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Aug. 13, 2020   |   Follow @FitzProv on Twitter
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LEADING OFF
Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I'm Edward Fitzpatrick and I'm still not sure if history will remember the backyard trampoline as the best idea or worst idea of the summer. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 20,129 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 74 new cases. The most recent test-positive rate was 2 percent. The state announced two more deaths, bringing the total to 1,018. There were 89 people in the hospital, nine in intensive care, and three were on ventilators.

In Central Falls, the response rate to the 2020 census hasn't even reached 43 percent. But now President Trump's administration is planning to end all counting efforts on Sept. 30, a month sooner than planned. 

That announcement came just weeks after Trump signed a memorandum seeking to bar undocumented immigrants from being counted in congressional reapportionment.

In Central Falls -- a 1.3-square-mile majority-Latino city of some 19,000 residents, including many undocumented immigrants -- those back-to-back actions are seen as an outrageous attempt to undercut the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country every 10 years.

"I am just discouraged and sickened by the federal government injecting themselves every step of the way in the census," Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, this has become a political weapon. All we are asking for is an accurate count."

Diossa, a Democrat who co-chairs the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee, emphasized that census figures are crucial in determining federal funding, and those numbers will be locked in for a decade. He said the decision to stop the count a month earlier will make it even harder to get accurate data in hard-to-count communities such as Central Falls.

"Ending this a month early will yield some gross inaccuracies," Diossa said. "At the end of the day, the president might score some political wins, but there will be a longer term impact on our country."

The U.S. Census Bureau has said the count is ending early so it can process and report data by a Dec. 31 deadline. But Diossa called for Congress to extend that deadline.

He noted the country's self-reporting rate is still just 63.4 percent of households, while Rhode Island is at 61.1 percent, Providence at 48 percent, and Central Falls at 42.9 percent. Door knocking by census workers, originally set to begin in mid-May, just got under way in August.

Meanwhile, Central Falls, Providence, and Rhode Island have joined other cities and states -- including Massachusetts and Connecticut -- in a lawsuit challenging Trump's July 21 memo aimed at excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count.

"For 150 years -- since the United States recognized the whole personhood of those formerly bound in slavery -- the unambiguous requirement that all persons be counted for apportionment purposes, regardless of immigration status, has been respected by every executive official, every cabinet officer, and every president," the lawsuit says. "Until now."
 

THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND
Amanda Milkovits reports that Governor Gina M. Raimondo is delaying the start of the school year by two weeks, until Sept. 14, to give schools more time to prepare for in-person classes amid the pandemic. Raimondo also is pushing back the timeline until Aug. 31 for making final calls on whether schools will return fully in-person, all remote, or a hybrid. She said more rapid testing is needed.

⚓ Hell's Half Acre, in West Greenwich, is a heavenly spot for a trail run. With input from a hard-core trail runner and an serious cyclist, I have compiled a guide to the best places to run, hike, walk, or bike in Rhode Island. It's the latest installment of the Globe's new "Around R.I." series.

⚓ A scrap metal company with a metal-shredding facility in Johnston has agreed to pay $875,000 in penalties for violating the Rhode Island Clean Air Act — the largest fine ever assessed by Rhode Island over air pollution, according to Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, drew thousands of responses to his Tuesday tweet, which essentially questioned if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is a real Catholic given his support for abortion rights. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author responded, telling the Globe: "As someone who was baptized as a child, Mr. Biden is as Catholic as anyone else in the church. Baptism as a sacrament is irrevocable."

⚓ Chief Judge Jeanne E. LaFazia announced that the state District Court will begin a volunteer lawyer program to help the court handle tenancy and eviction cases. The program aims to provide tenants facing eviction with legal advice at the courthouse in negotiating payment plans, move-out dates, or other matters just prior to District Court hearings. It's meant to address a surge in cases expected in early September as pandemic-related benefits and assistance expire.
 
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MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM
Sports: This seems like a slam dunk: The Boston Celtics on Wednesday signed head coach Brad Stevens to a contract extension, according to Adam Himmelsbach. While the contract terms weren't disclosed, we know Stevens has a 318-245 record over his seven seasons in Boston, placing him fourth on the team’s all-time wins list, trailing only Red Auerbach, Tommy Heinsohn, and Doc Rivers.

PoliticsAbdallah Fayyad says Kamala Harris is a vice presidential candidate who is both historic and flawed.

Coronavirus: The good news is the United States has a window of opportunity to beat back COVID-19 before things get a lot worse. The bad news is that window is rapidly closing.

Equity: Advocates calling for the removal of Native American mascots are praising recent actions in Quincy and Braintree to eliminate the symbols, but they say a lot more needs to be done to promote equity and justice for Native people.
 
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WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY
Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ At 3 p.m., Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, will join Governor Gina M. Raimondo's weekly Facebook Live forum to talk about "how to reopen our schools in a way that balances health and safety concerns with our children's need for a high-quality education." Raimondo was collecting questions from the public, and I hope someone asks Fauci about what happened with this pitch.

⚓ At 7 p.m., Eat Drink RI will be hosting a virtual "town hall" on Facebook with U.S. Representative James R. Langevin and Dylan Conley, who is challenging the 2nd Congressional District incumbent in September's Democratic primaryThe conversation will focus on national food and drink policies.

⚓ From 2 to 3 p.m., the North Burial Ground will host a timely if grim event -- a "public health tour" to highlight "the history of infectious diseases and those that succumbed to them through a walking tour" of the Providence cemetery.

⚓ At 8:45 a.m., the Rhode Island Airport Corporation board of directors will hold a virtual meeting to consider multi-million contracts for runway reconstruction and aircraft parking ramp work, as well as food and beverage concession contracts.

⚓ Do you ❤️ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We've got a great offer here.
 
Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com or follow me on Twitter @FitzProv. See you tomorrow.

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