COVID-19 CRISIS

THE LATEST: Raimondo eyes lifting of stay-at-home order

310 new cases reported Sunday; 11 new deaths bring RI's toll to 226

Posted

Editor's note: Follow the links below for the governor's follow-up conference calls with members of the media from the last three days:

FridaySaturday / Sunday 

Rhode Island has seen a decrease in its number of new COVID-19 cases according to Department of Health data released Sunday, and Gov. Gina Raimondo said she continues to eye a lifting of the current stay-at-home order once it expires on May 8.

“Everything I know now tells me we’re going to be ready,” the governor said during her Sunday briefing from the State House.

The 310 new cases reported Sunday represented a significant decline from the previous two days’ figures. The state reported 437 new cases Friday – the highest single-day total yet – and 430 new cases on Saturday.

Since March 1, 7,349 Rhode Islanders have tested positive for COVID-19. It should be noted that the state reported 2,512 tests conducted Saturday, down from 3,634 conducted Friday.

“Now one day doesn’t make a trend, but I’ll take it … for me, anyway, it’s a sign of hope and it’s a sign of confidence that we’re doing the right things,” Raimondo said of Sunday's decline in new cases.

To date, 53,403 Rhode Islanders have been tested for COVID-19, with 45,964 testing negative.

The death toll from the disease continues to rise, with another 11 new fatalities associated with the virus reported Sunday. Thirteen new deaths were reported on both Friday and Saturday, and the state’s overall COVID-19 death toll now sits at 226.

Department of Health Medical Director Dr. James McDonald on Sunday said the 11 latest fatalities included one person in their 50s, four people in their 70s, one person in their 80s and five people in their 90s.

Ten of the new deaths were associated with nursing homes, which have been particularly hard hit by the disease and account for the vast majority of Rhode Island’s overall toll. A full breakdown of cases and deaths at nursing homes across the state is available on the Department of Health’s COVID-19 data portal.

The first cases of COVID-19 at the state's Veterans Home in Bristol  – one in a resident, one in a staff member – have also been identified. The resident is no longer at the facility, while 16 residents have been quarantined and a separate entrance has been established to help contain any further spread. All of the facility's residents and staff members are being tested fore the virus.

The number of Rhode Islanders hospitalized or in intensive care due to COVID-19 – key indicators of the severity of the crisis locally – continued to remain steady on Sunday. At the time of the data update, 258 people were hospitalized as a result of the disease, with 78 in ICUs and 53 intubated and on ventilators. Thus far, 433 Rhode Islanders have been discharged from hospitals following treatment for the virus.

McDonald said Rhode Island has not yet seen a person test positive for COVID-19 a second time, but that is “something we’re looking for very carefully.” He said in a global context, much remains unknown about the novel coronavirus.

“It’s still a relatively new disease. We’re still learning a lot,” he said.

Also on Sunday, Raimondo said Rhode Islander businesses and consumers are overwhelmingly complying with the executive order requiring the wearing of cloth-based nose and mouth coverings in public.

“In general, we’re seeking excellent compliance by both customers and employers,” she said.

Highlights from Friday’s briefing:

* Raimondo on Friday announced the state has received 20,000 serological tests, which will be administered to a random sampling of Rhode Islanders in the coming weeks.

The tests are used to detect the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in a person’s bloodstream, and the data collected will allow officials to more accurately understand the prevalence of the virus in Rhode Island.

Raimondo additionally announced the creation of a Rhode Island COVID-19 Testing and Validation Task Force to oversee the process and analyze the data collected. It will be co-chaired by a pair of Lifespan physicians, Dr. Angela Caliendo and Dr. Jonathan Kurtis.

* The governor announced a new Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund, which according to a press release is designed to “provide temporary pay increases for low-wage frontline workers at eligible Medicaid-funded residential facilities.”

The funding will be provided in the form of forgivable loans to employers, who will be required to use the money for wages in order to meet the forgiveness requirement. Applications through the state’s Office of Health and Human Services can be submitted starting this week. The money can provide temporary raises for workers making less than $20 an hour.

