Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) provided details today on the state's response to COVID-19.
- Testing: As part of Rhode Island's Early Warning Testing System, asymptomatic restaurant workers and bus drivers can now receive free testing. This represents an expansion of Rhode Island's Early Warning Testing System. Earlier this week, testing had been opened for asymptomatic people in the following high-contact occupations: hair professionals, nail artists, gym employees, tattoo artists, massage therapists, and child care workers. In addition, any Rhode Islander who attended a large protest or demonstration last weekend can (and should) get tested, even if they do not have symptoms. Eligible Rhode Islanders should sign up for a test at Portal.RI.Gov or call RIDOH Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 401-222-8022.
- Landlord Challenge: The state is allocating $500,000 to provide financial incentives for landlords to rent to housing-insecure or homeless Rhode Islanders. Landlords will receive a $2,000 signing bonus for the first unit that they make available to serve a household experiencing homelessness, and an additional $500 for every additional unit. They will also be eligible for as much as $2,000 per unit to support move-in upgrades like minor renovations and repairs. Interested landlords should call the United Way at 211.
- Transparency Portal: The state launched a new website dedicated to tracking coronavirus spending (http://www.transparency.ri.gov/covid-19/)
COVID-19 Data Update RIDOH announced 84 new cases of COVID-19 today. This brings Rhode Island's case count to 15,947. RIDOH also announced 10 additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. Rhode Island's number of COVID-19 associated fatalities is now 833. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.
Additionally, RIDOH announced the results of a serology testing effort today. Serology testing tells us whether someone has antibodies for a particular virus. This means that serology testing can tell us whether someone was previously exposed to a virus. As a part of this effort, 5,000 households in Rhode Island were randomly selected to participate. Households were mailed an invitation to be tested at Stop and Shop stores around the state. Testing was done between May 5th and May 22nd.
The seroprevalence—or presence of antibodies—was approximately 2.2%. This means that approximately 2.2% of those tested had been exposed to the COVID-19. There were wide variations in the presence of antibodies between different races and ethnicities. The seroprevalence among those tested who identified as Caucasian was .9%, compared to 8.2% among Hispanic Rhode Islanders and 5.2% among African American Rhode Islanders.
Serology testing does not tell us whether someone is immune to future illness with COVID-19. We do not yet know if the presence of antibodies protects someone from future infection. This is still being researched. Therefore, it is important that people who were found to have antibodies continue to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, washing their hands, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Key messages for the public
- Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of the reopening process. More information about Phase 2 is available at www.reopeningri.com.
- Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate (unless going out for testing or healthcare).
- Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they haven't been tested, should quarantine for 14 days following contact. Close contact means being within approximately six feet of a person for a prolonged period.
- When people are in public, they should wear a cloth face covering.
- Keep your groups consistent and small.
- 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.
- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Rhode Island.
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.