Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), made several announcements today about the state's response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Today the Governor announced that she plans to extend the following executive orders until May 8th:
- Gatherings: All gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
- Restaurant dine-in: Restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed to dine-in service. They will be allowed to sell wine and beer with take-out orders.
- Business closures: Public recreation and entertainment businesses (e.g., theaters, cinemas, bowling alleys, museums, zoos, etc.) as well as all close-contact businesses (e.g., hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, gyms, yoga studios, etc.) will remain closed.
- Travel: Anyone returning to Rhode Island from domestic or international travel by any mode of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Open Meetings Act: The Governor has suspended the provision of the Open Meetings Act that prohibits meetings taking place by phone or video conferencing. All meetings must still allow for public access.
- Telehealth: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care and mental and behavioral health care.
- Gun Permits: In keeping with a request from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association, the Governor has extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.
Several other closures will extend indefinitely:
- The Rhode Island State House is closed to visitors.
- Nursing homes, hospitals, and the ACI are not allowing visitors.
- State parks and beaches are closed.
- All state-based customer services (for example, services from the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and Health Source RI) – will remain online only.
- The DMV is open by appointment only. All road tests are suspended indefinitely.
- Casinos are closed.
In addition, the Governor signed an executive order ensuring that hospitals provide data to the state regarding supplies, patients being treated for COVID-19, and testing. This order ensures the state will have the most accurate information available as it seeks to procure additional supplies to respond to this crisis. The Governor noted that hospitals have been great partners throughout this response and have already been providing data to RIDOH regularly.
Finally, the Governor also urged Rhode Islanders to sign up for a free account on www.NextDoor.com. On their platform, Rhode Islanders can offer help to their neighbors or request help for things like grocery shopping and dog walking.
COVID-19 Data Update Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 147 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island's count to 1,229. RIDOH also announced three additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Two people were in their 70s and one person was in their 90s. All three were nursing home residents. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 30. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online: https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/
Key messages for the public
- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).
- The people who live with that person and who have been in direct close contact with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. Direct close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person for a prolonged period.
- Help is available for people living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Visit www.RIDelivers.com for connections to groceries, home supplies, restaurants, and mutual aid groups. People can also call 2-1-1.
- Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Always avoid close personal contact with other people in public.
- Healthcare workers should not be going to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms).
- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency).
- People with general, non-medical questions about COVID-19 can visit www.health.ri.gov/covid, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call 401-222-8022. This is the COVID-19 Hotline that RIDOH has available to the public.
- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.
- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Stay home and do not leave your house if you are sick, unless it is for emergency medical care.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.