Governor Gina Raimondo and RI Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott gave their daily press conference from RI today at 1pm, broadcast from The Vets.
The governor said again today that the Ocean State’s COVID-19 data was a good data story. Rates are continuing to flatten, but the governor noted they have accomplished fewer tests over the past few days. There were 164 new cases since yesterday. Two hundred seventy-seven people are currently hospitalized; 72 of those are in the ICU, and 53 are on ventilators. There were 14 new fatalities related to COVID-19, ranging in ages from their 60s to more than 100 years of age. The governor reminded people of the rules, — hand washing, social distancing, etc — saying, “What we do now, shows up two weeks from now.” She said she doesn’t want numbers to go up and to have to put restrictions back in place.
Governor Raimondo stressed again today that keeping a contact log will help with contact tracing and save lives. She also reminded Rhode Island that hospitals are open again for non-critical and elective procedures. Today she announced since last bringing it up in a press conference two weeks ago, a workforce stabilization fund for nursing home workers has raised $8 million, with $6 million of it already spent. It will give raises to workers in frontline healthcare facilities like nursing homes through June.
The federal government through FEMA will start sending PPE to nursing homes directly, once per week, the governor announced today. All nursing homes, their staff and residents have been tested in the Ocean State as part of a new repeated cycle of testing. The goal DOH set for this had been this past Monday, a goal Dr. Alexander-Scott said they had reached. The testing cycle will begin at the congregate care settings most impacted by COVID-19.
All four internet carriers in the Ocean State have agreed to make hotspot service free through the end of June. The governor said this was crucial in getting wifi and internet access to all students as they remote learn. Raimondo said 98% or 99% of students had access to the internet, and if anyone was part of that slim percentage that did not, to call her office.
The governor today during questions from the press repeated her confidence in reopening the economy. She said 95% of workers were wearing facemasks, and 75% of customers were over the weekend. When asked about people afraid to go out and eat at restaurants the governor said, “It’s time to start coming out.” No one should be afraid if everyone acts within the new rules and regulations the state has put forward. The governor herself will be going out to eat on Sunday for her birthday.
The governor said today when asked about the budget deficit that she would probably have to lay off state workers at some point in the future, but wasn’t ready to do so yet to avoid contributing to the unemployment rate. Raimondo said she has been re-purposing state workers to help with contact tracing, data analysis and other tasks to tackle the crisis. Regardless of how much state aid comes from the expected new federal stimulus, Raimondo affirmed Rhode Island would balance the budget no matter what.