Phase 4 of economic reopening plan not imminent

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — There are no immediate plans to further ease restrictions intended to help control the spread of the coronavirus in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo said.

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The Democratic governor in an interview with The Providence Journal published Thursday said if she had to decide now on moving to the fourth phase of the state’s reopening plan, “I would stay right where we are.”

The current phase 3 executive order is scheduled to expire Aug. 28.

“I’m not inclined at this moment to go further a phase, to go to Phase 4,” Raimondo said. “I think we are in a stable spot right now, and stability is the name of the game.”

Her priority now is reopening the state’s schools, she said.

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ARTS SCENE RAVAGED

Rhode Island’s arts sector lost more than 10,000 jobs and more than $436 million in sales from April until July as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recently issued report by The Brookings Institution.

In Rhode Island and across the nation, arts venues and events were among the first to shut down and will be among the last to reopen in response to the pandemic, according to a statement Friday from Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

“This report documents how, in just four short months, the arts sector nationwide and in Rhode Island has literally ground to a halt,” he said. “Theaters and concert halls and museums were shuttered, and artists and cultural workers lost their livelihoods.”

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RECORD TESTING DAY

Rhode Island health officials on Friday reported a surge in the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases, but that came from a record number of test results.

The 130 new cases was the highest single day count since Aug. 3, but that was out of more than 7,200 test results returned Thursday, a single-day high.

Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said the increase in the number of tests may be because of college students returning to the state. The state has performed more than 455,000 tests, but some people have been tested more than once.

The state also reported two more coronavirus-related deaths Friday, for a total of 1,030 fatalities.

Eighty-one people remain hospitalized with the disease, according to the latest statistics, and nine remain in intensive care.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island over the past two weeks went down from 94.43 per day on Aug. 6 to 90.14 per day on Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island has remained roughly the same over the past two weeks and was 2.22% as of Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported.

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