Oct 30, 2020
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript October 30
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo held a press conference on October 30 to address the rise in coronavirus cases and new restrictions. Read the transcript of her remarks here.
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Gina Raimondo: (00:53)
Good afternoon, everyone. Happy Friday. I can’t believe it’s snowing. I’m not sure what else can be thrown at us right now, but we can handle it, whatever it is. I know it’s been a long week for everybody and a long month and a long eight months. So I want to begin by just taking a breath, collective breath for the people of Rhode Island. And thank you for tuning in today for this special Friday press conference. As a reminder, next week, I plan to be here on Thursday at one o’clock instead of Wednesday at one o’clock. Okay. Just a few important announcements today, but before we’re getting to that, I’d like to take a second to look at the data as we always do and ask you to please put the dashboard up.
Gina Raimondo: (01:45)
Yesterday, we saw 482 cases out of about 14,500 tests for percent positive of 3.3% and very sadly another six deaths. So I had hoped that maybe today I would have better news, but unfortunately, things aren’t getting any better. 3.3% is high and likely it’s on its way up and nearly 500 cases. It’s as I said, it’s not where we want to be. And sadly, we know the next chapter of this book and the next scene in this movie, if we don’t make changes today. So today I’m here to announce the first of two rounds of changes to our guidance, as it relates to COVID, I’m going to give some new guidance today and then some further additional guidance next Thursday. In the intervening time, I’m going to be spending a lot of time with my fellow governors in the region.
Gina Raimondo: (02:59)
I’ve been in very close contact with the governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut yesterday and plan to do that throughout the weekend. The purpose is to have a closely coordinated effort, especially as it relates to changes that might impact commerce. And quite frankly, I really want to keep this round of regulatory changes as targeted as possible. So today is round one and we’ll be back next Thursday for a little bit more information and possibly an announcement in concert with other governors. Here’s the main point that I want to make today. We have a chance to turn this around. So right now in Cranston, we have a field hospital with over 300 beds ready to go. It is ready to go because currently we’re on a path to open it up in a few weeks. If we do, that’s hundreds of people who will be in that hospital, who don’t need to be there. It’s about $50 million a month for us to operate that hospital, fully operationally. And it’s a lot of pain and suffering that we could avoid if we all decide right now to make some changes in our personal lives. That’s tough to hear I realize because we’re all sick of it. And I hear that. But we all have a moment right now, each and every one of us in our lives to save lives, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, they can save lives every day. But for the average Rhode Islander, we go about our days, we’re not thinking about our opportunity to save a life, our opportunity to keep somebody out of a hospital, our opportunity to allow somebody to keep their job. That’s what you have right now. And it’s possible for every one of us to do it by taking very simple steps. Write down on a piece of paper right now, the 10 or 15 people that you absolutely have to be near. And by the way, 10 or 15 is in the high end. It should be your family. Your couple of coworkers, I don’t know who else, may be a doctor.
Gina Raimondo: (05:40)
And commit that you’re only going to see those people for the next couple of weeks, commit that you’re going to wear your mask all the time everywhere, except when you’re with the people who you live with, because that’s what we need to do right now. If you want to keep that field hospital empty, as I do, if you want to save lives, if you want to help people keep their jobs, then that’s what we all need to do. And so that’s what I’m here to ask us to do. I was on the radio this morning, I asked the governor, I do it once a month or so. And the questions were pouring in from our friends and neighbors. And you could hear the anxiety through the phone. “Governor, I need my job. I can’t feed my kids. Governor, I’m desperate to visit my loved one in a nursing home governor. Governor, I cannot get enough staff in a healthcare institution.” The answer to all of that suffering, which is happening in every neighborhood in Rhode Island right now is for us to follow the rules.
