This Just In: Our new reporter, and some signs of a COVID retreat

Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. Our newsroom family just got a little bigger today. We're welcoming Wheeler Cowperthwaite as our newest staff reporter. His first day is today, and he'll be focusing on growth and development, a high-interest topic. If you've got a good idea for a story, send it to him at, and then he won't just have to do all my dumb ideas.

While we're on the subject of comings and goings: Neil Steinberg, who has had a pivotal role in philanthropy during 14 years with the Rhode Island Foundation, plans to retire as that organization's leader in May 2023. Steinberg becomes the third prominent Rhode Islander in recent weeks to announce that he is leaving a significant leadership position.

Also on the subject of comings and goings: The McKee administration has picked a health-care executive from Ohio to be the new CEO of the Eleanor Slater Hospital.

After two months in which new COVID cases kept climbing in Rhode Island, we're seeing some signs of a leveling off or decline. The Department of Health today reported no new coronavirus-related deaths and 1,503 additional cases over the last three days, along with 12,946 negative tests, for a 10.4% positive rate. Rhode Island has reported an average of 768 new cases a day over the last seven days, down 5% from a week ago though still up 14% from two weeks ago. In three out of the last four reporting days, the new-case average has fallen or remained steady. There were 77 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, down from 94 reported Friday, with five in intensive care.

Meanwhile, some schools are bringing back mask mandates. Central Falls did so effective today, and masks will be required in Providence beginning tomorrow.

Mark Patinkin looked back on some of the Rhode Islanders who were among the nation's 1 million COVID deaths.

Two years later than originally planned, residents of the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol will soon start working in the facility's new greenhouse.

If you enjoy murals as much as I do, you'll want to read Amy Russo's profile of Angela Gonzalez, an artist whose work is popping up throughout Providence.

Two local men whose regular business is real estate have raised fresh questions about an unsolved murder in Warwick from nearly 38 years ago, and their research seems to have resonated with the police.

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island have set out to determine the exact location of the mean high tide line – the legal boundary between public and private areas of the shoreline. So far, their findings might not provide much comfort for those who prefer greater public access.

With the state on the verge of passing legislation known as the "Let RI Vote Act," Katherine Gregg used this week's Political Scene column to look back on the colorful history of absentee voting in Rhode Island.

Will a bill that is designed to ease the state's housing crunch reward millionaires who construct prefabricated "McMansions"? Patrick Anderson reports on the surprising debate.

The sale of National Grid's Rhode Island operations appears clear for takeoff now that Attorney General Peter Neronha has reached a settlement with the prospective new owner, the PPL Corporation.

The Celtics face another virtual must-win situation tonight as they host the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. (Catch it on ABC at 8:30-ish.) But if all you really want to watch is football, activities resembling that sport took place today at Gillette Stadium.

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

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: This Just In: Our new reporter, and some signs of a COVID retreat