Above: Gov. Gina Raimondo, flanked by DOH’s Dr. Alexander-Scott, left, and Dir. of Administration’s Brett Smiley, right, holds the Monday afternoon coronavirus press conference at the Veteran’s Auditorium. Pool Photo: Kris Craig / Providence Journal
By Hope McKinney
Over the weekend, there were 73 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 46 new cases on Sunday. There were 32 new positive cases Monday, for a total of 16,093 cases. There were 7 deaths on Saturday, 5 deaths on Sunday and 6 deaths on Monday, bringing the death toll to 851 people. The number of hospitalizations has dropped to 127 people. The number of confirmed cases in East Greenwich went up to 73. Find all the latest data on the DOH data dashboard HERE.
Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the reopening of in-person summer camps on June 29, additional virtual learning and available jobs for high schoolers during the summer during her press conference Monday.
She encouraged parents to contact their city or town if they usually send their kids to a municipal camp program. (You can find information about camps offered by the Town of East Greenwich here.) She said there will be some sleep-away options, as well. State guidelines can be found here.
Camp operators have confirmed camp will be more expensive this year, in terms of hiring more staff, increased cleaning supplies, etc. Raimondo said the state would give some of its federal CARES Act funding to summer camps to help offset some of those COVID-19-related costs. To learn more about this, visit here. The application process for camp operators is open now; applications will be approved on a rolling basis – the sooner you apply, the sooner you can get approved and receive the funds for your camp.
Raimondo also announced additional virtual learning opportunities this summer to public school students, pre-K through high school. These are called S.A.I.L. courses and can be signed up for through RIDE’s website. It’s a free, temporary program designed to enhance educational opportunities for students.
“There’s a lot of fun classes that we’re making available – arts classes, even physical education virtually,” she said. “There’s also things specifically designed to help you catch up – in math, in reading, in English.”
For high school students looking to earn money over the summer, there is now a COVID response summer jobs program to support employers who hire Rhode Island youth for summer jobs related to the COVID response. Students will be matched with certain employers and will receive a stipend.
This is being run through the governor’s workforce board. For more information, go here or RIDE’s website.
In preparation for Father’s Day this weekend, Raimondo and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the state Department of Health, urged family members who want to visit a father figure who is sick, in a nursing home, or has an underlying health condition to exercise extreme caution.
As in-person visits at nursing homes and assisted living facilities still aren’t allowed, Dr. Alexander-Scott provided creative approaches to celebrating with loved ones, including drive-up visits at certain facilities. To do so, call the facility to see if this will be made available, make an appointment and show up at the designated time while staying in the car. The resident can be brought out while windows remain up and social distancing guidelines are followed, along will additional safety measures.
“You cannot escape the brutal reality of this disease,” Raimondo said. “We love all our dads, godfathers, uncles, grandfathers – let’s make it special and honor them but I’m begging you to keep it safe.”
Dr. Alexander-Scott also confirmed there was a COVID-19 fatality last week in the 10 to 19 age group. This person had a very significant underlying health condition. She said that no additional information could be released.
Over the weekend, inspections were focused on restaurants. Raimondo noted that it was largely successful but urged restaurant owners again to have their COVID-19 control plans prepared, as only 80 percent had them ready. The guidelines and templates for this plan can be found here.
Raimondo also said it was reported that the Block Island Ferry was too crowded and very few people were wearing masks.
“For the patrons, I would ask you to try to do a better job,” she said. “If you’re seated next to somebody for 20, 30, 40 minutes – please keep your mask on. We have to do better.”
Raimondo urged beachgoers to order their food or drinks online when it’s offered at snack bars, rather than going up to order as a way to decrease human contact and crowds.
“Obviously, you don’t have to wear your mask when you’re on your blanket at the beach or going for a walk at the beach,” she said. “But if you’re gonna be next to someone for 10 or more minutes, closer than six feet, even if you’re outside, we need you, please, to wear your mask.”
Raimondo said she would support the continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as some of the emergency COVID-relief fund to help small businesses, but she is holding off for a little longer until the federal government provides clarity about another stimulus.
Dr. Alexander-Scott also confirmed that employees don’t need to be retested before returning to work after testing positive for COVID. She said there are other ways to ensure that they are not positive and that it’s safe for them to return to work.
Backed by CDC’s latest guidance, she said that if someone has tested positive, been exposed or has symptoms, they should isolate for at least 10 days after their symptoms started. Once these 10 days have passed and they have been fever-free for three full days without taking fever-reducing medicine and respiratory symptoms have improved, it is okay to come out of isolation and return to work.
It is only recommended to get an actual test to leave isolation and return back to work in specific situations, like a healthcare provider in a long-term care facility. The majority, however, can return after the 10-day period stated above.
Raimondo also reminded close-contact workers, child-care workers and bus drivers who are asymptomatic to sign up for a free COVID-19 test in order to gain more information about the virus; only 250 people in those categories signed up for testing over the weekend. Go here (portal.ri.gov) or call DOH at 222-8022.
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