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PROVIDENCE, RI — Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced a third RI COVID-19 death, 55 new cases and 294 hospitalized Sunday afternoon, warning that the public’s disdain for social distancing will increase those numbers.
The numbers are a significant increase since Saturday’s report of 36 new cases reported for a total of 239, and 29 in the hospital with the disease. Raimondo called the steep increase a sign that the state’s COVID-19 outbreak rate of infection is beginning to see a rise in cases mimicking the start of outbreaks in other regions, where a graph of infections showed a steep rise, leveling out before a decline in new infections.
“We’re starting to go up the curve at a fast clip,” Raimondo said, pointing to the increase from 36 new cases to 55 new cases within 24 hours.
“Now, that’s a big jump,” Raimondo said. She urged Rhode Islanders to use the information to inspire them toward serious observance of her executive order for people to stay home and to limit their social interactions to the same five people through the duration of the outbreak. She cautioned against panic, noting the outbreak is playing out as she and health experts expected.
But that does not put the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak beyond Rhode Islanders’ control, she said.
“It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better. As I said before, how much worse depends on you. I’m telling you right now, it’s time to get more serious. This virus is coming. It’s coming fast and we cannot outrun it.”
To the roughly 50 percent of Rhode Islanders who are taking the safety restrictions seriously, Raimondo said, “You are the heroes in this fight against corona and you are literally saving lives.”
Raimondo asked all Rhode Islanders to write down a list of 4-5 people who they are going to interact with in the weeks ahead, and to not socialize physically with anyone else.
“We don’t want you to be hanging out with a different number of people every day,” Raimondo said.
Non-essential businesses: Doors shut, not stores
RI Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor clarified Saturday’s order for non-essential retail businesses to shut their doors. He pointed out that those businesses are still allowed to operate with curb-side pickup and delivery, using website or phone-in orders of items.
“The answer on the whole, is yes,” Pryor said, responding to businesses question about whether they can continue operating using those methods while closing the interiors of their shops to the public.
Child care facility licenses suspended
Raimondo announced the state, given the new 5 person limit on physical interactions, must suspend all child-care licenses until April 4, effective Monday.
Although, “I know how many people rely on these facilities,” Raimondo said, “When the situation changes, I need to change. I just don’t think its safe to allow child care centers to stay open.”
Raimondo again pointed the public to Care.com to seek individual child care providers. Contractors on the site are vetted using background checks, Raimondo said.
Additionally, Raimondo announced:
- RI Medicaid is suspending all terminations, making sure people on Medicare today will remain covered through the crisis. “The last thing anybody needs to worry about is getting kicked off of their insurance,” Raimondo said.
- DMV extending expirations for 90 days. So, if your registration would have expired March 1, Raimondo said, you now have until June 1st to renew it.