Cases & Tests Both Drop; DMV Extensions; Health Care Help

by | Apr 28, 2020

Above: The window The French Bulldog consignment shop on Duke Street (which is closed for now) was sporting t-shirts bearing Gov. Raimondo’s now-legendary catch phrases: Knock It Off and Shut It Down. 

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

For the fourth day in a row, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island dropped, to 218 Tuesday, from a high of 437 on Friday (4/24). But along with that, the number of tests being done has also dropped from a high of 3,637 on Saturday (4/25) to 1,808 on Tuesday. The state Dept. of Health’s Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said Tuesday there would be ebbs and flows in the testing, depending on things like the weather and the program to test all residents and staff at nursing homes. There were 6 new deaths Tuesday, all residents of congregate care facilities. The total number of Rhode Island COVID-19 associated deaths is now 239. The number of confirmed cases in East Greenwich ticked up by 1 to 38 Tuesday. You can find all the data at the DOH website HERE.

At her daily COVID-19 briefing at the State House Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced she is granting a 90-day extension to anyone whose car license, permit, car registration, inspection or temporary plate expires in May – the same thing she did for March and April expirations. The main office of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles is open by appointment only (you can make an appointment HERE). All other DMV offices are closed. A number of services can be handled online HERE

She also announced loosening of some health insurance restrictions for one month (to May 27), designed to clear the way for patients to get care and for providers to be able to focus on taking care of patients. 

These include a freeze on out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions and a prohibition on swapping out one drug for another without a doctor’s express order. The order also tells insurers to relax the referral process, requiring them to be more lenient with regard to demanding referrals. And she said a medical service could not be suspended because there was no preauthorization. “It is a cost saving mechanism but it’s also a burden to doctors,” Raimondo said of the preauthorization process. Finally, the order eases the need for referrals or preauthorizations for in-network mental health services.

During the question-and-answer session Tuesday, Raimondo and Alexander-Scott were asked about the refrigerated trucks parked outside the medical examiner’s building. Alexander-Scott said they were there as possible morgue overflow but that so far they had not been needed. “It’s all part of our overall preparation, as the governor has said, ‘Prepare for the worst, but work for the best.’”

Raimondo added, “Just because we lift the stay-at-home order doesn’t mean people won’t get sick. We will be living with this virus, with its sicknesses, with its hospitalizations. We need to get comfortable with that.”

Also Tuesday, Attorney General Peter Neronha said issued a statement reminding creditors, debt collectors and financial institutions that Federal CARES stimulus payments to individuals are exempt from seizure and cannot be garnished by debt collectors. 

“The purpose of the guidance issued by our Office today is to ensure that these relief payments can be used by Rhode Islanders for essential needs, such as food and housing, during these extraordinary circumstances,” Neronha said.

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