Block Island community!

Although we may not be commemorating the holiday by gathering as we traditionally do, we can still raise the flag to remember and honor members of the U. S. military who sacrificed their lives for our country. All branches of the military continue to ensure our safety and freedom; the National Guard is playing a critical role in supporting and enhancing medical capacity and testing across the United States during this pandemic. Many thanks to everyone on the frontline, at home; and to every one working diligently to minimize the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across all states, including Rhode Island, and remains a threat to the health of our community. As of May 23 Rhode Island has 13,952 confirmed cases and 597  deaths. The sobering fact is that the United States now has more than 1.5 million cases and over 96,000 deaths. The immense human toll cannot be exaggerated. This should reinforce our commitment to do everything possible to minimize the spread – through hand washing, using a face covering in public, social distancing and monitoring for symptoms– while treatment and vaccine development is being carried out and while rapid testing is implemented.

Stay alert!

As Block Island and the state of Rhode Island gradually reopen, it is critical that we consider the implications to the health and safety of our community and maintain safe health practices.

There are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community at this time.

As Block Island moves forward with a phased reopening of the economy, it is important to consider the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 this brings to our community. It is inevitable that new cases of COVID-19 will be confirmed on the island. Now is NOT the time to let your guard down. Evidence from other communities and countries that have successfully “flattened the curve” is useful in proactively planning for the summer season, both at the Medical Center and individually.

We will continue to provide status updates to the community and recommend evidence-based best practices for health and safety.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis is still evolving and practicing effective hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing a face covering in public and monitoring for symptoms and seeking medical guidance are the most effective tools we have for the long-term health and safety of our community.

COVID-19 TESTING on Block Island

  • We encourage anyone with concerns to contact the Medical Center by phone to discuss their signs and symptoms or the possible need for testing. (401) 466-2974 ext. 3
  • Point-of-care testing: The Medical Center providers have received rapid testing training and equipment from the Department of Health so that we can quickly determine if someone is infected and recommend the best course of care. Dr. Warcup developed a COVID-19 Testing Response Plan which can reviewed by clicking here.
  • Serologic Testing: The Medical Centerhas the capacity to obtain limited serologic (antibody) testing in addition to testing for the presence of the virus itself.  It is important to stress that although there are manufacturers that have notified the FDA that their serology (antibody) tests have been validated, and the FDA has approved the distribution of the tests, the data demonstrating the accuracy and reliability of the tests has not been reviewed by the FDA. In addition, while detection of antibodies is useful, it does not definitively determine the timing of infection, whether or not the infection is still active and whether or not the individual tested remains contagious. The standardization and interpretation of serologic test results are currently being worked out by the scientific community. We are following these developments closely.  At this time, we can offer serologic testing on a case by case basis.
  • Keep in mind that the symptoms of COVID-19 are varied.  Most people are aware that it can cause fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, loss of smell, cough and tightness in the chest, however it can also cause sore throat, GI symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea or severe fatigue.
  • People who have traveled off the island for any period of time for any reason are at greater risk; people who have been in direct contact with a COVID-19 patient are at increased risk

It is important to recognize that many people may be asymptomatic for COVID-19, but still able to transmit the virus. (Finelli et al., 2020)[1]

CALL FIRST before coming to the Medical Center so we can ensure the safety of all Block Islanders. Together, we’ll work out the next steps and make sure you get the care you need. 
(401) 466-2974 ext. 3

Current Medical Center operations

The Medical Center has returned to core business operations and is scheduling face-to-face visits or video visits as needed. Call (401) 466-2974 ext. 3, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment.

  • The Medical Center continues to respond to all acute care and urgent issues.
  • BIHS behavioral health services will continue by phone or videoconference. Call the Medical Center if you need help contacting a provider.
  • PT visits have resumed with precautions; PT telehealth appointments are also available. Please call Alison Warfel to make an appointment. (401) 466-2974 ext. 6
  • Visits to the BIHS Wellness and Risk Reduction Program have resumed on a case-by-case basis with precautions.
  • During this anxiety provoking time, if you or a loved one is having difficulty coping, please reach out to the medical center for assistance.  We are here to help, and our behavioral health team is here to provide telehealth services as needed.

This week the Town Council met to discuss amending the Emergency Ordinance to more closely conform to the guidance offered by Governor Gina Raimondo regarding the ReOpening of Rhode Island. The amended ordinance remains if full effect through June 1.


  • Practice effective hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not available.
  • Maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Wear a mask or scarf when in public.
  • Contact the Medical Center by phone if you feel unwell or have a known exposure to COVID-19.
  • Follow healthy living guidelines to stay strong:
    • Exercise regularly, like walking, every day!
    • Make sure you’re getting good nutrition with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains: decrease processed foods and sugar
    • Sleep 8 hours each night
    • Avoid or eliminate tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake
    • Create a healthy daily routine, with a schedule to avoid boredom
    • Connect with others by phone or video chat regularly
    • Contact the Medical Center to address any health issues or health maintenance issues that need care

Stay home and stay safe. By protecting your own health, you are protecting everyone’s health.

RI’s Department of Health  has information on services and helplines to help during this crisis.

Mental and Behavioral Health Resources 24/7 Crisis Lines

  • BH Link • Tel: 401-414-5465 • Location: People can also introduce in person to 975 Waterman Ave, East Providence, RI 02914
  • Kids’ Link RI (specifically for children and adolescents) • Tel: 1-855-543-5465
  • Disaster Helpline • Tel: 1-800-985-5990
  • Community Care Alliance • Tel: 401-235-7120
  • Gateway Healthcare • Tel: 401-723-1915 or 401-553-1031
  • Newport County Mental Health Center • Tel: 401-846-1213
  • The Providence Center • Tel: 401-274-7111
  • Thrive Behavioral Health • Tel: 401-738-4300
  • Safe call now (for first responders and their families) • Tel: 1-206-459-3020 24/7

Lines of text

  • TalkWithUs Text at 66746
  • Send CONNECT text to 741741
  • BLUE Text to 741741 (law enforcement only) 24/7

Suicide prevention lines

  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

Online resources are available to support your health…check them out!

[1] Angulo FJ, Finelli L, Swerdlow DL. CoVID-19 Real-Time Evaluation and Society Reopening at Community Level. JAMA. Posted online May 15, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.7872