PROVIDENCE— Rhode Island’s two-week pandemic pause is going one more week, in hopes of producing a decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that has yet to materialize.
There were 2,7 million vehicles on road in RI, during the previous two weeks, a 12 percent decrease in travel during the pause thus far. But while declining mobility is usually linked to a decline in positive cases and hospitalizations, that hasn’t happened so far, said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo during Thursday’s press conference on the pandemic.
“I had hoped to see, after the pause, a more precipitous decline, a quicker decline, in the data, and we’re just not seeing that,” Raimondo said, so, “I’m announcing that we’re extending the pause for one more week, ending Sunday, Dec. 20,” she said.
Raimondo also urged Rhode Islanders to do their part by staying home, avoiding unnecessary distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding touching one’s face. “You have the power to protect your household,” Raimondo said.
During the extended pause, RI will also extend financial assistance to families and businesses.
- For families, RI is extending the additional $200 weekly unemployment benefit to cover the third week of the pause. You don’t need to do anything to claim this benefit. Any Rhode Islander who certifies for unemployment for the week of Dec. 13 will automatically get the additional $200.
- For businesses, we’re extending the deadline to apply for financial relief until midnight on Monday, Dec. 14. If you’re qualified and in an industry impacted by the pause, and you apply by Monday night, you’ll get a check. It’s a very simple application – just go to tax.ri.gov and check off a few boxes. Additionally, every business that receives relief through that program will automatically get a second check for half the amount of the first, to provide relief for the one-week extension.