Total known coronavirus cases in Rhode Island top 19,000

State officials at a coronavirus briefing July 22, 2020 (from left) Health Dir. Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and Gov. Gina Raimondo. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Department of Health reported a steep decline in the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, and for the second day in a row reported zero COVID-19-related deaths.

There were 64 new confirmed cases, down from 110 the previous day, pushing the statewide total to more than 19,000 known cases, the department announced.

The 64 new cases were out of 3,687 tests administered, a positive rate of 1.7%.

The death toll remains at 1,007.

The number people in the hospital with the coronavirus dipped slightly to 76 as of Wednesday, the most recent day for which the information was available, down from 78 the previous day. Fifteen patients were in intensive care.

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SCHOOL SAFETY

School districts across Rhode Island will need help from the state of they are to make classrooms coronavirus-safe for the return of students this fall, an expert said during an online forum hosted by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The most effective way to protect students, faculty and staff is to provide hand sanitizer and masks to everyone, install plexiglass where appropriate, and ensure all schools have enough cleaning supplies to frequently sanitize classrooms, Yale School of Public Health epidemiologist and pediatrician Dr. Sten Vermund said during Thursday’s forum.

Vermund said children handle the coronavirus well, but the danger is that they can pass it on to teachers and other adults who are at greater risk.

The Democratic governor promised that schools will get the help they need, including temperature-screening devices, masks and upgraded air filtration systems, among other supplies.

“We are not going to say ‘good luck’ and go back to school the way it was,’” she said.

Raimondo has said that her goal resume in-person classes on Aug. 31.