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Cloth Face Coverings Required as of May 8: A summary of the governor’s May 5 press conference

Governor Raimondo and RIDOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott gave the daily COVID-19 press conference today at 1pm.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced 14 new COVID-19 associated deaths, ranging in ages from 50s to 100s. There was one person in their 50s, three in their 60s, one in their 70s, with all others 80 years of age or older. There 281 new cases today, 327 people currently hospitalized with 89 people in the ICU and 62 of those people on ventilators. Governor Raimondo stressed it was a “good news story” as hospitalizations continued to decline today. The number of people in the ICU, and on ventilators in the ICU, has risen slightly.

“We’re doing much better than a lot of states,” said the governor. She took the time to repeat that lifting the stay at home order next week does not mean Rhode Islanders will go back to the normalcy pre-COVID. She is confident, but emphasized the slow, gradual process. The governor said Rhode Islanders will have to be creative and flexible as they prepare to live with the virus until there is a vaccine.

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Inside malls would not be open in phase 1, and many of the operators in malls are not ready to reopen yet. Anchor stores would be allowed to reopen, and outdoor malls, like Garden City, will be allowed to open with new restrictions.

 She also emphasized the importance of the public wearing face masks. “As we enter Phase 1, in order to keep us all safe and aware, we’re gonna have to do better with our face mask wearing. Later this afternoon I will be signing an executive order directing anyone in a public place to wear a cloth face covering.” She continued, “There will be exceptions for young children, those developmentally unable to wear a mask and for people with underlying conditions.” The executive order will take effect starting this Friday, May 8.

Dr. Alexander-Scott repeated the ease of the virus transmission. “One single cough can cause a person to spread 3,000 droplets. It’s how the virus travels if you’re close enough.”

The governor over the last few weeks has announced a one-stop app for COVID-19 in conjunction with tech companies. Motif asked the governor how she saw the app and some of the privacy concerns that come with tech apps. “Like any software, we’ll roll out an initial version, and then over time in the coming weeks we’ll add more bells and whistles and functions.” Where the state wants to get with the app, is allowing people to keep themselves up to date about COVID. It also includes a symptom tracker, allows for ordering tests/appointments and includes a location log and automatic location tracking. “What I wanna emphasize is any of this will be totally opt in, no one will ever be forced to do or penalized if they don’t,” said the governor. “Everyone will keep control over their data, and everyone will have a choice to share their data.” Version one of the app will roll out next week with updates ensuing.

Contact tracing will be more important than ever as the economy reopens. Ninety people are engaged in it full time as of today. The goal is for the staff to be able to reach 1,000 people a day, and have all investigations done within a few days of someone getting a positive test. Rhode Islanders should continue to keep logging everyone they meet in a given day, and the governor stressed it will be more important than before as social networks start to expand.

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