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Family Grace (Pray)

Your Coronavirus Update – Nov. 26, 2020

Photo: Norman Rockwell’s “Family Grace”

In RINewsToday’s informal poll, 53% of respondents said they were not traveling far, traveling close, or hosting a Thanksgiving – they were “home alone” this year – a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

RHODE ISLAND & VICINITY

Wrentham Outlets will open at 6am Friday and close at 9pm –  limited occupancy and masks required

Bryant/Stony Brook game is canceled due to some players’ positive COVID19 tests.

The City of Pawtucket, in accordance with the Pause in Rhode Island, has announced that City Hall will be closed to the public from November 30th to December 13th.

Effective Monday, November 30th, lobby access for all Pawtucket Credit Union branches will be limited to appointment-only. Drive-up/s will continue to operate under normal business hours.

The Rhode Island Foundation has announced it will match every donation the public makes to the Trinity Repertory Company from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve with an equal grant to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, up to a total of $60,000. 

The RI Foundation has provided funding for these nonprofits to help them with coronavirus expenses:

  • Rhode Island Community Food Bank: $30,000
  • Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic: $20,000
  • Trinity Tabernacle Church: $20,000
  • Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island: $15,000
  • Boys Town New England: $10,000
  • Center for Southeast Asians: $10,000
  • Child and Family Rhode Island: $10,000
  • Family Service of Rhode Island: $10,000
  • Higher Ground International: $10,000
  • Interfaith Counseling Center Rhode Island: $10,000
  • St. Martin de Porres Center: $10,000
  • The Rhode Island Minority Elder Task Force: $10,000
  • Thundermist Health Centers: $10,000
  • Westbay Community Action: $10,000

Data review:

Today’s Data: Nov. 25, 2020
Deaths: 10 (0 deaths in-hospital)
Total tests: 14,978
Total positives: 845
Percent positive: 5.6%
Hospitalized: 357 (New hospitalized: 58; discharges: 40)
ICU: 35
Ventilated: 16

Governor’s Address: from Nov. 25th:

New cases per 100,000 – 628 – highest we’ve ever seen. Cases increasing all across RI. Weekly positive rate: 6%. 313 hospitalizations last week – continuing to rise at alarming rate.  Tripled in past 5 weeks. Getting ready to open field hospitals.

Because of this data, a 2-week pause will go into effect on Monday. Aimed to reduce strain on hospitals and healthcare workers. Unsustainable increases right now. We must take this pause seriously. If not, hospitals will be overwhelmed and we’ll have to turn patients away. (for heart surgeries, cancer screening, etc.) All COVID designated beds are filled. Hospitals have been forced to use their Tier 1 plans. Longer wait times, re-staffing happening. Outsource staffing companies are all being called by other states. Taking the pause is our only option. The detailed plan at reopeningri.com.

Three questions I’ve been asked:

First, what should we be doing in the pause: plan on staying home as much as possible – stay home for 2 weeks. Work from home, if possible. If not, go to work. Wear masks, etc. Kids should go to school. Go to your doctor’s, drug store, grocery, get your flu shot. But limit your activity and do all the safety precautions. Keep social gatherings limited to those you live with. That doesn’t mean close friends or other family – UNLESS they live with you. If you don’t need to go somewhere, don’t. Sports/gyms/casinos/bars, movies – all closed.  No play dates with kids. Don’t visit friends. Do things virtually. Shopping: shop local if you can. Shop online. Commerce team has partnered with ShopLocalRhodeIsland.com – where you can still shop local and online.1500 RI businesses.( https://shoplocalrhodeisland.com/)

Second, what should I do before the pause starts? First, do not have a party or get together. Make a plan. How are you going to stay connected, virtually, by phone. How are you going to stay active and fit even without your gym. How are you going to manage your social isolation?  Thanksgiving: thank you to all who have altered/canceled your plans.

Third: What supports are there for businesses? Additional $100 Million during this 2-week pause. Program is meant to insure companies can get a check in the mail immediately.  This is on top of the $50 Million on RestoreRI, the millions for other initiative, too. Two components. Just fill out form up to $50K depending upon lost 2-week revenue. Please use the $$ to continue to pay your employees in the 2 weeks. Tax.ri.gov

All people on unemployment now will get $200/week additional for 2 weeks. It will be automatic and just come to you by 12/6.

Also, cash assistance programs for low income and nursing home workers.

Illegal immigrant of undocumented, money available through Dorcas International. $400 debit cards.

