'It's time to get more serious'

RHODE ISLAND – Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the Ocean State's third coronavirus-related death on Sunday.

The governor also announced 55 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state-wide total to 294 cases. Thirty-five of these individuals are currently being hospitalized. 

"You should know that I'm not at all surprised," Raimondo said. "This is what we've been planning for. We're starting to go up the curve at a pretty fast clip. It's what we've been anticipating, it's what we've been planning for and it's going to get worse before it gets better."

How much worse, she said, will depend on Rhode Islanders following the rules and practicing social distancing. At the moment, it's anticipated that only 50 to 60 percent of people are following directives to stay home and limit contact with others. 

During her daily press conference on Sunday, the governor expressed her frustration with those who are not taking the epidemic seriously.

"Yesterday, when I saw photos of crowds of people in line, in Narragansett, lining up to buy food, clam cakes, chowder, takeout food – all bunched together – I almost got in my car and went down there myself and broke it," Raimonodo said. 

It's time that people started realizing the severity of the issue, because "this virus is coming, it's coming fast and we cannot outrun it." 

"You're putting your life at risk, the lives of Rhode Islanders at risk and making it almost impossible for us to do what needs to be done to keep Rhode Islanders safe," Raimondo said. 

Those who've been following directives and staying home as much as possible are saving lives, she said. Everyone should be limiting themselves to social gatherings of five people or less are reminded to not interact with new group of five new people a day. 

The new restrictions she announced on Saturday are essentially what Rhode Islanders should be doing already, and the state needs to see better compliance. People should not be pushing the limits or finding ways to get around the rules, she said. 

Effective tomorrow, the governor also announced that all childcare licenses are being suspended for the next week. This will be re-evaluated and assessed on a week-by-week basis. At this point in time, with the information she has, Raimondo said she doesn't believe it's safe to allow centers to remain open this week. 

The Governor also announced that Medicaid will be suspending as terminations and quarterly income verifications for the duration of the health crisis, and the Department of Motor Vehicles will be extending all expirations – on licenses, registrations, permits and temporary plates, by 90 days. 

As for out-of-state visitors coming to the state, Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni announced that all out-of-state passenger vehicles will be required to stop at information centers and along secondary roads. Four information centers will be set up near the southern boarder of the state. 

"It will not be just New York plates," Manni said.

Those who are traveling through Rhode Island will be send on their way by the National Guard, according to Manni, but those who'll be staying are going to be informed about the mandatory 14 day quarantine period. 

These individuals will be asked to provide their contact information and where they'll be staying. This information will be shared with the Rhode Island Department of Health. 

"We have clear legal authority to direct drivers to these information centers," Manni said. "I want to be very clear about this point – the procedures we have in place does not violate anyone's constitutional rights." 

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