Gov. Raimondo: Early data suggests Rhode Islanders are in compliance of the two-week 'pause'

It's still too early to tell if they can begin to reopen afterwards, she added

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Four days into the two-week ‘pause’ and the evidence was suggesting that Rhode Islanders were complying with the new rules and regulations, Gov. Gina Raimondo shared during her COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon.

Over the past week, they had received no credible phone calls regarding large parties and social gatherings, she said; traffic mobility was on the “steady decline” since last Wednesday and even more so since the start of this week. The vast majority of businesses were adhering to the proper social-distancing, mask-wearing and early closure guidelines, with a record-high 55 percent of them receiving perfect scores by inspectors.

“That’s fantastic,” Gov. Raimondo said. “That tells me that people are following the rules and hunkering down.”

Should that trend continue, she said it would be her intention to “slowly dial the economy back up” at the end of the two weeks – but it was still too early to know for sure. The biggest risk in reopening, Gov. Raimondo said, would be to overwhelm Rhode Island’s hospital system; already this week, their two field hospitals in Cranston and Providence had begun accepting patients. And while those “top-notch” sites may be able to supply an additional 900 beds for patients, she said they just didn’t have the manpower to safely and comfortably operate at that level.

“The facilities are only as good as the people who staff them,” Gov. Raimondo said.

The data

Yesterday, Rhode Island saw 1,330 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 out of over 16,500 tests for a positivity rate of 8 percent. Currently, there are 409 people in the hospital, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott added – 45 of whom are in the intensive care unit and 31 of whom are on ventilators. There were also nine additional deaths recorded.

“We are continuing to see elevated data in almost everything we track when it comes to COVID-19,” Dr. Alexander-Scott said.  

But it was also exactly what they had expected, Gov. Raimondo added. Instead of panicking about the current state of the virus, she urged Rhode Islanders to “take action” – by following the rules, wearing their masks and only socializing with people in their own households.

“The solution to changing the trend is totally within our control,” Gov. Raimondo said.

Testing

 While she acknowledged that getting tested had proved to be a challenge over the past month, Gov. Raimondo said that they have made significant improvements in just the past two weeks alone. On Monday, a new do-it-yourself BinaxNOW asymptomatic testing site was available at the Dunkin Donuts Center; the state has also added capacity at other additional centers. By the end the two-week pause, Gov. Raimondo said they were on track to exceed her goal of administering 3,000 daily tests for those presenting symptoms.

“There’s more capacity than ever to get a test,” Gov. Raimondo said.

She encouraged all Rhode Islanders to sign up at portal.ri.gov to get tested – even if they weren’t presenting symptoms, and especially if they got together with family over Thanksgiving or worked in a restaurant, hair salon, manufacturing or similar setting.

“It’s better now, and I’m asking you to give it a try.”

Vaccine

 By the end of the year, Gov. Raimondo said that she expected Rhode Island to receive around 29,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine between Pfizer and Moderna – two companies that, as of now, appear to be on their way toward earning the Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval. Both are 95 percent effective and will require two shots to be administered over a three-to-four-week period.

“You can have as much confidence in them as any other medicine that you might take or vaccine that we would have,” Gov. Raimondo said.

Those first doses will be administered to healthcare workers, first responders and high-risk individuals initially, Gov. Raimondo said – but when considering that Rhode Island is “a state of a million people,” it could be “a period of months” before the majority of residents get vaccinated.

“This is not a flip of the switch,” she said.

Headed to Washington?

In addressing the recent speculation that she was a top contender for running the Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Raimondo told reporters that she was “not going to be President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee.”

“My focus is right here in Rhode Island,” she said.  

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.