Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH today made several important announcements about the state’s response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Before the announcements, here are some data updates;

The Governor reports that Rhode Island now has 54 positive cases of COVID-19, up 10 cases from yesterday.

Director of Health says new cases range in ages from pediatric to person in their 70’s. Include four women and six men. DOH investigating source of all cases. All 10 of these people are recovering at home.

  • Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 54
  • Bristol County: Fewer than 5
  • Kent County: Fewer than 5
  • Newport County: 8
  • Providence County: 30
  • Washington County: 8
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The DOH isn’t identifying cased by city and town at this time, but have said that they may consider it in the coming days.

  • Number of people who had negative test results: 800
  • Number of people for whom tests are pending: 247
  • Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island: approximately 2,500
  • National Guard: This morning, the Governor activated the Rhode Island National Guard. This action will allow 1,000 Guardsmen and Guardswomen to train civilian medical personnel, staff call enters, distribute food and necessities to the most vulnerable and perform a number of other critical functions.
  • Tax filing deadline: Rhode Island is moving the 2019 state tax filing and payment deadlines back to July 15. This is consistent with changes made at the federal level and affects both the personal income tax and the business corporation tax.

Announcements

Governor Raimondo also reiterated the importance of seeking appropriate mental and behavioral health care during this time. Rhode Islanders in recovery or those currently struggling with substance use disorders should visit https://preventoverdoseri.org/covid-19/ for helpful resources. Any Rhode Islander experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis should call BH Link 401-414-LINK (5465) or visit their 24-HOUR/7-DAY triage center located at: 975 Waterman Avenue East Providence, RI 02914.

Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has ten additional cases of COVID-19. These people range in age from a pediatric case to a person in their 70s. All ten of these people are recovering at home. RIDOH is investigating their illness sources. This brings Rhode Island’s case count to 54.

The Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will provide another update to reporters tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m. This will be a remote press conference, meaning that the Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will respond to questions that reporters submit electronically. This is being done in accordance with RIDOH’s guidance on limiting gatherings. The press conference will be streamed live on the Governor’s Facebook page

Key messages for the public

  • If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.
  • Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. This is social distancing. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).
  • Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)
  • Due to the closure of schools, free “Grab and Go” meals are available (March 16th – March 20th) for children throughout Rhode Island. More information is available online.
  • Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs. Additional guidance is available from CDC.
  • Although Rhode Island has the testing capacity it needs, people without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency). Healthcare providers have a dedicated number that they are then using to consult with RIDOH on potential COVID-19 cases.
  • Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. RIDOH is reiterating CDC’s guidance for people older than 60 years of age:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • More information is available from CDC.
  • 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. The Hotline will be staffed this weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm both Saturday and Sunday. (After hours people are being directed to call 211.)
  • 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. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.