By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island was up to 124, with 18 new cases.

Raimondo also announced the state had partnered with Care.com to provide 90 days of free premium service on the website to help Rhode Islanders providing essential services find childcare and eldercare. To learn more, click HERE. Those interested in volunteering their services for child or eldercare can also register on the website.

The governor added childcare facilities she urged to close last week can operate under new emergency regulations from the Dept. of Human Services. 

Not surprisingly, Raimondo said, uninsurance claims are “shooting through the roof” with numbers much greater than anything seen before. 

“We are going to pay every claim,” she said. “The money is there. That said, we are truly overrun by the thousands and thousands of claims every day. Please don’t call to check on your claim. We’re doing everything we can to get your payment to you within 10 to 12 days, hopefully sooner.”

She also told people to file online if at all possible (to file online click HERE), otherwise to call (401-243-9100). Do not show up at the Dept. of Labor and Training, she urged.

With regard to testing, Alexander-Scott said the state is able to test around 200 people a day now but the aim was to be able to test hundreds more by next week. 

“Similar to other states nationally, having the supplies in place is critical,” she said. Ramping up testing depends on having a “stable influx” of those supplies. 

“Right now, we here in the state of Rhode Island are building our own supply network,” said Raimondo, noting the state was tracking down swabs and personal protective equipment (PPE). She tied reopening the economy to being able to test rapidly.

Alexander-Scott reiterated what she’s said in the past: Whether you get a test or not, the treatment is the same, stay home and away from others. 

When asked about when someone diagnosed with COVID-19 could be considered negative, state Dept. of Health’s Nicole Alexander-Scott said if a person had symptoms for at least seven days then had three days without fever (while not taking fever-reducing medicine) and reduced symptoms, that person could be considered COVID-19 negative without taking another test.

Raimondo also again compelled Rhode Islanders to stay home to forestall a further shutdown of the economy, as many other states have now done. 

RI DOH offered no additional information on the 18 new cases, saying data had come in too late to follow up with patients today.

Also, RI DOH said the number of those who have tested negative (1,143 today) or pending (196) is not the full picture:

“Hospital laboratories and private laboratories are now testing for COVID-19. The number of positives reported above includes all positives from all laboratories for Rhode Islanders. However, the number of negative and pending test results are only for RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories. A unified data collection process for negative and pending test results is being developed. (Individual patients are being notified directly by their healthcare providers of negative test results.)”

Key messages for the public 

  • If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.
  • Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).
  • Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)
  • Due to the closure of schools, free “Grab and Go” meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.
  • Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.
  • People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.
  • Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC’s guidance for people older than 60 years of age:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • More information is available from CDC.
  • People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)
  • 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. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

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