Key takeaways from Friday’s briefing:
- 84 new cases, positive rate of 2.3%
- 10 new deaths
- Antibody study found 2.2% prevalence, wide racial disparity
- New incentive for landlords to rent to homeless families
- More asymptomatic workers can get tests
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Another ten Rhode Islanders have died with COVID-19, according to new data released by the R.I. Department of Health Friday, for a total of 833 deaths.
There have been 84 new positive cases identified, 2.3% of the test results returned in the past day, down from the slight uptick in positive results reported Thursday.
141 people are in the hospital, seven fewer than Thursday. Of those, 28 are in intensive care and 17 on a ventilator.
Rhode Island’s data trends are being closely watched as the state approaches two weeks of Phase 2, when several industries reopened, plus the impact of multiple large protests. The incubation period for the virus is believed to be 10-14 days.
The Department of Health also released the results of its long-anticipated antibody study on Friday, finding that 2.2% of Rhode Island’s population has had COVID-19.
The results found a racial disparity, with a higher percentage of Hispanic and African-American people having antibodies compared to white people.
At the daily briefing Friday, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said “it’s clear that a lot more work needs to be done when it comes to disparities.”
Alexander-Scott said there are not current plans to let members of the general public get tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
“We do not want to promote false security about someone’s exposure to COVID-19,” she said, citing the lack of information about whether having antibodies can protect you from the virus.
(Story continues below.)
When it comes to the regular diagnostic testing, which determines if someone currently has the virus, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Friday she would expand testing to asymptomatic restaurant workers and bus drivers.
The two new categories of workers join a growing list of people including childcare workers, close-contact business workers, first responders and health care workers who can get tested even if they don’t have symptoms. People who attended recent protests can also get a test by signing up here.
Raimondo said the state can test 900 asymptomatic people a day, and is currently averaging about 400.
Anyone with symptoms has been able to get tested since April. Raimondo said the three-pronged testing approach going forward is to to test everyone with symptoms, rapidly respond to outbreaks, and do surveillance testing of asymptomatic people.
Raimondo said new testing sites in hard-hit communities including Central Falls and Woonsocket would be announced next week.
(story continues below)
Raimondo announced a new incentive program for landlords to rent to homeless families with housing vouchers, pledging a $2,000 “signing bonus” to landlords for the first unit they rent to a family experiencing homelessness, and $500 per unit after that. Raimondo said it will help both the families trying to find housing, and the landlords struggling to rent their vacant units during the pandemic.
She said the goal is to have 100 units rented to families by July 1.
Alexander-Scott said the 10 newly reported deaths included three people in their 60s, three in their 70s, one in their 80s and three in their 90s.
Nine of the new deaths were associated with long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, Alexander-Scott said.
She said more 630 of the 833 deaths have been residents of nursing homes, making more than 75% of the fatalities.
(story continues below)
Raimondo said the state would post details Friday to the transparency portal about how the $1.25 billion from the CARES Act is being spent to tackle the crisis.