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Raimondo: R.I. tops 1,000 coronavirus cases; now has 27 deaths

‘I’ve said all along these numbers are going to continue to go up'

Providence, RI 3/24/2020 Governor Gina M. Raimondo (cq) tells employers, who are still operating, to make sure their employees are social distancing at work. In a streaming press conference from the State Reception Room (cq), of the Rhode Island State House, Raimondo gives an update on the state's response to the coronavirus. POOL (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff) Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE - This is what the distressing march up the looks like.

Governor Gina Raimondo said Monday that Rhode Island had its largest single-day increase in coronavirus infections with 160 new confirmed cases. The state now has 1,082 total cases.

Raimondo also said two more people have died from the virus since Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 27.

“I’ve said all along these numbers are going to continue to go up,” Raimondo said during an afternoon press conference. “They’re not cause for alarm, they are certainly not cause for panic. They’re very consistent with what we are expecting, and I expect every day for the numbers to continue to increase for many weeks.”


Raimondo did not announce any new regulations for residents on Monday, but she continued to urge people to stay inside unless they are grocery shopping or doing other essential activities.

Raimondo also called CVS Health’s announcement Monday that it would begin offering free coronavirus testing in the parking lot at Twin River casino in Lincoln a “game changer” for the state. CVS will administer 1,000 tests a day, and results will be available in as little as 30 minutes.

The state is also administering approximately 1,000 tests day, so the state has doubled its testing capacity overnight, Raimondo said.

“We were the first in the country to get this out," Raimondo said. "At 2,000 tests a day, we have some of the highest testing per capita in America.”

Raimondo also announced that independent contractors and other workers who were previously unable to obtain unemployment benefits will now be allowed to file unemployment claims beginning Tuesday at 8 a.m. on the Department of Labor and Training’s website.

More than 90,000 residents had filed unemployment claims as of Saturday, and the numbers are only expected to grow now that Congress approved a plan to extend benefits to those working as independent contractors.


During a conference call with reporters after Raimondo’s press conference, Department of Health medical director Dr. James McDonald said 10 of the state’s coronavirus deaths are individuals affiliated with the Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence.

Between residents and health care workers, McDonald said Golden Crest and the Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket each have approximately 70 confirmed cases of the virus.

McDonald said about a third of all of Rhode Island’s cases involve health care workers.

It’s still unclear when Rhode Island will reach its peak number of cases, but researchers from the University of Washington have updated their numbers to reflect the potential for a significantly higher number of deaths than previous projected.

The researchers now believe there will be 964 deaths in Rhode Island by June 1. Last week, the researchers suggested 265 people could die by June 10.

Raimondo said the new numbers from the university are more in line with the model the state has developed. She said the previous lower number came with the assumption that the state would implement restrictions similar to Wuhan, China.

Raimondo has said Rhode Island will release its own model projecting the increase in the coming days.

Raimondo said all of the projections rely heavily on a wide range of assumptions, and she reminded residents that the number of casualties will depend how closely they follow the state’s stay-at-home order and avoid large gatherings.


“If anyone tells you they know exactly when Rhode Island’s peak is, and what the number of hospitalizations will be at that peak, they’re not being honest with you,” Raimondo said.

Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.