On Friday afternoon the cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island jumped by 54, making the total positive cases in the state 711.
Gov. Gina Raimondo made the announcement during her daily press briefing, while focusing on informing residents of the state’s preparations for a “surge” in cases.
With 72 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, the state is busy preparing additional sites for hospital beds for when the surge in additional cases hits. Currently, the state is planning to set up additional beds at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, the former Citizens Bank building in Cranston and the former Lowes building in Quonset.
“We believe that those three sites alone will get us well over 1,000 additional hospital beds,” said Raimondo, adding that the state is well underway in ensuring those additional locations are prepared with all supplies calling it a “herculean effort.”
Although Raimondo said she is confident the three additional sites will have what supplies they need to care for patients, the state is in dire need of medical professionals to man the sites. Raimondo asked for retired healthcare professionals to sign up to help.
“We need you to raise your hand to help us,” she said. “We can’t do this without you.”
Any retired, part-time or recently graduated healthcare professionals are encouraged to sign up to help at www.riresponds.org.
Today Raimondo also announced two additional deaths related to COVID-19–one a resident of Golden Crest Nursing Center in North Providence, and the other who RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said was not a resident.
Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced that there are roughly 65 COVID-19 cases at Golden Crest, 60 cases at a nursing home in Pawtucket, and six cases at Oakland Grove Health Center in Woonsocket. Nine other nursing homes in the state have reported cases, each with less than five cases at the site.
In addition the state has now expanded testing for all people showing any COVID-19 symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea and headaches, however; anyone concerned about symptoms should contact their healthcare provider by phone first.
Going forward, the state is now encouraging Rhode Islanders to wear face coverings in public, adding that members of the public should not be purchasing medical grade masks but can wear cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth, and still need to practice other approaches including social distancing, hand washing and staying home.
“This face covering is a shift because of how atypical symptoms are,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott.
Gov. Raimondo also reminded Rhode Islanders that the state-at-home order is still in effect, and how strictly that order is followed is directly related to how many more cases of COVID-19 arise.
“If you are one of those people out there pushing the limits, that’s not right, that’s not fair and you’re going to hurt a lot of people,” she said. “There are a lot of people suffering right now I hear them every day. These stories are heartbreaking.”
Raimondo will continue with her press briefings tomorrow at 1 p.m. and it will be live streamed on the Governor’s Facebook page.