PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to trend upward in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo says she believes it will be nearly impossible for the state to make it through the remainder of the year without additional restrictions.
Raimondo said Tuesday she is rescheduling her weekly coronavirus briefing to 1 p.m. Thursday, and said that while she “can’t say for sure” that she will implement a stay-at-home order for Thanksgiving, she is sifting through the data and deciding her next move.
“It’s safe to say that there are going to have to be some changes in order for us to safely make it through the holidays,” Raimondo said during her weekly interview with 12 News Now at 4 anchor Kim Kalunian.
What’s weighing on her most, she said, is closing the state’s already struggling businesses.
“I am going to do everything I can to avoid that or put it off as long as possible, but I may not have an option given the trend that we are on,” she said.
Since her briefing last Thursday, Raimondo has ordered the field hospitals at the former Citizens Bank facility in Cranston and the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence to be readied for a potential overflow of patients.
When asked whether she expects those hospitals to take patients in sooner rather than later, she said she just wanted them to be ready.
“It’s very hard to say because it’s all dependent on Rhode Islanders,” Raimondo said. “We could open them next week, we could open them the following week, it’s definitely in the next couple of weeks to be sure, and we’re going to need both of them.”
The state recently announced it is one of four states partnering with Pfizer for its U.S. COVID-19 Immunization Pilot Program, aimed at refining a plan for the delivery, deployment and administration of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
When asked what this means for Rhode Island, Raimondo called it “a bright note.” She said she reached out to Pfizer and asked if Rhode Island could be part of the program.
“There’s a ton of planning that goes into the process of getting everybody vaccinated, so it means we have a bit of a leg up on that planning because we are starting to work closely with the company already,” she said.
The R.I. Department of Health told Target 12 Tuesday that it is now “almost impossible” to identify where and when someone contracted COVID-19.
Raimondo said she continues to focus her containment efforts on small gatherings, insisting again that the virus spreads the most in places where people let their guard down.
“It’s vector of spread, it’s not the only place, but we know it’s a big problem,” she said. “Where do you let your guard down most? At home with people you know.”
When asked whether she is considering having all Rhode Island schools shift fully back to remote learning, she said it’s not on the table at this point.
Raimondo doubled down on her reasoning, stating that there is no evidence in Rhode Island or any other state that suggests rampant spread in schools.
“At this point the data is not there and our kids deserve and need to be in school,” she said.