The number of new positive tests went down to 181. The number of people in the hospital went up slightly to 271. Those needing intensive care went down to 65.. Of those in the ICU, 42 were on ventilators. The amount of cases in East Greenwich is 59. Find all of the Dept. of Health numbers on its data dashboard HERE

By Hope McKinney

At her press conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Gina Raimondo provided more updates on what the summer and entering into phase two will look like. 

Summer camps will be able to open and allow in-person operation starting June 29. She emphasized this date is a goal and they are working to make that goal a reality, although it may be subject to change in case of regression with the virus. 

“It’s not going to be just like last year,” she said. “There’s going to be new cleaning regimens, new restrictions, new guidelines. It’s going to be fun, but different.” 

Camp providers will be asked to keep kids in small, stable groups in order to limit their interaction with large amounts of different people. Regular deep cleaning of shared surfaces, equipment and hand washing must be implemented. She said wearing masks at summer sports camps is still being figured out. 

Teaching will continue throughout the summer, as well. Raimondo said there will be an array of learning opportunities, including options for any kids who need to make up any schoolwork. They are currently working on whether or not it will be entirely digital. Starting next week, the details regarding camp and summer school will be at www.ReopeningRI.com.

Gov. Gina Raimondo gives the daily COVID-19 update from the Veterans Memorial Auditorium on Thursday afternoon. Pool photo: Kris Craig / Providence Journal

Youth sports competitions are another matter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended cancelling or postponing all organized youth sports. 

“I can’t really go against that guidance and I don’t plan on going against that guidance,” Raimondo said. “Until the CDC guidance changes, organized youth sports games in Rhode Island can’t happen.” 

She said she hoped to enable some sports camps and find a way to have limited sports gatherings and practices. For today, however, she reiterates they will follow the guidance from the CDC.

Public library buildings in phase one still remain closed. Curbside pickup of library books, however, continues to be offered at the East Greenwich Free Library Monday through Friday (find out more HERE). Raimondo said she hopes to enable limited browsing at libraries in phase two with – again – new guidelines, including wearing a mask, social distancing and extra cleaning. Whether or not visitors will be able to use library computers is still being considered. 

Figuring out how to reopen hair salons and barbershops remains a challenge. Raimondo said she is trying to set up a system that allows businesses to be safe. One idea is pinpointed testing for close-contact businesses to build confidence for both employees and clients. She said they are still talking with salon owners to get their ideas for the best way to proceed.

“If they come back and say they want to be tested on some regular basis, then I want to try to figure out a way to do that,” Raimondo said.

Starting on Monday, there will be an official survey on www.ReopeningRI.com for businesses that have been affected by the crisis in order to find out what would be most helpful for them to get back on their feet. This will help to determine how best to spend the money from the COVID emergency relief fund.  

Although children don’t appear to be at as high of risk for the virus, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the state Department of Health, acknowledged a possible connection between COVID-19 and a health condition in children called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. She said this may be similar to other childhood conditions such as Kawasaki disease but is presenting somewhat differently. 

Kawasaki disease typically affects young children and  causes inflammation in the blood vessels and is usually caused by an inciting event, such as a virus. Symptoms may include a fever that may not go away, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, a rash, trouble breathing, or sleepiness.

“There’s already an active plan led by our colleagues at Hasbro Children’s Hospital about how we will prepare for and be ready to respond extensively and appropriately to this if we were needed to address it here in Rhode Island,” Alexander-Scott said. 

There have been no confirmed cases of PMIS in Rhode Island yet; in Massachusetts, 9 children are suspected of having it. Of COVID-19 cases among children in Rhode Island, those younger than 10 comprise only 2 percent of positive cases; people between 10 and 19 comprise 4 percent.

Alexander-Scott announced a few inmates – fewer than five – at the Adult Correctional Institutions have tested positive for COVID-19 but have not shown symptoms. These cases were found after everyone in the facility was tested, as the state has been doing in all communal living facilities. 

“We’re working very closely with the ACI regarding those cases,” she said. “They’re isolated appropriately and all of this has been part of our proactive response.” 

On June 15, PBS will be airing a statewide televised graduation ceremony for high school seniors. The ceremony will include videos submitted by schools or students, highlighting key moments from the year. RI PBS is also holding a singing competition. The deadline for video and song submissions is next Friday, May 22. For more details, click HERE.


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