COVID-19 CRISIS

THE LATEST: Testing availability expands; 91 news cases, 2 more deaths

DMV closes through week's end after employee tests positive

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Ninety-one new COVID-19 cases have brought the state’s total to 657, while two more people have died as a result of the virus.

The latest figures were announced through a Thursday afternoon press release from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The numbers are typically released through Gov. Gina Raimondo’s daily briefing from the State House, but today’s event was a Q&A focused on the state’s children.

According to the health department, the latest fatalities are both women, one in her 80s and one in her 90s. Both were residents of the Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence.

In all, 4,412 Rhode Islanders had tested negative for the novel coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon. Seventy-two people were said to be hospitalized, up from 60 on Wednesday. Fourteen of those patients were in intensive care units.

Providence continues to have the most COVID-19 cases of any community, with 102. It is followed by Pawtucket (91), North Providence (61), Cranston (54), Warwick (30), East Providence (21) and Cumberland (21). Johnston had 11 cases as of Thursday’s updated.

Full figures can be found on the health department’s website, health.ri.gov/data/covid-19.

Thursday’s press release expanded on an announcement Raimondo made during her briefing Wednesday – that the state is now advising people with COVID-19 systems to seek a test through a medical provider. Until this point, testing has been focused on hospitalized patients, health care workers and EMS personnel, and those in congregant residential settings such as nursing home. Front-line personnel such as police and firefighters have more recently been included in testing.

The expansion of testing to all symptomatic people comes after Raimondo’s announcement that as of Thursday, the state would be able to conduct 1,000 tests per day. Testing facilities include the State Health Laboratories and a number of private labs.

“With Rhode Island’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing capacity now expanded, all Rhode Islanders who have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to call a healthcare provider to get scheduled for a test,” the press release reads.

It continues: “Currently, a person can only be tested for COVID-19 in Rhode Island if testing is ordered by a healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call an urgent care center. Call first before going to a healthcare facility (unless it is an emergency). The expanded approach of testing all people with symptoms represents a significant change … This increase in testing capacity gives Rhode Island the opportunity to test more people with symptoms and to get a better idea of how much virus is circulating in Rhode Island.”

Thursday’s release advises that it is “critical that people who are experiencing symptoms also self-isolate and have as little contact with others as possible.”

It continues: “The symptoms of COVID-19 include any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches (myalgias), chills, runny nose or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, or diarrhea. People with COVID-19 have experienced a range of different symptoms. As we learn more about the virus, we know that some people with COVID-19 have only experienced one or two mild symptoms.”

Additionally on Thursday, it was announced the Division of Motor Vehicles has closed its Cranston headquarters after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

"We have been informed that a DMV staff member has tested positive for COVID-19," a statement from the agency reads. "We understand that this is a difficult time for both customers and state employees. Keeping everyone safe must be our first priority. For that reason, DMV operations are temporarily closed to the public today, April 2 and tomorrow, April 3 so we can conduct some additional cleaning in the facility. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.  Please check the DMV website for updates."

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Concerned Taxpayer

Our the first responders safe? Have they been tested? Are any of them positive?

Thursday, April 2