COVID-19 CRISIS

THE LATEST: State adds teeth (fines) to quarantine measures; governor says surge is weeks away

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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.

The state of Rhode Island is getting more serious about its orders for people to stay in isolation or self-quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier today, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order that allows the Rhode Island Department of Health to develop regulations that will include fines for those found to be knowingly and willfully violating the state’s isolation or quarantine orders.

That was perhaps the biggest new revelation during the governor’s daily press briefing on Thursday.

In describing the new regulations, Raimondo expressed sympathy for everyone impacted or restricted during this pandemic.

“We’ve been at this for more than five weeks,” the governor said. “We are educating our children in our homes. You might be out of work. It’s very difficult. It’s very frustrating. Every day there are ups and downs … I fully acknowledge all of it.”

She continued, “Having said all of that, the quarantining and isolation rules are going to be more important than ever … And even though we’re sick of this, and sick of being stuck in our homes, if you are ordered to, you must quarantine.”

She warned, “This is going to get harder before it gets easier. More of us are going to be stuck inside.”

The new executive order clarifies some of the directives handed out by the state in the past few weeks Specifically:

  • If you are diagnosed with the coronavirus, you must isolate until you no longer have symptoms. “What does that mean?” the governor asked. “It means you can not leave your house. If you are sick, you have to isolate within your house. This is not easy … I hear you saying, ‘Governor, how am I going to do that? I have four kids, I live in a small house and I have one bathroom?’ … I hear you. You have to do your best.”
  • If you have no symptoms, but you’ve been in close contact with someone who does or who is confirmed positive, you must quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you travel to Rhode Island by any means of transportation from any other state and you are planning to stay here, you are ordered into quarantine for 14 days.

The health department is developing regulations that include civil penalties and a series of fines to ensure people are following those rules. Raimondo said those fines will be in the range of “hundreds of dollars.”

“We don’t want to punish anyone, but we are serious about this,” she said.

The new numbers

There were 8 new coronavirus-related deaths since yesterday, bringing the state’s total to 44, with patients ranging from someone in their twenties (with an underlying condition), to people in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties.

There were 277 new confirmed cases, bringing the state’s total to 1,727 people.

And there are 160 people currently hospitalized with the virus and 2,243 people in quarantine or isolation.

Testing

The governor celebrated the state’s accomplishments in ramping up its testing capabilities. “A week ago, we were hoping to be able to do 1,000 tests per day. I’m very proud and pleased to report that yesterday we completed more than 1,800 tests,” Gov. Raimondo said.

She said that progress is testament to hard work from hundreds of National Guard members, the health department, DOT, CVS, the state’s colleges and universities, healthcare workers, National Grid, Twin Rivers Casino and many, many people.

“It’s an unbelievable feat that’s been accomplished …. It’s extraordinary,” she said.

Repeating what has been said many times before, she reiterated that they are only testing those who are symptomatic, and that people should not show up announced at the testing sites at Twin Rivers, CCRI or RIC. Schedule an appointment through your primary care provider or at cvs.com.

“I am deeply grateful to CVS, which is running a top-notch operation, and which got this operation up and running, as the first state in the country,” Raimondo said.

She acknowledged there are some kinks in the system. “By no means am I saying it’s perfect,” she said. “But we’ve made enormous progress in just a few days, and every day we get better, we learn, and we improve.”

Food delivery services

The governor spent time talking about the delivery services that are trying to get food to those who are isolating, quarantining or unable to get food on their own. These might include people who are older, disabled or members of vulnerable populations. She said one service is focusing on those who are in state-monitored isolation or quarantine. That service is separate from the Rhode Island Delivers program (ridelivers.com), which targets those who need help.

Raimondo said the RI Delivers service is totally overwhelmed at the moment, and she pleaded with Rhode Islanders to consider whether they truly need that service.

“If you are able to go to the grocery store. If you’re young and healthy, please don’t use this service,” she said. She implored people to save the resource for only those who need it.

