Key Takeaways from Thursday’s briefing:

  • 18 new deaths
  • 189 new cases, 7% daily positive rate
  • Summer camp guidance: groups of 15 or fewer
  • No big parties this weekend
  • 25K have downloaded Crush Covid app

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Another 18 Rhode Islanders have died with COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 556, according to new data released by the R.I. Department of Health on Thursday.

There were 189 new cases reported, for a total of 13,571 since the pandemic started. The positive rate from Thursday’s new test results was about 7%.

There are 254 people in the hospital with the virus, according to the data, down slightly from Wednesday.

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At her daily briefing Thursday, Gov. Gina Raimondo laid out some of the guidelines for summer camps, which could begin operating in person on June 29.

Raimondo said groups at camp will be limited to 15 campers and adults, with ideally the same group interacting with each other every day. She said camps will be required to submit their plans for cleaning protocols and screening to the R.I. Department of Human Services.

Camp employees and counselors will be required to wear masks, Raimondo said, while campers will be encouraged to do so. She said more specific guidelines would be uploaded to later Thursday.

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Raimondo said 25,000 people have now downloaded the Crush COVID RI app, which is being used as a tool for contact tracing and other resources.

If the user enables location services, the app tracks all of your locations and stores the data in the phone for 20 days, according to state officials. Raimondo says the data is only shared with the Health Department if the user agrees after they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

“You’ll get a call from the Department of Health and they’ll ask you can they have access to your location diary,” Raimondo said. “If you say yes, great. If you say no, they’ll ask you to read it to them.”

She noted that the app does not have access to users’ phone contact lists, and is only tracking location. So people still need to separately write down the names of the people they are seeing, so that contact tracing can be done if they test positive.

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With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Raimondo reminded people of the five-person limit on social gatherings.

“If you find yourself this weekend in your backyard or someone’s backyard with 20 other people, you’re not doing the right thing,” Raimondo said. “I know that is a huge bummer.”

She did encourage people to go to state parks this weekend, including the two state beaches (East Matunuck and Scarborough) that will open with restrictions on Monday.

Raimondo said a Memorial Day ceremony will still take place at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter on Monday, which will be live-streamed.

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Raimondo also addressed what she called the “greatest crisis” of the pandemic, which is the high rate of infections and deaths in nursing homes.

She said the state has put together congregate setting support teams which go on “missions” to homes that are struggling with cleaning, testing or infection control to assist with the crisis on the ground.

The teams make a rapid assessment of the facility, and then the R.I. National Guard responds to help train staff and coordinate testings. Raimondo said every resident and employee of the state’s nursing homes have been tested, and the goal is to re-test all those people every seven to ten days.

Raimondo said to date, 44 homes representing 3,000 Rhode Islanders have called the support team for assistance.

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Raimondo said she will lay out further details of Phase 2 at her briefing on Friday.