Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a number of new restrictions Thursday including an upcoming 2-week pause for the state as coronavirus cases continue to soar in Rhode Island.
During her weekly news conference, Raimondo said despite targeted restrictions that she has already put in place a month ago, the situation is not getting better.
"Unfortunately, it's not working," Raimondo said. "We're in a really bad place."
As a result, the governor said current capacity restrictions at bars and restaurants will stay in place until Nov. 29. Social gatherings are limited to the number of people you live with as well, Raimondo said.
Beginning Nov. 30, the state will pause for two weeks with most colleges and universities moving to virtual learning. Bar areas, recreational venues, and indoor sports facilities, gyms, and organized sports will close in the pause period, Raimondo said.
The governor is also asking offices to close and allow employees to work remotely, if possible.
Under the pause period, indoor dining will be limited to 33% capacity with one household per table. Retail stores can stay open under the restriction of one person per 100 square feet. Houses of worship will be limited to 25% capacity with a maximum of 125 people under the pause period, Raimondo said.
The governor said she picked the Nov. 30 date to give people time to prepare as well as for restaurants to go through their inventory.
What will remain open under the pause period is in-person K-8 schools, child care, personal services and health care. High schools will be allowed to move to remote learning during the two-week pause, Raimondo said.
"This is only going to work if we do it. I don't know how to say it any other way," Raimondo said warning that a full state lockdown could be imminent in 3 weeks if people don't follow the rules.
The state reported 921 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday and an additional four deaths. There have now been 1,288 confirmed deaths and 46,951 cases, according to the Rhode Island Department of Public Health.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, stands at 5.8%, according to Thursday's report.
The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 is 298, according to data provided by health officials.
With Rhode Island hospitals at 97% capacity for COVID beds, the governor said the plan is to open two field hospitals -- one in Cranston the week after Thanksgiving and the other at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Dec. 1.
The governor also acknowledged a lag in the state's COVID testing efforts but said 100 new workers have been added this week to help.
"Our contact tracing system is behind. We're working on that, too," Raimondo said.