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Raimondo Committed to Making Healthcare More Affordable: Summary of the governor’s June 4 press conference

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Providence Pedestrian Bridge.

Governor Gina Raimondo, Dr. James McDonald from RIDOH and DoA director Brett Smiley gave the COVID-19 press briefing today at 1pm.

The data for Rhode Island is as follows: 100 new cases of COVID, and 185 people are hospitalized, 42 are in the ICU, and 29 people are on ventilators. DOH reported 14 new deaths today, with no age breakdown offered during the presser.

Governor Raimondo today made several announcements regarding healthcare in Rhode Island. Federal aid of up to $150 million would be made available to hospitals across the state. That comes after hospital systems in the Ocean State face revenue drop-offs from shutting down due to COVID. Healthcare frontline workers will continue to receive a pay boost from the CARES Act funds. Director Smiley today reported the effort had cost more than $8 million dollars, and they had budgeted a few million more for the new two-week extension.

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The governor today also reported her administration would make an effort to re-tilt healthcare in Rhode Island. She is committed to health equity zones and making healthcare more affordable. Her telehealth executive order has been extended. This comes after COVID hitting Rhode Island’s vulnerable communities the hardest. Child immunizations are estimated to be down 35% to 50%, people have put offer PCP visits or treatment. “It’s time we start addressing that,” said the governor.

The governor and Dr. McDonald announced there were going to be metrics for nursing homes to start visitations, however, neither elaborated on what they would be. Dr. McDonald said to hold on for a few more weeks as congregate care settings figure out what to do with state and federal guidance. 

Starting next week, the governor is expected to make a series of announcements regarding schools. She says she thinks school will return in some form this fall. Distance learning has overall been a success, said Raimondo. RIDE is making an extensive focused assessment, which should be completed after the school year closes. Raimondo said she’s pleasantly surprised with the results, but that it gets more difficult the longer it goes on. She also half-joked that with distance learning, snow days might be a thing of the past.

Providence still has a #BlackLivesMatter rally for George Floyd tomorrow. Governor Raimondo said she supports the effort and reminded people to exercise caution and observe social distancing and face masks regulations. Some form of security will be present at tomorrow’s rally, the governor is getting briefed on that this afternoon. The National Guard isn’t going away anytime soon. Governor Raimondo said it would be active for security measures at least through the weekend, until she feels Rhode Islanders are safe. Rhode Islanders will have to get used to helicopters and Humvees at least until next week. Meanwhile other parts of the guard National Guard will continue to be deployed in COVID work ,such as contact tracing and quarantining. New federal measures allow states to be reimbursed for using their Guard units through August 21st, so we can expect them to be activated at least until then.

Tomorrow’s press conference is at 1pm, with the one following that scheduled for Monday. Starting next week press conferences will drop down to three days a week on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. You can watch them on local news, Facebook Live, or Capitol TV. Motif will have its summary up following the press conference a few hours later.

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