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Rental Assistance for Past-Due Rent Is Available: A summary of the governor’s May 2 press conference

Today at 1pm, Governor Gina Raimondo and Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott held their daily press conference and follow-up phone call for the media.

There are 327 COVID-19 cases, 17 new deaths. Hospitalizations continue to be at a plateau, with no decline. The governor said she was worried about the weekend because of the nice spring weather. If people were to congregate today, she warned, the stay at home order may not be lifted on May 8.

Dr. Alexander-Scott said 19% of all those hospitalized had no underlying conditions. The state is studying comorbidity, but does not have enough numbers to provide a baseline with COVID-19. Nursing homes have been hard hit under COVID-19. The exact number of deaths from nursing homes is 215, with an additional five coming from other congregate settings. Fifteen of the deaths reported today were nursing home residents.

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During the press conference the governor showed two graphs from state COVID-19 models, which were since added to the data center on the DOH’s website. Raimondo sketched out the Ocean State’s two probable futures forward. A sustained plateau with a slow, gradual decline like Massachusetts, or more rapid decline, akin to the end of a bell curve.
“This is a new virus,” said the governor. “None of these models is perfect. I’ve been reluctant to release models on a regular basis. We can’t put too much faith in them. They change. They’re necessary and they guide our work.”

The governor announced a $1.5 million initiative to provide rental assistance to low-income renters impacted by COVID-19 and people at risk for homelessness. Renters can get a grant of up to $5,000 for past due rental payments and fees. Available starting today, people can go to housinghelpri.com or call United Way’s 211 helpline to get assistance. 

Governor Raimondo also announced 20 financial institutions pledged to provide relief to residential borrowers. This includes a 90-day grace period for all residential mortgage payments at those institutions and opportunities to request additional relief. Late payments won’t be reported to credit agencies for taking advantage of the grace period.

The governor sketched out how life might look as the economy re-opens, but emphasizes it’s a slow and gradual process. Beaches, parks and restaurants may need limited parking and capacity or a reservation system. Raimondo demurred on saying anything concrete, planning to announce more details next week.

Tomorrow’s press conference is scheduled for 1pm. 

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