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Gov. Raimondo: Rhode Island stays on course for Phase II reopening next week

Compliance will be even 'more important,' she says, in order to get Rhode Island's economy up and running

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It was a “good-news story” over the holiday weekend, Gov. Gina Raimondo said during her daily briefing at 11 a.m. Tuesday, as the vast majority of Rhode Islanders kept to the rules while out enjoying shopping, dining and even going to beaches.

“Overwhelmingly, people were out and about doing the right thing,” she said.

People remained socially distant; no large crowds had to be broken up. A survey of more than 200 businesses found “fantastic” compliance with mask-wearing – 98 percent among employees, and 97 percent among customers.

“That’s better than it’s ever been,” Gov. Raimondo said.

Following the rules will be even more critical, she said, as the state likely heads into Phase II of its reopening next Monday. With “a big portion of our economy coming back online,” Gov. Raimondo reiterated how important it will be to do so safely — by avoiding large crowds; being too close to one person for an extended period of time; and by wearing a mask.

“If everyone (wears a mask) like we did this weekend, it’s going to allow us to continue reopening our economy,” Gov. Raimondo said.

Over the past few days, she said that more resources were posted online at reopeningri.com as guidance businesses can use during Phase II, with more being added throughout the course of this week. Commerce will also be hosting more Facebook Town Halls this week, Gov. Raimondo added, including sessions for gyms, restaurants and personal services.

“If we hear from you, it will help us get it right,” she said.

 Why wear a mask?

 Ten weeks into the crisis, Gov. Raimondo said the “data is in” about how effective mask-wearing can be in preventing the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplets, she said – from talking, coughing, sneezing and singing.

“(Wearing a mask is) not going to protect you, but it’s going to protect you from getting somebody else sick,” Gov. Raimondo said.

Being outside, she added, is even safer; a new study found that the virus can still hang in the air for up to 8 minutes when talking – making it inherently easier to contract while spending time indoors (in poorer air circulation) around other people, even if being socially distant.

Distance learning

 With the weather getting warmer and it becoming increasingly more difficult for students to remain focused, Gov. Raimondo implored Rhode Islanders to stay the course and get the most out of the last few weeks of school.

“Don’t throw in the towel,” she said.

Though some schools have canceled exams, Gov. Raimondo asked educators to find other ways to keep students engaged – noting that many are already doing so. In Jamestown and at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, teachers are organizing car parades; Little Compton held a virtual talent show. Despite “no rulebook,” she said Rhode Island has been doing a great job with distance learning so far.

“Let’s finish what we started together, then go off and have an amazing, fun summer,” she said.

Crush Covid RI

 Since unveiling the app last week, Gov. Raimondo said that Crush Covid RI – available on both Google Play and the Apple Store – has been downloaded more than 35,500 times.

“Download it, use it; let us know what you like, and let us know how we can make it better,” she said, noting that they are working to release a Version 2 in a few weeks.

Though she recognized some people are leery of downloading the app, Gov. Raimondo encouraged Rhode Islanders to at least give it a go; any idea that someone would use their data or track them is “not true.”

“The more people we have using this app, the better we can be with contact tracing,” she said.

National Foster Care Month

With May being National Foster Care Month, Gov. Raimondo took a few moments to thank those in Rhode Island who have opened their homes to a foster child – 200 of whom were placed in just the past year alone.

“Every kid deserves the opportunity to live … in a home, with a loving family,” she said.

That being said, Gov. Raimondo stated they could always use more help. She encouraged Rhode Islanders to learn more about being a foster parent by visiting the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families’ website at dcyf.ri.gov.

The numbers

On Tuesday, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott relayed the latest data concerning COVID-19, stating that there were:

  • 13 fatalities – one in their 60s, four in their 70s, three in their 80s and five in their 90s;
  • 73 new positive cases – “on the lower side,” she said, due to the holiday;
  • 226 hospitalized;
  • 50 in the intensive care unit;
  • and 36 on ventilators.

Both the number of people in the intensive care unit and on ventilators, Dr. Alexander-Scott said, was “roughly half of where they were a few weeks ago,” something that they will continue to monitor. But she stressed how important it is to “not get complacent.”

“COVID-19 is going to be a part of our lives for some time,” she said.

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Jim McGaw

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.