PROVIDENCE – As of Tuesday, March 31, eight people in Rhode Island had died from exposure to COVID 19 and another 86 cases had been confirmed in the state in the past 24 hours, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced in her daily press briefing.
A breakdown by community updated Tuesday afternoon confirmed that ten of the cases were Burrillville residents, up from seven the previous day.
The news brought the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 488, with 59 hospitalizations, up from 41, a figure the governor said is “by any measure, a significant jump.”
“We’re in a rapid spread phase of this disease and this is going to get harder before it gets easier,” Raimondo said. “We clearly have community spread.”
The news led the governor to put out her second call for medical workers who are not currently employed in the field, or working part time.
“We need you,” Raimondo said. “We can’t get through this crisis without you.”
The governor said the state needs trained medical and behavioral health professionals, calling on retirees to return to work. She noted that 400 Rhode Islanders signed up in one day following her previous request for help.
Those available are asked to visit riresponds.org.
The news came with additional restrictions aimed at limiting spread of the virus. Starting Friday, April 3, Raimondo said state beaches and parks will be closed until further notice.
The governor also postponed all campground openings until at least May 1.
Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott said that of the 59 hospitalized, 14 patients are in intensive care units. Patients, she said, range in age from their 30s and up.
“This virus has impacted people across the spectrum,” Alexander-Scott said.
On Monday, Raimondo reduced the number of people allowed to gather in one place from ten to five, and today, she continued her plea with residents to follow the rules, pointing to potential repercussions.
“In the state of Rhode Island, we do not have enough hospital beds,” Raimondo said, “We need to buy some time. You’re supposed to be buckling down like you never have before. Mitigation depends on you.”
Raimondo said the state’s ramped up testing efforts, which initially focused on healthcare workers and those who live in certain settings such as nursing homes, have now been extended to people older than 65, patients with underlying medical conditions, and police and firefighters. Testing must be scheduled through primary care physicians.
“We look to very quickly open it up even further,” Raimondo said.
The governor offered comforting words to people out of work and owners of small businesses impacted by current shut-downs, pointing out that courts are closed for non-essential business until April 17, effectively putting a hold on evictions.
“No one is going to kick you out of your apartment or your house,” she said.
“Everybody wants to know when it’s going to end,” Raimondo said. “I don’t know how long this is going to last, but every day we’re going to get a little better at responding to the crisis. The one thing I know is we’re going to get to the other side of this.”
To mitigate stress, the governor recommended residents “Do something kind,” reminding people to check in on their neighbors.
Anyone in need of mental health assistance is advised to call (401) 414-5465.
“We’re doing better than a lot of other states, the governor said. “We’re going to be ready – as ready as we can.”
Below was Tuesday’s breakdown by community: