Expanded visitor order in RI; Connecticut gets federal help

Rhode Island State House. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By LISA RATHKE The Associated Press

A look at developments related to the coronavirus around New England.

RHODE ISLAND

All out-of-state passenger vehicles entering Rhode Island at the southern border with Connecticut will be asked to stop at information centers and if they plan to stay for a while must provide contact information and self-quarantine for 14 days, Gov. Gina Raimondo and the head of the state police said during her daily press conference on the coronavirus on Sunday. On Saturday she expanded an order beyond New Yorkers to anyone coming to Rhode Island for a non-work related reason to self-quarantine and further explained that and other orders on Sunday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had threatened to sue the state for targeting New Yorkers. Raimondo said she expanded the order due to a spike in cases in other states.

“The procedure we have in place does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights,” Colonel James Manni, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said Sunday.

The order for all non-essential retail businesses to close does not include grocery stores or restaurants who can continue to offer take-out. The state is considering ways for businesses to do curbside pickup or delivery, officials said.

Raimondo continued to implore residents to follow social distancing guidelines and follow her order to stay home, unless they need to get food or medicines, and to interact with no more than the same five people.

Rhode Island reported its third death from the virus on Sunday.

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MASSACHUSETTS

Four more people died of the corornavirus in Massachusetts, with the number of cases rising by 698, the Health Department reported Sunday.

To increase social distancing in current homeless shelters, Boston has 240 more beds for the homeless, Mayor Martin Walsh announced Sunday. The city has created screening for shelter guests and facilities for testing, isolation, and quarantine of individuals exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19, he said.

Suffolk University will provide at least 172 beds in a re-purposed dormitory, he said. The site of a former long-term acute care hospital in Brighton will have another 70 beds, he said.

The mayor urged residents to abide by social distancing and not to play sports like soccer or tennis in the park.

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CONNECTICUT

President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Connecticut, allowing federal help for state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in parts of the state affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The declaration, which was approved Saturday, makes federal funding available for emergency protective measures.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

 

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MAINE

Authorities are investigating a report that several people with guns had cut down a tree on the island of Vinalhaven to block a road so that some people would be quarantined in their home.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page that when law enforcement arrived, they found the felled tree and said it had been dragged into the road to block it. They said deputies learned that some island residents believe the people staying in the home are supposed to be quarantined because they came from out of state. The sheriff’s office said the trio had been staying on Vinalhaven for about 30 days and none have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Maine reported two more deaths from the virus on Sunday, bringing to total to three. One of the two who died was a man in his 60s from Cumberland County who was a long-time employee of the Maine Department of Transportation, Gov. Janet Mills said.

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VERMONT

Vermont State Police are visiting hotels and motels to make sure that they are closed under Gov. Phil Scott’s order to slow the spread of the virus, state police said Sunday.

Lodging establishments must be closed except under limited circumstances, state police said. Police visited 295 lodging businesses on Saturday and expected to contact about 20 more.

The Vermont National Guard has set up an additional COVID-19 test site at Landmark College in Putney for patients who have a referral from their health care provider, the state Health Department announced. The site opened Sunday. It’s in addition to a number of temporary pop-up, drive-through and other facilities that have been set up around Vermont for testing, the Health Department said.

Vermont reported 235 cases on Sunday, up from 211 on Saturday.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gov. Chirs Sununu has asked visitors to New Hampshire for extended stays to voluntarily self-quarantine to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. New Hampshire announced 27 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday for a total of 214.