PROVIDENCE — Gov. Gina M. Raimondo pointed out the start of a drop in new cases of COVID-19 Monday, with 119 positive tests, declining or level hopitalizations, and announced state parks are open, with two beaches opening soon.
“I’ve been waiting for the day when we see a drop,” in new cases, Raimondo said during her daily COVID-19 pandemic update at the State House. She said that if the data continues in that direction, with the help of people socially distancing, staying home when possible and when sick, wearing masks and washing their hands, life can begin to return to normal.
“This mask-wearing is here to stay for a while. Constant hand-washing is here to stay for a while,” Raimondo said.
Where people wouldn’t leave the house without their wallets or phones, now they shouldn’t leave without hand sanitizer and a mask. Where you wouldn’t leave the house if you were very sick, now you shouldn’t leave if you’re even a little sick, Raimondo said.
On Sunday, Raimondo announced all state parks are now open, with a few stirrings of good summer news for beach lovers – the state will open two beaches next week.
Two RI Beaches open Memorial Day
East Matunuck State Beach and Scarborough State Beach will reopen on Memorial Day, May 25th, in a limited capacity. Bathrooms and concessions will be closed, and reduced parking will be enforced. The full set of beach regulations, posted on the reopeningri.com website, include:
Physical distancing: To maintain proper distance, beach visitors will be limited to group sizes in accordance with current RIDOH and reopeningri.com guidance and groups must be a minimum of 6 feet apart from other groups. Visitors should also be required to practice physical distancing wherever possible while swimming or doing other water-based activities.
Capacity: Beach owners/operators are required to determine the maximum number of visitors that will be allowed entry to meet physical distancing guidance Beach owners/operator may:
- Limit the number of seasonal and daily beach passes sold
- Reduce parking or access points
- Require separate egress and ingress
- Close certain areas of the beach, lake, or lakeshore as necessary
- The methodology used to determine the maximum number of visitors can include visual observations, technology such as surveys and GIS overlay, and engineering to determine the capacity limit. For saltwater beaches, capacity limits should take high tides into consideration.
Quarantine: Visitors from out-of-state should be informed of any current Executive Orders related to travelers from out-of-state and quarantine requirements through visual messaging, including but not limited to, signage at beach entrances and reference to the executive order on the beach website.
Food and Beverage Sales: All food and beverage sales shall follow the most recent Executive Orders, regulations, and/or guidance related to restaurants. • Face Coverings: All persons (employees and visitors) are required to wear face coverings when in areas where congregating is common in accordance with RIDOH regulations and Executive Order 20-30. Areas include but are not limited to boardwalks, restrooms, changing rooms and concession stands. Face coverings should not be worn in the water.
The reopening of all beaches, including bathrooms and concessions, is planned for the beginning of Phase 2.
Additional relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions
- Churches: The state is targeting allowing in-person faith services the weekend of May 30th. Guidelines will be available on ReopeningRI.com later this week.
- Hairdressers: The state is in the process of developing guidelines for hair salons and barbershops to begin reopening in Phase 2. Today the Governor announced that Rhode Island and Connecticut are coordinating timelines for reopening these businesses in early June.
RI monitoring relaxed rules’ impact
The Governor laid out four different metrics, in addition to the state’s operational response, that officials are tracking as they consider moving between phases of reopening.
- Hospital capacity: If the state continues to see less than 70% of ICU and non-ICU beds filled by COVID-19 patients, that is an indicator that it is safe to continue moving forward. However, if 85% or more of these beds are filled, either in overall hospital capacity or specifically in the ICU, it may be time to scale back.
- Hospitalizations: Right now, Rhode Island is consistently seeing fewer than 30 new COVID-19 related hospitalizations per day. If that trend continues, that is an indicator that reopening can move forward. But if that number is consistently above 50, it may signal a need to go back.
- Rate of spread: This is measured using the “R value,” or the “effective reproduction rate.” This is how many people are infected by each infected person. If the R value continues to be around 1.1 or lower, then it will be safe to think about moving into the next phase. If the R value gets to 1.3 or higher Rhode Island may have to move back a phase. the average number of secondary cases per infectious case
- Doubling rate of current hospitalizations: Currently, hospitalizations are stable or declining. If the state starts seeing a doubling within twenty days or less, that will be an indicator that it may be time to put restrictions back in place.
Governor holding Elder Town Hall Thursday
The Governor also announced that she will be holding an Older Adults Facebook Town Hall on Thursday, May 21, at 11 a.m. with Secretary Robertson, the U.S. assistant secretary for Aging; Secretary Womazetta Jones of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Office of Healthy Aging Director Rose Jones; and several community advocates. Older adults and caregivers can submit questions through the Governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID-19 data update
RIDOH announced 121 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. This brings Rhode Island’s case count to 12,795. RIDOH also announced seven new COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island’s number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 506. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.