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Gov. Raimondo: Out-of-state groceries — ‘Be smart about it’

Governor reveals Data Dashboard, housing for front-line workers

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 4/15/20

Mentioning Tiverton and Little Compton among other places at her Wednesday briefing, Governor Gina Raimondo clarified Tuesday’s remarks that anyone who shops for groceries …

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Gov. Raimondo: Out-of-state groceries — ‘Be smart about it’

Governor reveals Data Dashboard, housing for front-line workers


Mentioning Tiverton and Little Compton among other places at her Wednesday briefing, Gov. Gina Raimondo clarified Monday's remarks that anyone who shops for groceries out of state must then quarantine for 14 days.

And rather than recite the daily tally of new cases and fatalities, the governor unveiled a new Data Dashboard to get these numbers to the public every day in a way that provides “facts, not frenzy.”

“This is getting tough,” she said. “It is getting really old for all of is. I know it’s brutal,” she said at the outset. 

“It’s not going to end in a week or two weeks but I have my eye on the prize — we can do it.”

The Wednesday data showed 278 new confirmed coronavirus cases for a total of 3,529, and 229 people now hospitalized. 

There were seven new fatalities, four of them in their 80s, two in their 90s and one over age 100. Six of the seven were residents of nursing homes. These are people who were loved by their families, the governor said.

Out of state groceries …

The choice to shop out of state should be based on common sense, Gov. Raimondo said.

After Monday's statement that people should quarantine after grocery shopping across state lines, the governor said people had asked, ‘What if you live right on the border but the closest in-state grocery is a half hour away?’

“I need you to be smart about it,” she said. ”If you have to go to Massachusetts, go ahead and do that,” she said, but use good judgement. She still urged people to stay at home after shopping, to always wear masks and never travel to the store or anywhere else when feeling sick.

She added that she would always prefer that people do their shopping in Rhode Island.

The governor also updated a number initiatives as well as some that are in the works.

URI dining services

She said URI's dining services are entering into a partnership with Rhode Island senior centers to bring healthy meals to our older neighbors.

Safe housing

“This is toughest on those already vulnerable,” Gov. Raimondo said, and it is “my commitment to make sure nobody gets left behind. Lots of people are struggling  and we are going to fight every day to reach every last one of you.”

To that end, for people who don’t have a safe home, the state has contracted with the Wyndham Hotel in Warwick to provide over 200 beds for people who are homeless or housing insecure. Already 50 people have moved in.

The governor said she is working with colleges and universities in hopes of making dormitory rooms available to front-line health care workers and others who are exposed daily and fear staying at home and putting family members at risk.

Also, hotel rooms are being made available through at a significantly reduced rate of as low as $25 a night.

Helping the lonely

Being housebound or under quarantine “can be incredibly lonely,” the governor said, so  a new program called Project Hello has been organized. Well over 100 volunteers have signed up to check in daily by phone or other means on isolated people to make sure they are well, their needs are met and that they hear another caring voice.

In the works is a “robust delivery and concierge service” to make sure everyone has the food and supplies they need. The governor said that Uber and Lyft are being contacted to assist with this.

Protective gear

Building on comments from yesterday, Gov. Raimondo said that while the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and nursing homes has improved, we do not have the supplies we need. “Many hospitals are having to make tough decisions,” and staffers are having to reuse masks and other equipment. 

“That is not satisfactory (but) that’s where we are today.”

We are getting more masks, the governor said, we are struggling to get more gowns — “It is continuing to be a global daily fight out there.”

Nursing home workers

Starting immediately, the CVS testing facility at Twin River in Lincoln will make available 200 testing spots daily for nursing home employees to obtain quick result coronavirus tests — employees should speak to their employers to arrange this.

Cloth face masks

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the RI Department of Health reiterated yesterday’s announcement that all workers who deal with the public must wear masks — the cloth kind, she said, not medical masks that are being saved for front-line medical workers.

And on a sweet note

Gov. Raimondo ended on “a sweet note” by describing an initiative to deal with the painful situation of hospitalized people who cannot be visited by loved ones.

A 19-year-old resident, she said, has launched to provide donated iPhones, iPads and tablets to Rhode Island hospitals. And right away, Amazon has agreed to donate 500 tablets. Anyone who would like to donate can visit the website.

Question — gun shops

The governor was asked whether she would now consider closing gun shops given the sudden rise in gun sales. She is concerned by the situation, she said, but has decided to keep gun shops open while taking steps to assure that background checks continue.

Question — face masks

Why not order people out in public to wear face masks, Gov. Raimondo was asked. “I think that is what people should be doing. I strongly encourage it.”


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