Rhode Island identifies 19 new cases in schools this week

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott listens as Governor Gina Raimondo speaks during her Covid-19 briefing at the Veterans Auditorium. Pool photo by Sandor Bodo / The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island has had at least 19 students and staff members test positive for the coronavirus since schools reopened for in-person learning this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday.

The state’s 14 coronavirus testing sites dedicated solely to schoolchildren and school employees identified eight positive cases of the disease since schools reopened for in-person learning on Monday. In addition, there were 11 positive cases in schools in people who were tested elsewhere, the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

“We will continue to see cases in schools, just as we’ve seen cases all summer long,” Raimondo said.

In each case, the person who tested positive as well as their close contacts were directed to quarantine, she said. All schools remained open.

The 19 cases were associated with 18 different schools, according to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health.

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JOB TRAINING AND BUSINESS HELP

The state is allocating $1 million in federal stimulus funds to the Take It Outside RI campaign to encourage businesses and other organizations to do as many activities as possible outdoors, which is safer to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Raimondo said.

The money will be made available to businesses that want to buy equipment and supplies to help them operate outdoors, such as heat lamps and outdoor furniture.

Raimondo also encouraged Rhode Islanders looking for work to sign up for Back to Work RI.

The job training program has 3,000 jobs in hiring commitments from several of the state’s largest employers.

The program helps residents out of work because of the virus get the skills, credentials and degrees they need for a new job at no expense to themselves, Raimondo said.

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NEW CASES

The Department of Health on Wednesday reported 86 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three additonal deaths.

There have now been more than 23,300 confirmed cases and 1,081 coronavirus fatalities in the state.

The daily positivity rate of 1.8% remains low, Raimondo said.

The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island has now dropped over the past two weeks, from 1.23% on Sept. 1 to 1.1% on Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

There were 84 people in the state’s hospitals with COVID-19 on Monday, the most recent day for which the information was available, down slightly from the previous day, with nine in intensive care.

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PROVIDENCE COLLEGE CASES

Providence College students who live off campus have been asked to stick to remote-only classes for the time being after several of them tested positive for COVID-19, school officials say.

Off-campus students are only allowed to visit campus for testing, the school said Tuesday.

“We have received reports of students who have tested for COVID-19 tests on their own, at off-campus facilities. Some of these results have been reported to the college by the Rhode Island Department of Health; others have been self-reported,” Steven Sears, interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said in a message to off-campus students.

The school said as of Tuesday, 22 students and 1 faculty member or staffer had tested positive for the disease.