PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s COVID-19 outbreak cases and deaths continue a slow rise toward an expected peak May 3, with encouraing economic signals, including allowing some garden centers open in late April, during Saturday’s daily State House press briefing.
Raimondo and RI Department of Health director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott reported another 19 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, two within the past 48 hours, and 17 since Raimdo’s last briefing. Rhode Island has not recorded 137 fatalities associated with COVID-19. There are currently 4,491 confirmed cases of the disease in the state.
Among the deaths were:
- 1 person in their 30s
- 2 people in their 50s
- 3 people in their 60s
- 4 people in their 70s
- 7 people in their 80s
- 2 people in their 90s
Of the people who died since Friday, 10 lived in congregate care/nursing home settings, Alexander-Scott said.
“The very good news is that due to all your hard work and sacrifice, we aren’t seeing the steepness of the curve that we had been seeing a week or two ago,” Raimondo said. She said that demonstrates that all the people staying at home and wearing masks and frequent hand washing is saving lives.
Small garden centers may open, big box garden centers limited
Raimondo said that as spring begins, she has asked the Department of Business Regulation and Department of Environmental Management to work out safe way to open small garden center businesses as their usual opening season approaches. “By Monday, we’ll be issuing guidelines that will enable garden centers in Rhode Island, to open by April 27.”
Starting Sunday, however, she said she is requiring big box stores with garden centers to close open browsing and shopping options within their garden centers and to restrict business to pickup, appointment and delivery options.
“We unfortunately continue to hear way too many instances of crowded garden centers,” Raimondo said.
Reopening RI economy
Raimondo said Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor is leading planning to reopen Rhode Islands’ economy as soon as possible, albeit with new restrictions, industry by industry. She advised Rhode Islanders to expect to hear more about the beginnings of these plans next week.
Face mask order takes effect
Raimondo reminded Rhode Islanders of her executive order requiring face masks at all work places and that businesses open to the public remind customers of their responsibility to wear masks, takes effect today.
“It doesn’t mean you can turn customers away, but I want you to do everything you can as customers are coming in, verbally and with signage to remind all your customers, that they must be wearing a face cloth covering that covers their nose and their mouth, at the time that they come into your establishment,” Raimondo said.
Exceptions to the order include:
- Those whose health would be in jeopardy from wearing a mask.
- Children under 2 years old
“Wearing a cloth face mask will not prevent you from getting the virus if you’re in close proximity to somebody who has it, “ Raimondo said. But, she said, it will help prevent you from spreading the virus to someone else near you.
American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Dr. Albert Rizzo, said in an April 3 statement that wearing masks can actually provide a measure of protection from COVID-19 for the wearer.
“The wearing of the masks by all individuals can give some degree of barrier protection from respiratory droplets that are coughed or sneezed around them. Early reports show that the virus can live in droplets in the air for up to one to three hours after an infected individual has left an area. Covering your face will help prevent these droplets from getting into the air and infecting others,” Rizzo said.
“It’s about each of us being put out, and inconvenienced, in order to help everybody else. And it will limit the spread of the disease,” Raimondo said during her press briefing Saturday.
Raimondo said the DBR will be doing random spot checks, and the authority to fine scofflaws.