PROVIDENCE, RI — Gov. Gina M. Raimondo is pleading with residents to get more serious and follow the rules to avoid the state finding itself in total lockdown.
“I’m here one last time, pleading with the people of Rhode Island to make changes in your life to wear your mask always, to stop having social gatherings of any kind period, and to really reign it in. That choice is yours,” she said during a Thursday press conference.
Raimondo said residents should be alarmed at the latest numbers. On Wednesday the state had 936 new cases out of about 20,000 tests for a percent positive of 4.7%. A few weeks ago the state was under 2%. Wednesday was the state’s second consecutive day with cases over 900. The state also saw seven new deaths. Trend data shows that week over week the state is continuing to set new daily case levels. By Thursday the state’s percent positive rate rose to 5.2%.
“We are in a terrible spot and for those folks out there who think it’s OK to not follow rules, who thought it was OK to have Halloween parties, you need to know that it’s costing lives,” she said.
Raimondo said Rhode Island hospitals are overwhelmed with exhausted staff, overflowing emergency rooms and staff shortages. Hospitals in the state have 84% of their existing COVID capacity beds full. At the current rate of infection, the remaining 16% of beds will be filled in about a week, she said. Adding to the challenge is that hospitals are also seeing more patients for non-COVID related illnesses, something they didn’t have in the spring.
Each hospital has a plan to turn on its surge capacity which would increase the number of beds for COVID cases to 600, “putting an enormous strain on hospitals and staff. It’s a risk for the people of Rhode Island. Don’t be surprised if you go to the ER and are diverted to another ER or made to wait.”
But even with the 600 beds, Raimondo said they will be filled within about three weeks at which point the state will start using its Cranston Field Hospital.
“I’ve been up here week after week after week imploring you, asking the good people of Rhode Island to stay at home and change your behaviors — our behaviors — so that the folks in those hospitals, who are on the front line don’t get overwhelmed.”
When it comes to schools, Raimondo said in places seeing second and third waves, they are having those waves whether children are in school or not.
“Cases are rising at the same rates everywhere whether schools opened six weeks ago, six months ago or haven’t opened at all,” she said. “In Europe they’re generally keeping schools open even during the lockdowns because we all now know that schools are not major spreaders and children suffer mightily, and in the long-run if we close our schools.”
“If it’s not schools and if we are doing a lot of testing, ‘What is it?’ you’re asking?” she said. “It’s what we’ve been talking about for weeks — small gatherings with friends and family (people you know, people you like, people you let your guard down with, people who feel safe) — that occur primarily indoors with masks off. It’s that simple.”
Over the past few weeks the governor has put into place several guidelines to help keep COVID cases at bay. And they are closely monitoring to see if it’s enough. Last month businesses were told to close break rooms and go back to remote work. Two weeks ago the social gathering limit was lowered to 10. Last week the governor took more aggressive steps with early business closures, a nighttime stay at home advisory, a stop on business travel, lower capacity limits for houses of worship and venues, as well as lower limits for catered events and big box stores. “It’s still my hope that that will be enough,” she said. “But I’m not optimistic based on what we are a seeing with the data.”
“The hardest thing about managing this crisis is that if everybody just stopped, if everybody committed themselves to not having these social gatherings, to wearing masks, to limiting your social contacts to a very few number of people we would have the control to put a lid on this virus. But it doesn’t seem to be working that way and I fear we are heading towards another lockdown.”
Restricted Visits at Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
With the increases in cases statewide, all hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities have a two-week restriction on visitation as the Rhode Island Dept. of Health works to help these facilities develop plans for safe visitation for the most vulnerable.
RIDOH recommends no visitation at hospitals, except for people who are essential to a patient’s care. Only compassionate care visits are currently allowed at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
RIDOH Guidance for Those Testing Positive for COVID-19
If you test positive, the Rhode Island Department of Public Health wants residents to follow these guidelines:
- Stay home for at least 10 days from the day you were tested.
- Do not go to work or school for at least 10 days after testing positive.
- Call your employer or school to inform them that you tested positive and will be out for at least 10 days.
- Call your primary care provider (if you have one) and let them know you tested positive.
- Get help if you feel sick. Call your primary care provider or an urgent care to get medical advice. Call 911 or the nearest hospital if you think you are having a medical emergency (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.) Tell them you have COVID-19.
- Do your best to keep your distance from those you live with. If you can, use a separate bathroom and bedroom from others. Also, stay out of the kitchen and rooms where people in the house gather.
- Protect the people you live with from catching COVID-19 from you. Try to stay in a different room and wear a mask if you must be in the same room with others.
- Have things you need delivered. Ask friends and family to drop off items you may need at your door like food and other necessities.
- Write a list of people you have been in close contact with. Make a list of everyone you were around starting two days before you got tested or started having symptoms until the time you got your test result and started isolating at home.
- Let your close contacts know you have COVID-19.
- Answer the phone when RIDOH calls.
What people you live with need to do if you test positive:
- Everyone you live with needs to stay home too. People you live with cannot go to work or school while you are infected (10 days) and for an additional 14 days.
- Call the employers and schools of everyone in the house to let them know people will not be at work or school. Plan on 24 days home for everyone living in the house.
- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 in everyone living with you.
- Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
- Stay in a separate room if possible. If you can, stay in your own room without help, people in the house can bring you your food and check on you so that you do not need to be hanging around in the same room with others in the house.
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