Governor McKee, Dr. JHA announce the opening of the nation’s first COVID test-to-treat location in Rhode Island

Governor Dan McKee was greeted by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator and Senior Advisor to the President, Dr. Ashish Jha, to announce the opening of a new federally-backed test-to-treat location in Rhode Island, making the state and its partners the first in the nation to construct an inpatient location that will serve eligible residents of Rhode Island can be tested for COVID-19 and then, if positive, receive an immediate prescription for oral antivirals, all in one place.

“With today’s announcement, Rhode Island continues to lead the fight against COVID-19,” Gov. McKee said. “Our nation’s first test-to-treat model will provide critical COVID-19 treatment to Rhode Island residents who have tested positive in a simple and convenient manner. I thank the Biden administration and especially Dr. Jha, who continues to be my advisor, for their partnership and collaboration. I would also like to thank the team at Clínica Esperanza for stepping up this important initiative and working with us. We are proud to be able to serve as best practice for the nation with the launch of this model.”

“The Biden Administration is pleased to announce today that Rhode Island will officially open the nation’s first federally-sponsored test-to-treat location, with additional locations planned across the country in the coming weeks. These locations are critical to ensure easy access to life-saving treatments that help prevent serious illness and save lives,” said Dr. yeah “COVID isn’t over yet, but we now have more tools than ever to protect ourselves – and that’s real progress. I thank Governor McKee for his partnership and exceptional leadership in this fight.”

The test-to-treat pilot site is operated by the state’s nonprofit partner at Clínica Esparanza/Hope Clinic at its 85 Eagle St. location in Olneyville. Anyone who tests positive at the clinic is referred to a local doctor to see if they qualify for oral antiviral treatment. If this is the case, they can get the antiviral treatment right away on the spot. Someone may be eligible for treatment with oral antivirals if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are 12 years of age or older, are at greater risk of severe COVID-19 due to age or medical condition, and have recently had mild to moderate symptoms five days.

In addition to accessing testing and treatment, patients can also access vaccines and booster shots at this convenient one-stop shop. These services are free for patients. The benefits are provided to all persons, regardless of their insurance status. Patients are accepted for same-day visits.

This program is another important part of the government’s COVID-19 endemic disease management strategy as COVID-19 is a preventable and treatable disease. The initiative is funded entirely through the Biden Administration’s FEMA Federal Public Assistance Program.

“When the pandemic began, I was a Providence City Councilwoman representing the 02909 zip code, which had the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, chair of the COVID-19 Equity Council. “Back then, Clínica Esperanza and I quickly mobilized to open a walk-in testing site for underinsured and uninsured community members. I am proud to announce today that Clínica Esperanza will offer the first COVID-19 test-to-treat service in the country. On behalf of 02909 and all of Rhode Island, I would like to thank the Biden-Harris administration for helping us begin the next phase of our COVID-19 response.”

“This test-to-treat site is an important step in ensuring that all Rhode Island residents, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, have equal access to treatment for COVID-19. Clínica Esparanza continues to be an invaluable partner for RIDOH and the state as we work to keep health equity at the heart of our response to COVID-19,” said Interim Director of Health James McDonald, MD, MPH. “The treatment is tremendously effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19. I urge all eligible Rhode Island residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 to seek treatment today.”

“Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, a volunteer-run free clinic serving communities on the west side of Providence in ‘The Valley,’ looks forward to expanding our health services to the first Test-to-Treat site in the CEHC neighborhood to expand Health Station at 85 Eagle Street,” said Dr. Anne Searls De Groot, Executive Director of Clínica Esperanza. “The overall positivity rate for COVID testing at this location has been 27% over the past 12 months and is often 10 times higher than the rate at other locations in the state. We are ready to make Paxlovid available to people who test positive at the new Test-to-Treat site. We will continue to provide vaccines and boosters to those who test negative. We thank the Biden Administration, Rhode Island Department of Health, RI EMA, and the State of Rhode Island for their willingness to focus on one of the hardest-hit communities in this critically important test-to-treat effort. Providing test-to-treat to our community will save lives.”

The Biden-Harris administration launched the first phase of the Test-to-Treat initiative in March 2022 to provide another important way for individuals to quickly access free life-saving treatment for COVID-19.

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