Raimondo Mandates Face Covers; EG Up to 15 Cases

by | Apr 14, 2020

Above: Dr. Angela Ciresi of Ciresi Chiropractic wears a face mask made by the EG Girl Scout Troop 497.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Gov. Gina Raimondo Tuesday said all employees of customer-facing businesses, office-based businesses, manufacturers and nonprofits must wear cloth face covers when at work as of Saturday. As she clarified during a phone call with reporters after the daily COVID-19 briefing, the order is “pretty much for everyone.”

EGHS senior Maaike Calvin wears a mask she made.

The mandate comes 11 days after state Dept. of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott first recommended everyone wear cloth face covers when out of the house. Before that, officials were saying not to wear face masks, to reserve face masks for health care workers and first responders. 

The new messages doesn’t exactly counter the former one – the public is still encouraged not to buy medical masks – but it’s been a little confusing. Raimondo said the Saturday start date is to give businesses a chance to obtain masks or covers for their employees. A spokeswoman for Dave’s said only Monday that the company would be mandating face masks as soon as it had enough on hand to supply every employee (which they were hoping would be this week). Find a link to that story HERE

The idea behind cloth face coverings is to prevent the wearer from spraying potentially virus-spreading droplets when talking, coughing, sneezing, even breathing. The executive order also says employers need to make masks available for free to employees and for retail establishments to encourage the public to wear face covers when in their stores. 

Raimondo and Alexander-Scott both emphasized face covers were not a substitute for staying at home as much as possible and staying at least six feet from people when out in public. But if you have to go out, you need to wear a face cover.

Raimondo said the Dept. of Business Regulation and the Dept. of Health would start conducting spot checks of businesses Saturday. If compliance lags, Raimondo said, she would empower the DBR to issue penalties. She said face covers should be considered the “new normal.”

Cloth masks can be as simple as a bandana and Ocean State Job Lot is giving away fabric for face masks. Find a CDC tutorial for do-it-yourself cloth face masks HERE. And find a link to the governor’s executive order HERE.

(If you are making masks or know of a local business or individual who is making masks for sale, please let us know! We will be putting together a list of mask purveyors. Send an email to [email protected].) 

There were 275 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. The total number of confirmed cases is now 3,251. There have been 7 deaths since Monday. Also Tuesday, there were 213 people in the hospital, 49 people in intensive care. East Greenwich now has 15 confirmed cases, nearly double the last time that number was updated, on April 10. (If you live in East Greenwich and have been diagnosed with COVID-19, we are thinking about you. If you could use help or would like to talk about your experience, contact [email protected].)

Numbers have flattened a bit in recent days, but Gov. Raimondo said that is probably due to the combination of the Easter holiday and the cancellation of all outdoor mobile testing sites Monday due to bad weather. Find the most recent data, including updated figures for cities and towns, HERE.

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