Coronavirus Live Updates: COVID-19 in Newport County and Rhode Island

Due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Newport County and Rhode Island, What’s Up Newp has launched a new COVID-19 live blog in order to provide critical information and updates to our community.

This is a relaunch of the live blog. Earlier this year (from February through the end of June), we published a similar live blog for COVID-19 updates.

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Updates: Coronavirus in Newport County and Rhode Island

Monday, November 30

9:45 am | Rhode Island Department of Health just updated their list of States with travel restrictions upon entry to Rhode Island. Visitors from these 43 states and Puerto Rico will either have to self-quarantine for 14 days while in Rhode Island, or produce proof of a negative test for COVID-19 that was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island. List: States with travel restrictions upon entry to Rhode Island…/list-states-with-travel…/

6 am | Rhode Island begins its two week pause beginning today.

Friday, November 27

1 pm | RIDOH reports today 463 new positive cases (6,858 tests prior day/6.8% percent positive prior day), 6 new fatalities (total now 1,346), and 319 hospitalizations.

7 am | We expected RIDOH to provide their next data update around noon today.

Thursday, November 26

7 am | Happy Thanksgiving! We don’t expect any new data updates or information today. We will update this story if anything new is received.

Wednesday, November 25

6 pm | Governor Raimondo provided the following follow-up from her press briefing announcements this evening via email

“Deciding to limit and close businesses during our two-week pause was not a decision that I made lightly, but it was necessary to avoid overwhelming our medical system. Rhode Island’s vibrant business community has already been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, and we value their tremendous contributions to our state. These businesses are owned and staffed by our friends, family, and neighbors, and I’m grateful to them for working together with us to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

And as we approach our pause, our businesses and their employees must have the support they need to make it through. Today, I announced $100 million to support Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses during this pause, and to spur economic growth beyond the pause and into the new year. 
This investment is split into two $50 million categories: support for Rhode Island families and support for our businesses.  

Families: The first $50 million of our investment is going directly into the pockets of Rhode Island families. Every Rhode Islander who receives unemployment insurance benefits during the pause will receive an additional $200 for each of the two weeks. This is true whether you are already receiving benefits or if you file during the pause. There is no additional application – this benefit will be automatically added to your check. The Department of Labor and Training will begin processing these payments as early as December 6.  

Businesses: Another $50 million will go to businesses that will be closed or severely limited during the pause. If you’re a business owner, all you have to do is fill out a simple form attesting that you have been impacted by the pause, and the Division of Taxation will send you a check up to $50,000 to help get you through the pause, based on your past revenue. The application will be available on Friday at and you’ll have two weeks to apply. We’ll start getting money out-the-door on a rolling basis as quickly as possible, even before the application period closes. 
The next two weeks are going to be difficult, but it’s critical that we all take it seriously. I hope the programs we announced today will help Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses make it through this pause. The most important thing any of us can do is to stay home as much as possible for the next two weeks, including tomorrow on Thanksgiving. Together, we can save lives and reopen our economy.
We’re all in this together.”

3:15 pm | Newport City Council will meet at 4:30 pm to receive a COVID-19 status update from City Manager Joe Nicholson. Watch here.

3 pm | According to new data made available from the Rhode Island Department of Health, Newport County has seen 171 residents test positive for COVID-19 in the last seven days. Newport saw 66 positive cases, Middletown 26, Portsmouth 28, Jamestown 11, Tiverton 39, and Little Compton 1.

12:55 pm | Governor Raimondo press briefing can be viewed here – Live On WUN | Governor Raimondo’s Weekly COVID-19 Press Briefing (Nov. 25 at 1 pm)

12:30 pm | RIDOH reports today 845 new positive cases (14,978 tests prior day, 5.6% positive prior day), 10 new fatalities prior day, and 357 people are currently hospitalized.

