PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Daniel McKee has signed an executive order that extends Rhode Island’s state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic until next month.

The order signed Thursday, when the previous order was set to expire, extends the state of emergency until July 9, WJAR-TV reported.

It first went into effect March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was signed by former Gov. Gina Raimondo.

As more state residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the number of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths have continued to decrease.

Neighboring Massachusetts’ state of emergency is scheduled to end Tuesday.

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HEALTH DISAPARITY GRANT

Rhode Island has received a $20 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address disparities in COVID-19 health outcomes in underserved communities, the agency announced Thursday.

“Funding will help improve health status in communities that are underserved and adversely affected by COVID-19 to improve health equity,” the CDC said in a statement.

The state’s urban areas of Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Woonsocket are the communities in the state hardest hit by the pandemic.

The goals of the grant, according to the CDC, are to reduce COVID-19-related health disparities; improve and increase testing and contact tracing among higher risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups; and improve state health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection.

The money is part of a national $2.25 billion program.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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