Gina Raimondo: (07:02)
To follow the new rules, the new rules of very limited social networks and constant mask wearing and getting rid of any activity that’s not essential. Going to schools essential, going to work is essential. Going to the doctor’s essential, going to the grocery store, I understand that. Going out to dinner with 10 of your friends, going out to a party, having people over for Halloween, not essential and is going to cost lives and cost jobs and contribute to suffering of people Rhode Islanders love. We are one million people strong, and it’s our moment to pull together and rise above and turn the dial down on this virus. We’re a team of a million, and I’m asking you to ask yourself what you can do right now. So we can change our results and keep that field hospital empty.
Gina Raimondo: (08:06)
We have gone through the data extensively, all the case data, and it’s pretty clear where the problems are coming from and what the trends are. And I want you to know what that is. And I also want you to know what is guiding my decisions. Number one, we want to make very targeted interventions. It’s not March. And in March I had to make brutal decisions, close all schools, close all restaurants, close all businesses. We don’t want to do that. And we shouldn’t have to do that. We can make a more sophisticated targeted approach right now. Hopefully, hopefully. By the way, if the trend goes on for another week or two, we can’t, then it’s back to shut down, but hopefully everyone heeds this now, and we preserve the option of staying targeted.
Gina Raimondo: (09:02)
And so that’s my goal, principle number one in making the decisions I’m announcing, stay as targeted as possible, limit commerce as little as possible. That’s the second one. Protect jobs, limit commerce, as much as possible. Folks need to work. People are struggling. Too many businesses are hanging by a thread if at all. So we want to really make sure we maximize the public health benefit of any changes that we make, but minimize the impact to people’s livelihood. And the third thing is we got to keep our kids in school. Children deserve the opportunity to learn in school. And we’re seeing very, very disturbing results of kids being at home, child neglect, domestic violence, children falling behind, mental illness, it’s heartbreaking. We have to keep these kids in school. Also, I worry greatly about the impact on the spread of COVID by going to virtual school, because the rate of spread in the virtual is higher than in person. And that is because we know structured environments is the name of the game right now, unstructured gatherings is the huge problem.
Gina Raimondo: (10:35)
Structured gathering, structured schools, structured workplaces, structured worship where folks are wearing a mask, you know where people are, that is what we have to get to. And so not only the children suffer when they’re out of school, it’s highly likely that letting school out at this point would exacerbate our COVID problems. So those are the three principles as targeted as possible, as long as possible, limited, limited effects on commerce, as long as possible, keep our kids in school. So the theme of all of that is it’s time to crack down on unstructured social settings.
Gina Raimondo: (11:25)
Transmission is happening when we’re comfortable, when we’re informal and we’re with people we know. We’re doing a pretty good job, better than pretty good frankly, following the rules at work, at school, at manufacturing operations, not perfect, at retail stores, at grocery stores, but it’s in the evenings and weekends, and is when we let our guard down. By the way, that’s understandable. It’s human. Of course, you want to have a birthday party for your kid. Of course, it’s your friends who you have over. So you want to give them a hug. It seems strange to wear your mask in your house with your best friends. It’s human, it’s understandable. It’s got to stop. It’s a problem. It’s getting us into big trouble.
Gina Raimondo: (12:15)
Also, we’re heading into a season, which is a wonderful season in New England. we have lots of holiday celebrations coming up. We want to be able to enjoy them, which means we really have to crack down now. So effective immediately, I’m reducing the social gathering limit from 15 to 10, and I’ll be signing an executive order later today to that effect, by the way, that needs to be a stable, consistent, closed circle of a maximum of 10. If you could keep it to five, that would be better. I have a family of six people, so that’s why I opted for 10 and not five. But if you can keep it to five, keep it to five, but the law is now 10. It’s a closed circle. It does not mean you’ve seen nine people on Monday and another nine people Tuesday and another nine people Wednesday, shrink your social network.
