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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee said he wants cities and towns to become more involved in the COVID-19 vaccination effort to help speed up distribution once more shots become available.

McKee said Friday that he hopes to expand the state’s capacity to get shots in arms after he takes over from Gov. Gina Raimondo, the Providence Journal reports. Cities and towns “are going to be a big part of that,” McKee said in a virtual meeting with his COVID-19 advisers.

“We need to use our communities to create this 9/11 moment where we bring people together in a way that we are rallying around an enemy, and the COVID is the enemy, and we are going to beat that enemy,” McKee said.

The Democrat did not provide more detail about his plans for cities and towns, but he said he will continue to use state vaccination sites created under the Raimondo administration. McKee has been critical of the state’s vaccination efforts, which he said are moving too slow.

Raimondo is leaving her post after being chosen by President Joe Biden to lead the Commerce Department.

MAINE

The University of Maine is moving forward with spring sports after previously pausing all athletics amid cases of COVID-19 on campus.

University leaders on Friday gave the athletics department permission to participate in spring sports including women's soccer, baseball and field hockey, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Women's soccer team will be the first team to return when it travels to play Merrimack College on Sunday. The team's fall season was canceled because of the pandemic.

Baseball is scheduled to start its season Feb. 26, while field hockey opens on Feb. 28. The football and softball teams are both set to start their seasons March 6, according to the Press Herald.

The university suspended sports in January because of COVID-19 infections on campus, including among some involved in athletics. The men's basketball team cut its season short Feb. 12 over difficulties tied to the pandemic. The team had not been cleared to compete since Jan. 17.

VERMONT

Vermonters in the next age group eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, those 65 and older, may start making vaccine appointments as early as the first week of March, Human Resources Secretary Mike Smith said Friday.

He encouraged people in that age group to set up an account online ahead of time on the Health Department’s website. That way, they will have an account ready to use when the registration opens to pick a date, place and time be vaccinated, Smith said during the state’s twice-weekly virus briefing.

As of Friday, 42,000 Vermonters had received their second dose of the vaccine and 41,000 had gotten their first dose, he said.

CONNECTICUT

Most students in Hartford will return to school five days a week beginning March 1 as Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said the decision announced Friday was made in consultation with health officials and based on guidance from the state.

Students in ninth grade and younger who opted for in-person learning will resume the five-day schedule, with half days on Wednesdays, that was in place until rising virus cases forced a shift to a hybrid model in November.

Students in 10th through 12th grades will continue to learn in-person part-time.

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