Raimondo urges Rhode Islanders to prevent virus resurgence

Gov. Gina Raimondo at a recent coronavirus briefing at the Veteran’s Auditorium June 16, 2020. On the left is Nicole Alexander-Scott, Dept of Health Director and on the right Dept of Administration director Brett Smiley. Pool photo by Kris Craig / The Providence Journal

The Associated Press 

Gov. Gina Raimondo issued a dire warning to Rhode Islanders on Wednesday: Stop wearing face coverings in public, stop social distancing, relax the state’s aggressive coronavirus testing program, and the number of new cases could surge again as they are in Texas, Arizona and several other states.

The normally composed Raimondo said she’s angry that she’s still hearing too many reports about people and businesses ignoring regulations meant to corral the disease.

“If we get complacent, we’re going to be back in a mess,” the Democrat said at a news briefing.

States where mask wearing is mandated are doing better at controlling the virus, she said.

No-contact and low-contact sports competitions, including youth baseball and softball games, will be allowed to restart during phase 3 as long as they are between stable groups of players and coaches, she said.

Close-contact sports games, including football, basketball and soccer, will still not be allowed.

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POSITIVE TRENDS

The state Department of Health on Wednesday reported 73 new coronavirus cases and six coronavirus-related deaths. The 73 new cases were out of more than 3,500 people tested, a positive rate of 2.1%.

The state has now had 912 deaths and more than 16,600 known cases.

Of the newly reported deaths, one person was in their 70s, two were in their 80s, one was in their 90s and two were centenarians, agency Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said.

The number of people in Rhode Island hospitals with COVID-19 dipped slightly to 104 as of Sunday, the most recent day for which the data was available. Twenty of those patients were in intensive care.

“We continue to trend in the right direction,” Raimondo said.

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DETAINEES RELEASED

More than two dozen people in the custody of federal immigration authorities being held at a Rhode Island detention center have been released under conditions over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus behind bars, the American Civil Liberties announced Wednesday.

The ACLU filed suit last month, seeking “urgent” release of about 70 detainees at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls after multiple inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

Sixteen inmates were released by a federal judge under conditions such as monitoring and quarantining. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed to release nine others.

Nearly 60 inmates and 17 staffers at the facility had tested positive for the disease as of earlier this week.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the stakes in this case involved life and death. The Constitution does not allow the government to imprison people under conditions that unreasonably threaten their lives,” ACLU attorney Jared Goldstein said in a statement.

ICE declined to comment on the specifics of the case but says it remains committed to the health and welfare of its detainees.

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BUSY BEACHES

In response to long waits to get into state beach parking lots last weekend, capacity will be expanded for the upcoming weekend, Raimondo said.

Parking lots will be allowed to fill to 75% capacity this weekend, as opposed to 50% last weekend. She said that forced some people to wait for up to two hours, and spurred complaints from neighbors about beachgoers parking on residential streets.