Rhode Island on Sunday reported its largest single-day death toll from the new coronavirus, even as the state prepares to slowly ease restrictions aimed at slowing its spread.
Health officials reported 24 deaths linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing up the statewide total to 320. Of those 24 people, 18 were living in nursing homes, and 16 were above the age of 80.
"It's obviously a sad day," Gov. Gina Raimondo said.
In total, there were 188 new positive cases in the state. The statewide total is now at 9,477.
Raimondo reiterated her hope that she will be able to let the state's stay-at-home order expire on May 8. If all goes according to plan, it will be lifted for Mothers' Day. However, that doesn't mean families can hold large gatherings or meet at nursing homes, Raimondo warned.
Raimondo said Saturday the state's trajectory of hospitalizations had dramatically changed in part due to distancing measures in place.
Hospitalization rates began to slow on April 2, two weeks after the state closed non-essential businesses. Two weeks after the stay-at-home order was put in place, hospital admissions began to plateau.
Raimondo said although nearby states have extended their stay-at-home orders, she is looking at Rhode Island's data and if the state continues to plateau or decline, she will be able to let the order expire.
Rhode Island has also entered a consortium with nearby states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Delaware to bid on personal protective equipment jointly, in order to adequately stock up on gear like rubber gloves and masks to provide to the public as it gears up to reopen. That way, Rhode Islanders can have access to PPE when they need it at a reasonable price.
"President Trump has been crystal clear that governors are on the frontlines of doing that," Raimondo said.
On Friday, the governor outlined her plans for the gradual reopening of public parks and beaches which would begin when the stay-at-home order is over.
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Among the parks state officials would reopen during phase one of Raimondo's plan would be Lincoln Woods, Haines Park, Beavertail and Fort Adams.
Raimondo said the parks would be open with reduced parking capacity and increased enforcement of social distancing. Residents would be able to walk and run but cookouts, organized sports and other large gatherings would be prohibited.
Public beaches will not be reopened until the second phase of Raimondo's plan, which could occur around Memorial Day.
Although public schools have moved to remote learning for the rest of the school year, Raimondo said the state is moving to reopening day cares by June 1. The Department of Human Services has asked childcare facilities to submit their plans for safely reopening.
Raimondo said she hopes to announce next week a plan for some hospitals to resume elective surgeries. The governor said hospitals have submitted their plans for resuming such surgeries, which are under review.