Rhode Island’s economy will 'slowly, steadily and safely' reemerge
Governor emphasizes pace of effort during first phase
PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s economy will “slowly, steadily and safely” reemerge from its forced temporary closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gina Raimondo said during her Saturday, May 9, press briefing from the State House as her executive order lifting some stay-at-home restrictions took full effect.
The governor reminded residents as of May 9, the state was “officially putting our toe in the water” as part of Phase 1 of her reopening plan, but that the process will be one of “baby steps” and that people need to “keep your social network limited…That’s the name of the game.”
Gov. Raimondo continued, “We’re in a very good place, a stable place, but it’s a tentative place so we’re going to take it slow.”
She added, referring to the Phase 1 mandates, “I only want to reopen the economy once…That's why we need to stay close to home, follow the rules and keep your social networking small.”
Gov. Raimondo and Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott provided an update on the COVID-19 data from the previous day, announcing 210 new cases and 19 fatalities, ranging in age from their 60s to 90s.
A total of 292 patients remain hospitalized, 72 were in intensive care and 56 were on ventilators.
Responding to a question from the media, Dr. Alexander Scott reported of those deceased due to the coronavirus 24 percent were between the age of 70-79, 32 percent were 80-89 and 23 percent were 90-99.
“We haven’t reached the point where we like to be, to see a decline,” the governor said. “We’re not out of the woods. We have not rounded the curve…That’s why we need to move slowly.”
The governor made a series of announcements, which she said would hopefully provide “comfort to Rhode Islanders struggling financially” during the pandemic, especially in recent weeks as they remained out of work for an extended period of time.
Gov. Raimondo explained, “It’s not the end of our story. It’s the beginning of standing our economy back up and coming out the other side stronger and more resilient than when we went into it.”
The announcements were as follows…
- Utilities: The Public Utilities Commission voted this week to extend an order that all regulated utilities cannot be shut off or sent to collection agency through May 31. The move applies to both residential and non-residential customers.
- Student loans: Gov. Raimondo said the state has partnered with SUMMER, an advisory service specializing in reducing student loan debt. Enrollment in the services will be offered at no cost. The governor said the program is aimed at borrowers who suffered financially by the coronavirus, specifically. Some 130,000 residents have outstanding loans and several of those are other than direct federal lending plans. For more information on the program visit https://www.meetsummer.org/covidrelief.
- RISLA: The governor said the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is suspending payments for up to three months, starting in May. For more information visit https://www.risla.com.
- Food distribution: Gov. Raimondo said two non-profit organizations, Farm Fresh Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, have been approved to receive funding for the food assistance program included in the federal CARES Act. The groups, she said, will be sourcing, assembling and distributing locally produced boxes to food insecure families. The goal of the effort is to have 500 boxes delivered per week by end of May and hopefully 4,000 a week over course of summer and fall.
- Essential supplies: Family Service of R.I. will be providing home delivery of cleaning supplies and food kits to some of the most vulnerable families. For more visit https://www.familyserviceri.org.
The governor reminded businesses of the requirements associated with reopening during Phase 1, including the need to attest and return forms showing compliance with state health and safety guidelines. The governor asked for “patience and flexibility” from proprietors as the mandates are enacted.
She also announced a new email address where businesses can reach officials with any concerns or recommendations, email@example.com
Both the governor and director once more implored residents not to gather in large groups as they celebrate Mothers Day on May 10, Dr. Alexander Scott specifically asking people to refrain from visiting their relatives at nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
“We remind you again, love mom, but please no big gatherings,” Gov. Raimondo said. “This year we’ll find different ways to love her because we don’t want to be gathering in groups of 10, 15, 20 people at a time.”
During Phase 1 of reopening the state, gatherings are still limited to no more than five and should contain those within a limited social circle, the governor added.
Gov. Raimondo announced she will not hold a briefing Sunday, May 10, due to Mothers Day and that going forward the schedule of daily public avails will be decreased slightly.
The briefings will run each Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. as has mostly been the case throughout the pandemic, but will no longer be held on weekends.
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