Gina Raimondo: (13:22)
As I said earlier, write down the names of the people you’re going to see socially. And stick to that group for the next two weeks. For the next two weeks, be religious about sticking to that group of 10 people who you’re going to see, maximum 10. And by the way, even when you’re with them, wear your mask. For a while we were all in a great discipline of kind of living in a pod, let’s get back to that and wear your mask. Even when you’re with the people in that small social network. Now I want to be crystal clear. The limit for social gatherings for 10 is for unstructured, informal social gathering, Basically, parties or a version of a party. Please put up the screen to define what we’re talking about here. House parties, dinner parties, brunch, Game night, friend gatherings, family gathering, Sleepovers. And that isn’t the extent of the list, but hopefully you get the point. Birthday parties, baby showers, girls night out, kids coming over to the house. This is where the spread is happening. Hanging out with people after work.
Gina Raimondo: (14:50)
What’s not a social gathering? Offices, schools, buses, manufacturing operations, basically other controlled settings where it’s easier to keep a distance, where your guard is up and where you have your mask on. The spread is happening in casual social settings, not so much in larger structured environments. And the fact of the matter is we are just seeing too many parties and maybe you’re hearing me and saying, “No, governor, it’s not happening.” I’m here to tell you it’s happening. We have spent all day, all night, and the past couple of weeks pouring through the data and it’s clear as day. Birthday parties are happening, baby showers are happening, every single week. Because it’s showing up in our contact tracing data.
Gina Raimondo: (15:46)
We ask somebody who they were with and they tell us, “I was at my girlfriends for a baby shower. There were only 12 people, but nobody had a mask on and it was just a group of friends.” That’s going to stop. That should not happen, for the next two weeks please do not do those kinds of engagements. Last week among people who reported attending a party of some kind or one of these gatherings, the average party size was 23. Effective immediately, social gathering limit is 10. If we hear in contact tracing, you had a party with 23 people. We’re going to find out where that was. And we’re going to fine the host up to $500 for every person above 10, who was at that event.
Gina Raimondo: (16:42)
We had An instance a couple of weeks ago, 15 teachers went out to dinner together. As a result, they all wound up in quarantine, very disruptive to those schools. Just yesterday, our case investigators identified a party among high school students in the East Bay. There were at least 20 people there possibly more. We’re still trying to figure it out. Even at 20 it’s too many. From that one house party, we’ve already identified five positive cases with more still getting tested because of that one party, at least four different school districts will be impacted, hundreds, possibly a thousand people quarantined. And we have an entire team of epidemiologists spending their time getting to the bottom of that one event. That is time and resources of those people that could and should be spent, dealing with other issues related to COVID. So what does that mean? That means because a couple kids decided to have a big sleepover, the lives of hundreds of Rhode Islanders have been totally disrupted. Parents, we can’t let that happen. I know it’s normal. My kids love sleepovers too. It cannot happen. For the next two weeks, do not let it happen. And in that instance, we are investigating, we’re going to get to the bottom of it. If it is as egregious as we think it may be everyone who was there above at that time, the limit of 15, the host will be fined up to $500 and now effective today, the limit is 10.
Gina Raimondo: (18:54)
That’s the kind of stuff that’s getting us into trouble. And again, we’re seeing it in the data, it’s crystal clear in the data. The number of contacts people have is too high. The number of parties we’re all attending is too high and it’s all harmless. It’s normal human activity. Have friends over to watch the game, have friends over for a sleepover, have friends over. I get that. You just can’t do it right now because the consequences of that right now are too high. We have a couple of weeks to get back on track. So let’s refocus and get back on track. Okay. Secondly a word on masks. It is absolutely vital to wear our masks. It’s incredibly simple, cheap and effective. So as I said earlier, we need to be wearing our masks in every instance, but I want to take a second to particularly talk to store owners, retail owners, and restaurants, but in particular store owners.
