Above: Gov. Gina Raimondo discusses distance learning during her daily corona virus press conference with RI Education Commissioner, Angelica Infante-Green. Pool photo: David DelPoio/Providence Journal

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

RI DOH’s Nicole Alexander-Scott Monday. Pool photo: David DelPoio/Providence Journal

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced today that the state would continue its experiment with distance learning for all K through 12 students through April. She also announced a man in his 70s had died and there were 114 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, more than double the number from Sunday. The total number of cases in Rhode Island stands at 408. There were 41 people in the hospital.

“The next few weeks are going to be very, very difficult,” Raimondo said during her daily press conference at the State House, with more and more cases, and more deaths.

“We are keeping our eye firmly on that hospitalization number. We believe we’re in a fast spread of the virus in Rhode Island,” she said.

She again urged everyone in the state to stay home if possible and greatly reduce the number of people with whom you contact.

The governor also announced starting today there would be expanded testing for COVID-19, with mobile testing sites at both CCRI, URI and Rhode Island College. 

“If you think you need to be tested, you must call your primary care provider (or urgent care or the DOH hotline 401-222-8022; 211 after hours), and make an appointment through them. Under no circumstances, Raimondo said, are people to arrive at these testing stations without an appointment.

“We’re going to get to 1,000 [tests a day] this week,” she said, adding there would be more information about the new testing system in coming days.

Raimondo said the first week of distance learning went better than she and others had expected and that was what was driving her to continue the practice for the month of April.  

“I am thrilled with how well it is going,” she said. “I am taking an incremental, day-by-day, week-by-week approach. If April goes as well as it’s been going for the past week, then I’ll very likely say we’ll do it for May.”

To aid families without wifi and/or a phone, Cox Communications will provide one month of free internet. 

Raimondo also touched on when she would consider lifting restrictions. 

The hospital census has to be back to some level of normalcy and capacity,” she said, and health care workers would need to have months and months-worth of PPE (personal protective equipment). She said they would also need to put in place some kind of monitoring system, say if they decide every worker’s temperature needs to be taken before they start work. That would require a lot of thermometers.

In the meantime, she said, “we’re in this for at least another month.“


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