PROVIDENCE - Twelve students and seven adults have tested positive for the coronavirus since Rhode Island schools opened earlier this week, but Governor Gina Raimondo said she believes that schools can remain open because the state has a system in place that will prevent new cases from turning into an outbreak.
The 19 cases have been tied to 18 different schools across the state, but only nine of the individuals who tested positive were in school this week. The other 10 students and teachers felt ill and didn’t go to school.
“We will continue to see cases in school, just as we’ve seen all summer long,” Raimondo said during an afternoon press conference.
Both Raimondo and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said they have confidence that the state can contain any spread by immediately isolating those who fall ill and conducting contract tracing.
Raimondo said the reopening of schools has gone relatively smoothly while noting that the majority of families in Rhode Island are choosing to send their children to school. Most districts across the state are currently using a hybrid model of distance learning and in-person classes.
Aside from schools, the Department of Health said Rhode Island saw 86 new confirmed cases since Tuesday and three additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,081. The state’s daily test-positive rate was up to 1.8 percent.
Raimondo praised the state’s small businesses for showing overwhelming compliance during inspections over the past week. She said the state saw 96 percent compliance with masks and 99 percent compliance when it came to capacity restrictions.
She said the state is setting aside another $1 million in grants for the “Take it Outside” initiative, a campaign that encourages residents to go outdoors to conduct business that would normally take place indoors. The grants will help businesses buy products like outdoor heaters, lighting, and tents, Raimondo said.
Raimondo also said the state is loosening some of the regulations for its Restore Rhode Island small business grants, including making sole proprietors eligible for up to $15,000 in support. The state’s grant program is funded using federal coronavirus relief funds.
When it comes to unemployment, Raimondo said residents can expect to receive an additional $300 a week for the certification periods ending Aug. 22, Aug. 29, and Sept. 5, for a total of $900. She said people who received unemployment checks for those weeks will receive their additional funds next week.