Raimondo said the fund was established as a result of “serious staff shortages” seen in settings such as nursing homes and other congregate care facilities. During a follow-up conference call with reporters on Sunday, she acknowledged that the money making its way to workers depends on employers applying – but she said she would be “pretty shocked” if there were a lack of applications “in light of how desperate [many employers] been recently.”

On Friday, she said: “We have to help [front line workers], and we have to send them some relief. Frankly, we have to give them a raise … we need to fill these shifts.”

* Raimondo on Friday also announced than 20 financial institutions across the state have agreed to a set of measures aimed at providing relief to homeowners and renters.

The pledge includes a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments for those affected by the crisis and an agreement not to report late payments by those people to credit reporting agencies. The pledge also includes a 60-day moratorium on the initiation of foreclosure or eviction proceedings and an agreement to wage late fees for mortgage payments.

The governor thanked the participating institutions for “doing the right thing for the right reasons to support our community.”

Additionally, Raimondo said that starting April 30, a new $1.5 million rental assistance fund will be available for low-income Rhode Islanders. More details are expected this week.

* The governor will host a Violence Prevention Facebook Town Hall on April 30 at 11 a.m. She will be joined by U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, Attorney General Peter Neronha, other state officials and members of the advocacy community. Questions for the event may be submitted anonymously at communications@governor.ri.gov.

* The governor announced a new, virtual exhibit, dubbed “Beacon of Hope,” put together by WaterFire. It honors those lost in Rhode Island as a result of the pandemic and can be viewed at waterfire.org.

Highlights from Saturday’s briefing:

* Raimondo announced the launch of a new website, RIArts.org, which a press release states is designed “to connect artists with available resources and provide Rhode Islanders with an up-to-date list of virtual performances happening in the state.”

* The governor also unveiled “R.I. Angel of Hope and Strength,” an image created by Rhode Island School of Design graduate and acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey. It is meant to honor front line workers and serve as a unifying and inspirational symbol during the crisis. It is available for free download at RIArts.org.

* The governor also announced that as of this week, the full video of her daily press briefings will be available in Spanish on the her Facebook page each evening.

Comments

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bill123

The Beacon says: “A full breakdown of cases and deaths at nursing homes across the state is available on the Department of Health’s COVID-19 data portal.”

The Beacon article omits the data portal URL (thank you, the one for arts is shown), but I assume this is it: https://ri-department-of-health-covid-19-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com/ (has various graphs, and “click here” link to google docs at bottom)

There is a list of nursing facilities vs cases and fatalities shown, but this is bookkeeping, not science. Nursing homes (congregate care) are the kind of outlier that deserves special attention, but not getting it, except maybe lip service. Nursing homes consistently make up most (purportedly > %75) of all fatalities. The data portal shows no indication of any analysis of this phenomenon. Not even a graph of nursing homes vs everyone else is shown, a trend for which there is a clear need to watch very closely.

Sunday, April 26
Wuggly

Once these 20,000 serological tests and the results are shown that between 20 and 30 percent of us have the antibodies with never having had symptoms, what then? 20 to 30 percent is about where other tests of general populations on the East Coast have been at.

Are we trying to keep people from dying or just being exposed to the virus? Cause without jobs people die.

Most are fine with social distancing and masks inside public areas. Outside on the beach or at the park? Not so much.

Let people open their businesses, if they want. Let people go back to work, if they want. They're adults let them take the risk.

Sunday, April 26
wwkvoter

Great comments. Wuggly the issues is that the risk you want to let "them" take, can kill the unwitting vulnerable that your "risk takers" bring to them as asymptomatic carriers.

At some point, when we have found (hopefully) better treatments that prevent death in the most serious cases (mostly eliminate the death risk), and learn whether exposure provides immunity and for how long, then we can start talking about letting population exposure run its course.

We are not there yet.