Gina Raimondo: (20:07)
So in a restaurant, you need to keep your mask on when you’re talking to your server and when you’re not eating or drinking. So lets all of us remember that. And I’m asking please for restaurant owners and workers, to remind your customers and to also have masks ready to hand out if folks forgot their mask. We don’t want conflict, you want compliance. So if someone forgot a mask, offer them one, ask them, could you please put it on while you order. I’m also calling on retailers to not only post the mask wearing requirement, but to actively remind customers who are not wearing their mask that they must do so. So this is going to be a change in our regulations. You have to do a little more now, if you run a retail operation than just post the mask wearing guidance…
Gina Raimondo: (21:03)
… then just post the mask wearing guidance. If you see someone walking around a grocery store or retail shop, you have from now on an active obligation to ask that person to please put a mask on or leave the store. And I would suggest you offer them a mask. If they’re in an aisle and they don’t have a mask on, simply offer them a mask and ask them to put it on, if they want to remain in the store. We’re going to start getting much more aggressive with respect to fines if retailers are not following this new regulation, which is imposing on them, an affirmative obligation to ask people to put their mask on.
Gina Raimondo: (21:45)
Okay, I’m going to talk about sports for a minute. Another area where we’re letting our guard down and getting too close to people we like is at sporting events. Again, a normal fun thing to do, something I have done for years with my own kids. Here’s the problem. Parents show up at games, and the natural thing that happens is you stay closer to your friends. You stay very close to your friends for more than 15 minutes and often don’t have a mask on. Again, it’s showing up in the data. We’re seeing lots of cases linked to spectators at sports. So effective immediately, we are no longer allowing spectators at sporting events for two weeks. Just for two weeks. I know this is tough, we’re going to write up the regulations. I think we’re going to have exceptions for little kids, because it’s hard to let your five- year-old play unless you’re there watching them.
Gina Raimondo: (23:02)
But the reality is this, the high school sports season only has a couple of weeks left before they start the playoffs. And I really want to allow these kids to finish their season. So, one way to do that is for us to not go be spectators. So starting today, for the next two weeks for kids sports, no spectators. Like our neighboring states, we’re also seeing spread at indoor sports facilities, like ice rinks and indoor facilities that have indoor soccer, indoor volleyball, indoor basketball. Actually Massachusetts and New Hampshire have closed their ice rinks a couple of weeks ago.
Gina Raimondo: (23:55)
And with the compounded danger of a close contact activity in an indoor arena, it’s too easy to spread the virus in these facilities. And quite frankly, I don’t want to get to where Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been. I think we can learn a lesson from that and tamp it down a bit before it explodes. At this point, a third of the youth sports cases that we’ve seen in Rhode Island have all been associated with hockey. So effective Monday, we will be closing all ice rinks and indoor sports facilities for one week. You might say, why one week? Because in that one week, we’re going to be working very closely with the owners of the ice rinks and the indoor sports facilities to come up with new protocols and rules and regulations, with the hope that after a week, they can reopen. So what am I talking about? Testing protocols, contact tracing protocols, locker room protocols, mask wearing protocols, and the like, it’s complicated. The truth of the matter is the official hockey season is a winter sport, and we want to be ready for that. We want these kids to be able to pursue that. So we got to to lock it down right now, because we’re seeing extremely disturbing trends. And again, we don’t have to wait until we have a problem. We see the problem.
Gina Raimondo: (25:35)
So we’re going to lock it down now, indoor soccer, anything that’s operating as an indoor sports facility is closed for a week. Starting Monday. And director Coit, who’s with me today is going to be working very hard over the next week to come up with specific, actionable changes to contact tracing. We’re going to need you to help us, going to need you to collect the information of all the contacts that are at every game so that it’s at the ready for us. And we’re probably going to come up with new testing protocols, because a lot of these sports that are being played indoors, they’re close contact sports and they’re indoors, and we have problem. So we want to work with you to figure out a stringent set of guidance so that we can reopen safely. Houses of worship. Another area where we’ve seen spread is in houses of worship. The pattern is the same, I know I’m a broken record up here. Services are an opportunity for social engagement, not just prayer. And again, that is a good thing. In normal times, we want to encourage that. We want to encourage the coffee hour after church. We want to encourage chit-chatting before you go into a service, after in the parking lot, hanging out with a group of people. The problem is, it is those unstructured, informal, casual gatherings with people who you know, and who are comfortable with that are getting us into big trouble.