$1Million more to RI Food Bank and Farm Fresh RI for rest of the year.

Testing & Contact Tracing: TY to team – RI continues to lead in testing. Still not enough. System if far from perfect. Demand is higher than ever and our systems were just not built for this. “I hear you”. It’s better and it will get better, but it is a struggle. Over next month, making major changes with a lot more supply into the system. Want tests available w/in 24 hours of symptoms. Have to improve asymptomatic testing – expanding state run testing system. Reserve 3,000 tests a day just for those with symptoms. Can go through your own doctor or through the portal. Asymptomatic: 12/2: all RIslanders can get tested through the portal. Open to everyone. Eliminating categories on application. BinexNow testing will be deployed. 15 minute test. Results on site, just wait a full 15 minute. Asking for patience and kindness to those who will do the test. Adding more testing sites. Next week opening asymptomatic only at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Pilot program in Central Falls: targeted testing – by Monday 1,000 tests can be done. Using Binex Now. Open to all in CF, regardless of symptoms. In an ideal world, we could test everybody in CF, but this is frightening to people to hear. It’s quick, easy and painless, no one will ask about immigration status. Walk up, get your test.

Week of Dec. 6th – cyclical tests for healthcare workers, students, teachers at select schools, first responders, businesses can order tests for their own employees. Access to results, eventually, within 2 days. Yesterday we launched a new texting system to get results – if you provide your cell phone #. Asking anyone who is positive to go home, and quarantine – and call your contacts and tell them to get tested.

We are doing much better than other states. We’re in the 7th inning and I don’t often get to say thank you but I want to thank you now.

The Governor introduced a woman who had lost her mother-in-law who told her story and also those about her own mother.

Q&A: from reporters

Q: Privacy concerns around mobility tracking.

A: Using publicly available data – already being tracked.

Q: Gyms – why restrict them?

A: Feel for them and hear their concerns. CDC has found transmission is hard to control in a gym. It’s indoors, your breathing heavy, locker rooms, no ventilation, lots of moving around – all things that can spread the disease – our program will allow companies to be compensated.

Q: What do you think about the schools that choose to go distant learning?

A: Totally unnecessary, throwing the towel in on the kids.

Q: $1 million to the food bank – report that hunger had tripled to 25% food insecurity in 2020. Households twice as likely to have lost their jobs due to COVID were among the new food insecure. Second epidemic of evictions. Let’s name and shame lawyers who are doing eviction work and landlords who are doing the most evictions, etc. Half of aid going directly to individuals.

A: Urge the general assembly to pass an eviction moratorium. This is national crisis, not just a RI issue. $65M affordable housing bond before the Gen. Assembly. Mediation program having some success. RI is doing legal assistance to people being evicted.

Q: Could this expand beyond 2 weeks?

A: It could. Have to take it a day at a time. Intention is to dial up economy at end of 2 weeks.

Q: Staffing levels for field hospitals could be something like 1 nurse to 25 patients –

A: In these hospitals, it is not the same as other hospitals. People in field hospitals will not be as sick as those in regular hospitals. All hands on deck approach.

Q: If vaccine is ok’d on 12/10 who gets it and how?

A: UPS and FedEx will ship. We are right now preparing to have a plan for distribution of vaccine. Healthcare workers. Nursing home residents. OWS team is working with us to put our logistics together. Public will be probably early spring.

Q:  Car rally for small business support – pressing you for $150 million for small business.

A: This is where we are now – $100 million. Take it as it comes.

Q: How do you feel about the new Speaker and his committee to decide on the vaccine delivery groups?

A: He’s stepping up to the plate, ready to work on this issue – I think it’s a good thing.

Governor’s Press Release:

Deciding to limit and close businesses during our two-week pause was not a decision that I made lightly, but it was necessary to avoid overwhelming our medical system. Rhode Island’s vibrant business community has already been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, and we value their tremendous contributions to our state. These businesses are owned and staffed by our friends, family, and neighbors, and I’m grateful to them for working together with us to help combat the spread of COVID-19.   And as we approach our pause, our businesses and their employees must have the support they need to make it through. Today, I announced $100 million to support Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses during this pause, and to spur economic growth beyond the pause and into the new year. 
This investment is split into two $50 million categories: support for Rhode Island families and support for our businesses.    Families: The first $50 million of our investment is going directly into the pockets of Rhode Island families. Every Rhode Islander who receives unemployment insurance benefits during the pause will receive an additional $200 for each of the two weeks. This is true whether you are already receiving benefits or if you file during the pause. There is no additional application – this benefit will be automatically added to your check. The Department of Labor and Training will begin processing these payments as early as December 6.    Businesses: Another $50 million will go to businesses that will be closed or severely limited during the pause. If you’re a business owner, all you have to do is fill out a simple form attesting that you have been impacted by the pause, and the Division of Taxation will send you a check up to $50,000 to help get you through the pause, based on your past revenue. The application will be available on Friday at tax.ri.gov and you’ll have two weeks to apply. We’ll start getting money out-the-door on a rolling basis as quickly as possible, even before the application period closes. 
The next two weeks are going to be difficult, but it’s critical that we all take it seriously. I hope the programs we announced today will help Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses make it through this pause. The most important thing any of us can do is to stay home as much as possible for the next two weeks, including tomorrow on Thanksgiving.Together, we can save lives and reopen our economy.

