Gov. Gina Raimondo

RHODE ISLAND – Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday afternoon, brining the state-wide total to 66 cases.

None of these individuals have traveled abroad recently, according to Alexander-Scott, though some have traveled domestically to Boston and New York. At the time, three of these 12 newly diagnosed individuals are being hospitalized. 

During Gov. Gina Riamondo's daily press conference, Alexander-Scott also shared news from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. On Friday, the Bay State announced it's first COVID-19 death.

"While we are working night and day in Rhode Island to limit the spread of COVID-19, we want to be 100 percent candid, and continue to do so, and let you know that at some point, Rhode Island could see a COVID-19 fatality," she said.

This weekend, and the week to follow, according to Raimondo, will be critical to limiting the spread of the virus. She stressed that staying home, not gathering for religious worship and avoiding events with 10 people or more will help save lives.  

"Following the directions that we have laid out for you does make a difference," Alexander-Scott said. "We are doing everything we can, with your help, to protect all Rhode Islanders – including our more vulnerable populations."

"If you are tempted to go to an event that has 10 or more people, or to play in a game that has 10 or more people, refrain from doing so," she added. 

Amid growing rumors, Raimondo reiterated for the third day in a row that she has no plans for a state-wide lock-down at this time. While she has been working to make sure the economy does not shut down entirely, the governor did acknowledge that some additional restrictions may come into play. 

"This is a fluid situation, and it's very likely that I will be instituting some additional restrictions in the next few days," she said.

The social distancing orders she's given have already taken a huge tole of the on local businesses, but the governor hopes to "strike a healthy balance between doing everything we can to keep a lid on the virus, but maintain some semblance of an economy."

If Rhode Islanders follow orders to stay home when their sick, orders to work to work from home if possible, and guidances to stay home as much as possible during this time, the sooner life will go back to normal, she said.

On Friday, Raimondo signed an executive order that will allow restaurants to sell beer and wine to customers ordering take-out. The order will go into effect on Monday and last through March 30. 

She has also signed an executive order expanding deadlines for police departs to perform background checks on gun purchases. Rather than just seven days, police departments now have 30 days. This does not mean that police departments will necessarily take a full month, according to Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni, but the request was made to the governor due to police departments being overwhelmed at this time.

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