COVID-19 death toll tops 1,000 in RI; 76 new cases reported


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has directed flags to fly at half-staff to honor the more than 1,000 people who have died due to COVID-19.

The R.I. Department of Health announced four additional deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 1,001.

“This pandemic has taken a terrible toll on our state, and my heart breaks for the hundreds of Rhode Islanders who have lost someone to this virus,” Raimondo said in a statement. “We must continue to do everything we can in their memory to protect our neighbors, friends, and family from COVID-19. My thoughts, today and every day, are with the loved ones of those we have lost.”

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“Today we mourn 1,001 fellow Rhode Islanders lost to COVID-19. Each victim of this pandemic had a story.  Each was a part of our community,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said in a statement. “As we pass this sad milestone, our hearts are with each family grieving a lost loved one.”

Raimondo’s office also said the State House will be illuminated in red, white and blue through Sunday to commemorate not only the local COVID-19 victims, but also the more than 140,000 lives lost across the country.

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Throughout the pandemic, people have been unable to see their loved ones to say goodbye or hold a proper funeral, making the grieving process even more difficult.

“I have my moments where I can’t stop crying, or I can’t stop thinking about things we’re going to miss out on … Christmas, all of those things … dancing at your wedding,” said Glenna Swann, who lost both her mother and stepfather to COVID-19.

Visitation at hospitals, nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities was suspended until earlier this month, so many families had to rely on technology.

“Before she got intubated, I was only allowed to FaceTime with her once, and that was it,” Swann recalled.

Countless Rhode Islanders were unable to be close to their loved ones at the end, leaving them without a sense of closure.

“I don’t even have the words to say how we grieved and got through that,” Swann added.

Mark Russell of Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home in Providence said since funeral services have been limited, families have been finding other ways to honor their loved ones.

“The thing that stuck out to me through this whole thing was the increase and type, just the amount of obituaries appearing,” he said. ” People have just been writing more of a life story than they usually do.”

The Health Department also reported 76 new positive cases on Thursday, along with 37 repeat positive cases.

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As of midday Thursday, 67 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital, of which seven were in intensive care and four were on ventilators.

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