“I’ve been hearing from a lot of people in the senior community, they can’t get out, they can’t get delivery,” Gov. Raimondo said. “Please — if you don’t need it, lay off the RI Delivers food service for now.”

Red lights for workers

Rhode Island is lighting up the Statehouse in a bath of red light all this week as a sign of support for healthcare workers and first-responders. Raimondo extended that gesture of support to ALL workers who are providing critical services every day. She specifically mentioned bus drivers (“They get up every day, put their uniform on, do the right thing, and go to work.”), healthcare workers (everyone from doctors and nurses to custodial staff), construction workers, grocery store workers and delivery people.

“The list of people who are essential workers is long, and every one of you is truly a hero,” Raimondo said. “The list is endless.”

She added that she often talks to governors from other states, and she believes Rhode Island is faring better than most. “We’re doing about as well as anybody in the country right now,” she said, while urging more contributions and sacrifices from Rhode Islanders.

“If you are able to work, and if you are well, I need you to keep going to work,” she said.

Cloth coverings

Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott used some of her remarks to answer questions about the recommended use of cloth-based face coverings. She said they should not be worn by children younger than 2. “They should be worn by everyone else when they are in public,” she said.

Domestic violence

Raimondo was asked about the increase in domestic violence calls throughout Rhode Island. She first acknowledged that yes, it’s true.

“Across the state, the number of calls to 911 for domestic violence has gone up quite a bit in the past few weeks. It’s not entirely surprising. Many, many people are out of work. We’re all stuck in our homes, and it’s frustrating. Having said all that, it is not acceptable.”

She said they are working on a comprehensive plan to address this, including more shelters, more hotlines and advocates and more outreach to those in crisis. She said they will have more to say about this soon.

“It’s a problem, and it’s a priority,” the governor said.

Unemployment insurance

Raimondo clarified who is eligible for the state’s Unemployment Insurance program and who is not.

“You are not eligible for unemployment insurance if you have not been laid off,” the governor said. “So if you decide to quit or leave or not show up, that is of course your decision, but you are not eligible for unemployment insurance.”

She then strongly encouraged everyone to keep doing their jobs.

“I know it is hugely challenging to go to work. You’re afraid. And none of us really wants to go to work. And if you’re a homecare worker, or a CNA, it’s doubly hard. I am asking you, please, if you are well, please go to work.”

She also spoke directly to company owners and managers: “I’m asking companies to do everything you can to be sure your employees are protected. Make sure that if they’re sick, they stay home, and they’re given sick leave to stay home. Make sure that if they are going to work, they have masks or gloves, or whatever is appropriate under the circumstances.”

Model and surge?

The last question of the day asked the governor about the state’s modeling and when Rhode Island can expect to see the “surge” in cases and hospitalizations.

“It’s still a work in progress, and I’m reluctant to put numbers out there when I don’t have a high degree of confidence,” Gov. Raimondo said, adding that every day they collect more data, the model is getting better.

“We know the surge will be sometime between late April and late May … But we need some more time to get some more data before I have any confidence in putting it out there. I don’t want to cause any unnecessary panic.”

She left people with the sober reality of the situation: “We are going up the curve, there are going to be a lot more people sick, and a lot more people in the hospital.”

Comments

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John Stark

Three points here:

1. Today's data indicate that 1 person out of every 579 in the population has tested positive in RI. Not great, but certainly not staggering.

2. The number does not include those who tested positive a few weeks ago but have since recovered. Nor does it include those who died from another cause which was, curiously, attributed to the virus.

3. Look for government at the local, state, and national level to heap applause upon itself for the "great job" it has done in combating the plague as, at long last, it provides a reason to justify it's existence. Also, be suspicious of the requisite "temporary" tax increases, much like the "temporary" state income tax that was enacted in 1947.

