PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Rhode Island at an all-time high, Gov. Gina Raimondo hinted Tuesday at the possibility of extending her two-week pause in some capacity.
“It would be hard to not keep us in some kind of a pause, just in light of the data,” Raimondo told 12 News at 4 anchor Kim Kalunian during her weekly interview.
“Mobility is down, and that is a good thing,” she continued, adding that she plans to announce whether the pause will be extended during her next briefing at 1 p.m. Thursday.
As the state grapples with the continued surge in coronavirus cases, Raimondo said her main concern is not about the number of beds available in the state’s hospitals, but the lack of staffing.
“We have 900 beds in the field hospitals, but we don’t have the staff, which is why I keep begging and pleading with Rhode Islanders,” she said.
Right now, Raimondo said she is not asking the state’s hospitals to curtail elective surgeries, but she wouldn’t be surprised if they choose to do so on their own.
In fact, the governor said she recently heard from one woman who was asked if she could put off an upcoming surgery.
According to Raimondo, the woman asked her: “Why can kids still have Halloween parties, but I can’t get my surgery, which I need?”
This is one of the many examples, Raimondo said, of how the choices Rhode Islanders make can affect the well-being of others.
She said Rhode Islanders who are “choosing to break the rules” are costing people’s lives.
“There’s a lot of fatigue,” Raimondo said. “At this point, I could say whatever I want, but if people don’t follow the rules, then it’s not going to help.”
“Please Rhode Island, hang in there and follow the rules,” she continued. “We are in a very dangerous spot right now and if you could just rein it in and follow the rules over the next few weeks, it will save lives and make a difference.”
When asked whether businesses forced to close during the pause would receive additional funding if it were to be extended, Raimondo said it depends.
She said right now, she’s looking into whether her current restrictions are working, or if she should take a different approach.
“If we kept the pause exactly as it is, then yes, there will be more financial assistance … but maybe it’s something different,” Raimondo said. “Businesses are really being hit hard, and if I have to keep them closed, I would like to couple that with some money.”
Raimondo said while she’s thankful she did not immediately spend all of the state’s CARES Act funding, there isn’t a whole lot left, so she’s trying to make the most of it until Congress passes another COVID-19 relief bill.
“This isn’t just a Rhode Island problem. This is a nationwide crisis of unemployment, and the United States government needs to step up,” she said.
When asked whether she will implement restrictions for Christmas that are similar to the ones from Thanksgiving, Raimondo said she’s taking it one day at a time.
“It’s my hope that I can get a handle on it and reduce our test positivity,” she said. “If our test positivity in a week from now is still 10%, then we will have no choice. If you want to celebrate Christmas with your family — lock it down now.”