Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Nicole, Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) made several announcements about the state’s response to COVID-19.

– State parks and beaches: As of this Friday, April 3rd, state beaches and parks in Rhode Island will be closed. Campground openings will be postponed until at least May 1st. More information about this announcement is available online.

– Masking of healthcare workers: All healthcare workers in all hospitals and nursing homes (as well as home health workers) should be wearing masks at all times when engaged in direct patient care. RIDOH has been working, and will continue to work, with facilities on strategies to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE).

– Expanded testing: Testing had previously focused on healthcare workers (including EMS), hospitalized patients, and people who live in congregate living settings (such as nursing homes). With three additional remote swabbing sites (“drive-through testing sites”) now operational Rhode Island is expanding testing to three additional populations: people who are older than 65, people with underlying medical conditions, and critical infrastructure workers (such as police officers and firefighters). To be tested someone must have symptoms. If someone in one of these groups has symptoms that they think need medical care, they should call their doctor. Someone cannot be tested in Rhode Island without being directed to a testing site by their doctor.

– Business help: The Rhode Island Superior Court is rolling out a new program to assist businesses that have been significantly disrupted by this virus. Normally, businesses that can’t pay their bills are sold and their assets are divided by creditors. This new program will enable attorneys and accountants to work with business owners so that they can continue to operate, access capital like disaster assistance, and pay their debts incrementally

– all under Court-supervised protection from lawsuits. This program will give qualifying businesses vital protection so that they can get back on their feet after this crisis is over. More information can be found on the Court’s website.

The Governor also repeated her call for trained medical and behavioral health professionals not currently working full time to sign up as volunteers at www.RIresponds.org.

Data Additionally, Dr. Alexander-Scott announced today that Rhode Island has 86 new cases of COVID-19. This brings Rhode Island’s count to 488. Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced four additional COVID-19 associated fatalities. One of these individuals was a male in his 60s, and one person was a female in her 80s. The two other people were a male and a female, both in their 70s.This brings Rhode Island’s total for COVID-19 associated fatalities to eight. A full data summary for Rhode Island is posted online.

Key messages for the public – Anyone who is sick should stay home and self-isolate. The people who live with that person should self-quarantine for 14 days. If you need to get food or pick up medicine, call a loved one or neighbor who can run that errand for you. – Groups of more than five people should not be gathering. Avoid close personal contact with other people in public at all times. – Healthcare workers should not be doing to work if they are sick (even with mild symptoms). – Through April 13th, 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.) – 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. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless you are experiencing a medical emergency). – Early data suggest that older adults are twice as likely to experience serious COVID-19 illness. – 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.

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