By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Thursday there are 33 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 165. East Greenwich still has no confirmed cases. Providence, with 51 cases, has by far the most. The age group with the largest number of cases is individuals from 50 to 59. A full rundown of the numbers can be found at the bottom of this post.

While East Greenwich may have no confirmed cases, there are at least a handful of people who said they were told they probably did have COVID-19 but the state would not test them because there are not yet enough tests for those whose symptoms can be managed at home. 

For one EG resident, the inability to be tested has been frustrating.

“We have no idea what’s going on. We are living with mixed messages: 1. Don’t leave the house because it’s dangerous 2. Rhode Island has very few cases. This means people are not sticking to the social distancing because it seems like a non-threat. Which inevitably means we will be dealing with this for longer because people aren’t practicing social distancing.” 

Raimondo said Thursday the state would be able to test 1,000 a day by next week. For now, the state is testing in the low hundreds a day. The people getting those tests are those sick enough to be in a hospital, health care workers and people living or working in places where large groups of people live, such as nursing homes.

“We know that the virus is clearly here,” said Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott. “The numbers we are reporting we know are not reflected of all the cases out there.”

Photo: CNN

She reiterated the need for people to stay home if at all possible and to stay 6 feet away from others when outside the home. Those who have been sick, whether they’ve been tested or not, should stay home for at least three days (without fever-reducing medication) after all symptoms have abated.

Alexander-Scott said of the people who have tested positive for COVID-19, nine were intensive care units, six of those on ventilators. 

At a press conference outside of the Emergency Department at Rhode Island Hospital Thursday, Dr. Jeremiah Schuur, head of that department, said they were seeing “a gradual rise, not the exponential growth seen in New York.”

“We have been planning for the surge,” said Dr. Mitchell Levy, head of RIH’s medical ICU. “We have over 150 ventilators in the Lifespan system.” He added that 95 percent of people who get the virus will not need critical care.

“We currently have the PPE we need,” said Schuur. We do have concerns about whether that will last.”

At the State House, Gov. Raimondo also announced she is setting up checkpoints at the border for cars bearing New York license plates. The state police will be asking occupants for their ID, where they will be staying in Rhode Island and contact info. They will be told to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

And she asked for individuals and companies that are able to donate wipes and hand sanitizer to RI Family Service for kits to be given to needy families. If you have supplies you can donate, text BESAFE to 44321.

From the Rhode Island Dept. of Health

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Dr. Alexander-Scott today made several announcements about the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Travel from New York: Today the Governor signed an executive order mandating that anyone who has traveled to New York by any form of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. This applies to anyone who has been in New York in the past 14 days and going forward.
  • Small business support: Rhode Island small business owners can now receive 45 minutes of free tech support via teleconference or over the phone. This service has been coordinated by Rhode Island Commerce and is being staffed by volunteers from some of Rhode Island’s leading tech companies. Starting tomorrow, these experts will be available to help small business owners set up equipment to work from home, shift to online meetings and help with document management and security. Rhode Islanders can visit Commerce’s website or call 521-HELP to get started.

The Governor also reassured Rhode Islanders that contact information collected from travelers in order to monitor quarantining will not be used for any purpose or be shared with any state or federal agency other than the Department of Health.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 33 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island’s case count to 165.

Data 

Rhode Island COVID-19 data is available online.

  • Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 165
  • Updated number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories as of 3/25 (this is an amendment to yesterday’s press release): 1,262
  • Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories as of 3/26: 1,366
  • Number of people for whom tests are pending at RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories: 138
  • Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,250

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by sex:

  • Females: 78
  • Males: 87

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by age:

  • 0-19: 6
  • 20-29: 28
  • 30-39: 30
  • 40-49: 30
  • 50-59: 38
  • 60-69: 19
  • 70-79: 12
  • 80-89: 0
  • 90 and older: 2

Distribution of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients by city/town of residence:

  • Barrington – fewer than 5
  • Bristol – fewer than 5
  • Burrillville – fewer than 5
  • Central Falls – fewer than 5
  • Charlestown – 0
  • Coventry – fewer than 5
  • Cranston – 18
  • Cumberland – 5
  • East Greenwich – 0
  • East Providence – 9
  • Exeter – 0
  • Foster – fewer than 5
  • Glocester – 0
  • Hopkinton – fewer than 5
  • Jamestown – fewer than 5
  • Johnston – 6
  • Lincoln – fewer than 5
  • Little Compton – 0
  • Middletown – 6
  • Narragansett – fewer than 5
  • New Shoreham – 0
  • Newport – 5
  • North Kingstown – fewer than 5
  • North Providence – fewer than 5
  • North Smithfield – fewer than 5
  • Pawtucket – 7
  • Portsmouth – fewer than 5
  • Providence – 51
  • Richmond – 0
  • Scituate – fewer than 5
  • Smithfield – fewer than 5
  • South Kingstown – 7
  • Tiverton – 0
  • Warren – fewer than 5
  • Warwick – 8
  • West Greenwich – 0
  • West Warwick – fewer than 5
  • Westerly – fewer than 5
  • Woonsocket – fewer than 5

Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized:

  • 23

Data notes:

  • As the volume of cases increases, RIDOH may move to providing abbreviated data updates daily and more detailed data updates weekly.
  • The number of people in quarantine has decreased because the quarantine periods for two large groups ended.
  • City and town numbers between 1 and 4 are listed as “fewer than five” for patient privacy reasons.
  • The number of COVID-19 patients in a city or town should not be used to draw any conclusions about relative risk in different cities and towns. All Rhode Islanders should continue to take all the COVID-19 precautions that have been shared by RIDOH.
  • Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)

Key messages for the public

  • If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.
  • Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).
  • Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)
  • Due to the closure of schools, free “Grab and Go” meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.
  • Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.
  • People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.
  • Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC’s guidance for people older than 60 years of age:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

o    When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

o    Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

o    Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

o    More information is available from CDC.

o    People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)

  • Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.

o    Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.

o    Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o    Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.

o    Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

o    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.