Key takeaways from Thursday’s briefing:

  • 181 new cases for a 5% positive rate, lowest yet
  • Six more Rhode Islanders have died
  • Summer camps can start June 29 with restrictions
  • Organized sports leagues still prohibited
  • Limited library openings coming in Phase 2

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There were six new deaths of people with COVID-19 in Rhode Island reported Thursday, according to new data released by the R.I. Department of Health, bringing the state’s total to 468.

There were also 181 new positive test results out of 3,679 tests, marking the lowest positivity rate reported in a single day so far, at 5% positive.

Hospitalizations remain fairly steady at 271 COVID-19 patients, up by two from Wednesday. There are 65 people in the ICU, 42 of them on a ventilator.

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At her daily briefing Thursday, Gov. Gina Raimondo said she expects summer camps in Rhode Island to be able to start operating in person on June 29, with strict new regulations about group activities and cleaning.

“It’s going to be fun, but different,” Raimondo said.

She said new guidelines for both municipal and privately operated summer camps are in the works.

Raimondo said campers will likely be kept in small groups, only interacting with the same group of kids and adults every day at camp.

Organized sports leagues and competitions such as Little League, on the other hand, are canceled until further notice, Raimondo said.

“That’s a rough message,” she acknowledged. “Sports are so important”

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She said the state is looking into allowing sports camps and other limited playing of sports to continue, but organized competitions where teams are playing different teams every week would not be allowed per CDC guidelines.

The governor also said there would be a “full array” of summer learning options, including for students who need to make up classes. She said further details are expected next week, and classes would likely be virtual with a possibility of some in-person options.

Raimondo also announced that a statewide graduation special will air on Rhode Island PBS on June 15, to celebrate the Class of 2020. She urged graduating seniors to submit a video online by May 22 for consideration to be included in the televised special.

Public libraries — which are currently still closed — will be allowed to offer limited browsing in Phase 2, Raimondo also announced Thursday. Curbside pickup can continue, which has already been taking place. (A list of libraries offering curbside pickup is available here.)

“We want to be able to enable use of the computers,” Raimondo said, noting that it’s a key service provided inside libraries. “That’s a tricky one. It’s hard to fully sanitize a keyboard.”

Phase 1 of the Raimondo administration’s three-phase reopening plan began last weekend, with limited retail browsing allowed. Outdoor dining is set to begin next week.

Raimondo said a survey would be going out to small businesses soon to get more feedback as the state determines how to allocate $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Fund money allocated to the state by Congress.

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Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the six COVID-19 patients reported dead on Thursday ranged in age from their 70s to 90s.

Alexander-Scott also addressed concerns that COVID-19 might be connected to a severe illness affecting children in New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere called Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory syndrome.

There have not been any confirmed cases of the disease in Rhode Island, but local doctors are watching the situation closely and meeting on Thursday about preparations at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Alexander-Scott said.

Only 2% of coronavirus cases in Rhode Island have been in children younger than 10, and only 4% of cases have been in people younger than 20, she added. (The Health Department’s public demographic data on age and ethnicity has not been updated since May 4.)

She noted that symptoms in children have tended to be mild.

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Alexander-Scott said testing surveillance is ongoing in congregate settings, and surveillance at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) found about five cases among inmates who are asymptomatic.

Surveillance testing is also happening at nursing homes, where the vast majority of COVID-19 patient deaths have happened in Rhode Island.

“Over time, we will start to see the benefits of this,” Alexander-Scott said.

The state hit a milestone Thursday, exceeding 100,000 test results returned since the crisis began. Nearly 12% of those tests have come back positive, a statistic Raimondo has said she wants to decrease with more testing.

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