Gov. Gina Raimondo at an earlier press conference.

RHODE ISLAND – On Thursday, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 18 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 556. The department also announced 189 new cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13,571. Nearly 2,800 Rhode Islanders were tested the prior day.

The new fatalities marks a spike in deaths compared to yesterday's number, which was six.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of RIDOH, also said that 254 people were currently hospitalized, with 56 in the intensive care unit and 41 on ventilators.

Gov. Gina Raimondo also spoke about plans to open summer camps on June 29, though she said they would be opening under new restrictions and guidelines.

“It’s not going to look the way it did last summer,” Raimondo said. “There’s going to be rules. We’re not going to have groups of greater than 15 people.”

She also said the groups would have to be “stable,” meaning that children and instructors would have to remain in the same group of 15 people throughout the summer.

Raimondo went on to say that there would be guidelines around dropping off and picking up camp goers, along with new rules on cleaning, handwashing, and mask wearing.

The full guidelines will be on the Reopening RI website (www.reopeningri.com) later today.

Raimondo also said she would be providing more information tomorrow about phase two of reopening the economy.

The governor also described the efforts surrounding congregate care facilities, particularly nursing homes. She said that the state set up a Congregate Care Support Team, made up of RIDOH, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the National Guard, among other representatives.

“The greatest crisis that we’ve seen is in nursing homes. It’s kind of a perfect storm in a very sad way,” she continued. “We have many older, sicker, more frail individuals living in close proximity to one another, and lots of staff coming in and out. It’s made it very challenging to control the spread.”

The purpose of the team, Raimondo said, was to “go on missions” to congregate care settings, and help staff with cleaning, testing and education. The team leads training sessions with staff, provides testing for staff and residents, and connects the nursing homes with grief and trauma support.

The team also connects nursing homes with staffing resources.

“I wanted to give you a sense of this because the data is crystal clear,” Raimondo said. “The hardest hit populations are the oldest, the sickest, the frail and most particularly the nursing homes. We have to work overtime to help the nursing homes do their job in keeping residents safe.”

She also said that testing has been made available to all residents and staff of nursing homes, with the goal of providing further tests every seven to 10 days.  

Raimondo also said that more than 25,000 Rhode Islanders have downloaded the Crush Covid RI app, since it was made available 48 hours ago.

Crush Covid RI is a COVID-19 pandemic response app that provides residents “easy access to all of the resources required during the public health crisis, including a location diary that helps users identify the people and places they are in contact with and a symptom checking survey.”

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