Rhode Island launches jobs program; new virus cases surge

In a screenshot from her July 28, 2020 Facebook forum, Gov. Gina Raimondo (at lower right) announces a jobs initiative aimed at helping those left jobless from the coronavirus pandemic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is launching a $45 million initiative to get people who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic back to work, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Tuesday.

The program called Back to Work RI is partnering with some of the state’s largest employers, not just for hiring but for job training, career counseling and other supports, the Democratic governor said in an emailed statement.

The program is part of Raimondo’s previously announced $200 million post-pandemic recovery plan.

Back to Work RI will focus on those receiving unemployment insurance and the state’s more vulnerable communities, according to the announcement.

Participants will work with a career coach, who provides job counseling and connects them with other resources, including language support, financial coaching, child care and access to technology.

Some of the partnering companies and organizations include Bank of America, Care New England, CVS Health, General Dynamics Electric Boat, IGT, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Lifespan, Raytheon Technologies and the Service Employees International Union.

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NEW CASES SURGE

The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported 119 new confirmed cases of the disease, the highest single-day number in two months.

“In terms of the higher number of new cases recently, social gatherings continue to be an issue,” department spokesman Joseph Wendelken said in an email to The Providence Journal. “We continue to see cases associated with backyard gatherings, like barbecues, and other family gatherings. Mask wearing and social distancing are absolutely critical right now.”

The 119 new cases were out of nearly 3,700 tests, a daily positive rate of 3.2%, the highest rate since June 10, when it was 3.4%.

The department also reported one more coronavirus-related death for a total of 1,005 deaths and 18,725 known cases statewide.

There were 68 patients with coronavirus in Rhode Island hospitals on Sunday, the most recent date for which information is available, down from 70 the previous day. Ten were in intensive care.

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DIOCESE CUTBACKS

Even the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is suffering from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The diocese announced recently that it is permanently eliminating 10 administrative positions and has reduced the hours of other staffers due to a decline in weekly parish donations and contributions to the annual Catholic Charity Appeal.

The moves are expected to save the diocese approximately $1.6 million annually. Some of the positions were eliminated through retirements.

“This was a deeply challenging process, but necessary in light of our shared responsibility to maintain fiscal sustainability for our local church,” Monsignor Albert Kenney, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia, said in a statement.

Houses of worship in Rhode Island were closed for in-person services in March when the pandemic hit and reopened with limited capacity in May.