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New COVID-19 Cases Dip Below 200: A summary of the governor’s May 3 press conference

Governor Raimondo held her daily press conference today at 1pm. Dr. James McDonald filled in for Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

Rhode Island saw the biggest spike in COVID-related fatalities today with 24 new deaths, pushing the official total to 324. There are 188 new cases today, a drop from the previous day’s high of 327. Dr. McDonald stated not to read too much into day-to-day data. There are 83 people in the ICU and 59 people on ventilators. Eighteen of the deaths were nursing home residents.

Oakland Grove in Woonsocket is set to become a specialty nursing home for COVID-19 patients released from the hospital. It joins the Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket as the second one to be designated solely for COVID-19 patients. Dr. McDonald stated both had plenty of beds.

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“I can’t say we won’t need a third,” said Dr. McDonald. 

The stay at home order is still set to expire on May 8. The governor said she is taking the data day by day to determine if it will need to be extended. She repeated yesterday’s announcement that all child centers would be rated five stars, and parents would have to pay the five-star rate. They need to get paid more and for a different kind of work, Raimondo says.

In the post conference call, the governor and Dr. McDonald went over testing and the risk to younger populations. Currently the test used throughout Rhode Island is the PCR test, that’s the nasal swab that checks whether the virus’ RNA is present in a person. Motif’s Michael Bilow asked about the plans for state surveillance to monitor COVID-19 spread. Dr. McDonald said they were coordinating with the CDC and were working out the specifics later this week.

“With surveillance, you’re only going to find what you’re looking for,” said Dr. McDonald. “The important thing about surveillance is you get people from all walks of life, all ages, all socioeconomic backgrounds. It sounds easy. When you design the study, you have to design it well.”

Bill Bartholomew asked about the risk of COVID-19 symptoms causing strokes and heart attacks in younger people. Dr. McDonald said, “Risk is still low for young people… fatality rate for people between the ages of 30 and 39 is still 2%. Age group 40 to 49, same thing.” The doctor stressed that the virus is still new and unpredictable. While he doesn’t want anyone to get the virus, it’s still generally milder in younger populations.

The press conference tomorrow has been moved to 3pm. 

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