Above: Hand sanitizer bottles donated to the EGPD by Stone Essentials.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The state of Rhode Island has 11 new cases of the coronavirus COVID-19, according to state officials, bringing the total number of cases to 44 since the first person was diagnosed March 1. Town Manager Andrew Nota said there was still no indication that anyone from East Greenwich has been diagnosed, but towns are not notified, only the people involved are, so we do not know at this point.
At Gov. Gina Raimondo’s press conference Thursday afternoon, RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state would probably release information by county “in coming days,” and eventually the state could release cases by municipality. For now, however, she said patient privacy concerns were the motivating factor in listing the statewide total only.
The new cases, Alexander-Scott said, were comprised of men and women in the 20s to their 60s and all had traveled to either Utah or New York in the recent past. One of the newly diagnosed has been hospitalized.
Gov. Raimondo said people will not be evicted – even those who have received eviction notice – because the courts will not be dealing with nonessential proceedings until at least April 17. In an effort to allay other fears she’d caught wind of, Raimondo said banks are strong and have “a lot” of cash and credit. However, terms of actually visiting a bank, she urged people to use outside ATMs and online banking services as much as possible and to call ahead if a bank visit was needed.
With regard to testing, Alexander-Scott said the state is fast-tracking test results for health care workers, those already hospitalized and people who have had contact with someone with the virus. Those test results are usually available within 24 hours; tests for others could take a few days.
“We’re not where we need to be,” said Raimondo regarding testing, “but we’re literally getting better every day.”
She asked businesses with any spare testing-quality swabs, masks, gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) to contact the Dept. of Health.
ON THE LOCAL FRONT, Town Manager Nota is not asking for PPE’s but is asking any residents with spare masks, gloves and cleaning wipes to turn them over to the town for employees who deal with the public (in particular, in Finance and Town Clerk offices). Drop items in the box in the Swift Community Center entrance.
Traffic is lower at Town Hall, Nota said. He continued to urge residents to CALL FIRST before coming to Town Hall. In many cases, issues can be resolved over the phone or via the internet. Find contact info for all the departments as well as other information here: COVID-19 Municipal Updates.
“We’re trying to be smarter and more efficient,” focusing on necessary transactions, Nota said.
He offered sincere thanks to the Lamendola family, whose company Stone Essentials was able to produce hand sanitizer which he donated to the EG Police Department. “We needed that now,” said Nota. “That’s a really major contribution.”
The town’s technology department, meanwhile, has been looking into different virtual meeting offerings. Nota said the town would be ready for the next Town Council meeting Monday, March 30, with the ability to have residents not only watch the meeting (as is available now) but participate in some way. The School Committee is hoping to piggyback off the town’s technology and has cancelled its March 24 meeting. The next School Committee meeting is March 31.
Nota said the senior lunch distribution program gave out around 50 lunches Thursday and he anticipated that number would increase. If you would like to sign up for a meal, call (401) 886-8669. Also, the senior services van will no longer be used; instead, those in need of transportation to the market, etc., will be taken one-on-one. Again, call the number above for more information.
FOR GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19, call the Department of Health at (401) 222-8022.
Also, if you do not have health insurance and qualify, the state has opened a special enrollment period through April 15. Go to HealthSourceRI.com to enroll or call (855) 840-4774 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. For anyone concerned they need to be tested for coronavirus – or anyone who is seeking care because of coronavirus exposure – coverage will start retroactively.
If you have any East Greenwich-specific questions about COVID-19, let us know. Email [email protected].