160 new cases, 2 deaths; help for gig economy workers

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

In one week, Rhode Island has gone from testing about 300 people a day to now being able to test more than 2,000. First it was the three mobile testing sites opened up March 31 at CCRI Warwick, URI and RIC. Today, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced CVS, in partnership with the state, has opened up another mobile testing site in the parking lot at Twin River that will allow for an additional 1,000 tests.

Tests at any site are free. To be tested at any of the mobile sites, you need an appointment, but at the CVS-Twin River site, you do not need to go through a doctor’s office or urgent care center. And the results will be returned to you while you wait (in your car), in as soon as 15 minutes. The site is meant for people who have symptoms (only people with symptoms should be tested, Raimondo said) and must leave their homes to go to work. 

“Today is a good day in our fight against coronavirus here in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said at her daily State House press conference. “We have quite literally overnight doubled our testing capacity in Rhode Island.” 

CVS rolled out their rapid testing site today in two states: Rhode Island and Georgia. You can sign up for an appointment HERE.

With 160 new cases, Rhode Island crossed over the 1,000 threshold. We now have 1,082 cases. Of the two new deaths, one was a person in their 90s, the other a person in their 80s. There are 109 people in the hospital with COVID-19 – 37 in intensive care units and 26 of those are on ventilators. East Greenwich now has 5 confirmed cases, up from “fewer than 5,” where EG had been for several days. Find all the data HERE.

Gov. Gina Raimondo at the daily COVID-19 press conference in the State Room at the RI State House on Monday afternoon. Pool photo: Kris Craig / Providence Journal

Raimondo also announced ALL Rhode Islanders who’ve been laid off are eligible for unemployment insurance, including – as of 8 a.m. Tuesday – gig economy workers, small business owners, workers for hire, self-employed individuals and those who are otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment insurance. And everyone who’s been laid off is also eligible for an additional $600 a week into July on top of whatever regular unemployment you are owed. Find a link to the DLT website HERE

The governor reminded Rhode Islanders to keep contact tracing notebooks, jotting down everyone you interact with each day and where you go. In the event you get the virus, Raimondo said (“and many, many of us are going to get the sick”), you would turn over the notebook to the state Dept. of Health. The information will help identify others who may become sick.

Other notes from Monday’s briefing: 
  • Raimondo said the state continues to wait on things from the federal government. Washington sent 15 rapid test machines, but only 120 test kits for those machines (instead of the promised 150 per machine). She said they are still waiting on PPE, ventilators and other supplies. ““It’s a long list. It’s a daily discussion, trying to get them to advance money to hospitals” for instance. 
  • All essential workers – retail clerks, delivery people – should be wearing face coverings, as well as all residents when they go out.
  • With testing ramped up, one of the next things Raimondo said she was looking to accomplish was to be able to test people to see whether or not they’ve had COVID-19, which would be with a blood test. Once that happens, we would have a sense of the state’s immunity level. That’s a next step, she said, but not one that’s going to happen quickly.
  • A number of urgent care centers and primary care providers in Rhode Island have set up separate areas that serve as Respiratory Clinics, meaning they are specifically evaluating patients suspected of having COVID-19. While these Respiratory Clinics are in specific areas just for those patients, urgent care centers are still open to see patients who need other services in their usual locations. Additional information about testing in Rhode Island is available at: www.health.ri.gov/covid/testing.

East Greenwich News is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and we rely on reader support. Help us keep reporting on local issues by clicking on the Donate button below or sending a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., E.G., RI 02818. Thanks!