Raimondo announces 18 new cases of virus; state taking steps on childcare, unemployment claims and more

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Gov. Gina Raimondo on Tuesday reported 18 new cases of the Covid-19 virus in Rhode Island, bringing the total so far to 124.

In a 1 p.m. news conference, the governor also announced the following directives designed to help the Ocean State weather the crisis.

Unemployment and TDI

With thousands of Rhode Islanders filing claims for TDI and unemployment insurance, Gov. Raimondo said the state is taking steps to get money into the hands of residents as soon as possible.

“I have waived the waiting periods for unemployment and TDI,” she aid. “We are going to pay every claim. You can rest assured that the money is there.”

She said checks should arrive 10 to 12 days after a claim is filed.

The extension of tax filing from April to July has had a severe impact on the state’s liquidity, she said. To that end, Gov. Raimondo said she has reached out to the General Assembly and asked members to convene the Disaster Recovery Funding Board, so the state can go into the private market and secure a line of credit to help cover claims.

“This should not alarm anyone,” she said. “This is actually good news. We’re not sitting around and waiting. We are taking action.”

She also cautioned that since the crisis began, the Department of Labor and Training has been overrun by residents seeking information on the status of their claims. She implored Rhode Islanders to not call and check on the status of claims, as doing so prevents workers from processing other applications.

Also, if residents need to file for unemployment, they should apply over the Internet and, if Internet access is not available, by phone.

Child care

Gov. Raimondo announced that the state has formed a relationship with care.com, a website that will serve here as a resource of volunteers and for-pay child and elder care providers who are available to tend to elders and children. Though this is normally a for-pay service, Gov. Raimondo said care.com is offering free 90-day accounts for those who need services.

“Starting today anyone in Rhode Island looking for child care or elder care can visit www.care.com/RIneed, and you can look for a babysitter, child care provider or elder care provider.”

The state is also working with five organizations to provide child care for those in the medical community. Those include the Boys and Girls Clubs, Greater Providence YMCA, Children’s Workshop, Children’s Friend and Learning Brook.

“These are center-based child care facilities and the Dept. of Human Services will be matching those facilities up with hospitals so workers have access to a safe place to bring their children in the morning or evening while they work,” Gov. Raimondo said.

She added that for-profit child care centers, who were asked to close last week, will have the ability to remain open if they choose, provided they follow new emergency regulations being promulgated by the Department of Human Services in cooperation with the state Department of Health and Centers for Diseases Control.

“You must follow the new emergency regulations so we can keep you, your employees and the kids you serve safe,” she said. “This includes surprise visits just to make sure the rules are being followed.”

Mortgage relief

Answering a reporter’s question on whether the state is attempting to provide relief of mortgage payments to those affected by the virus, she said not currently:

“That’s something that the federal government is working on at the federal level, which I think is appropriate,” she said. “I would implore all banks and lenders to provide as much leniency as possible.”

She added that the state is working on plans to prevent the eviction of renters impacted by the Covid-19 virus.

Cases

Nicole Alexander Scott, the director of the Department of Health, said that some of the Rhode Islanders diagnosed with Covid-19 are bgeginning to recover. While this is good, "we truly reiterate the value and necessity of eveyrone staying home to stop the spread of this virus and not spread the symptoms of illness from one person to another."

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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.