Authorities in Rhode Island will issue fines to residents ordered into quarantine who leave their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday.
In a press conference, Raimondo announced she had signed an executive order directing health officials to develop regulations to enforce penalties, including a series of fines, on those who break their quarantines.
The rules apply to those who have been ordered to quarantine because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as those required to do so because they had contact with someone with the disease.
Raimondo said the fines would cost violators hundreds of dollars.
If a person knowingly violates a quarantine order, "You will be punished," Raimondo said.
Raimondo emphasized those quarantining must stay inside their residents. Those diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to isolate in a room in their homes, she added.
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"Do your very best, please," she said, adding she understood how difficult the task could be.
Just under 2,000 Rhode Island residents are in quarantine or isolation, according to Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The order came as health officials announced eight new deaths from the outbreak, bringing the death toll to 43.
The fatalities included a person in their 20s who had underlying conditions, officials said. The remainder of the new fatal cases were people from their 40s to their 90s.
In addition, 277 more people had tested positive for the disease, Raimondo said, bringing the overall case total to 1,727.
Raimondo urged healthy people able to go to the grocery store for shopping to do so, saying at-risk populations such as the elderly and those with underlying positions were in greater need of access to delivery services.
Earlier in the week, Raimondo encouraged people who are sick or in quarantine to utilize a new delivery website, RIdelivers.com. Last week, the site was used by more than 40,000 Rhode Island residents, resulting in the distribution of over 25,000 meals a day through community partnerships and nearly 100,000 non-perishable meals across the state.
Raimondo this week also said business restrictions and social distancing measures would be extended until at least May 8. Following the state courts' announcement that their closure will be extended through May 17, Raimondo reminded Rhode Islanders that one consequence of that decision is they cannot be evicted because they can't pay rent.
An order requiring anyone traveling to Rhode Island, including residents coming back from elsewhere, to quarantine for two weeks was also extended to the same day.