Rhode Island sends alert: hospitals reach COVID-19 capacity

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FILE – In this Sunday, March 22, 2020, file photo, Gov. Gina Raimondo gives an update on the coronavirus during a news conference, in Providence, R.I. Many states have yet to spend the federal funding they got to help with soaring costs related to the coronavirus crisis, making it tougher for states and cities to argue that they need hundreds of billions more from U.S. taxpayers. “If I knew today that another billion dollars was coming to Rhode Island to help solve our budget deficit, I’d spend the $1.25 billion now,” Raimondo said about the state’s portion of money. “Lots of other governors are spending. They’re taking a gamble, and I’m just not ready to do that yet.” (Kris Craig/Providence Journal via AP, Pool, File)

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s hospitals reached their COVID-19 capacity on Monday, the same day the state’s two-week pause, meant to control the rise in new coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm the state’s health care system, took effect.

“Hospitals at capacity due to COVID,” the state said in a statewide emergency alert. “Help the frontline by staying home as much as possible for the next two weeks.”

Under the restrictions announced earlier in November by Gov. Gina Raimondo, some businesses will be required to shut down for two weeks, while others are restricted.

Recreational businesses including bowling alleys, theaters, and casinos, as well as indoor sporting facilities and gyms must close. Bars and bar areas in restaurants are also required to close, while restaurants are limited to 33% of indoor capacity and only people in the same household at a table.

Residents are also asked to close their social circles to only people in their own household. “This will not be easy, but I am pleading with you to take it seriously,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Choosing to gather with those outside your household will have ripple effects that will increase the strain on our hospitals and put lives at risk.” Raimondo did not rule out another economic shutdown if the pandemic get worse.

Children up to eighth grade will continue going to school, and child care centers are allowed to remain open. Superintendents have been given the option to switch high school to mostly remote classes.

Manufacturing and construction jobs, as well as personal services businesses, such as hair salons, are also allowed to stay open with proper precautions.

Houses of worship are limited to 25% capacity.

To help businesses and workers affected by the pause, the Democratic governor last week announced $100 million in aid.

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