Hospitalizations drop below 200 in RI as Phase 2 starts; 67 new cases, 2 deaths

Coronavirus

Key takeaways from Monday’s briefing:

  • Phase 2 has begun
  • Hospitalizations drop below 200
  • 67 new cases, 3% daily positive rate
  • Some communities still exceed 20% positive
  • Two more deaths, total of 720

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Rhode Island dropped below 200 for the first time in nearly two months on Monday, the first day of Phase 2 of reopening in the state.

There are current 195 people hospitalized, according to the latest data released by the R.I. Department of Health, down from 211 on Sunday.

Two more people with COVID-19 were reported to have died on Monday, bringing the total death count to 720.

The state also saw the lowest number of new positive test results Monday since April 2 — at 67 new cases — though it was out of just 2,183 tests, compared to 4,000 tests returned Sunday.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the two people who died were in their 70s and 90s.

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Monday marks the start of Phase 2 of reopening Rhode Island’s economy, with a large number of businesses allowed to open including gyms, salons, child care centers, malls, zoos, indoor dining and more. The states beaches are also all now open.

The limit on gatherings has also increased to 15 people.

Reopening RI: What’s new for Phase 2?

Raimondo asked Rhode Islanders at her daily briefing Monday to “double down” on social distancing and mask-wearing while out at these businesses in order to prevent further spread of the virus.

“We don’t want another outbreak,” she said. She noted that some businesses have chosen not to open until they can properly prepare to follow all the guidelines, which were being posted on ReopeningRI.com throughout the weekend.

On Monday, the state posted new guidance for adult sports and farmer’s markets in Phase 2.

Raimondo called the latest data “encouraging,” and said she hoped to be in Phase 3 by late June or July.

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Raimondo and Alexander-Scott also acknowledged that not all communities are doing as well as the state as a whole, which has been seeing daily positives rates in the low single digits lately. Monday’s positivity rate was 3%, and the state’s overall positivity rate since the start of the crisis is 9.6%.

But Providence has a 24% positivity rate among its residents that have been tested, and Central Falls has a 26% positive rate. North Providence, East Providence, Pawtucket, Smithfield and Woonsocket are all above 15%.

“These are numbers that we all agree are unacceptable,” Alexander-Scott said. “The governor and our entire team is laser-focused … on being able to respond in an aggressive way, in a comprehensive way, in a thoughtful way to the communities that are experiencing these percent positivities.”

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After addressing the weekend’s protests earlier in the day, Raimondo also responded to concerns at the coronavirus briefing that the virus might have spread during the gathering of more than 1,000 people on Saturday.

“All large group gatherings are a problem as it related to virus containment,” Raimondo said. “That is a scientific fact. The more large group gatherings that we have when people are close together, particularly if they’re indoors, we run the risk of that creating more problems with the virus.”

She said people have a right to protest, but asked that they wear masks and remain socially distant while doing so.

She also commended the protesters for being largely peaceful, other than some vandalism at the State House hours after the main event ended.

“It made me proud to be a Rhode Islander,” Raimondo said.

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