Legislative staffers to work from home after virus cases

Rhode Island State House. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Several people who work for the Rhode Island Legislature will work from home for two weeks after some staffers tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, there will be a limited number of legislative staffers at the State House for the next two weeks, with all other employees working remotely,” House spokesperson Larry Berman and Senate spokesperson Greg Paré said in a joint statement Monday to WPRI-TV.

They said they are trying to limit the number of cases so that things can “get back to normal” by mid-August.

They did not say exactly how many staffers tested positive.

The State House remains closed to the public, but many legislative staffers have been working in the building. Some legislative committees have continued to hold in-person hearings.

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HOSPITAL VISITS

Rhode Island’s largest hospital group announced a change to its visitation policy.

Lifespan in a posting on its website said patients at Rhode Island Hospital, Newport Hospital, and The Miriam Hospital who are not being treated for COVID-19 may have one visitor per day during established visitation hours.

Patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital may have two parents or guardians visit them at the same time.

The policy is line with guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health, Lifespan said.

All visitors will be screened for symptoms or possible exposure to the coronavirus, will be required to wear appropriate face coverings, maintain social distancing, and be limited to patient rooms. No outside food or drink is allowed.

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TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Connecticut, New York and New Jersey on Tuesday added Rhode Island to their coronavirus travel advisories.

Residents of Rhode Island who travel to those states are now required to quarantine for 14 days.

The move was made in response to a rise in COVID-19 infections in Rhode Island.

The quarantine rules apply to states that have a positive COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or have a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, although the Rhode Island Department of Health disputed the numbers being used.

There are exemptions, including for some essential workers.

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NEW CASES

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 123 new confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday and one additional fatality.

The new cases were out of more than 4,500 people tested, a positivity rate of 2.7%.

There have now been nearly 19,400 known cases and 1,011 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

There were 80 people with the disease in Rhode Island’s hospitals as of Sunday, the most recent date for which the information was available, down slightly from the previous day. Fourteen patients were in intensive care.

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SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS

Small businesses in Rhode Island struggling during the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for grants of up to $15,000, Gov. Gina Raimondo said.

The grants, part of the $100 million Restore RI program, can be used to pay for reopening expenses such as plexiglass dividers, cleaning supplies, and touchless pay technology, as well as fixed costs including rent and utilities, the Democratic governor, said in a statement late Monday.

Online applications are being accepted at the Rhode Island Commerce website.