THE LATEST: 'Distance learning' to continue through April; 114 new COVID-19 cases in RI


Editor's note: This story appears on our websites as part of a new partnership between Beacon Communications and East Bay Newspapers to share coverage of the COVID-19 crisis.

At her daily press briefing on Monday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the number of cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island has increased by 114 since yesterday’s update, for a total of 408 cases. Of those, according to Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, 41 are hospitalized.

As of today, four Rhode Islanders have succumbed to COVID-19, an increase of one since yesterday. The latest fatality was a man in his 70s, and health officials are investigating to determine if he had any pre-existing medical conditions.

The governor emphasized the need for the public to stay informed as cases in Rhode Island continue to climb, and to obtain their information from her daily briefings. “The next few weeks are going to be very difficult,” she warned. “We are at a point of fast spread.”

Distance learning to continue through April

Today’s briefing focused on something Rhode Island’s families and educators were expecting to hear, as cases of COVID-19 in the state continue their upward trajectory. Distance learning for schools statewide will continue through at least the month of April for Rhode Island’s 142,000 K-12 students.

The governor had high praise for everyone involved in the initial success of the state’s distance learning efforts, from educators and administrators to parents and students. “I think its going better than anyone could have anticipated,” she said.

“It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago we moved to distance learning, and we’ve only been doing it for one week. I know it seems longer to me and every parent. I thank you for your hard work and dedication. I know it’s difficult and disruptive.”

The governor shared stories of how distance learning has manifested in various districts, from a Central Falls coach who started a push-up challenge, to Pawtucket teachers posting videos of them reading bedtime stories, to Mt. Pleasant High School using video conference technology for chorus practice.

“Some schools are reporting better attendance through distance learning,” she said.

“We are taking an incremental, day-by-day, week-by-week approach to this,” Raimondo said. “For now, I am confident we can do this for the next month, and do a great job at it.”

Help getting online for low-income families

In the interest of equity, the governor announced an initiative, in conjunction with service providers, for free hot spot wifi services thorough May 18 with the four major providers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

She emphasized that this service is meant for those who cannot otherwise afford the service.

“Please don’t everyone turn on their hot spot or we will crash the system,” she said. “The point is it’s an option for people for whom it’s the only option.”

Also, Cox Communications will be providing two free months of internet for qualifying low-income families, $10 per month after that; and one free month for those who don’t qualify. The governor encouraged students to approach their school teachers or administrators for information on how to access those benefits.

She also challenged everyone in Rhode Island, but particularly students, to read every day throughout April, in a program that will be publicized on RIDE’s website at:

She announced there would be a special press conference on Thursday, just for kids, and that teachers will have information on how students can participate by submitting questions through Google forms.

Testing to get up to speed this week

Though Raimondo and Alexander-Scott said the state is not quite where they want to be, testing 1,000 people per day, they’re almost there. Three drive-through testing sites are being set up at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island. They will be staffed by members of the National Guard.

Both Raimondo and Alexander-Scott repeatedly stressed: do not show up without an appointment. You must get an appointment to be tested by first calling your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, call an urgent care facility. If you cannot get through there, call the DOH COVID-19 hotline at 401/222-8022 during business hours, or call 211 after hours.

If you are sick, you should isolate — even from the other people in your home. “We are in a very critical phase right now and we need everyone to do their part,” said Alexander-Scott.

What about the economy?

In response to questions, the governor said that in order to reopen the economy, the state would need to see widespread compliance with social distancing, more capacity in the hospital system, several months of personal protective medical equipment on hand, and new industry-by-industry rules of operation. Businesses with questions should contact 521-HELP, the RI Small Business Hotline.


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She is doing a good job.

Monday, March 30

wwkvoter, I agree. I didn't vote for her and I was certainly not a fan after the past few years because she really seemed to be more concerned about herself than the state. However, she has shown true leadership during this crisis. It is totally unchartered waters. She keeps everyone informed daily. She has doctors and experts speak on areas that are outside her realm and listens to their advice. She is taking a hard line in order to protect the citizens of RI. I am very glad she is in this role at the moment. I do not tune in to Trump any longer after he uses his time to give out false information and pat himself on the back. I want facts. Not campaign promises.

Tuesday, March 31
John Stark

Still wouldn't come close to voting for her, but agree that she's doing a good job with this.

Tuesday, March 31
A New day has arrived

Now that he Beacon has banned Simoneau from this site, hopefully the readers and posters can get back to intelligent and mature discourse without his attacks, threats, and disgusting language that had ruined it for all the other mature and thoughtful posters.

Tuesday, March 31

I agree with all of you she is being proactive and is doing a much better job than Cuomo.

What astonishes me is the ignorance of some people not listening to her regarding being in groups.

She’s closed all retail, restaurants and now parks and beaches but some just don’t heed her advice.

It’s these neanderthals that will spread this and then whine and complain.

It’s a huge inconvenience but I choose to live and not infect or kill my loved ones.