Sunday, April 26
bill123

Continuing my prior comment: The nursing home data on the data portal is presented as a range, not absolute numbers. Looks like sloppy bookkeeping. The official explanation (because data updated on weekly basis) makes no sense. If they are trying to project future numbers, that should be done separately. There is no reason to obfuscate the data.

Also, nursing homes appear to be the epicenter. Did the infection spread from all nursing homes simultaneously into the community, or, did it spread from nursing home to community, to other nursing home, to community, etc. The data portal needs to show this analysis. The former case suggests something very bizarre could have happened, as it seems it should be highly improbable. We need to know the truth, as best as it can be determined, without the obfuscations.

Monday, April 27
justanidiot

additionally, the new york times ran an op-ed piece by president paxton of brown who talked about opening schools in the fall with emphasis on testing students, taking temperatures at the door, and creating contact tracing, and quarrantine. sounds like the police nanny state is starting to gear up to track our every move and what we say or get tossed into solitary. remember, according to liberals, we cannot think for ourselves and have to be told what to do. or else.

Monday, April 27
bill123

The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population. As of today, the US has about one third of all confirmed cases worldwide, and over one forth of all deaths worldwide. This in spite of the president’s early closure of the borders. These are the kind of numbers that make it look like the US is the target of a biological attack, all others being just collateral damage. Or, some would say it's more reasonable to believe it’s Trump’s fault.

Monday, April 27
John Stark

Every death is a tragedy, but we know who is at-risk. Why not quarantine, or partially quarantine those who pose the highest risk and allow everyone else to go about their lives?! We know that the elderly with underlying health problems, fat people, and those with respiratory problems are at the highest risk. Let's deal with them, specifically, and move on!

Monday, April 27
justanidiot

because the latino community is harder hit, shouldn't they stay home longer than regular americans?

Monday, April 27
Safety First

I think we need to protect lives! Tracking devices should be developed and made by China (to make them affordable) that cannot be taken off. They should be able to provide disabling NONLETHAL electric assistance charges to the wearer's neck. They should do this by remote controls given only to responsible policemen and health authorities. THEN the Governor can order new rules of behavior. The shock collar devices should also be smart-capable so the master system can administer assistance shocks to promote safety without burdening the police. All automatic public safety and no cheating. If tampered with only then could the devices issue a semi-lethal shock.

Monday, April 27
Robert

Safety First, How stupid are you? There is no virus here worse than any flu. Covid 19 is man made to tighten the police state and to eliminate our liberties. Covid 19 was developed for the purpose of vaccinating all with an ID Microchip. Read www.id 2020.org

Monday, April 27
Safety First

I'm ok with a chip for me and my family and neighbors. Anyone who resists the idea is probably harboring criminal thoughts...

Tuesday, April 28
justanidiot

safety first, do not forget to watch big gigi at 1 every day. failure to do so is a thought crime.

Tuesday, April 28
John Stark

Much like AIDS (remember that?) we are lectured that 'We are ALL at risk.' As people start to recognize that, well, "not really", the long arm of government has increasingly flexed it's muscles. Gina tells us that we had better obey, or else...! I've become convinced that this really breaks into two camps. On one hand are those who have an unconditional trust in, and pledge obedience to all things Government. On the other hand are those who harbor a healthy skepticism when it comes to Government. We were ordered to stay at home in order to prevent hospitals from being overrun. Mission Accomplished. It's past time to move on from the nanny state. That is, of course, unless an opportunity was recognized to make more people increasingly dependent upon government while undermining a thriving economy. Again, Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, April 28
perky

i dont think anyone has stayed at home yet not judging by the traffic go by daves in hoxie the store is packed every day so nobody is staying at home 60% are not even wearing masks ive seen at least 2 big house partys so i guess gina isnt doing her job

Thursday, April 30
Robert

Did you hear why the Governor of Georgia was reopening? He said the hospitals in Georgia are at record vacancies and that the economy is crumbling because of this. But they want us to believe everything is dying. Then why are hospitals empty?

Thursday, April 30