7 am | Here’s the latest…

~  RIDOH reported yesterday 812 new positive cases prior day (11,268 tests prior day/7.2% positive prior day), 16 new fatalities prior day (total now 1,325), and 323 hospitalizations.

~ Governor Raimondo will host a press briefing at 1 pm today to provide an update on COVID-19 in Rhode Island. What’s Up Newp will carry it live on our Facebook Page and website as it happens.

~ We also expect to see new COVID-19 data by city/town around noon today. We’ll update our website when we receive it.

~ Newport City Council will meet at 4:30 pm to receive a COVID-19 status update from City Manager Joe Nicholson.

~ WPRI spoke to Studio Barre Newport and Planet Fitness about the upcoming closures for gyms – Newport gym questions how state mandated safety measures aren’t enough to stay open

Tuesday, November 24

5 pm | Members of the Rhode Island General Assembly are questioning Governor Gina Raimondo’s closing of gyms during the upcoming 2-week COVID-19 pause.

4 pm | Speaker-nominee K. Joseph Shekarchi today announced the establishment of a House of Representatives task force to oversee the state’s implementation of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

11 am | The latest COVID-19 data will be available here by 1 pm.

Monday, November 23

4:50 pm | Governor Raimondo released the following update this evening in regards to preparing to pause;

“Last week, we announced a series of new restrictions that will go into effect on Monday, November 30, as part of a two-week pause to reduce the strain on our hospitals and healthcare workers. If you missed that announcement, you can watch this video for a rundown of the new measures.

In order to set Rhode Island up for success during this pause and prevent the need for a longer or more severe lockdown, it’s critical that we all be safe over Thanksgiving – and that means only having dinner with the people you live with. While the new social gathering limit takes effect immediately, the pause will start a week from today – a decision driven primarily by five factors:

1. Time to prepare. Giving businesses more than a week to prepare will help them handle this pause in a way that works best for themselves and their employees. That means giving them time to figure out shifts and staffing needs, as well as an opportunity to work through their existing inventory to avoid unnecessary food waste.

2. Measuring the efficacy of these interventions. Because of Thanksgiving, people will be changing from their normal routines this week, spending less time in their offices or in school and more time at home. Including this week in the pause would likely skew the data on the effectiveness of these measures.

3. Limiting post-Thanksgiving spread. If Rhode Islanders choose to ignore our guidance this week and hold in-person Thanksgiving gatherings with those outside their household, it will lead to increased spread in the next two weeks. Beginning this two-week pause next Monday will help mitigate those impacts.

4. Avoiding overwhelming our hospitals. We’ve looked at extensive modeling of different options, and two things became clear. First, we need the pause within the next four weeks if we’re going to keep hospitalizations manageable through January. And second, the effect of the pause on our hospitalization rate will be roughly the same no matter when it’s implemented during that period. If we all take the pause seriously between November 30 and December 13, we can avoid overwhelming our hospitals.

5. Providing assistance to our businesses. Businesses throughout our state and across the world have struggled during this crisis. It’s our hope that this two-week pause will allow us to avoid a longer and more severe lockdown that would be devastating for businesses. That said, we know this pause isn’t easy, and we’ll have more announcements this week about financial assistance for impacted businesses.

As with every part of our COVID-19 response, this process will be data-driven. We will be closely tracking behavioral data – traffic data, public mobility data, restaurant reservation data, enforcement data – to ensure that these restrictions have the necessary effect.

It won’t be easy, but if we all hold fast during the two-week pause, we can spare our already-exhausted healthcare heroes and save the lives of our fellow Rhode Islanders”.

12:30 pm | RIDOH reports today 429 new positive cases, 6 new fatalities, and 285 hospitalizations.

11:45 am | Rhode Island Department of Health has updated this list – List: States with travel restrictions upon entry to Rhode Island

7 am | The next COVID-19 data update will come from RIDOH around noon today. Governor Raimondo’s next COVID-19 press briefing is scheduled for 1 pm on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 22

9 pm | Governor Raimondo sent out the following reminder regarding new guidance in effect on Sunday evening.

