PROVIDENCE - Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced Monday that Rhode Island now has 106 confirmed coronavirus cases, but she said she is not closing the state borders or ordering people to shelter in place ― for now.
However, the governor is now ordering residents traveling on domestic flights to self-quarantine for 14 days. Previously, that restriction was only for those who’d traveled internationally.
The state confirmed 23 cases in the previous 24 hours, the largest single-day surge since the outbreak began at the beginning of the month ― and the first time the cases have been in triple digits.
Rhode Island still has far fewer people testing positive for coronavirus than in nearby states, where hundreds of people have been infected and several have died. On Monday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker closed non-essential businesses and issued a stay-at-home advisory for residents.
That move will reduce the number of Rhode Islanders who commute to work in Massachusetts, Raimondo said, which is one reason she decided not to close Rhode Island’s borders. “At this point in time, I’m trying to maintain some semblance of an economy and I am not taking any additional measures to close borders or businesses,” she said.
Raimondo has closed schools and daycare centers, bars and dine-in restaurants, and as of 5 p.m. Monday, shuttered entertainment venues and close-contact businesses, such as salons and tattoo parlors. She’s limited all gatherings to fewer than 10 people, even weddings and funerals. Churches have stopped holding public services.
All of these restrictions are meant to slow the spread of the fast-moving, highly contagious coronavirus, a new virus that causes COVID-19, a respiratory ailment. Raimondo said she is working with hospitals to make sure there will be enough medical equipment and beds to deal with an inevitable surge of the sick. Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said that 204 organizations and individuals have contacted the state to donate supplies.
The governor said she knew the restrictions were devastating to many businesses and promised this was temporary.
“What’s happening now is not the new normal. This is not a sustainable approach,” Raimondo said during a news conference at the State House Monday. “It’s a temporary pause to allow us to strengthen our system, strengthen our health care system, testing system, our contract tracing system, so that when we reopen, we can keep everybody safe.”
“But,” she added, “I do need a little bit more of your time and cooperation and patience with these incredibly difficult business restrictions. Just buy us a little bit more time, so we can set up our healthcare system in a way that will be able to reopen this economy. I promise we are working as fast as we can and trying to get to that day as soon as we can.”
While revenues have “fallen off a cliff,” the governor said there will need to be an emergency line of credit “to get us through this.”
“The state’s not going to run out of money," she said.
The new cases reported Monday are Rhode Islanders whose ages range from their 20s to their 90s, though none are nursing home residents, said Alexander-Scott. The state currently has four people who are hospitalized with the virus, she said.
Overall, residents in their 50s had the highest number of coronavirus cases in Rhode Island, according to the most recent data from the state Health Department.
As of last Friday, there were five children who tested positive in Rhode Island, 10 people who are 18 to 30 years old, seven people who are 31 to 40 years old, nine people between 41 and 50 years old, 12 people ages 51 to 60; seven people ages 61 to 70; and four people between 71 and 80 years old.
About half of Rhode Island’s cases have involved travel within and outside the United States, Raimondo said. That’s why she decided to order all residents who fly into the state from anywhere to self-quarantine for 14 days. That order goes into effect Tuesday morning. Health officials will be at T.F. Green Airport asking residents for their contact information, to assist them with tracking any spread of the virus.
The quarantine will not apply to health workers, public safety professionals, or public service employees, such as emergency management officials.
She also asked all Rhode Islanders who commute to jobs in Massachusetts to work remotely, and for Rhode Island companies to allow Massachusetts residents to work from home.
Raimondo also signed an executive order Monday to move the primary to June 2, at the request of the state Board of Elections. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said in a statement that her office will send all registered voters a mail ballot application with a postage-paid return envelope.
Monday was the first day for virtual public school in Rhode Island, when all public schools were implementing their distance learning plans.
“I’ve been overrun with emails from parents saying, ‘Governor, we’re ready to go.’ Thank you, that’s the best thing I’ve heard,” Raimondo said.