This Just In: Porch pirates! And a COVID number we didn't want to see again

·4 min read

Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. If you're anything like me, gift packages might be starting to arrive outside your door these days. That means that, theoretically, you could be a target of "porch pirates." Does that mean you should have your packages sent to the police department for safekeeping? In some Rhode Island towns, it's an option.

For the first time since January, Rhode Island has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 1,144 additional cases of COVID-19 today. Of those, 959 were people who tested positive yesterday, and the rest were added to previous days' totals. The Health Department now says 1,115 tested positive Wednesday. There were 21,522 negative tests reported today, for a 5.0% positive rate.

The number of COVID-positive hospital patients was 162 at last count, down from 170 reported yesterday; the Health Department reported two more coronavirus-related deaths, to bring the total to 2,941 since the start of the pandemic.

The state has had an average of 759 new cases a day over the last seven days, which is up 67% from a week ago and up 70% from two weeks ago. The seven-day new case average is at its highest point since Jan. 21. However, the hospitalization rate is less than half of what it was then, and only about a third of what it was this time last year.

Incidentally, it was on this date last year that Rhode Island saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day: 1,607.

An assisted living facility in East Providence is experiencing a significant outbreak, involving 30 cases and six hospitalizations, that it's attributing to holiday gatherings.

The omicron variant of the virus hasn't been detected here yet, but it's certainly generated plenty of attention. Here's what you should know as state health officials prepare for its likely arrival.

The North Kingstown School Department has agreed to turn over all records it has related to former high school basketball coach Aaron Thomas and his "fat testing" practice, which some former students say involved players stripping naked.

Chan's Oriental Fine Dining, the long-running restaurant and jazz club in Woonsocket, is up for sale. John Chan, who pioneered the Eggrolls and Jazz concept 45 years ago, wants a buyer who will build upon what he created.

If you can drive a snowplow, the state wants to hear from you. The same driver shortage that has affected Amazon deliveries and school buses is poised to complicate winter snow removal operations, but the Department of Transportation says it is confident that it will have enough plows available to keep the roads safe.

One of the state's leading Republicans made major political news today by announcing that he's not going to do something. House Minority Leader Blake Filippi says he won't be in the governor's race in 2022.

The once-every-10-years political redistricting process has kicked into high gear in Rhode Island. Last night we saw the first versions of the new House and Senate maps; they're likely to change some based on feedback from the public and lawmakers.

Ticks, mosquitoes and southern pine beetles, oh my! We might see more of all three, thanks to climate change.

Not quite a year after a spinal cord injury ended his hockey-playing career, North Providence's AJ Quetta is back on the team: as an assistant coach at Bishop Feehan High School.

"Hamilton" is back at PPAC – if you've already seen the Broadway smash, is it worth going again. Sue McDonald says: absolutely.

Amy Russo has had plenty of great food as she's explored her new home state – check out where she went for cider doughnuts.

And John Kostrzewa has hiked all over this state, so when he writes that this week's Walking RI destination is one of the most picturesque he's seen, that gets my attention.

Finally, tomorrow is the biggest sports event of the year in Rhode Island, and it's one we didn't even get to see last year. Here's Bill Koch's look at URI-PC.

Have a great night. And remember, if you enjoy This Just In, please encourage a friend to sign up.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Porch pirates! And a COVID number we didn't want to see again

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