The Lt. Governor issued a response to Gov. Raimondo’s plan for business relief:

Lt. Governor Dan McKee today issued the following statement on the Governor’s new relief plan which includes $50 million for small businesses shut down or severely impacted by the pause and $50 million for Rhode Islanders receiving unemployment benefits during the pause: 

“Small businesses need cash, and they need it fast. I strongly support the relief programs unveiled today, but I hoped the announcement would include a comprehensive, inclusive solution for small businesses impacted by the pause, their employees and the thousands of small businesses who are already struggling to keep their doors open and will not qualify for the new funds.

While it is a positive step for some small businesses and their staff, the governor’s plan does not address the insufficiency of Restore RI, the state’s existing small business grant program. Today, nearly 20 weeks after Restore RI was launched, $20 million of the original $50 million in funding remains untouched. The causes: A lack of awareness of the program in the small business community; a complicated, burdensome application process and restrictions that continue to prevent certain categories of businesses from applying.

With the December 30th CARES Act deadline looming, this is our last chance to make things right. When the Governor announced Restore RI in July, she noted that up to $12.5 million would be available to supplement the program should additional funds be necessary. It is time. The funds are necessary. I urge the Governor to at least release the additional $12.5 million into the Restore RI program and implement the same, simplified application currently being used for the restaurant and bar grant program through the Division of Taxation. In the meantime, my team and I will continue our grassroots effort to get the word out about all grants available to small businesses, one phone call, e-mail and socially distanced visit at a time.”

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NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL

On the night before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court temporarily barred New York – and Gov. Cuomo – from enforcing certain attendance limits at houses of worship in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The court’s action won’t have any immediate impact since the two groups that sued as a result of the restrictions, the Catholic church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues, are no longer subject to them. The groups had challenged attendance limits in areas designated red and orange zones, but they are now in the less-restrictive yellow zones.

Maryland to Deploy ‘High Visibility CoVID Compliance Units’ During Holidays

Connecticut is reopening health care centers dedicated solely to treating COVID-19 patients amid a resurgence of the coronavirus across the state, including in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Some California counties are moving to end a program that’s moved homeless people into hotel rooms despite an emergency cash infusion from the state aimed at preventing people from returning to the streets in colder weather as the virus surges.

The British government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven different producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country’s 67 million people as possible. Governments around the world are making agreements with multiple developers to ensure they lock in delivery of the products that are ultimately approved by regulators.

The National Health Service in England is planning to administer 88.5 million vaccine doses. The plan would call for the first to be vaccinated would be health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by older people, starting with those over 80. People under 65 with underlying medical conditions would be next, then healthy people 50 to 65 and finally everyone else 18 and over.

For Duke University’s returning students, the result has been a relatively safe and almost normal return to learning, at a time when other colleges and universities either shuttered their campuses. Rigorous testing and isolation protocols have been credited for being one of the only universities to have locked down the health threat and continue on.

Alabama coach Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Auburn game

Denver mayor flies to Mississippi for Thanksgiving after advising against travel… Mayor Michael Hancock said he made the decision to head out of town because his wife and daughter are in Mississippi, where his daughter recently took a job. “As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver.

Virus outbreak delays production at world’s top glove maker. The manufacturer expects a two-to-four-week delay in deliveries after more than 2,000 workers at its factories were infected by the coronavirus

Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft late last week said he didn’t need to wear a mask because he is immune from contracting or transmitting COVID-19 since he tested positive.

Russia will sell its Sputnik V vaccine for under $10 a dose, a lower price than some Western-developed shots.

Coronavirus hospitalizations in the U.S. hit a record for the 15th straight day as the country reported nearly 173,000 new cases.

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