On Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 281 new COVID-19 cases, with 2,299 test being administered the prior day. The Governor also announced 14 new fatalities, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Rhode Island up to 355. Rhode Island now has had 9,933 positive cases of the virus since it first appeared in early March.
Director of RIDOH Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott announced that of the 14 fatalities one person was in their 50s, three in their 60s, one in their 70s, and the remaining nine people were 80 years old and over. Currently there are 327 people in the hospital, 89 of which are in the ICU and 62 of which require a ventilator–all numbers which Dr. Alexander-Scott said have remained relatively flat.
With plans to begin phase one of reopening the economy this weekend, Raimondo said today’s data, and the data in recent days, has made her feel confident.
“By and large it’s a good news story,” she said. “You can see the trends flattening out in hospitalizations and cases. I’m feeling a sense of confidence that all of the decisions we’ve made have enabled us to keep Rhode Islanders safe.”
“In the context of the crisis, I feel good about where we are,” she added.
Raimondo also announced a new executive order that will be in effect starting Friday, May 8, requiring all Rhode Islanders to wear face masks when in all public spaces, whether that space is indoors or outdoors.
“I fully recognize this is going to be awkward, strange, maybe some people think not necessary and there’s going to be a thousand ‘what ifs,’” she said, adding that although it may seem extreme “covering your nose and mouth has a significant impact on reducing the spread of the disease.”
Raimondo went on to say people will not be expected to wear face masks when going for a walk, bike ride, or while being outside away from others.
Dr. Alexander-Scott reiterated that although anyone with symptoms should still be staying home, the face coverings are being enforced to protect everyone out in public and they are most important in public places where it is difficult to stay six feet apart.
“Just one single cough can result in a person spreading 3,000 droplets,” she said. “The droplets are what the virus can be carried in and land on surfaces. The mask, some form of covering your nose and mouth, helps in stopping transmission of the virus from one person to another or from a person to an object. These face covering allow for you to protect the people that you are around in public.”
Today Raimondo also reiterated that her commitment to getting Rhode Islanders back to work remains, but it will be slow and steady and require patience and flexibility.
“We have to embrace new ways of living our life so we can live with the virus,” she said. “We need to really accept that the virus is here to stay with us for at least a year until a vaccine or therapy is developed. Accept that we are going to have to live within new limits and start to get creative and figure out how to live our lives and run our businesses within those limits.”
Raimondo stressed that people should continue things like washing their hands, sanitizing, keeping six feet apart, disinfecting and taking all precautions recommended by the CDC, even though the state is looking to begin reopening.
“This has been rough. This has been a rough couple of months,” said Raimondo. “Our lives have been utterly disrupted. I hope when you look at [the data] you feel like you have played an incredibly important role in keeping Rhode Islanders safe and healthy and alive.”
Raimondo will speak tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.