Rhode Island

Small Social Gatherings Blamed for Coronavirus Spike in RI

Due to the spike in cases, Raimondo plans on announcing new restrictions Thursday in an effort to bring the number of cases back down

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo faces reporters during a news conference, March 1, 2020, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Steven Senne/AP

Small social gatherings appear to be the cause for a coronavirus uptick in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday.

While showing the state's data at her coronavirus briefing, the governor said contact tracing reveals cases from K-12 schools, congregate care and restaurants are flat or declining. However, it's small social gatherings where people are sharing food and drinks while not wearing masks or social distancing that are contributing to spiking cases.

"The bottom line is this, let this be a wake-up call… it's time to make some changes," Raimondo said.

There were 160 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and an additional eight deaths, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. There have now been 1,147 confirmed deaths and 27,164 cases, according to health officials.

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, is at 2.7%, according to the daily report.

"That is not where we want to be," Raimondo said.

The governor said the spike in numbers is a trend with hospitalizations doubling in the past four weeks. While the state is still well-below capacity, she said it's not yet a reason to panic.

"These numbers have been slowly ticking up for the past weeks…but it's become clear now that it's a trend, and it's a trend in the wrong direction, and it's time to course correct before it becomes a real problem," Raimondo said.

Due to the spike in cases, Raimondo plans on announcing new restrictions Thursday in an effort to bring the number of cases back down. She said she does not plan on moving back a phase and there won't be new restrictions on restaurants or retail business and schools won't close.

"We have plenty of time to fix this if we act right now," Raimondo said.

Raimondo's briefing comes as four Rhode Island bars have been temporarily closed for alleged noncompliance with regulations meant to control the spread of the coronavirus.

State health officials say the violations include serving alcohol after 11 p.m., allowing customers to mingle at bars, not having barriers to separate seated parties and not enforcing mask-wearing requirements.

Three of the establishments that received the Immediate Compliance Orders are in Providence and one is in Cranston.

Before reopening, management must meet with the health department and the Department of Business Regulation. The bars must undergo thorough cleaning and test all employees.

NBC10 Boston and Associated Press
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