Governor Gina Raimondo, DOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and DoA director Brett Smiley gave the COVID-19 press briefing today at 1pm.
The data released today is as follows: There are 27 new cases of the coronavirus since yesterday. There are 69 people are in the hospital for causes related to COVID-19; 11 people are in the ICU and 11 people are on ventilators. DOH has reported six new deaths since yesterday. One person was in their 40s, and Dr. Scott noted they had multiple underlying health conditions. Two people were in their 60s, one in their 70s, one in their 80s and one person was in their 90s.
Phase 3 began yesterday morning, and the governor said she is worried about July 4th. She spoke again about the COVID rates surging nationwide, saying, “Texas attributes a good portion of its case increases to large gatherings on Memorial Day. Arizona attributes it to large protests and to people not wearing masks.” Social gathering limits are still capped at 25 going into the holiday weekend.
“People are dying every single day in Rhode Island because of coronavirus,” said the governor. DBR was out in full force last weekend surprise-inspecting businesses for COVID regulation compliance. The state says they are still seeing issues with people congregating at parks and beaches, particularly at concession stands where people wait in lines without wearing masks.
Bars are especially a problem area. Yesterday Dr. Fauci testified before Congress singling out congregations at bars as prime areas for COVID spread. Raimondo agrees, out of the bars and bar settings inspected this weekend, 18% of them did not have adequate social distancing. The governor reminded viewers that bars have to operate more like restaurants with table service, and must make provisions for social distancing, mask wearing, hand-washing, etc.
For the holiday weekend, the state is making 1,000 masks available to each city and town in RI to hand out at large gatherings such as fireworks displays. DEM will also be handing out masks at parks and beaches. DOH has found handing them out at protests in June helped a great deal with people wearing masks. When asked by Motif if there was any plans to distribute them to, for example, RIPTA busses, Dr. Alexander-Scott agreed it is a good idea, and they were having discussion on regular distribution this week.
Governor Raimondo also made announcements regarding nursing homes and childcare. The state will continue the wage bonuses given to nursing home and congregate care setting workers. These same industries can expect added financial support for additional cleaning, PPE costs andraising infection control standards. Nursing homes are expected to start enacting their limited visitation plans next week. Massachusetts and Connecticut have already started allowing visits to nursing homes and congregate care settings.
Seventy percent of childcare centers have reopened statewide and Raimondo is aiming to get to 100%. She announced today $5 million in CARES Act funding to go toward childcare providers, supporting upgrades to safely serve more children. The fund will be administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in partnership with DHS.
Lastly, the governor announced today this would be the last press briefing for a week. She was giving her team the holiday weekend off. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced that there would not be a data update on Monday, to give the data team a day off the following weekend. COVID data will be updated tomorrow, Friday and then not until the following Tuesday. Dr. Alexander-Scott stressed they would still be monitoring the data as it came in daily.
The next press briefing is next Wednesday at 1pm. You can watch it on Capitol TV, Facebook Live, and following our live tweets on twitter at @MotifMagRI. Our summary of the governor’s comments will be up later that day.