Eight more people have died in Rhode Island from the coronavirus, bringing the state's total deaths to 25, Governor Gina Raimondo said Sunday.
Raimondo also reported 116 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 922 in the state. More than 100 of the cases are being treated in the state's hospitals.
In a news conference, Raimondo asked residents to keep a daily list of everyone they have come into contact with as a method of tracing who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Cases of coronavirus are expected to increase as a result of more testing. Daily logging of contacts will help health departments track who may have been exposed.
"This week we are really going to start ramping up on testing," Raimondo said.
Her recommendations came a day after she issued new guidance for any person exhibiting symptoms of the illness to seek testing.
Raimondo said Saturday anyone with coronavirus symptoms should contact their health care provider and called on physicians to send more referrals. The policy change comes amid ramped-up testing capability in the state — previously, tests were scarce and anyone with mild symptoms was urged not to use one.
Raimondo also urged those without health insurance or undocumented immigrants to seek care at community health centers without fear of getting turned away.
Raimondo also reminded those in the state to refrain from crowding stores and public places.
"If we don't start complying," said Raimondo, Saturday. "I'm going to have to shut everything down."
Raimondo also recommended that essential worker like postal workers and grocery store clerks wear masks, but has not made it a requirement until the state purchases more surgical masks.
"It's not a silver bullet, it does not take the place of washing your hands," Raimondo said. "Use a scarf, use a bandana, get creative."
Raimondo announced three more deaths and 97 new cases of coronavirus in her remote Saturday briefing. There have now been 17 deaths and 806 cases of the virus in the state.
The governor also told worshippers to stay away from churches on Palm Sunday, instead encouraging people to watch services online.
"We know that this virus sticks to surfaces, and it lives on surfaces for days, many days," Raimondo said, including palms among the potentially dangerous surfaces. "We could have a huge disaster on our hands."
Raimondo said she consulted with health experts on the safest way to distribute palms on Palm Sunday, but experts said there was not a safe way to do so.
She also acknowledged the hardships that Rhode Islanders are facing because of the coronavirus outbreak and the strict measures she's put in place to keep it from spreading faster.
“If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, because we all are," Raimondo said Saturday, urging residents who are staying home to find grounding routines and other ways to stay healthy for the coming weeks.
About 100,000 of the roughly 1.2 million medical-grade masks brought to the U.S. on a New England Patriots team plane are set to go to Rhode Island, while the state has another five million on order, according to Raimondo.
The state announced an advisory on Friday for residents to wear fabric masks in public on Friday. Raimondo said Saturday that she had been hesitant to offer the recommendation, since officials didn't want people to believe wearing one could be a "magic bullet" against the virus.
Instead, she advised residents to add wearing masks to a list of practices including social distancing, staying home if you're sick and washing your hands.
More on Rhode Island and Coronavirus
Despite the difficulties brought by the pandemic, Raimondo asked viewers to think about those working to stop the spread. The State House will be lit red for the next week to honor first responders.
“See that red dome and know that that's a big thank you from every Rhode Islander to you for doing what you're doing," she said to the state's essential workers.