Everything You Need to Know About the Coronavirus in Rhode Island

The latest on COVID-19 in the Ocean State, including information on PreK-12 testing, new case data and updated travel guidelines.
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Data dashboard via RI DOH.


Editor’s note: This story is updated frequently.

Here’s what you need to know about the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, in Rhode Island today:

 

THE ECONOMY

RI is in the third phase of reopening; visit reopeningri.com for the full plan

  • Indoor dining service is in effect at restaurants, bars and coffee shops
  • Retail stores are open with capacity limitations
  • Some indoor entertainment venues, including theaters and bowling alleys, are open with capacity limitations
  • Close-contact businesses (including spas, nail salons, hair salons, gyms, fitness studios, tattoo parlors) are open with capacity limitations
    • Waiting rooms and locker rooms are closed
    • Blow-drying is discouraged in salons
  • All state parks, including Fort Adams, Beavertail and Lincoln Woods, are now open to the public with limited parking. See the full list at dem.ri.gov
  • All state beaches are open
    • Misquamicut and Scarborough state beaches will operate at a 25 percent parking capacity due to overcrowding
  • Visit reopeningri.com/take-it-outside to reserve free space for office meetings, fitness classes and other gatherings.

Social gatherings are restricted

  • Casual social gatherings are capped at 15 people, both indoors and outdoors
    • Governor Gina Raimondo reduced this number from twenty-five on July 29, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases
    • The governor’s office initiated a new Crush COVID state police hotline at 764-5554, where callers may report too-large social gatherings
      • State police can fine each individual guest $500 for violating social gathering rules
  • Catered gatherings such as weddings are capped at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors

 

FACE MASKS

All Rhode Islanders must wear cloth face coverings in public places. Click here to read the executive order

  • Exceptions include people with medical conditions, developmental disabilities and very young children
  • “It’s especially important in places when it is more challenging to do social distancing,” says Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, including in grocery stores and outdoor spaces in dense communities.
  • When outside, Rhode Islanders should carry masks or face coverings, including scarves, with them in case they come within six feet of another person.
  • Public-facing and manufacturing workers must wear face coverings and companies must provide them.
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Rhode Island data shows a correlation between holidays and spikes in cases.

TESTING

Visit portal.ri.gov to schedule a test at the RI Convention Center; click here to find a COVID-19 respiratory clinic testing site near you

  • 10 CVS pharmacies in Rhode Island offer self-swab COVID-19 tests for adults eighteen and older. Click here to make an appointment.
  • Asymptomatic testing at the Convention Center is encouraged for frontline and close-contact workers, as well as all Rhode Islanders aged eighteen to thirty-nine

Crush COVID RI App

  • The contact tracing and symptom management application has a location diary feature. It’s available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

State serology sample study

  • The seroprevalence — the level of COVID-19 in the general population, as measured in blood serum — among Rhode Islanders, overall, is 2.2 percent
  • The study invited 5,000 randomly selected Rhode Islanders; about 10 percent participated
    • For Latino Rhode Islanders, the seroprevalence is 8.2 percent
    • For Black Rhode Islanders, it is 5.2 percent
    • For Caucasian Rhode Islanders, it is .9 percent
    • “It’s clear that a lot more work must be done when it comes to disparities,” says Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

 

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SCHOOLS AND DAYCARE

The 2020/2021 school year begins September 14; visit back2schoolri.com for info

  • With the exception of Providence and Central Falls, all school districts may reopen for full in-person learning. Said Governor Raimondo at an August 31 press conference, “We’re going to ease into a full reopening between September 14 and October 13…. By October 13, we want children in school for in-person learning.”
    • The Department of Health recommends that Providence and Central Falls open for partial in-person learning; both districts will focus on getting younger students, students in transitional years and students with learning challenges back to school for in-person learning
  • The state is hosting twelve dedicated testing sites for students and teachers
    • To schedule a test, call 844-857-1814.
    • Testing sites will be located in Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Smithfield, Lincoln, Providence, East Providence, Cranston, West Warwick, North Kingstown, Richmond, Westerly and Newport
    • The state has procured rapid testing machines for students and staff with symptoms; students and staff will also receive a PCR test and the turnaround is projected to be forty-eight hours.
  • Universal masking is expected; masks will be available for students who forget theirs at home
  • The school year is expected to last 177 days; the last day of school is June 25

TRAVEL

Rhode Islanders traveling from RI

  • Rhode Islanders who travel to states with a 5 percent or greater positivity rate should self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return home, per Governor Raimondo.
  • Rhode Islanders visiting Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut must fill out travel forms (Massachusetts; New York; New Jersey; Connecticut) and self-quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival
    • Rhode Islanders passing through the states, or who work or seek medical care there, are not subject to the travel form or self-quarantine

Visitors traveling to RI

  • Travelers to Rhode Island from states with a 5 percent or greater positivity rate must self-quarantine for two weeks
  • Visitors from high-risk states checking into Rhode Island hotels must provide a negative COVID-19 test result from the previous seventy-two hours or be able to self-quarantine for two weeks; if they can’t they will not be allowed to check in.
  • International travelers coming to Rhode Island must self-quarantine for fourteen days

 

HOUSING

Rent relief options for tenants

  • Renters in arrears and/or at risk of eviction should call United Way’s 211 hotline to see if they qualify for the Safe Harbor rent relief program or visit housinghelpri.com
    • Financial services will be available for renters
    • Both landlords and tenants must agree to participate

RIHavens.com offers significantly reduced hotel room options for first responders and front line workers

  • “If you are a front line health care worker, a first responder — whatever reason you don’t feel it’s safe to live in your house…. you can go to RIHavens.com,” said Governor Raimondo on April 15.

The WeR1 RI Fund provides direct cash assistance to Rhode Islanders unable to benefit from public programs

  • The goal is to raise $3 million to provide families in need with $400 debit cards
  • Text WeR1 to 27126 to donate

 

CORONAVIRUS FAST FACTS

  • To prevent infection, wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap and warm water
  • Symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath and lost of taste and/or smell
    • Visit the Rhode Island COVID-19 self-checker at covidselfchecker.ri.gov for guidance on making coronavirus-related health care decisions based on CDC guidelines
  • If you’re showing symptoms, call your health care provider first; if you don’t have one, contact a nearby urgent care.
  • Call 401-222-8022 with general questions about COVID-19 or visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website for the latest information
  • Call Rhode Island’s BH Link at 401-414-5465 if you need mental health help or are struggling with substance abuse; for children, call Kids’ Link at 1-855-543-5465

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