Raimondo Announces ‘Pause’ for Nov. 30

by | Nov 19, 2020

But, Supt. Meyer says “no changes” to EG schools “at this time.”

Data: Rhode Island had 921 virus cases Wednesday and had a record 1,260 on Tuesday. While the state continues to run more tests than nearly every other state, it is seeing more positives among those tested – we are at 5.9 percent positivity now. Meanwhile, East Greenwich and several other suburban communities are experiencing first-time spikes in COVID-19 cases. There were 66 confirmed virus cases in EG last week, up from 50 the week before and 8 in the first week of October. That’s a 700 percent increase since the beginning of October. You can follow all the RI Dept. of Health data HERE.

With Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott in back, Gov. Gina Raimondo announces tougher coronavirus restrictions Thursday. Pool photo: Sandor Bodo / Providence Journal

Today, bowing to the unrelenting increase in coronavirus cases in the state, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Rhode Island will enter a two-week “pause” starting Nov. 30. At her weekly COVID-19 press conference Thursday, she also recommended everyone only meet with those in their own households effective immediately.

“The social gathering limit is your household. You cannot be spending social time, indoors, with people you do not live with,” she said. 

She also urged people not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

In addition to the “stay at home” advisory, Raimondo said gyms and recreational facilities, offices, and bar areas will close during the two-week period between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13. Indoor dining, retail stores, and houses of worship will also have lower capacity limits. 

For public schools, Raimondo said K–8 schools should continue to meet in person, while high schools were encouraged to switch to a 25 percent in-person model, down from the current 50 percent.

EG Supt. Alexis Meyer said Thursday she had made “no changes to anything at this time.” In other words, EGHS students (along with Cole) will still be attending classes in person two days a week and following along at home two days a week. Grades K-5 will continue to attend school five days a week. She sent this letter about her decision – EGPS Family Letter – RI Pause. It also outlines that anyone who travels over the Thanksgiving weekend will need to quarantine for 14 days upon return.

Regarding her decision to leave schools open, Raimondo cited Dr. Ashish Jha from Brown University’s School of Public Health. Jha believes schools should be one of the last places to close, since they have low transmission risk. In contrast, the two main teacher unions in the state, NEARI and RIFTHP, have called for a  transition to full distance learning, citing safety concerns and staff shortages at some schools.

Raimondo said her aim was to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. The state is readying field hospitals in Cranston and Providence even now. Vaccines are on the near horizon but, she said, Rhode Island hospitals are at 97 percent capacity for coronavirus beds. 

If the “pause” is ineffective, a longer lockdown might be declared, Raimondo said, noting such a lockdown would likely need additional national stimulus money. She urged people to follow health guidelines so the state can avoid “crisis standards of care” – where doctors are forced to make decisions about who gets care.

“You don’t want to be there,” Raimondo said.  

Guidance from the state on how to proceed safely with everyday activities can be found HERE, with additional updates coming Friday.

 

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