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Some Restrictions Lifted, but Senior Centers Are Still Locked Down: Summary of the governor’s May 29 press conference

Governor Gina Raimondo and RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott gave the COVID-19 press conference today at 1pm. 

DOH reports today that there are 122 new positive cases of the coronavirus. Hospitalizations decreased slightly to 219, there are 47 people in the ICU and 33 of those people are on ventilators. There have been 16 new fatalities since yesterday. Two people were in their 50s, one in their 60s, six in their 70s, five in their 80s, and two people were in their 90s.

Governor Raimondo today signed an executive order signaling the start of Phase 2 of her economic reopening. Today she outlined again the four metrics the state is watching to make a determination to proceed to a new phase, and where the Ocean State is at as of today. Hospital beds have to be 30% filled or less, and RI has less than 30% hospital beds filled. Rhode Island needs to see less than 30 hospitalizations a day and daily stats are well below that. The rate of infection, or R value, needs to be 1.1 or lower and the state estimates the current R value at 0.7. When Motif asked today how they got the current R value, Dr. Alexander Scott answered it was a combination of the randomized sampling data obtained from Stop & Shop and calculated from the hospitalization rates. The last metric is the doubling rate of hospitalizations, and in RI hospitalizations are declining not doubling.

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One thing not being relaxed in Phase 2 is visitations at senior living centers or nursing homes. Nursing home and congregate care deaths make up the vast majority of COVID-associated deaths. Some hospitals will be making accommodations for end of life visitations during Phase 2, and visitations will resume at the ACI.

Twin River and state casinos will be reopening June 8. Attendance will be by invitation only, with no table games, and their restaurants will have to follow the restrictions and guidelines the rest of state’s restaurants do. Social distancing and mask wearing will be enforced; there will be sanitation stations and deep cleaning expected of them. The governor wants them to be operationally ready to enact these new protocols. The testing site at Twin River will be reduced in the future; however, the exact logistics are still being worked out.

Today Motif asked the governor and Dr. Alexander Scott of their plans to test asymptomatic among the general RI population. Alexander Scott stated they would be ready to share that next week, as well as the sampling data results from the Stop & Shop tests conducted earlier this month.

Something the governor has been repeatedly asked is what happens to employees collecting unemployment declining to go back to work because they’re making more on benefits. Speaking of the federal boost of $600 Raimondo said, “It was never intended to disincentivize people to go back to work.” She discouraged employers from reporting their employees to DLT and encouraged them to make employees feel safe in their workplace.

The next press conference will be Monday at 1pm. You can watch it on local news, Facebook Live, or on Capitol TV. Motif will have the summary of her comments up later that afternoon.

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