Leave the House? Wear a Face Mask

by | Apr 8, 2020

There were 220 new cases Wednesday, with 143 people hospitalized and 5 deaths; East Greenwich is up to 7 cases

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

During a follow-up phone call with reporters Wednesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo said everyone should be wearing some kind of face covering when we leave the house – even if we’re just taking a walk alone. It can be as simple as a scarf covering the nose and mouth or you can go to Ocean State Job Lot and pick up some of fabric there for free and fashion your own mask (find a no-sew way HERE).

The bottom line: Raimondo wants everyone, including workers at retail outlets like grocery stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores, to wear a face mask.

During the public press briefing, Raimondo also urged Rhode Islanders to make appointments for testing, either at the new CVS mobile testing site at Twin River, or any of the other testing sites around the state. Apparently, some people have gone into CVS stores thinking they could to get tested. No testing is happening inside CVS stores. 

“Please do not walk into the CVS pharmacy,” Raimondo said. “We don’t want anyone who’s sick to be leaving their house unless they have an appointment to be tested.”

She also announced that state courts will remain closed for nonessential cases through May 17, and that includes eviction hearings. 

“You cannot be evicted,” she said. If a landlord tries to evict you, you need to contact your local police department. Raimondo said her office was also working on ways to help people who are unable to pay their mortgage.

RI DOH’s Nicole Alexander-Scott at Wednesday’s COVID-19 State House press briefing. Pool photo: Sandor Bodo / Providence Journal

At the Wednesday press conference, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Smith gave some details about the five people who died since Tuesday: three were in their 70s, one was in their 80s, and one was in their 90s. Two of the people had lived at Oak Hill Nursing Home and one had lived at Golden Crest. That brings the total of COVID-19-related deaths to 35 in Rhode Island.

She reiterated that people who are sick need to stay home for at least seven days and to be symptom free and fever free (without medication) for 72 hours. This is especially true for health care workers. Alexander-Scott said her department was looking for people willing to volunteer to help out at nursing homes. 

“We are looking to strike the balance but also make sure we have the staff levels needed in health care facilities around the state,” she said.

There remained some confusion Wednesday around Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s order closing all parks and some boulevards, with the governor saying she would prefer the state’s policy, which is to close parking lots but to keep areas open to those who can walk to them. 

Cities and towns across the state have interpreted park closures in different ways. East Greenwich Town Manager Andrew Nota has taken Raimondo’s approach, saying residents should not be driving to recreation. 

Find RI DOH’s press release for Wednesday, April 8, here:

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

  • Courts: The courts have extended their closure for all non-essential business–including residential and commercial evictions–through May 17th.
  • Contact tracing: The state has partnered with SalesForce, a global software company, to make the contact tracing process more efficient. SalesForce is creating a secure database that will allow RIDOH and the National Guard to do contact tracing more efficiently and effectively. SalesForce is also creating a platform for physicians to order tests for patients at the National Guard testing sites.
  • Job Lot: Starting today, Job Lot is making free fabric available to all Rhode Island residents to make our own fabric face coverings. Every Job Lot has a display set up and they have enough free fabric for 1 million masks.

The Governor reiterated that everyone should wear a cloth face covering when in public. (These are different than medical grade masks, such as N95s, which should be reserved for healthcare workers.) A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. A cloth face cover could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves or T-shirts. Cloth face covers are not substitutes for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when ill.

COVID-19 Data Update

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 220 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island’s count to 1,450. RIDOH also announced five additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Three of these people were in their 70s. One person was in their 80s and one person was in their 90s. Rhode Island’s number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 35. 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. 
  • When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering. A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It could be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves, T-shirts, or bandanas.
  • 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.
    • Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
    • 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.
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
    • Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

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April 9, 2020 9:52 am

I wasn’t aware that when walking alone and not seeing or being near any people warranted wearing a mask.


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