Higher Deaths, Lower New Cases; Multi-State PPE Consortium

by | May 3, 2020

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

A graph of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island through May 3.

The state recorded 24 deaths on Sunday – the largest single-day total during the COVID-19 crisis. Together with 17 deaths announced Saturday, the weekend saw 41 coronavirus-related deaths. The majority of the deaths continue to be among residents of nursing homes. But simultaneously the number of new cases Sunday, 188, is the first time new case numbers have dropped below 200 since April 6. 

Dr. Jim McDonald, RI Dept. of Health deputy director, noted there were also fewer tests done Saturday (1,999 compared to in the 3,000-range as in recent days), but he said explaining day-to-day fluctuations was difficult.

The hospital numbers were all up, but not dramatically – 330 people were in the hospital with COVID-19, with 83 in intensive care units and 59 of those on ventilators. In East Greenwich, there are 47 confirmed coronavirus cases. Find the Dept. of Health’s data dashboard HERE.

At her daily press conference Sunday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Rhode Island had joined with Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania in a consortium to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) to better stabilize the supply as well as keep costs down. 

“Often we bid against each other and bid up the price,” Raimondo said, noting that she and others in the administration were spending hours each day working to secure PPE, and adding that governors are in this role because the president has said states are responsible for their own PPE.

Raimondo also offered some hope to local restaurants, acknowledging the difficulties they are facing. Even when they are allowed to reopen, they will have to cut seating capacity significantly.

“We are going to find a way to help restaurants,” she said. While Raimondo continues to hope the federal government will find a way to help restaurants, even if they don’t, she said, “My view is we have to find some way to use our stimulus dollars.”

Dr. McDonald spent time Sunday talking about common objects and how we have to think about them differently during this time. 

“One of the vexing problems with the little virus is, it spreads when people feel fine. Minimizing common objects is one thing you can do,” McDonald said. He said he’d only just realized recently that all three of his children were using the same tube of toothpaste. Now, he said, each child has their own drawer with their own tube of toothpaste. 

It’s the same with sports like baseball, he said. While there can be a lot of distance between individual players, they are all sharing the same ball. 

When asked about reopening churches, Raimondo made a similar point, noting that shared hymnals or prayer books would not be possible. 

Raimondo said she continues to plan to start reopening the state next weekend, but said flexibility was key.


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