Thirteen more people in Rhode Island have died from the coronavirus, marking the fifth consecutive day of increased cases in the state.
There are now more than 6,600 cases reported in the state after 437 new cases were reported. Providence and Pawtucket have the highest concentration of cases.
The state will ramp up mobile and walk-up testing sites in communities across the state, Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a press conference on Friday.
Raimondo said that Rhode Island has been praised for testing more people per capita than any other state, but understands the need to increase access to testing in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods.
Beginning next week, walk-up diagnostic testing sites will open in densely populated neighborhoods and places where many residents do not have cars.
"It’s more than just the diagnostic tests," said Raimondo. "It’s understanding more about the prevalence of the disease in our communities."
Raimondo has assembled a testing and validation task force that will test a random sample of people in Rhode Island to get a sense of the prevalence in the state. The state has received a shipment of 20,000 antibody tests that the task force will validate and use.
“It’ll be weeks, not days until we have results to share," said Raimondo.
Raimondo acknowledged the economic and personal stress of the situation.
"While we've all been couped up in our houses, and struggling financially, we've seen a big increase in 911 calls on the account of abuse happening in homes," said Raimondo.
"Not everyone is safe at home, and that seems to be doubly true now," she said.
Raimondo encouraged those who feel unsafe to seek help.
The state's stay at home order remains in effect until May 8 as cases continue to rise in the state.
Raimondo announced Thursday that Rhode Island schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and students will continue online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she wanted to find a way to reopen schools before summer break, but Rhode Island’s COVID-19 cases are still climbing.
“To take that much risk for a few weeks of traditional school, I know would be irresponsible and the wrong decision for all the people of Rhode Island,” she said.
Raimondo applauded students for staying engaged, saying participation rates in e-learning are high across the state. But she acknowledged the challenges for students who miss their classrooms and friends and for parents who are trying to juggle their kids’ studies while working from home.
“Distance learning is not easy. I know that as a mother. I know that as a governor,” she said. “It has taken a toll on all of us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.