RHODE ISLAND – Although there are new cases and fatalities to report, Gov. Gina Raimondo said she was encouraged on Sunday to see a slight decline.
"One day doesn't make a trend, but I'll take it," she said. "It's certainly better than the alternative. For me, it's a sign of hope, and it's been a sign of confidence that we've been doing the right thing."
On Sunday, the governor announced an additional 310 new COVID-19 cases and another 11 fatalities. The day before, though, she had announced 430 new cases, as well as 13 fatalities.
Currently, Rhode Island has 7,439 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and has experienced 226 COVID-19-related fatalities, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
To help pay tribute to the lives lost in this pandemic, WaterFire Providence has created a special art installation, according to Raimondo.
A field of luminaria, each memorializing a Rhode Island soul lost to COVID-19, have been placed around a solitary brazier. This "Beacon of Hope" is "a beautiful, moving tribute to the human cost of of this pandemic," Raimondo said.
She hopes it brings some comfort to loved ones who, because of social distancing guidelines, unfortunately have not been able to hold funeral services.
"There's so much that's difficult through this crisis, but one of the things I've found to be particularly heartbreaking is that we have to change the way we grieve."
Each night, new reported fatalities will be added to the field of luminaria.
"The arts can uplift us and inspire us, and provide us comfort and bring us together as a community," Raimondo said. "That's true all the time, but especially in times of difficulty like we're experiencing right now."
This pandemic will likely be the most difficult thing Rhode Islanders will live through in their lifetime, she went on, and one of her biggest fears is that Rhode Island might also experience a mental health pandemic.
"It's okay not to be okay," Raimondo said. "If you're feeling like you need help, I want you to reach out. If you're missing your normal support group that gets you through a given week on your recovery journey, if you're struggling with addiction, if everyone in your family has been laid off and the added anxiety and pressure of that has just become too much, I don't want you to feel isolated or ashamed to ask for help."
One step Raimondo has made towards this is mandating that insurance companies cover telemedicine appointments the same way in which they would cover in-person visits.
Although nothing is normal and routine at this point in time, Raimondo is encouraging everyone to practice self-care – in whatever way that might look like for them. Similarly, Medical Director James McDonald also reminded Rhode Islanders on Sunday to practice good oral hygiene and still get exercise.
"We need to take this time to optimize our personal wellness," he said.