Rhode Island

Gov. Says RI May Need to Go Back to Phase 2 of Reopening Due to Rise in COVID Cases

Gov. Gina Raimondo plans to talk about more restrictions for Rhode Island on Friday

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo take questions during a news conference on the novel coronavirus, March 1, 2020, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Steven Senne/AP

Gov. Gina Raimondo said she is considering rolling back Rhode Island's reopening as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Speaking at her weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday afternoon, Raimondo said residents need to start doing things differently in order to reverse the uptick in cases.

The vast majority of people are doing the right thing but "many people are letting their guards down" by taking their masks off in their small social settings, she said. The governor is recommending people limit their time within those groups of people and to keep their groups consistent.

"Limit your interactions to the people you NEED to see. Try very hard to stay within that closed circle," Raimondo said.

There were 425 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and an additional four deaths, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. There have now been 1,192 confirmed deaths and 31,944 cases, according to the latest data.

"We are continuing to trend in the wrong direction," Raimondo said. "This data is not encouraging."

Should numbers keep going up, Rhode Island might need to go back to Phase 2 in a couple of weeks and field hospitals may need to be opened, the governor said, although she would rather impose more restrictions. She plans to talk more about those restrictions on Friday, she said.

Raimondo told WJAR on Tuesday she is "seriously considering" reducing the social gathering limit to below 15 people, which was the level in the second phase of reopening.

"Phase 2 would remind us all that there are real consequences to not complying," Raimondo told WJAR. "Right now, too many of us have just gotten too lax."

The governor maintained that the state is not seeing a "significant spread in schools" and at this time, does not plan to go back to distance learning.

"Schools are not super spreaders," she said.

Rhode Island is looking to improve their contact tracing efforts by hiring 100 case investigators, Raimondo said.

"Our contact tracing systems are overwhelmed," Raimondo said. "The volume is going up. We know we need to do better."

The governor added that the reason contact tracing is overwhelmed is because people testing positive have "too many contacts" they list as close.

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