COVID-19 CRISIS

THE LATEST: Rhode Islanders must 'stay the course' to reopen soon, governor says

State reports 218 new positive cases, 6 additional deaths

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Editor's note: This story appears on our websites as part of a partnership between Beacon Communications and East Bay Newspapers to share coverage of the COVID-19 crisis. For full audio of the governor's follow-up conference call with reporters, click here.

At her Tuesday, April 28, coronavirus briefing from the State House, Gov. Gina Raimondo said while the numbers of newly reported cases locally are holding steady, Rhode Islanders must continue to adhere to her stay-at-home order if it can be lifted as planned in the coming weeks.

Raimondo said she appreciates the efforts of residents to date, adding “it’s clearly working … it’s clearly saving lives.” She continued, as of Tuesday the “fight to bring down the infection rate was going well” and “I think I’ll able to lift the order on May 8, which will be really exciting for all of us.”

However, she cited a notable increase of both foot traffic in stores and of motorists on roads as a concern, saying “it’s something we don’t want to see.”

Noting Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had extended his stay-at-home there through the middle of next month, Gov. Raimondo implored people over the next 10 days to stay the course here in Rhode Island.

“I hope and plan to announce that on May 9 the stay-at-home order will expire, but I won’t do it if we’re not ready,” Raimondo said.

Latest statistics

Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott provided the latest update on COVID-19 cases, reporting 218 new positive tests. As of Wednesday, 266 patients were hospitalized with 84 in intensive care and 55 on ventilators.

Alexander-Scott told of six additional deaths, people ranging in age from 50-90. Of those, five resided in nursing homes and the other resided in a congregate living setting.

Health care notes

The governor announced a new executive order related to several aspects of health care, remaining in effect through May 27.

She said the need for the order, which relaxes some “burdensome” regulations, was especially urgent as a means of supporting professionals in the field. Raimondo said it’s intended so healthcare professionals “don’t have to jump through hoops, cut through excessive red tape with providers to give patients care they need.”

Aspects of the order are as follows:

  1. All out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions can’t be increased nor can existing meds be dropped. The governor explained insurers can’t make changes unless “it benefits patients and doctors say it’s necessary.”
  2. Requirements around referrals are to be relaxed, allowing for more time and leniency, as are preauthorizations.
  3. Behavioral care, likewise, will not require preapproval or preauthorization.

The governor, while thanking the insurance industry for its cooperation during the pandemic, said she will renew the decree if necessary at the end of next month.

Technology notes

Raimondo announced a new partnership with the tech company SurveyMonkey, which is intended to help build a database on daily symptoms as well as the affects of the coronavirus on particular population sets throughout the state.

She said while it is opt-in only, she would encourage any patient contacted to participate. The data gathered will be “critical to safely reopening economy,” Raimondo added. “It will help us keep you healthy.”

State services

The governor, who previously gave a 90-day extension of Department of Motor Vehicle-related issues for those residents with March and April due dates, said the same concessions will be made for those whose registrations, licenses, etc., expire in May.

Also, she said she will have an update later this week or early next on guidance surrounding the reopening of other state and municipal offices.

Good news

The governor reminded people of her concerns last week over the growing deficit of PPE (personal protective equipment), particularly gowns, for healthcare workers throughout the system, but was gratified by the action of a nearby company to meet those needs.

Saying one of the “most encouraging things to me throughout crisis is how people have pulled together,” Raimondo praised the contribution of Rhode Islanders Charlie and Owen Merrow, owners of the Merrow Sewing Machine Co. in Fall River, for producing an initial run of 3,000 industry standard gowns.

The governor added, “We’ve ordered more than a half million more gowns, and I expect that supply will hold us in good stead for months to come.”

Questions

Of the questions posed to officials Tuesday, one pertained to how they are forming their decision to reopen the state?

Raimondo said a community mitigation team has been composed of state administrators and DOH employees who are in daily contact with experts from Brown and Johns Hopkins universities.

The governor said the “guiding principal” of those involved is the connection between economic and personal health and that officials are attempting to find the proper “balance.”

Asked about testing benchmarks during reopening, Raimondo said the keys are the ability to test asymptomatic people within 24 hours, establishing contract tracing within 24 to 48 hours and setting up a mobile system. The governor said it will be more about speed and effectiveness, not about a total daily number of tests conducted.

Another question dealt with expected seating requirements for restaurants, bars, gyms and other like businesses when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

The governor said she has heard from those industries and noted the state is willing to work with them to make it feasible to reopen, adding “we may provide additional support … I’m open to it.”

Next briefing

The governor’s Wednesday, April 29, briefing will take place at 2:30 p.m. rather than the usual time of 1 p.m.

