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Is Rhode Island’s economy really getting back to normal?

Providence, RI - 5/28/20 - The Rhode Island State House on May 28, 2020. (Blake Nissen/ For The Boston Globe) Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

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Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and a candidate for Cranston mayor dressed as a hot dog during a debate last night, so 2020 is totally normal. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 21,454 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 68 new cases. The most recent test-positive rate was 1.9 percent. The state announced two more deaths, bringing the total to 1,041. There were 80 people in the hospital, 11 in intensive care, and four were on ventilators.


During her coronavirus press conference this week, Governor Gina Raimondo mentioned a new ranking by CNN that suggests Rhode Island’s economy is operating at 87 percent of where it was in March, before the pandemic forced businesses to close.

The “Back-to-Normal Index,” created by CNN Business and Moody’s Analytics, places Rhode Island in a tie for sixth-best in the country, ahead of Connecticut (81 percent) and Massachusetts (74 percent). South Dakota and Maine led the nation at 91 percent.

The index considers 37 national and seven state-level indicators, including unemployment claims, real estate listings, and more leisurely activities like box office sales. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why Rhode Island ranks ahead of its neighbors, but there are a few metrics to stand out.

Restaurant reservations

While we all know a restaurant that hasn’t survived the pandemic, the index suggests that Rhode Island is the only state (based on OpenTable reservation data from 36 states) with more “seated diners” now than it had a year ago. While Rhode Island is listed as up 30.4 percent, Massachusetts is down 46.7 percent.


Unemployment claims

As of Aug. 8, roughly 9 percent of Rhode Island’s labor force had ongoing unemployment claims, while Massachusetts and Connecticut were both at 12 percent. Hawaii was at 18 percent, while California, Nevada, and New York were all at 15 percent.

Hotel occupancy

Rhode Island hotel occupancy was down 33.8 percent compared to last year (as of Aug. 14), slightly better than Massachusetts, which was down 46.5 percent. Connecticut fared much better, with a dip of just 8.8 percent.


⚓ If you’re still looking for some summertime fun, Amanda Milkovits has an excellent breakdown of some of the best waterways in Rhode Island to go kayaking.

⚓ Ed Fitzpatrick reports that Latino leaders across Rhode Island are pushing for Governor Raimondo to name Central Falls Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Ortiz to the Family Court bench.

⚓ Brown University professor Carol Landau has an interesting letter to the editor in the Globe advocating for two years of national public service (think AmeriCorps) for young people as they attempt to navigate through the coronaivurs crisis.

⚓ Contest: Don’t forget to select the winners of 41 Rhode Island primaries for a chance to win a Rhode Map tote bag.


⚓ Sports: NBA players took part in an unprecedented boycott (postponing Wednesday’s playoff games) to advocate for racial reform.

⚓ Politics: James Pindell breaks down the highlights of night three of the Republican National Convention.

⚓ Lifestyle: Many comedy clubs still remain clubs, so here’s a fun look at how some comics are taking their shows outdoors or online.


⚓ Business: Are you back at work yet? A new survey shows many office-based employees in Massachusetts might not be back until 2021.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at

⚓ BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Governor Raimondo will hold her weekly Facebook Live conversation on education at 3 p.m.

⚓ US Representatives David Cicilline and Jim McGovern are holding a press call at 2 p.m. to call on the US Senate to consider the Postal Service bill that passed in the House last week.

⚓ Do you ❤️ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.Please tell your friends about Rhode Map! They can sign up here. The Globe has other e-mail newsletters on topics ranging from breaking news alerts to sports, politics, business, and entertainment -- check them out.

Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.