Gina Raimondo: (27:20)
So I am asking all faith leaders, effective immediately to offer and strongly encourage virtual services. I’m asking some of you had been doing virtual and then you suspended that option. I’m asking you effective now to offer a virtual option and encourage a virtual option for everybody.
Gina Raimondo: (27:56)
I will say thank you to faith leaders. You have shown extreme leadership and partnership and compassion from day one. You continue to do so. And I want to say, thank you. This morning, I had a conference call with over a dozen, actually well over a dozen of Rhode island’s faith leaders. And they all agreed to he this warning to offer and strongly encouraged virtual. And we’re going to be working with them in the coming week to come up with some new official regulations for houses of worship, which I may be able to announce next Thursday.
Gina Raimondo: (28:41)
I want to say this: if you do decide that you want to continue to go in person to service, to mass, then the ask is that you go to the service, keep your mask on, keep your distance and go home. No chit chatting with friends in the way in, no cup of coffee after, no chit chatting in the parking lot. Show up, worship, go home. Wear your mask and don’t go if you’re sick. And if you are able to, I’d encourage a virtual worship.
Gina Raimondo: (29:19)
Again, Christmas, Hanukkah, all year end holidays are around the corner. We want to have our best chance at being able to enjoy that. I know like in my own family, this is tough medicine I’m saying. But I also would love to be able to go to mass on Christmas Eve. I also would be able to love to be with my family around Christmas. And I want you to be able to do that too. So let’s crack down now, so we have a hope of being able to do that.
Gina Raimondo: (29:53)
Visitation. Unfortunately, when cases are increasing as they are right now at such a fast rate, there’s a much higher risk of transmitting the virus to people who are more vulnerable, such as older people. Right now, we’re seeing the most cases among 20, 30 and 40 year olds, but our increases in hospitalizations are being driven, not surprisingly by 60, 70, and 80 year olds. The fact of the virus is still the same. The younger and healthier you are, the less dangerous it is. In fact, a lot of kids, young people, and not just kids, young people under 25, they’re asymptomatic. They don’t even know that they have the virus. They’re spreading it, but they don’t even feel sick. But then when they go visit mom or dad or grandma, or grandpa who is 80, or maybe diabetic, or maybe underlying health conditions, unfortunately, that person winds up in the hospital or even worse. So for that reason, we’re going to be working extensively this weekend with our nursing homes and hospitals to scale back on visitation.
Gina Raimondo: (31:19)
This really stinks. And I get that. And we’re going to do our best to make exceptions for certain circumstances. So I’m not saying we are shutting down visitation. What I am saying is that we need to protect our older relatives, and we’re going to have to have stricter rules around nursing home and hospital visitation for the next couple of weeks.
Gina Raimondo: (31:59)
So we’re taking a fresh look at our policies. There will be exceptions, I understand there’s a need to be with loved ones. But I cannot underscore, there was a time in the spring when I was announcing 20 or 30 deaths a day in nursing homes. We’re not going back there. So I am announcing today that there’s going to be changes effective next week, lasting for two weeks. And over the weekend, Dr. Alexandra Scott and her team are going to work with nursing homes to find that right balance between what is humane and necessary, but also what makes sure we never see another outbreak in nursing homes.
Gina Raimondo: (32:46)
I want to make a note about working from home. On Wednesday, I asked business owners to your employees, to the extent that it’s possible, to work from home. I know not everyone can work from home, I understand that. But some people can. And if they can, I need employers to allow folks to work from home. I’m also asking employers to get creative, to help us cut down on carpooling.
