Today, Governor Dan McKee marks his first full 100 days in office. Governor McKee and Lt. Governor Matos are spending the day out in the community visiting a vaccination clinic, small businesses, a construction site and a local non-profit that supported Rhode Island’s COVID-19 response.
“Over the past 100 days as Governor, it’s been a privilege to serve Rhode Islanders living in our 39 cities and towns. Our team has worked with partners across our state to get shots in arms, reopen our small businesses, and restart the state’s economy,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We’ve made great progress, but this is only just the beginning of the work we have ahead to ensure Rhode Island emerges from this pandemic stronger than we went in. I’m a firm believer that it only works if we work together – our team looks forward to working with Rhode Islanders over the next 100 days and beyond.”
Here’s a look at the Administration’s first 100 days and what’s next.
Protecting public health
What we’ve done
We’ve administered nearly 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccines. Thanks to Rhode Islanders rolling up their sleeves and doing their part, nearly 55 percent of all Rhode Islanders are fully vaccinated, and more than 63 percent have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 65 percent of adults age 18+ are fully vaccinated and 73 percent are partially vaccinated.
Because of a team effort across municipal, state, and federal agencies, Rhode Island was one of the first seven states in the nation to beat President Biden’s vaccination goal. According to NPR’s vaccine tracker, Rhode Island is in the top 5 in the nation for percent of population fully vaccinated.
Rhode Island has led the nation in vaccinating our seniors due in large part to our partnership with municipal leaders to vaccinate older adults. 94 percent of Rhode Islanders age 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Where we’re going
Thanks to our progress on vaccinations, we are now beginning the process of closing the mass vaccination sites and focusing our strategy on community vaccinations. This means shifting the focus to local, pop-up sites, drive-up clinics and in-home vaccination strategies. The work is far from over – we want to make vaccines as accessible as possible to every eligible Rhode Islander.
Restarting Rhode Island’s economy
What we’ve done
We launched the Rhode Island Small Business Relief Grant Program to assist small businesses impacted by the pandemic. This program dedicated $20 million in CARES Act funds to provide 4,000 small businesses with $5,000 grants through a simple, streamlined application process.
Thanks to Rhode Islanders getting vaccinated at a pace that is among the best in the nation, we were able to safely and strategically reopen the economy on May 21, a week earlier than planned. The state is currently ranked #3 in the nation and #1 in the Northeast according to the CNN/Moody’s “Back to Normal Index,” a multi-factor ranking system which tracks America’s recovery.
Our team worked with legislators to launch the 401 Works program to help get Rhode Islanders back to work. The program allows Rhode Island unemployment claimants to earn more, keep more, and stay connected to the Unemployment Insurance system while going back to work part-time, which makes it easier for them to transition back into the workforce. In the first week of the program, 445 people received a partial benefit who wouldn’t have previously been able to. 590 people returned to work full-time and are no longer collecting unemployment. 4,546 people received an increase in the amount of partial unemployment benefits they’ve received as a result of this law, maximizing family income.
Where we’re going
We’re focused on a meaningful and strategic investment of American Rescue Plan funds to help support small businesses, tourism, housing, and more. We’ve launched Rhode Island 2030, an inclusive community conversation series on what we want Rhode Island to look like in 10 years. Our goal is to develop a vision for a more resilient, prosperous, and equitable state in the short- and long-term.
Supporting education and child care
What we’ve done
We prioritized K-12 teachers, school staff, and childcare workers as part of the state’s vaccination plan to support our students, families, schools, and economy. More than 90 percent of this population has stepped up to get their shot.
We launched the Child Care Stabilization Grants, a new stimulus-funded grant program to support and stabilize Rhode Island’s child care industry. The program is addressing some of the economic and operational hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to stabilize this essential infrastructure. Over $8.9 million in grants have been awarded to 91 percent of child care providers across Rhode Island, with another round of funding to be disbursed in July.
We have expanded pre-k – a free, high-quality program for 4-year-olds delivered by schools, child care centers, and Head Start agencies – by several hundred seats. Starting in September 2021, we will have over 2,300 pre-k seats across 18 communities. Families can sign up to enter the pre-k seat lottery on RIDE’s website through July 6.
In April, we announced a partnership with colleges and universities across the state to make COVID-19 vaccines as accessible as possible for all students, faculty, and staff before the end of the Spring semester.
We’re focused on fully reopening our schools and getting students back in the classroom. Our Administration will develop a strategy to invest American Rescue Plan funds to help address the learning loss caused by COVID-19. We will continue to focus on providing the best education to every student in Rhode Island, regardless of their background, income level, or zip code.
We made Rhode Island Promise permanent, providing up to two years of free tuition for eligible Rhode Islanders at the Community College of Rhode Island.
We signed the Act on Climate and committed to develop a plan to incrementally reduce climate emissions to net-zero by 2050.
We raised the minimum wage in Rhode Island from $11.50 to $15 over the next four years.
Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!