“As we head into the holiday season, please remember that we’ve made an important, immediate change to the state’s COVID-19 prevention guidance:

The social gathering limit has been lowered to a single household. This means you should not be spending time socially with anyone you don’t live with, including on Thanksgiving. It also means that you should not be traveling at all this Thanksgiving, whether it’s five blocks, the next town over, or crossing state lines. We’re asking you to stay home and celebrate only with the people you live with. 

I know that this isn’t easy — I’m going to be missing seeing my extended family in-person this year too. But the amount of community transmission is too high right now to take a chance, no matter how safe you may feel. Choosing to gather across multiple households puts yourself, the people you are with, and anyone you interact with for the next two weeks in danger of getting the virus. So while this may not be easy, it’s necessary, and I hope that you’ll find a way to celebrate with friends and family remotely. If we all do it, we can turn things around and save lives”.

Friday, November 20

9:30 pm | Governor Raimondo shared the following message regarding hospitals in an email this evening.

“Yesterday, I announced a two-week pause starting on November 30. We’ll increase restrictions on certain businesses during that time, and social gatherings will continue to be limited to a single household. This isn’t easy. It’s going to be a difficult two weeks. But we’re doing this to prevent overwhelming our hospital system. That means avoiding the need to ration beds and limit care — ultimately saving lives.

Hospitalizations are rising at a faster rate now than ever. Already, we’re on track to open our field hospitals within the next few weeks. And if those hospitals start filling up, it’ll mean turning off other critical procedures. Any doctor will tell you they’re now seeing more severe health issues – more developed cancers – because people cancelled routine screenings in March and April. We don’t want to be there again.

In the Spring, we built these field hospitals in a matter of weeks. That was a herculean effort. But we also knew that if we had to open them, we’d be limited by the number of healthcare workers available to care for our patients. Last week, you heard from some of our emergency room doctors about how overwhelmed our frontline workers already are.

Now, it’s in our hands. The individual decisions we make over the next three weeks can turn around the trend and get our hospitalizations to a manageable level. Please, do not spend Thanksgiving with people you don’t live with. Stick to essential activities like school and work, getting food, medicine and other critical goods, and going to the doctor. I know it’s hard. Pandemic fatigue is real. But if we take the next few weeks seriously, we can avoid a more severe shutdown – we can save lives and save jobs.

We’re all in this together.

-Gina RaimondoGovernor
P.S.: Information is our greatest weapon in the fight against COVID-19. If you or someone you know wants to sign up to receive these emails, you can use this link.”

5 pm | The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is launching a podcast this week – Public Health Out Loud – as a new platform to help Rhode Islanders stay informed about an array of local and national public health issues.

5 pm | Business owners frustrated with upcoming restrictions on gyms, group fitness

12:15 pm | RIDOH reports today 961 new positive cases (13,761 tests prior day/7% percent positive prior day), 6 new fatalities (total now 1,294), and 288 hospitalizations.

10 am | Inaction over the next few months could cost tens of thousands of lives. Here are things you should do now to stay safe and to stop the spread of the coronavirus – As CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel, here are a dozen more things you can do to help stop COVID-19

7 am | Due to increasing coronavirus cases in Rhode Island and new restrictions issued from Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health, Salve Regina University has announced that beginning Monday, November 30 all classes and labs will be offered remotely for the remainder of the semester. Final exams will be offered remotely as well.

