Executive Order 22-14

Extension of COVID-19 Immunization Emergency Regulation for Health Care Workers and Providers

WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, Executive Order 20-02 was issued for a declaration of a state of emergency due to the dangers to health and life posed by SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) and that Order has been extended through at least February 17, 2022;

WHEREAS, on November 12, 2021, I issued Executive Order 21-109 affirming the disaster emergency that was first declared on August 19, 2021 for the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 and other then-existing COVID-19 variants and that Order has been extended through at least March 4, 2022; 

WHEREAS, the Rhode Island Department of Health (“RIDOH”) projects the already high rates of COVID-19 community transmission and hospitalizations in the State will continue over the coming weeks and into late winter of 2022;

WHEREAS, on November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization named and classified the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the "Omicron variant") as a Variant of Concern; and on November 30, 2021, the United States designated the Omicron variant as a Variant of Concern;

WHEREAS, the Omicron variant has been the dominant variant in Rhode Island since late December 2021 and neighboring states; it has also caused a significant number of COVID-19 infections in Rhode Island and an increase in COVID-19 transmission rates; Rhode Island still has 5 out of 10 hospital emergency departments reporting severely or dangerously overcrowded status, case counts in Rhode Island are still reflective of high transmission with over 450 cases per 100,000 per week;

WHEREAS, the significant presence of SARS-CoV-2 cases and the emergence of Omicron variant as the dominant variant in the State, together with staffing shortages in our health care institutions, constitute a serious threat to public health in Rhode Island;

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has required RIDOH to respond to rapidly changing public health needs and federal and state requirements;

WHEREAS, in response to these conditions, RIDOH has promulgated emergency regulations under Rhode Island General Laws § 42-35-2.10;

WHEREAS, despite progress in a number of areas, the State continues to suffer from the effects of the pandemic;

WHEREAS, the requirements and associated timelines to promulgate regulations under Rhode Island General Laws §§ 42-35-2.6 through 2.9 and 42-35-2.11 could delay effective responses to rapidly changing conditions during the state of emergency; and

WHEREAS, of particular concern is 216-RICR-20-15-8, “Requirement for Immunization Against COVID-19 for All Workers in Licensed Health Care Facilities and Other Practicing Health Care Providers,” an emergency regulation promulgated by RIDOH whose current expiration date is February 12, 2022.  This regulation requires COVID-19 immunizations for health care workers and providers. Without an extension of time, this emergency regulation will lapse before a permanent rule can be adopted. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DANIEL J. MCKEE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Rhode Island, pursuant to Article IX of the Rhode Island Constitution and the Rhode Island General Laws, including, but not limited to, Title 30, Chapter 15, and Title 23, Chapter 8, do hereby order and direct the following:

  1. The statutory time limits contained in Rhode Island General Laws § 42-35-2.10 are hereby suspended for 216-RICR-20-15-8, “Requirement for Immunization Against COVID-19 for All Workers in Licensed Health Care Facilities and Other Practicing Health Care Providers.” This emergency regulation will terminate upon the adoption of a permanent regulation promulgated by RIDOH. 

This Order shall take effect immediately and remain in full force and effect through March 12, 2022 unless renewed, modified, or terminated by subsequent Executive Order.

So Ordered:

Daniel J. McKee