PROVIDENCE -- Even though there likely will be restrictions in place, summer camps in Rhode Island will be allowed to open June 29, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced Thursday.
There may be limits on the number of youths and how they interact, including physical distancing. Details about the reopening will be posted at Reopening RI.
However, since the Centers for Disease Control recommends canceling youth sports, Raimondo said she won’t lift that ban. Sports camps and practices are a possibility, she said.
Meanwhile, Raimondo said that Rhode Island is “more than holding our own" as it battles the coronavirus, and she will speak Friday about how the state will move into phase two of reopening the economy.
“I feel confident about where we are and where we’re going," Raimondo said during a news conference Thursday. "That in no way minimizes the challenges Rhode Island is facing … but we are on the road to recovery.”
Still, she said, “the situation is fragile right now ... please be flexible and patient.”
As Rhode Island health officials face off with the virus, state public officials are struggling with responding to the rising unemployment.
The state Department of Labor and Training said that 218,155 Rhode Islanders have filed for unemployment, almost all for COVID-associated claims or under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
That includes 8,469 new unemployment claims in the past week, a drop from the previous week’s total of 12,698.
Raimondo said her administration plans to use some of the $1.25 billion stimulus from the federal COVID emergency relief fund to help small businesses and get Rhode Island’s economy going. The state is launching a survey early next week on the Reopening RI site to solicit feedback from small business owners.
“It’s my intention to use this money to help you, but I want to hear from you,” Raimondo said. “We are going to work fast to use the stimulus funds to get Rhode Island on its feet.”
Although there won’t be graduation ceremonies for the high school class of 2020, Raimondo said that Rhode Island PBS will air a special televised graduation ceremony on June 15. The ceremony will include special guests and video from the graduates, which they can submit by May 22 at the station’s Your Year 2020 website.
“This isn’t what you wanted," Raimondo said, directing her remarks to the graduates, "but let’s make the best of it.”
Testing is leaping ahead, with more than 101,600 people tested for COVID-19 since March 1, including 3,679 tested just on Wednesday.
Raimondo’s restrictions and the now-expired stay-at-home order was intended to slow the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.
The latest numbers show that hospitalizations are starting to fall. There were 271 people in hospitals in Rhode Island, down from a high of 372 people on April 28. There are 65 people in intensive care units and 42 on ventilators.
The latest data from the state Department of Health on Thursday showed a continuing decrease in new cases of coronavirus and fatalities.
Six more people have died, raising the total death toll to 468, and 181 have tested positive for COVID-19, adding to the overall total of 12,016 people who have tested positive since March 1. That daily count of new cases is down from the peak of 437 positive cases on April 23.
Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the six new deaths include one person who was in their 70s, two in their 80s, and three in their 90s.
While people in their 50s, followed by those in their 30s and 40s, make up most of the positive cases, the virus is proving fatal primarily to those in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, according to health data. Most of the deaths have been residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and the outbreaks prompted the state to test residents of all congregate-care settings.
Rhode Island has seen few COVID-19 cases among children -- 2 percent of cases have been children under 10 years old, and 4 percent were those between 10 and 20 years old, Alexander-Scott said.
Still, health officials are watching for “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome,” an illness that may be linked to the coronavirus and has afflicted about 100 children in New York and a small number of cases in Massachusetts.
Alexander-Scott said that syndrome has not appeared so far in Rhode Island.
As the state tests all residents of congregate care facilities, they are finding positive cases among those who don’t have symptoms.
That includes the Adult Correctional Institutions. Three inmates at the minimum security facility tested positive Thursday during routine surveillance, said Corrections spokesman J.R. Ventura. None of them had any symptoms of COVID-19.
Ventura said the facility was placed in quarantine to contain further spread of the virus.