Gov. to unveil new rules to stem rise in coronavirus cases

Governor Gina Raimondo at her coronavirus update at Vets auditorium on October 14, 2020. Pool photo by Kris Craig / The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is heading into troubled waters if coronavirus numbers continue to trend in an upward direction, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday.

The number of new cases, the positivity rate and the number of people being hospitalized with the disease are all on the rise, the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

“These numbers have been slowly ticking up for the past weeks … but it’s become clear now that it’s a trend, and it’s a trend in the wrong direction, and it’s time to course correct before it becomes a real problem,” she said.

Raimondo blamed the rise in new cases on small social gatherings of family, friends, worshippers and coworkers when people let their guard down, and don’t follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines. She urged people to be more careful.

“We’ve learned to live with this virus in controlled settings,” she said.

Raimondo plans on unveiling some new regulations designed to control the current case surge on Thursday, but said she won’t turn back the clock on the state’s economic recovery plan. There will be no new restrictions on restaurants or retail business, and schools won’t be closed, she said.

She urged people not to hold Halloween parties, but stopped short of barring trick-or-treating.

Raimondo also suggested that people not travel for Thanksgiving. She and her family usually go to visit her husband’s relatives in Michigan for Thanksgiving, but will not do so this year, the governor said.

“We need to make some changes. The good news is, we’re catching it in time and it is in our power to put a lid on it … if we act right now,” she said.

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TESTING

Raimondo wants to step up testing of the asymptomatic “so we have a better feel for where the virus is.”

The state is doing well at isolating people who test positive, but there are a lot of people going about their lives with no idea they are infected and they are spreaders, she said.

She said she will start getting tested on a weekly basis. She has been tested three times so far.

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UPDATED NUMBERS

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 160 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and eight new virus-related deaths on Wednesday.

 

There have now been almost 27,200 confirmed cases in the state and 1,147 fatalities. The new fatalities included two people in their 60s, one in their 70s, three in their 80s and two in their 90s, said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said, the department’s director.

The number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 was 131 as of Monday, the most recent date for which the information was available, the same as the previous day. Of those, 13 were in intensive care.

Leaders of the state’s hospitals have expressed concern about the state’s rising virus numbers, Raimondo said, but added that hospitals are still well below intensive care capacity.