Thursday, April 9
bill123

Add teeth to this: The death statistics for 2016 are shown on the RI Dept of Heath website. For unknown reasons they did not update the page to show subsequent years. Although 2020 is not over, the number 44 does not yet make the lower limit in the table. An up-to-date table needs to be posted for the subsequent years, which for 2020 includes covid-19. The 2016 data table shows 152 people died of “Flu & pneumonia” in 2016. To keep the current situation in proper perspective, it should be reported concurrently what the accumulating deaths are from flu & pneumonia, as well as other causes.

https://health.ri.gov/data/death/ (press link “Data Table”)

Friday, April 10
perky

we wouldnt be where we are now if the govenor didnt allow people to come into the state from other countries and she should of done like they did up north if your not a permenant resident you cant come here this is her fault

Friday, April 10
KimLorene

She is spreading fear. She is overstepping. what she is doing is unconstituttional.

Friday, April 10
igor1113

"Even though we’re sick of this, and sick of being stuck in our homes, if you are ordered to, you must quarantine" Thus saith the Gov. Since sickness is the subject, of all those 16 million in USA that have had to apply for unemployment compensation in the last few weeks, how many are government workers? My guess is that it's 16 million to zero. So taxpayers get screwed again by those who pretend to defend and keep us safe. Gov Gina declared a state of emergency due to Wuhan virus and, you can bet the $$ will go to pay for the government workers who are sitting on their daire aire. Hide your guns, cause that is the next step for Gina as the State fulls up with illegal immigrants. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10
Robert

Just as there is no cure for the common cold, there will be no cure for this flu-like Covid 19. Not many have died relative to those who annually die from the flu. But the Covid 19 virus will prove itself to be most deadly once the state requires mandatory vaccinations which are being developed to kill or as Bill Gates loves to say “to depopulate”. Millions of Africans were wiped out with AIDS vaccinations in 1968 and millions of Americans will be culled by the eugenics gurus in a similar manner. Arm yourselves ASAP.

Friday, April 10
Token anyone?

First we had the perpetual fake mayor wannabee, then the off his rocker ex cop, now we have "robert"... resigning myself to always having to read token nut comments.

Saturday, April 11
bill123

To continue my prior comment: Showing 2016 by itself, as if a model year of some kind, makes no sense. The numbers in the 2016 data table do not add up horizontally. The fact the death statistics are not openly published for every year, and what is published is also incomplete, is a health crisis in and of itself. Tables for consecutive years would allow for the observance of trends. If the numbers in any category are going up, or down, we would be able to ask why. Is this too much information for the people to handle, or do they feel negative trends would implicate them somehow? It may be (or not) the information can be piece-wise assembled from somewhere, maybe it’s something only suitable for disclosure by email, by way of records request. They don't want to make it easy. Dept of Health: Do your job, just publish the numbers !

Saturday, April 11
wwkvoter

Bill send an APRA, and the law even allows that to be anonymous if you really want, and via electronic means...

Read the APRA FAQ and put it in!

Saturday, April 11
Robert

Corona 19 is a Psyop. It proves to the powers that be how sheeplike and gullible Americans have become. Even churches don’t have the courage to assemble But all these fools will take a vaccination for a fake illness.

Sunday, April 12
wwkvoter

Tell that nonsense to the families of the 22,000 dead Americans or the 50,000 dead Chinese in Wuhan...

Monday, April 13
perky

how can they be testing people when the labs do not have what they need to run the tests and ehy are these people from ny and ct still coming here to work on there boats

Tuesday, April 14
wwkvoter

Perky good point.

Tuesday, April 14
OldButInformed

Are you gonna bankrupt the entire service industry Governor? Keep the elderly and medically fragile indoors and have a rolling opening of the service industry. I’m suspicious that this is all about deepening the State’s monetary shortfall in order to begin rolling cars! Weeks? Really???

Wednesday, April 15
OldButInformes

The above comment should say TOLLING cars!!!!

Wednesday, April 15
perky

i was told the test system is off the state has to improvise because they do not have the right materials for the testing

gina doesnt have a clue as to what shes doing for one thing u dont put healthy people in a nursing home that has a high

death rate from the virus

Friday, April 17