Friday Updates: Field Hospitals, Face Covers, Forceful Language

by | Apr 3, 2020

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

There were 54 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday, for a total of 711 confirmed cases in Rhode Island. Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott of the state Department of Health announced there were also 2 additional deaths. So far, 14 Rhode Islanders have died from the coronavirus. 

The number of those in the hospital COVID-19-related illness rose to 77 (up 5 from Thursday);  14 people remain in intensive care.

One of the people who died had been a resident at Golden Crest Nursing Center in North Providence. So far, 12 nursing homes in the state have had cases of COVID-19 among their staff or residents. 

As of now, the number of cases in the Town of East Greenwich remains fewer than 5 and there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at St. Elizabeth’s, the only nursing home in East Greenwich. 

At her press briefing Friday, Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state had chosen three sites for field hospitals, at the R.I. Convention Center, a former Citizens Bank building in Cranston, and the former Lowe’s building in Quonset in North Kingstown. In total, the three sites will provide an additional 1,000 hospital beds.

Alexander-Scott announced she is now encouraging Rhode Islanders to wear face coverings, noting that additional research is showing it protects against transmission of the virus especially early on, before the onset of symptoms. Those face covers can be things many of us have at home already, such as bandanas and scarves. Handmade masks work well too.

One EG News editor sporting a newly fashionable cloth face covering.

“People should not be purchasing or hoarding surgical masks or N95 masks,” she said. Cloth face coverings should be washed at least once a day. Do not, she admonished, stop practicing all of the previous guidelines – social distancing, frequent handwashing and, of course, staying at home. 

She also said with the state’s newly expanded testing people with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 should call their primary doctor or urgent care clinic to get an appointment for a test. 

She listed the symptoms: Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, headache, vomit, and diarrhea.

“If you have any of these symptoms, we have now expanded testing for all. Call and get an appointment,” she said.

Raimondo used some of her sternest language Friday, saying Rhode Islanders were not doing a good enough job staying home. According to Raimondo, Rhode Islanders have cut down their movement by 36 percent while the national average is 41 percent. 

“I’m asking you to do better,” she said. “Right now, I don’t want to scare you, but right now we don’t have enough ventilators if the surge hits sooner than we think or the peak is higher than we think.” 

She added, “The biggest variable in the model [marking the length and severity of the virus in Rhode Island] is the level of compliance with social distancing. It’s about you the people of Rhode Island doing the right thing every moment of every day…. I need you to stop, I need you to take this seriously … I need you to stay home.”

From RI DOH’s Friday (4/3/20) press release:                                                                                                                                                       

  • Surge locations: Rhode Island is setting up surge sites to provide hospital-level care at the Rhode Island Convention Center, the former Citizens Bank building on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston, and the former Lowe’s building at Quonset. Once complete, these sites will be staffed and equipped with the medical resources needed to treat more than 1,000 people.
  • Cloth Face Covers: Dr. Alexander-Scott encouraged Rhode Islanders to consider wearing cloth face covers when in public. A cloth face cover is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the lower face. A cloth face cover could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves or T-shirts. (Face covers are different than N95 facemasks. People in the general public should not be purchasing or hording medical grade masks, such as N95s.) The primary role of a cloth face cover is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face covers are not substitutes for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when ill.
  • Childcare: The state will continue to suspend childcare licenses through the month of April.
  • Mental Health: The Governor announced the establishment of a $5 million COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. The funding is made available by local insurance companies as a result of a state compliance review and will be dedicated to fund nonprofit organizations working to address Rhode Islanders’ behavioral health needs resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Nonprofits who think they can help with these services can apply for funding through the Rhode Island Foundation beginning April 6. Adults seeking mental or behavioral health support should call BH Link at 414-LINK. For services for children, call Kids Link 855-543-5465.
  • Testing: All Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are urged to call a healthcare provider to get scheduled for a test. The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island had previously been limited to the members of certain priority populations who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 or who are members of Rhode Island’s critical infrastructure workforce. 
COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 54 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island’s count to 711. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced two additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of these individuals was a nursing home resident. That brings Rhode Island’s number of fatalities to 14. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public
  • Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).
  • The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.
  • Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1. 
  • Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.
  • Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).
  • People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to [email protected], or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.
  • 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.

o Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.

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

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