Key takeaways from Monday’s briefing:

  • 18 deaths since Friday, 851 total
  • Positivity rate below 2% for first time
  • Hospitalizations decline
  • Rules mostly followed at beaches, parks, restaurants, Raimondo says
  • Summer camps to reopen June 29
  • Educational, employment programs for RI students

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island hit a new COVID-19 testing milestone on Monday, with the share of all tests coming back positive dipping below 2% for the first time since the pandemic began, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

Health officials reported 151 new COVID-19 cases out of 8,877 more tests performed since Friday, for a three-day positivity rate of 1.7%. The state has now administered more than 200,000 tests since the pandemic began.

Experts say a low positivity rate combined with a large number of tests is strong evidence that the spread of coronavirus is under control. Rhode Island has led the nation in per-capita testing for much of the spring.

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“While we generally do see a slight dip over the weekend, it’s definitely good news that these numbers are as low as they are while we’re continuing to test as many people as we are testing,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said.

More than 850 Rhode Islanders have now died after contracting the virus, with another 18 reported since Friday. (The state is no longer releasing new COVID-19 data on weekends.)

Eight of the people who died were in their 80s, according to Alexander-Scott, while one was in their 40s, three were in their 50s, one was in their 60s, two were in their 70s, and three were in their 90s.

The number of hospitalizations fell over the weekend to 127, down from 141. Of those patients, 21 are currently in intensive care (down from 28) and 14 are on ventilators (down from 17).

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Raimondo began her briefing by thanking Rhode Islanders for following the various mandates that have been created during the public health crisis.

“We are where we are today because of your hard work and your willingness to follow the rules, and your willingness to help a neighbor,” she said.

“All of this sounds so simple, but it is the simple things that are saving lives,” Raimondo added. “It’s the simple things that are allowing people to get back to work, and it’s these simple things that have allowed Rhode Island to distinguish itself as a state doing among the best in the nation related to the COVID crisis.”

It’s now been two weeks since Rhode Island entered Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan. Raimondo said she looks forward to advancing to Phase 3 and relaxing the restrictions even further, which she noted could happen as soon as two weeks from now if the public health metrics keep trending in the right direction and people continue to follow the rules.

“We don’t want to be one like of these states where we start to see a spike,” Raimondo said, referring to other parts of the country that have recently reported their highest one-day totals for hospitalizations and cases.

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Over the weekend, state beaches nearly reached capacity but government officials didn’t have to close any, according to Raimondo. However, for a brief time, they did have to turn people away at Colt State Park and Lincoln Woods State Park.

“Sorry that we had to do that,” Raimondo said. “People were patient; people were understanding; they waited their turn; they came back later when we were allowed to allow you back in.”

Raimondo said beachgoers largely followed the social distancing rules, and while park rangers had to break up some large groups, people were mostly compliant in parks as well. Social gatherings are limited to 15 people during Phase 2.

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She admonished those who neglected to wear a mask on the Block Island Ferry, saying her office received numerous complaints about that this past weekend.

“Here’s the reality: We don’t want an outbreak on Block Island,” Raimondo said. “It is a very limited health care system out there. It gets incredibly crowded. We are working really hard to keep Block Island open because there’s a lot of people who want to make a living out there.”

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As for restaurants, Raimondo said inspectors visited hundreds in Rhode Island over the weekend and found the rules were being followed by patrons and staff alike.

More than 90% of restaurants were found to be in compliance with capacity restrictions, she said, however, only about 80% had their COVID-19 Control Plans at the ready. Raimondo warned there will be consequences for not getting that done and said if you need help, call 521-HELP or visit

Reopening RI: COVID-19 Control Plan template » | Phase 2 guidance for restaurants »

“Overall, I’d say it was a good, safe weekend in Rhode Island,” Raimondo added. “What we did this weekend will show up in the data in two weeks, and I really hope in two weeks we don’t see any spike so we can start thinking about Phase 3.”

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Last week, the state expanded COVID-19 testing to include people not showing symptoms, with a goal of testing 900 of those people per day. On Monday, Raimondo said it’s going slower than hoped, with only about 250 people making appointments over the weekend.

The state is encouraging bus drivers, restaurant workers and child care center providers and employees of close-contact businesses, along with anyone who recently attended a large rally like the one held Sunday in Providence, to get tested.

“It’s free. It’s easy,” Raimondo said. “It might not help you … probably won’t help you. You’re probably negative. But you’d be pitching in to help the state be safer. Think of it as your duty to Rhode Island.”

“You don’t need insurance, they’re not going to ask you a lot of questions, they’re not going to ask you about your immigration status. Just sign up for a test,” she added.

Call (401) 222-8022 or visit to schedule an appointment.

Starting on June 29, in-person summer camps will be able to open. Since they’ll be more expensive to run with the new restrictions in place, Raimondo announced that $7.5 million in CARES Act funds will go to camps to help pay for extra staffing, cleaning and supplies. Visit to apply and learn more.

During the summer, a number of virtual learning programs will also be available through the R.I. Department of Education to help students from pre-K through high school catch up on anything they missed during the spring.

“Some kids got behind with distance learning, there’s no denying that,” Raimondo said. “We’re not going to sugarcoat it, we’re going to make a plan to help them.”

The state is also launching a program to help teenagers who may have trouble finding a job for the summer. Raimondo said the program will support employers who hire local youths for jobs related to the COVID-19 response.

“We have certain employers like Honeywell, for example, they are making PPE in Smithfield and they are looking to hire some young people,” she explained. “We’re going to help match you up with them and provide you with a stipend. So we’re trying to do our best to help kids this summer study, have fun, go to camp, get a job, stay engaged.”

Raimondo said the details will be posted on

Sunday is Father’s Day, and both Raimondo and Alexander-Scott advised Rhode Islanders to play it safe, especially if people’s fathers or grandfathers have underlying health conditions or are living in nursing homes.

“As much as we all want to get together, being together in person can be risky for some people,” Alexander-Scott said.

Alexander-Scott also issued a reminder that in-person visits at hospitals, nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities are still not allowed. She recommended getting in touch over the phone or virtually, sending a package, or calling the facility to find out if organizing a drive-up visit or special meal can be arranged.