Raimondo: Five more die, cases in ‘rapid spread’

Many visiting CVS pharmacies for tests — “You cannot do that”

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 4/8/20

Rhode Island is at a “big clip of increase … in the rapid spread phase” of the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Gina Raimondo said at her daily briefing Wednesday (2:30 p.m. today), …

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Raimondo: Five more die, cases in ‘rapid spread’

Many visiting CVS pharmacies for tests — “You cannot do that”


Rhode Island is at a “big clip of increase … in the rapid spread phase” of the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Gina Raimondo said at her daily briefing Wednesday (2:30 p.m. today), and the numbers bore that out.

Five more people died in Rhode Island over the past 24 hours, bringing the total of coronavirus associated deaths to 35.

Three of those fatalities were in their 70s, one in their 80s and one in their 90s. The oldest patient was a resident of the Golden Crest nursing facility, while the patient in his/her 80s and one of those in their 70s were residents of the Oak Hill nursing facility.

Furthermore, the state saw 220 new coronavirus cases, for a new total of 1,450. And 143 people are now in the hospital. That is a number “that we are very focused on now," the governor said, as the hospital caseload begins to test the system’s capacities.

CVS testing

Also up sharply, the governor said, is the number of people being tested, including many through a joint effort by Rhode Island and CVS in the parking lot of Twin River.

But Gov. Raimondo said they are now hearing that “we have a lot of people going into CVS pharmacies requesting a test — you cannot do that.”

The only way to sign up for a test is to go to cvs.com and make an appointment, then drive to Twin River.

She also stressed that the CVS tests, which provide quick results in less than a half hour, are for vulnerable older residents, first responders, people who must go to work and other high priority residents.

All others should call their doctor who will, if warranted she said, send you to one of the drive up National Guard testing sites where results are usually available in one to three days.

We are not encouraging testing for those who do not have symptoms, the governor said.

The state’s ability to test is growing rapidly, she said — over 2,000 tests are being administered a day.

“We don’t want anyone leaving the house if you are sick or have symptoms, to get a test without an appointment.”

Court closure continues … This afternoon, the governor announced, the courts extended their closure to all non-essential business through May 17. “I thank the courts for taking this step and for their cooperation.”

This means, the governor said, that “you cannot be evicted for any reason through May 17 … If someone tells you otherwise, I want you to call my office because it isn’t true.”

Help with food … A variety of new services are available to people who need food but are homebound, in quarantine, unable to afford food or have some other need, Gov. Raimondo said.

She urged those in need to contact ridelivers.com or call 211 (she also suggested nextdoor.com).

Over the last week, the governor said that over 40,000 people had used that website. Also, over 26,000 meals a day are being delivered through Meals on Wheels, senior centers, etc., and nearly 100,000 non-perishable meals have been made available to communities through the RI Food Bank.

We want to make sure that all are well fed, she said. “That’s the Italian mother in me.”

Contact tracing … The process we started five weeks ago was “a very blunt approach … but we are now trying to get much more pinpointed.”

If you test positive, the Department of Health will attempt to figure out all of the people you’ve been in contact with, the governor said.

“But if I’m going to open this economy, and I am going to as quickly as I can,” this work has to be done more efficiently.

To that end, the state has just partnered with salesforce.com to add speed and efficiency to the data collection.

And the effort reinforces the need for all to keep a notebook of every place they have been, every person with whom they have had contact. “It is impossible  to keep a mental list of everybody you have been with in a day or a week.”

People should not think of going to be tested without bringing along their contact notebook, she said.

Religious holidays …Tonight is the first night of Passover, Governor Raimondo said, and regrettably, “this year will be different.”  Gatherings, as with Holy Week, must be kept to five or fewer people., “I know it will be difficult” but it is vital. ”I hope that the meanings of hope and triumph over an enemy ring even truer than ever before.”

Providence parks … The governor thanked the Providence mayor for his “decisive leadership” in announcing yesterday a complete closure but said they have since met and terms of the closure are now more in line with the recent closure of all state parks.

“If you are lucky enough to be within walking distance of a park or boulevard, by all means go for a walk,” the governor said. “But the parking lots will be closed.”

If people insist on gathering, “we will have no choice but to close the parks.”

Salute to Job Lot … The governor ended her remarks with a note of good news, the efforts of Ocean State Job Lot and its CEO Marc Perlman.

The company, she said, is providing free of charge enough fabric for one million masks, available at all of its stores.

“We are asking everyone who leaves home to wear a cloth mask.”

•  Race, ethnicity … DOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said that while Rhode Island is still compiling data, it is becoming clear here and elsewhere that people of certain races and ethnicities are dying at disproportionate rates.

“Your health should not depend on the zip code where you are from,” she said.

But in some ways it does, she suggested. Some addresses provide better access to fresh fruits and vegetables (thus reducing diabetes numbers), offer better jobs and pay, and more stable housing, all things that impact health.

“As we start to rebuild and repair, we have to be aware of these structural inequities.”

Take a break … Both Dr. Alexander-Scott and Gov. Raimondo were asked what they do to distract themselves from this new reality.

“I look around at the things I have to be thankful for,” Dr. Alexander-Scott said, being able to share a meal, reach out and contact someone.

“I like to go outside, even just for a walk around the block,”Gov. Raimondo said, and appreciate the flowers in bloom. She likes to exercise, she said, and also urged everyone to have a “battle buddy,” even if it is someone they can only contact by phone or computer.

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