Thursday, November 19

11 pm | COVID ACT now with some of todya’s top COVID-19 stories

  • NPR covers a new CDC advisory cautioning against traveling for Thanksgiving. Due to the heightened risk of transmission during travel, the CDC recommends spending the holiday at home with people you’ve lived with for over 14 days or coordinating a virtual celebration. If you must travel, the CDC underscores the importance of wearing masks and social distancing during your transit. Read our CDC informed travel guide here
  • NYT reports on the WHO’s rejection of the use of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID. The antiviral drug was the first FDA approved COVID treatment and has been widely used on hospitalized patients, including President Trump. However, in their review of four large trials, experts concluded that the antiviral drug had no meaningful impact upon mortality or patient outcomes, such as the need for ventilators and recovery time. While the WHO maintains that the drug may benefit certain groups, it recommends against using remdesivir for all patients due to its high cost and lack of clear effects. 
  • STAT News explores how using AI to predict severe COVID cases may lead to biased or unequal care. Many medical systems have developed models that can ingest large amounts of data to predict a patient’s risk of hospitalization, death, or ventilator needs. However, these AI are trained on limited data sets that do not include diverse groups of patients, which may exacerbate the already disproportionate toll that the pandemic has taken upon communities of color.

10 pm | We have updated this story to include more information and background on the Governor’s new orders – Rhode Island to enter a two-week “pause” beginning November 30

3 pm | We have a recap of the Governor’s press briefing here – Rhode Island to enter a two-week “pause” beginning November 30

1:30 pm | Governor Gina Raimondo just announced that Rhode Island will be taking a two-week “pause” beginning Monday, November 30. Here’s what that will look like. A new social gathering limit of just your household goes into effect immediately. More information to come on

12:50 pm | Governor Raimondo press briefing at 1 pm can be watched here. Update: The live stream for the Governor’s press briefing that we’re provided with was buffering and unusable. Try watching the press briefing on WJAR here.

12:45 pm | RIDOH reports today 921new positive cases (15,819 tests prior day/5.8% percent positive prior day), 4 new fatalities (total now 1,288), and 284 hospitalizations.

9 am | More states are adding mask mandates as COVID-19 cases soar. If you’re traveling, shopping or seeing friends and family in person, they’re a crucial protective measure. Why masks belong at your Thanksgiving gathering and how to properly clean and wear them

8 am | Governor Raimondo will hold her weekly coronavirus briefing today at 1 pm. The Governor is expected to talk about Thanksgiving and other restrictions. Watch it here as it happens or afterward – LIVE ON WUN | GOVERNOR RAIMONDO’S WEEKLY COVID-19 BRIEFING (NOV. 19 AT 1 PM)

Wednesday, November 18

10 pm | COVID Act Now with a look at a few of today’s top national COVID-19 stories.

  • CNN confirms the grim milestone of 250,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. over the past 10 months. As cases continue to rise, COVID is expected to outpace heart disease to become the leading cause of death in the United States. 
  • The New York Times explores updated data showing Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective, a revision of earlier results that the vaccine was 90% effective. The efficacy of Pfizer’s vaccine is consistent across age, race, and ethnicity, with no serious side effects reported. The company plans on applying for FDA approval within days and distributing 12.5 million doses to the U.S. by the end of the year. Moderna’s vaccine is also 94.5% effective, according to early data, meaning there are now two late-stage vaccines that offer almost total protection against the virus.  
  • STAT News reports on the first FDA approved rapid test that gives results at home. The single-use test kit, which was developed by Lucira Health, allows the user to collect and analyze nasal swabs on a portable device that displays whether they are positive or negative within 30 minutes. Of the nearly 300 FDA approved COVID tests, most require health professionals to collect the nasal swabs and high tech labs to process the results. Experts hope Lucira’s at-home test will help reduce transmission and lessen the burden upon already strained labs. Lucira’s tests will cost $50 and will most likely be available by next spring.

4:50 pm | A regional coalition of Northeast Governors, including Governor Gina Raimondo, today announced they will encourage residential colleges and universities in their respective states to provide testing for all students traveling home for Thanksgiving break to the maximum extent possible before they leave campus. They also urge colleges to utilize increased remote instruction to end fall semester, reducing the need for students to travel back-and-forth between campus and home multiple times.