Stay safe and be smart to all !

Tuesday, March 31
Educated Voter

Daydreambeliever: Thank you for your common sense comments, and hopefully those individuals who are not taking precautions during these unprecedented times will heed your advice.

Also, a HUGE thank you to yourself, your fellow firefighters, and all the public safety and medical professionals who keep us safe not only during this crisis, but every day of every year 24/7.

Tuesday, March 31
Taxed Enough

What is interesting is that although all the city offices are closed, senior centers closed, parks and rec closed, pool closed, ice rink closed, schools closed, there have been no lay offs and the employees are not having to use their accumulated sick time during this emergency. Cant wait to see how that comes back to bite the taxpayer in the ass.

What kind of management would make this kind of choice? When the budget hearings commence, just wait until we see not only the lack of revenue, but the increase in the unfunded liabilities. So when the city officials tell you that we are all in this together, we are not. The city employees have no skin in this. They don't come to work, yet they still get paid. Something very wrong with this equation.

Tuesday, March 31

Taxed enough are you continually a negative person. I’ve been reading your posts for months and never anything positive can be written by you.

The Mayor has his reasons I’m sure and has looked into the cost of paying for not working or laying off and still having to pay the state regarding so they can collect unemployment. This is a temporary thing hopefully lasting a month so try and find some decency as we are all in this together.

All I ever hear about from yourself, davebarry, Stacia, the Captain and others is negativity.

Only essential people are working right now and some have chosen a profession police, firefighters, nurses, doctors, etc. that truly don’t have a choice as they are needed more than ever.

They chose a profession for whatever reason and right now are risking their lives and health to care for all of us out of nothing other than sense of duty and professionalism.

So when the time comes for contracts, pay, benefits you tear into them but they are on the front lines saving lives and being part of a solution not a problem.

Try thanking them instead of the usual demoralizing of them.

The majority of Americans don’t come in contact with people at their worst coughing and hacking, high fevers, bleeding that the firefighter does to stabilize this person and transport so others with more training can treat.

Police also come in contact with some shady characters unlike most so let’s cut them all some slack and as the late Rodney King said “can’t we all just get along”?

Is it really so hard to be a good person ?

Wednesday, April 1
Patient Man

Yes the Governor is doing a good job & I'm not a fan.

Taxed enough, Are you sure out of work city employees are being paid? A friend of mine in Ohio works for a city & she's using her sick time & if necessary she'll use vacation time.

Wednesday, April 1
Taxed Enough

So I guess the lifeguards from the pool are essential persons that should be paid when the pool is closed? How about the librarians? Library closed,, they still getting paid. School janitors? Not working yet getting paid. If they are getting paid they should be using up the massive amount of accumulated sick time and / or vacation time. I have no issue with that. But, we are NOT all in this together. The majority of people that cant work are not getting paid. What about private contractors that reside in Warwick. They cant work, but they dont get paid. The private sector is nothing like the public sector. Just wait until the city posts the revenues for the year. Get ready for another max tax hike.

Wednesday, April 1

The annual financial report for fiscal year ending Jun 2019 is nowhere to be found. The charter says it was due no later than December 2019. The city hall annex (abandoned in Jan 2018) due to pipe leak is still abandoned. The mysterious pipe leak at the Tollgate is still unexplained (unless you want to believe a tight threaded connection just “fell” apart). People are stressing over ever-higher taxes. The list could go on and on. We need something to take our attention off this, and the governor’s briefings at least do that. As to whether the governor is doing a good job or not, it’s unclear how the average person would know, at this point. One thing we know is this state (just like the city) lacks transparency, and there is no reason to think virus briefings will change that.

Wednesday, April 1
Dog Lover

I work for the city. There are quite a few workers who are working from home. I happen to be one of them. It is not an ideal situation and there is only so much one can do from home. But I am available by email and by phone. My work calls are being forwarded to my personal cell phone. I also go in twice a week maintaining social distancing to pick up the mail etc. There are many departments that can not just stop working. Things need to continue to be processed. Personally if I was told I had to use my sick time or vacation time, I would not have a problem with that. Unfortunately not all city employees have outrageous amounts of sick and or vacation time. I also am a tax payer in this city. This is an unprecedented situation. Unfortunately, no one anywhere was prepared for this.

Wednesday, April 1
Taxed Enough

As a city worker that is paid by the taxpayers dollars, if you are not working your full time schedule, you should not be getting your full time pay. Should a life guard be paid when not at the pool? How about a librarian. Oh, I forgot, they are working from home. ridiculous

Wednesday, April 1
Dave G

Many city employees have been moved into different roles and the office positions are working from home. They aren't all getting a free vacation.

Wednesday, April 1
Patient Man

If city workers can work from home great. The workers that can't do that should be using sick days, PTO & vacation days. Think about all the service industry employees that lost their income & don't have vacation & PTO to continue to pay their bills. This isn't hard. Plus we'd run into a log jam of employees taking their time off at the same time.

Sunday, April 5