PROVIDENCE, R.I. - 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.
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“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 gets 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.
BY THE NUMBERS
There were nearly 2,700 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Rhode Island and 27 more virus-related deaths over the past three days, the state Department of Health reported Monday.
There were 365 patients in the hospital with the disease as of Saturday, the most recent date for which the information was available, up from 319 reported Friday. Forty were in intensive care.
The agency does not update on weekends.
The latest seven-day rolling average positivity rate in Rhode Island is 6.5%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 814.14 new cases per day on Nov. 15 to 544.29 new cases per day on Nov. 29, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
Rhode Island has now had more than 56,700 confirmed cases and 1,373 deaths.