PROVIDENCE, RI — As part of an effort to raise coronavirus testing numbers of asymptomatic workers in Rhode Island, more close-contact workers will now be eligible, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Friday. The governor said she hopes that increased testing will give Rhode Islanders more confidence that it's safe to eat at restaurants, get their hair done and get the economy moving again.
Asymptomatic testing is one of three focuses of testing in the state abbreviated SOS: symptomatic, outbreaks and surveillance. The first focus is to make sure everyone with symptoms gets tested; the second to have a team on the ground within four hours after an outbreak is reported. The final focus, surveillance, is sampling asymptomatic Rhode Islanders to get an idea of the virus' spread within the community.
Earlier this week, this type of testing was opened to several "close contact" workers, including hair stylists, salon workers and gym employees. Although Raimondo set a goal of 900 tests per day, the actual numbers have been about half of that so far, she said. By opening up the testing to more workers, the state hopes to boost daily testing numbers.
Rhode Island continues to see a slow decline in the number of daily cases and hospitalizations, which is a good sign, said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the Department of Health. On Friday, the state had 84 new cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths. Nine of these deaths were in nursing home or long-term care facility residents, which have all along been the epicenter of the state's outbreak. Three of the victims were in their 60s, three in their 70s, one in their 80s and three in their 90s.
"Reporting these numbers every day, every week continues to be difficult," Alexander-Scott said.
As of Friday, 141 people were in the hospital, of whom 28 were in an intensive care unit and 17 were on a ventilator.