RHODE ISLAND – Gov. Gina Raimondo announced on Monday that there were 25 new cases of COVID-19 and five new fatalities in Rhode Island, calling the data a representation of a “downward trend” in the spread of the virus.
The total number of COVID-19-related deaths rose to 903, and the total cases to 16,458.
Nearly 1,000 residents were tested the prior day, with roughly 20 percent of Rhode Islanders being tested since the beginning of the pandemic.
Raimondo said the state would continue “to keep the pedal to the metal on testing,” adding that Rhode Island had tested a higher percentage of its population than any other state in the country.
Raimondo also touched on the past weekend activities, which saw thousands of people going to beaches and parks.
“It is a great thing that we’re beginning to live our lives normally,” Raimondo said. “But it means that it’s actually more important than it used to be to wear your mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick and keep yourselves six feet away from people.”
The governor also said that around 25,000 people attended beaches on Saturday and 15,000 on Sunday, with every beach hitting capacity by midday.
“Unfortunately, we did have a lot of people congregating on the beaches and we had to have [Department of Environmental Management] park rangers disperse the crowds,” she said.
Raimondo added that, when some people were approached by DEM park rangers, they became irritable. She urged residents to be patient, where their masks and stay in groups smaller than 15.
“We are going to ask you to socially distance,” she said. “If that happens, I would ask you to be courteous and respectful to the park rangers who are just doing their jobs.”
On Wednesday, Raimondo will announce further changes regarding the beach guidelines.
She also said that she hopes to enter phase three in the beginning of July, reminding Rhode Islanders that the state was currently in phase two.
“My executive order for phase two is set to expire a week from today,” she said. “It is my hope to be able to start phase three when that executive order ends.”
She also said she would be providing more information about phase three during her Wednesday and Friday news conferences.
State inspectors also visited hundreds of gyms and restaurants to make sure that employees and customers were wearing masks. Inspectors found roughly 94 percent of employees and 90 percent of customers wearing masks.
However, inspectors also found that only 80 percent of businesses had their COVID-19 plans at the ready, which she said was too low.
A COVID-19 checklist for businesses can be found at www.reopeningri.com.
Raimondo also pointed to the We Are One philanthropic initiative, which is asking Rhode Islanders to donate funds for undocumented Rhode Islanders. Since announcing the initiative last Friday, Raimondo said they have raised $41,000, with the ultimate goal of raising $3 million.
The purpose of the initiative, Raimondo said, was to provide support for undocumented residents who have been hit the hardest.
“We have an obligation to help all Rhode Islanders through this,” she said. “If you have any amount of money […] I’m asking you for your help.”
To donate, text “we are 1” to 27126.
Finally, Raimondo addressed the Housing Now Campaign, an initiative that is seeking to find homes for housing insecure residents who have government vouchers.
The Housing Now Campaign, which began a couple of weeks ago, was set up to to match homeless or housing insecure residents with landlords who have available units to rent.
The initiative provides an incentive for landlords around the state to rent available units to homeless residents who qualify for housing vouchers. Landlords who make rental properties available for homeless residents will receive $2,000 for the first unit, and $500 for every additional unit.
Raimondo said she hoped that the initiative would provide 100 units for housing insecure residents by July 1. As of Monday, 40 units have been pledged.
“As of today, we’ve rented 40 units, we have 40 units pledged,” she said. “We have eight days to go before July 1, and I want to see us get to 100.”
“Homelessness is always wrong and always a social problem we have to work to eliminate,” she said. “Now in this public health crisis, it’s especially important.”
Landlords looking for more information can call 211.