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Governor Urges Residents to Exercise Their Rights while Exercising Caution Regarding the Coronavirus: Summary of the governor’s June 5 press conference

Governor Gina Raimondo, DOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and DoA director Brett Smiley gave the COVID press briefing today at 1pm.

DOH reports 113 new cases of COVID-19 since yesterday. There are 182 people hospitalized statewide with the novel disease; 37 of those people are in the ICU and 23 people are on ventilators. The governor said the positive rate for all tests was below 3%, a good sign as the state moves into Phase 2. Sixteen new deaths have been reported since yesterday. Three people were in their 60s, three in their 70s, six in their 80s, three in their 90s, and one person was over 100.

Nursing homes and the elderly continue to make up the majority of fatalities from the coronavirus. Dr. Scott today addressed some of the metrics regarding nursing home visitations. Visitations to them and other congregate care facilities are still restricted for the next month. DOH will have clear guidance for those facilities and clear expectations. Before any of those facilities can reopen for visitors they must have some kind of COVID control plan with regard to outside visitations. Hand washing, distancing, scheduling a time for the visits and screening visitors might be part of such a plan. DOH will review the submitted plans in the weeks to come, with the governor hoping to allow some kind of visitation in Phase 3 in July.

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Governor Raimondo announced today she was extending several of her executive orders for another month. The executive orders regarding telehealth, the state of emergency declaration, face cloth coverings mandated in public, and her executive order about quarantining for 14 days are all extended until July 5.

She also chose to address the protesters today. This comes after Monday night’s violence and the #BLM rally scheduled for 4:30pm. The governor stated it was vital they stand up against injustice, but also exercise extreme caution as COVID-19 still plagues the Ocean State. Barricades are up around the State House and Providence Place Mall today as of this writing. When asked about it by Steve Ahlquist and the optical message that says about today’s protesters, the governor replied she was surprised by the barricades and ordered them to be taken down by 4:30pm. She said it was difficult to balance people’s constitutional right to protest with safety. This also comes on the heels of an emergency text alert, that according to Director Smiley, was sent out by the city of Providence’s emergency response team. 

The governor will not be attending today’s protest, but Dr. Scott and Director Smiley might be attending instead. She encouraged people to ride RIPTA, to carpool or to park farther away and walk, as many common parkings spots (like the mall garage) are closed or inaccessible. The governor did note that Providence was still open and folks should feel safe to go to any restaurants. Providence remains the only town with a curfew that starts at 9pm. 

One reporter asked the governor’s assessment of policing in the Ocean State. Raimondo said her general assessment was that RI was better off than a lot of other states, but there was still more work to be done, more training, more community building. Bill Bartholomew asked what the command structure for the National Guard/State Police in RI was with Raimondo as governor. Isn’t the governor on top of the hierarchy as she commands both organizations and couldn’t she order barricades down or instruct them not to use rubber bullets? Raimondo replied she left much of the day-to-day governance up to the leaders of those organizations.

That’s the last press briefing Motif will be covering this week. Next week COVID briefings go down to three days a week, Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays at 1pm. You can watch it on local news, Facebook Live or Capitol TV. Motif will have our summary of the governor’s comments up later that day.

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