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RI Reaches a Milestone as 200,000 Residents Tested for COVID-19: A summary of the governor’s June 22 press conference

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

“These numbers are a good news story,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott today. DOH reports 25 new cases of the coronavirus. Sixty new cases were reported on Saturday, and 36 were reported Sunday. Hospitalizations are down to 106 from 111 on Friday. Eighteen people are in the ICU and 15 are on ventilators. There have been five new deaths since yesterday. The weekend saw four additional deaths, bringing up the cumulative total since Friday to nine. Two people were in their 50s, one in their 70s, two in their 80s, three in their 90s and one person was over 100.

The governor announced today that over the weekend, a few state parks and all state beaches hit their capacity at some point. Lincoln Woods, Goddard State Park and Colt State Park all had to be closed due to capacity. Saturday turned out to be the most popular beach day of the season with the state estimating 25,000 visitors to state beaches. Sunday was less crowded, with an estimated 15,000 visitors. DEM rangers had to break up big congregations, with many folks not understanding being told to break up. Wednesday will see new changes to ensure a smoother beach-going operation as the Ocean State slides into summer.

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DBR inspectors focused on hitting gyms and restaurants this past weekend. The governor was pleased with some of the results. Mask wearing by employees was roughly 94%, customer compliance with face masks was 90%. One area Rhode Islanders could do better was the COVID control plan, only 80% of businesses inspected over the weekend had theirs at the ready to show state inspectors. 

Last week, the governor announced the weR1 fund to help provide direct cash assistance to the poorest Rhode Islanders, those who can’t qualify for social programs due to immigration status. Over the weekend, $41,000 has been raised toward an overall goal of $3 million. People looking to donate can get text WeR1 to 27126 to donate, courtesy of the Dorcas Institute. 

Raimondo also provided a Housing Now RI update, the initiative that provides cash signing bonuses to landlords pledging units toward housing families with housing vouchers. Forty units have been pledged so far, the governor set an overall goal of 100 units pledged by July 1. Landlords are eligible for a $2,000 signing bonus upon first family with vouchers they house, and $500 additional per family. Steve Ahlquist of Uprise RI asked, since eviction court are scheduled to start again July 1, would the governor support rent/evictions moratoriums? The governor said she hadn’t ruled it out, but wanted to work on a sustainable process like mediation to work out those problems. She is also supportive of efforts in the state legislature to outlaw income discrimination and asked the legislature to pass it. 

The governor said the state also took steps to ensure houses of worship were complying with state regulations. There have been a few outbreaks (defined as two people or more being COVID positive), but by and large, houses of worship have been compliant. The governor noted that a lot of houses of worship declined to reopen yet, and the ones that have, got creative.

This past weekend the state hit a milestone, Rhode Island has tested more than 200,000 people since the COVID crisis began in March. While the governor today noted the president expressed a desire to see testing wind down, Raimondo said they would ramp it up, no matter what the president said. Rhode Island will be gathering supplies and preparing a long-term testing strategy, as a vaccine for COVID-19 is not expected until next year at the earliest.

The governor’s next press briefing is Wednesday at 1pm. You can watch it on Capitol TV, Facebook Live or local news. Motif as always will live tweet it, with our written summary of the governor’s comments available later that day.

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