In her weekly COVID-19 briefing, Governor Gina Raimondo blamed small, uncontrolled gatherings for the recent uptick in the number of positive coronavirus cases. Pointing out that the state's percent positive is now at 2.7%, she made it clear that Rhode Island is heading in "the wrong direction." The governor said that groups of families and friends gathering indoors without masks have become a primary source of recent infections, surpassing even college-related cases.
Raimondo used Wisconsin as an example of a state where residents and officials let their guard down and recently experienced a spike in cases so severe that it prompted the opening of field hospitals to handle an overflow of positive cases. Wisconsin set new single day records for COVID-19 cases and deaths earlier this week.
"If you have a Halloween party planned, cancel it right now," the governor warned, saying that beginning soon, there will be additional consequences for holding social gatherings that don't comply with state regulations. Details about new restrictions and their consequences will be announced in a follow-up press briefing on Thursday at 1pm. NewsRadio 920 & 104.7FM will carry Thursday's briefing live on air.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott of the RI Dept. of Health reiterated the governor's main point on Wednesday, saying that wearing masks in "our comfort zones" among family and friends, is necessary as much as it is in public places. "Transmission is happening in informal, familiar, connected settings among people who know each other," Alexander-Scott said, encouraging residents to wear masks when visiting with friends and relatives who are not part of your household.
- Additional highlights from Wednesday's press briefing:
- TESTING: Anyone who has recently been in gatherings where masks were not worn is encouraged to be tested, even if you are not feeling any symptoms.
- SCHOOLS: The cities of Providence and Central Falls will stay at partial in-person learning status, and will not move to full in-person learning anytime soon.
- HOSPITALIZATIONS: New hospitalizations rose from 67 to 106 in past week.
- In the past past 4 weeks, hospitalizations have doubled
- State is still below hospital capacity, but Raimondo says "I do want you to be concerned, and be alarmed."
- Wednesday COVID-19 Data (see graphic below)
- 160 new cases
- 8 new fatalities
- 5,954 tests on Tuesday
photo: WJAR TV video capture
graphic: RI Dept. of Health