PROVIDENCE – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo ordered parking reductions at both Misquamicut and Scarborough state beaches after they continued to experience noncompliance with social distancing mandates, with some beachgoers not wearing masks and the proliferation of large congregations this past weekend.
Effective Thursday, the parking lots at both of these state beaches will be reduced to a 25% capacity, announced Raimondo during her coronavirus briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are cutting it way back to those two beaches,” said Raimondo, who expects parking to be filled by 9:00 a.m. each day.
According to the governor, there have been 50,000 more cars compared to this same time last year, even with the current parking restrictions.
The governor hinted that members of the National Guard may be deployed to these areas in order to ensure additional aid to those beach employees who have experienced large and noncompliant congregations. However, she said she will close other beaches if noncompliance continues.
Raimondo said she joined 39 other states asking the President Donald Trump for an extension of full federal funding for the full use of the Rhode Island National Guard until the end of the year. The current funding is set to run out in August.
After a slight spike in new coronavirus cases on Monday, Raimondo warned Rhode Islanders to not let their guard down as other states are continuously seeing record-high hospitalizations.
“The fact is, if you let your guard down, more Rhode Islanders will die, more businesses will go out of business, and our children will have a hard time going back to school,” said Raimondo.
There are 34 states in the U.S. with a positive rate of 5% or more, according to The John Hopkins University School of Medicine‘s daily tracker on Wednesday.
“Rhode Island isn’t immune,” said Raimondo, who urged those that believe that wearing masks is an option to make it a requirement or else more outbreaks will occur.
The governor’s briefing comes as cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island increased by 52, to 17,640, with two more deaths, the R.I. Department of Health reported on Wednesday. Of the two deaths, one person was in their 60s and one person was in their 80s, according to R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.
The three-day average of new cases of the virus is 64. The state has reported a total of 987 deaths related to COVID-19.
Current hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the state total 59, a decline from 69 one day prior. Of those hospitalized, five are in intensive care units and three are on ventilators. The three-day average of hospitalizations in Rhode Island is 63.
There were 2,923 tests for the virus conducted in the state on Tuesday, bringing the total to 288,839. The positive rate for Tuesday’s total tests were 1.8%. For those taking a coronavirus test for the first time, there was a positive rate of 4.5%.
Referencing a spike in new COVID-19 cases hitting triple-digits for the first time since June 10 on Monday, Raimondo told Rhode Islanders “do not let your guard down.”
“It’s not a cause for panic at all. Not even close. But it’s a cause for pause,” said Raimondo.
Among those between the ages of 20-29 years old, the positive rate is 7%, according to Raimondo. Dr. Alexander-Scott said large congregations and social gatherings are “absolutely” the root to the small outbreak that the state has seen so far this week.
“You guys have got to do better,” said Raimondo to those in their 20s. “Just do the right thing.”
This story has been updated to include information from the governor’s press conference.
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