4:30 pm | Newport City Council is hosting a workshop now on COVID-19. Watch it live, or afterward, here – LIVE ON WUN | Newport City Council Workshop: COVID-19 Crisis Update (Nov. 18 at 4:30 pm)

3 pm | There are two new COVID-19 vaccines that appear to be more than 90% effective. But what are these vaccines, and how are they different from those used previously? The Conversation, and a scientist, helps us understand How mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna work, why they’re a breakthrough and why they need to be kept so cold

1:20 pm | Since last Wednesday, Newport County has seen 140 residents test positive for COVID-19. According to data released today from RIDOH, 38 people tested positive in the last seven days in Newport, 25 in Middletown, 30 in Portsmouth, 12 in Jamestown, 32 in Tiverton, and 3 in Little Compton. Department of Health releases updated COVID-19 data by city, town

12 pm | RIDOH reports today 1,280 new positive cases (18,414 tests prior day/7% percent positive prior day), 6 new fatalities (total now 1,278), and 284 hospitalizations.

10 am | COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the US. Testing has ramped up over the past few months, but increasing hospitalizations, deaths and test-positivity rates show that the virus is out of control. No, soaring COVID-19 cases are not due to more testing – they show a surging pandemic

7 am | On the agenda today…

  • Around noon we’ll receive the latest COVID-19 data from Rhode Island Department of Health.
  • Shortly thereafter, we should receive updated COVID-19 data/statistics by city/town. Those usually get updated every Wednesday.
  • At 4:30 pm, Newport City Council will receive a COVID-19 update from City Manager Joe Nicholson.

Tuesday, November 17

11 pm | The state of Rhode Island is launching a pilot program to test staff, students and students’ families. WJAR has the story here – Rhode Island to launch school surveillance testing pilot program

5:30 pm | A snippet of contact-tracing data obtained by Target 12 shows health officials actually have limited insight into where transmission of the virus is taking place.

4:30 pm | Newport City Council is scheduled to meet at 4:30 pm tomorrow to receive a COVID-19 Crisis Update from City Manager Joe Nicholson. What’s Up Newp will carry it live as it happens on our website and Facebook Page.

4 pm | Restaurants and bars in Central Falls have been ordered by the mayor to offer takeout and delivery only in response to a surge of coronavirus cases across the city. The order takes effect Thursday.

2 pm | MSNBC‘s Yasmin Vossoughian talks to Dr. Laura Forman, chief of emergency medicine at Kent Hospital, about the field hospital they have set up in Rhode Island.

1 pm | Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced today that social gatherings will now be limited to five people in the city. The limit across the remainder of Rhode Island is currently ten people.

12:30 pm | Governor Raimondo will host her weekly COVID-19 press briefing at 1 pm on Thursday this week. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday at 1 pm. Watch it live here as it happens.

12 pm | RIDOH reports today 605 new positive cases (9,709 tests prior day/6.2% percent positive prior day), 8 new fatalities (total now 1,278), and 265 hospitalizations.

9 am | Rhode Island is among four states that will participate in Pfizer’s Immunization Pilot Program

8:30 am | If you’re struggling to keep track of each state’s travel restrictions across New England, The Boston Globe has a helpful guide here – What are the latest travel restrictions in New England?  NECN did a similar story here Making Sense of Travel Restrictions in All 6 New England States Ahead of Thanksgiving

7 am | Middletown High School is set to reopen today following two weeks of remote learning due to an increase in COVID-19. Speaking of schools, the “vast majority” of Rhode Island teachers and education support professionals, yesterday called for “a holiday pause” of in-person learning and a move to distance learning for K-12 students statewide by November 23.

6:30 am | Leaders at Newport Hospital say they haven’t yet been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients or reached bed capacity, but The Public’s Radio reports that the facility still cannot offer asymptomatic testing.

For more COVID-19 news and information, click here.

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