PROVIDENCE – District 47 Rep. David Place, a Republican serving Burrillville and Glocester, was one of ten members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives chosen this week to serve on a task force to oversee the state’s implementation of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

According to a release on Tuesday, Nov. 24, the purpose of the task force is to, “ensure that the state’s distribution of the vaccine is done in a timely manner following the CDC guidelines and that front-line workers, the health-compromised and the elderly are given access first, and also to make certain the needs of the underserved populations are appropriately addressed.”

The task force is expected to work closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and learn about the state’s vaccine plan.

“The stakes are very high here, and we need to do our absolute best with getting this vaccine to our population as quickly as possible. This is a time to come together, to work swiftly and carefully, and ensure that we vaccinate in a way that protects the most people and the most at-risk people as soon as we can,” said Speaker-nominee K. Joseph Shekarchi, Democrat from District 23 in Warwick, who established the new committee. “Distribution of the vaccine will doubtlessly be complicated by the fact that it is coming out the midst of a surge that is already pushing the limits of our health care system and those incredibly dedicated professionals who work in it, as well as our communities.”

“This task force is to support everyone involved, to help address hurdles and ultimately to protect the health of Rhode Islanders and get us to the other side of this pandemic as soon as possible,” Shekarchi added.

The group is also expected to learn more about the state’s involvement as one of four states in Pfizer’s pilot program to test distribution of the vaccine.

The task force will be chaired by Rep. Raymond Hull, a Democrat representing District 6 in Providence and North Providence.

Place, a Burrillville resident and former member of the Burrillville Town Council, will be serving his second term in the state legislature after running unopposed in 2020.

He will be joined by Rep. Michael Chippendale, a Republican serving District 40 in Foster, Glocester and Coventry; along with seven more Democrats, Rep. Karen Alzate of District 60 in Pawtucket; Rep. Kathleen Fogarty of District 35 in South Kingstown; Rep. Joshua Giraldo of District 56 in Central Falls; Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee of District 33 in South Kingstown and Narragansett; Rep.-elect Michelle McGaw of District 71 in Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton; Rep. Mary Duffy Messier of District 62 in Pawtucket; and Rep. Thomas Noret of District 25 in Coventry and West Warwick.

The task force is expected to meet virtually, with its first meeting scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. with Dr. Michael Fine, chief health strategist for the city of Central Falls and senior clinical and population health services officer of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc. Fine served as the director of the RIDOH from 2011 to 2015, and has spent his career developing systems for and directly providing health care to underserved communities.

The task force is expected to meet virtually twice more in December, and then will continue to meet in 2021.

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