Raimondo: More coronavirus restrictions coming for holidays

RI Governor Gina Raimondo addresses Rhode Islanders on the coronavirus pandemic at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium July 10, 2020. Listening at back is RI Department of Health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. Pool photo by Sandor Bodo / The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — It will be nearly impossible for Rhode Island to make it through the rest of the year without additional restrictions to help control the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gina Raimondo said.

“It’s safe to say that there are going to have to be some changes in order for us to safely make it through the holidays,” the Democratic governor told WPRI-TV on Tuesday.

Her biggest concern is shutting down businesses again, something she doesn’t want to do.

“I am going to do everything I can to avoid that or put it off as long as possible, but I may not have an option given the trend that we are on,” she said.

She also welcomed the news that Rhode Island is one of four states partnering with Pfizer for its U.S. COVID-19 Immunization Pilot Program.

She said she reached out to Pfizer and asked if Rhode Island could be part of the program.

“There’s a ton of planning that goes into the process of getting everybody vaccinated, so it means we have a bit of a leg up on that planning because we are starting to work closely with the company already,” she said.

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SCHOOL TESTING

Rhode Island is planning a coronavirus testing system for teachers, students and families who are not showing symptoms, state officials said.

The partnership between the state Department of Education and Department of Health will be rolled out in three pilot communities at first — Providence, Central Falls and Lincoln, The Providence Journal reported.

The results will provide guidance for a statewide testing program to be launched next year, state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said Tuesday during meeting of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.

The program is still in its planning stages, and further details about testing locations and dates will be announced at a later date, said Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for the commissioner.

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DAILY RECORD

A single-day record of 1,280 Rhode Island residents tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, the state Department of Health said Wednesday.

The new confirmed cases were out of more than 18,400 tests administered, a daily positive rate of 7%.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island has now risen over the past two weeks from 3.35% on Nov. 3 to 5.83% on Tuesday.

State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island also soared over the past two weeks from almost 443 on Nov. 3 to nearly 819 on Tuesday.

The health department said there were 284 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Monday, the latest day for which the information was available, up from 265 the previous day and the highest number of hospitalized patients since May 13.

The state also reported six new deaths for a total of 1,284 fatalities.