Rhode Island

RI Governor ‘Worried' About Distancing Adherence During Warm Weather Stretch

Raimondo said Saturday the state's trajectory of hospitalizations dramatically changed in part due to distancing measures in place

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Gov. Gina Raimondo reminded Rhode Islanders to remain steadfast in adhering to stay-at-home orders despite the beautiful weekend weather.

"I'll be honest with you, I am very worried about this weekend," Raimondo said during a news conference on Saturday. "We are not out of the woods."

Raimondo said Friday she is hopeful that she will be able to let the state's stay-at-home order expire on May 8.

Raimondo said Saturday the state's trajectory of hospitalizations 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 the state experienced an increase in hospitalizations two weeks after Easter weekend.

"If we see two weeks from now people getting sicker, it's because we went out this beautiful weekend," she said.

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.

Raimondo said two weeks from now, "we're not sure if we'll have a sustained plateau, or it will move downward, but what we know for sure is that it's not likely to start moving upward again."

As of Saturday, there were 17 new COVID-19 related deaths in the state and 327 new cases.

"When we reopen the economy, we can't flip the switch," said Raimondo. "We have to turn the dial."

Raimondo also announced Saturday a new $1.5 million rental assistance program to support residents who have past due rent payment due to the coronovirus pandemic.

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.

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.

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