Comments

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Roger

Rumor has it, yesterday Captain Cote was following the Blue Angles and Thunderbirds in his plane complaining about their use of fuel when they were trying to boost the spirits of doctors and nurses in New York City. Just like here in Warwick, no one answered his calls.

Wednesday, April 29
bill123

the "Roger" comment gets a thumbs down

Wednesday, April 29
bill123

The governor has said many times she wanted to, and is, relying on science. Now, she says she wants to rely on voluntary opt-in surveys from “SurveyMonkey”, for critical decision making. We can imagine the scientific result. The governor talked (now and previously) about “scouring” the world for PPE, while failing to mention Rhode Island’s significant contribution to the manufacturing of PPE. The governor of Rhode Island, of all people, is not proud to say “Made in Rhode Island” (https://twitter.com/honeywell/status/1251222267578761222) They apparently know nursing homes/congregate-care facilities are hard hit, saying it’s because residents are packed into close proximity, yet do nothing to address that, except talk about a need for more tests. There is also an absence of concern for the roadblocks new candidates face this election year, and the hoops they are going to be forced to jump through. Expect unchallenged incumbents to be a growing trend.

Wednesday, April 29
Happy

OK boys and girls, make sure you wash your hands, stay at home and social distance if you are out!

I'm getting ready to scream if I hear that one more time, reminds me of 1st grade!

Someone please write a new script for the Governor!

Wednesday, April 29
John Stark

First, we were told that we needed to stay home so hospitals would not be overrun. Then we were told we must stay home in order to "flatten the curve". Now, it's stay at home "Because I said so!" What we're seeing is the logical manifestation of a government that believes it knows best, damn it, and you'll like it. Government knows better than you how to spend your money, where your kids should go to school, how you should prepare for your retirement, and a myriad of other decisions that you're too stupid to figure out. The highest form of elitism is modern liberalism, and it's on full display during this hoax. The country has quarantined an entire population rather than those at risk because, well, we must treat everyone "equally". As of 2 hours ago, New York City reported 12,509 deaths with 0 being school age kids. In RI, 233 deaths, 0 school age kids. So we MUST close the schools, wear ear masks, and shut down a thriving economy because a small number of at-risk people might get sick. And if they do, there's a very slim chance that they might die. In the general population in RI, there's currently a two-one hundredth's chance of death. That's one person in every 4300, with virtually all being elderly nursing home residents. Every death matters, and my condolences to families. But this has reached a point of absurdity.

Wednesday, April 29
justanidiot

reichsfuhrer gigi is loving this, fire off executive orders that violate civil rights and change laws without the action of the general assembly. we are now on the fast track to a police state where all our actions and thoughts will be controlled by those who know better than we. the guvmint is trying desperately to keep stupid people alive so they can get reerected again and again. we need a really good war or a real plague to get rid of a lot of the stupid masses.

Wednesday, April 29
Educated Voter

To "Roger"-Unfortunately captain criminal was unable to make that call to complain to the federal government about the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds as a family member of a city worker passed away and he was tied up at the funeral home berating, harassing, and screaming at the family of the deceased.

He did however, find time to travel to Woonsocket last week to complain about the large contingent of police cars and fire trucks that paraded around Woonsocket Hospital in the largest show of support yet for front line health workers. Too bad he didn't stay in Woonsocket permanently-this city would have been much better off for it.

Wednesday, April 29
KimLorene

I'm not listening to this governor any longer. She is not making sense any longer.

Wednesday, April 29
igor1113

Most of these comments are spot on and much more instructive than the original column, which don't need to be read because they are so repetitious and one dimensional.

Wednesday, April 29
Robert

The Governor will continue to string the citizenry into obedience with the mantra of “just 2 more weeks”. Once this happens for 2 more months then the economy will be dead with no chance of recovery and the markets will be empty of food. This Covid 19 Hoax can only end in Martial Law and FEMA Camps.

Wednesday, April 29
Ben Dover

Thanks to the Queen of Raimondi and the general assembly, the State was approaching a $250M+ budget shortfall before any of this Wuhan virus....Now, who knows how bad it is? The usual quahog juice drinking apologists who blindly follow the status quo will all jump in and defend the den of thieves. The smart money has left or is leaving so good luck when the well runs dry...Financial sanity, it will never happen, then you can look in the mirror. We get the kind of government we deserve.

Thursday, April 30
Robert

Rhode Islander has suffered for decades from a deadly strain of liberal leftists. The time has now come to fight this tyranny, but the leftists have made sure the citizenry has been disarmed. Where’ John Wayne? He surely couldn’t win any political office in Marxist Rhode Island.

Thursday, April 30
Ben Dover

SORRY, I seem to have made an error...The financial budget hole isn't $250M....It is more like $400M....So tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, have a margarita and take a siesta...All is well....

Monday, May 4