After weeks of telling Rhode Islanders only a limited number of priority people could be tested, now the state has to convince residents tests are much more plentiful and anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should be calling their doctor or an urgent care clinic to see if they should be tested.
“We were behind,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo at her State House briefing Saturday. “We need to catch up.”
Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott reiterated the symptoms, noting that even just one or two justified a call to your doctor: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. The state has set up three mobile testing sites (including one at CCRI Warwick) and is now able to test more than 1,000 people a day. While testing capacity has boomed, results still take a few days, Raimondo said.
She announced there were 97 new confirmed cases overnight, for a total of 806 cases; EG remains at fewer than 5 confirmedcases. Three people have died since Friday’s briefing from COVID-19-related illness, a man and a woman in their 80s and a man in his 90s. The woman had been a resident of Golden Crest Nursing Center, bringing the number of deaths there to six.
The number of people in the hospital increased to 93, from 77 Friday, with 31 in intensive care units (up from 14 Friday). According to Raimondo, that’s why the extra hospital beds at field hospitals will be necessary, even as many as 2,000 (Raimondo announced Friday the state has chosen three field hospital locations, which will provide 1,000 beds.)
“In the past week, we’ve more than doubled our rate of hospitalizations. There will be thousands of people in Rhode Island in the hospital in the months to come,” she said. “I don’t want people to be surprised. This will happen…. Many, many people will be sick; very sadly many people will die and our hospitals will be overwhelmed.”
The exact extent of the severity depends on our compliance with social distancing, hand washing and staying at home, she said.
Everything she’s doing, Raimondo said, is “balanced against my strong desire to get people back to work. This is kind of a Rubik’s Cube of public policy” – you change one thing and everything shifts.
Meanwhile, Congressman Jim Langevin is hosting a live telephone town hall about the coronavirus Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. He will be joined by state Department of Labor and Training Director Scott Jensen, Small Business Administration District Director Mark Hayward, and state Department of Health Medical Director Dr. James McDonald to provide updates and help answer questions. The telephone town hall is free and open to the public. Those interested may call 855-962-1080 Monday at 7 p.m. Live audio of the event will be streamed online.
Here’s Saturday’s press release from RI DOH:
Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided an update today on the state’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
All Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are urged to call a healthcare provider to coordinate 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.
The Governor also announced that starting tonight the State House will be lit red for the next week to honor the first responders on the frontlines of this crisis.
COVID-19 Data Update
Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 97 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island’s count to 806. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced three additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Two individuals were in their 80s, and one was in their 90s. One of these individuals was a nursing home resident. That brings Rhode Island’s number of fatalities to 17. 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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