Gina Raimondo: (33:15)
A special note to manufacturers: your folks are carpooling. Carpools have not been shown to be safe. It’s an area of spread. I know everybody has to get to work. I’m not saying we’re outlawing carpools. I’m asking employers to get on top of this, particularly manufacturers and figure out if there’s ways you can help. Figure out if there’s ways that you can help, through schedules, offering transportation, possibly allowing remote work. And reminding folks, if you’re going to carpool, even if it’s with your buddies, open the windows, put your mask on. And for those of you who can work from home, please do that. Today, I’m also announcing that we are making $5 million immediately available to assist businesses in the effort of allowing employees to work from home. So that could be, you could use some of the 5 million to buy laptops, software subscriptions, internet access, whatever you think would make it possible for as many of your employees to work from home as possible. That’s available beginning today and that’s available at commerceri.com.
Gina Raimondo: (34:40)
Contact tracers. We need more. We’re getting behind in our contact tracing, mostly because people have too many contacts. I just mentioned that party in the East Bay, it’ll take us days. It’ll take us a team of people for days to get through all those contacts. So not surprisingly, we’re behind. If you need a job, if you want a job, if you have some customer service experience, if you think it might be a fun job, you want to help out the cause, we’re paying competitively. You will have to work some nights and weekends, but it’s a great way to earn some money and help the cause. We need contact tracers.
Gina Raimondo: (35:19)
I made this announcement the other day, 100 people signed up. I’m making it again today, maybe another 100 people will sign up. You can go to health.ri.gov\COVIDjobs. Finally, Halloween is tomorrow, so I want to make a note about that. Halloween’s for kids, little kids. You’re still allowed to go trick or treating. Do your trick or treating before dark, wear your mask, go out alone with your parents or an adult, or with a couple of kids. Keep it short, keep it distanced, wear your mask and be home before dark For the rest of us, we should stay home. For the rest of us, it’s not a time to go to a party, not a time to have a party, not a time to congregate at a bar. It’s a time to hunker down. State police presence will be tripled over Halloween weekend. And they’re specifically tasked with finding and shutting down any parties, any restaurants and bars that are breaking the rules, and any violations of the social gathering limit of time.
Gina Raimondo: (36:44)
I know still of young people planning to get together in small groups. I’m asking you not to do it. It’s not okay if you even have seven or eight of your friends over tomorrow night and have a sleepover. Or if you do, keep your mask on and keep your distance. This is a critical weekend, and I’m asking for cooperation. By the way, in few weeks, we have Thanksgiving. So it’s a critical time right now.
Gina Raimondo: (37:22)
Rhode Island is not unique. All over the country, actually all over the world, we’re starting to see spike. Just yesterday, eight different States set a single day record in the number of cases. You’re seeing it all over the world. Germany is going backwards, Italy, et cetera. So Rhode Island, isn’t unique in that regard. Rhode Island is unique in our spirit of togetherness, in our can-do attitude, in our level of connectivity.
Gina Raimondo: (37:59)
It’s been harder for us to keep a lid on the virus because we are so connected and we are so densely populated, but it also means we care about each other. We’re connected to one another. And if we have to open up the Cranston Field Hospital, chances are you’ll know somebody who’s there. If we have to start closing down restaurants and businesses, again, you’re going to know somebody who’s going to lose their job. In contrast, if we follow these new rules and seriously dial back our informal social gatherings, follow the 10 rule and wear our masks, I feel confident that we’ll turn the tide on this one.
Gina Raimondo: (38:42)
But again, I wish it could be different. I know there’s fatigue. I know there’s anger. I know there’s frustration. I know I said right now is probably not that popular. I can’t change the virus. All we can do is each and every one of us in our daily lives, live in a more disciplined way, because if we do, then we’re going to save a life. So I’m sure there’ll be many questions. I’ll be back, but first I want to give the doctor a chance to say a few words.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (39:13)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being with us. Our data, as you’ve heard is generally in the same place they were in on Wednesday. We have the 482 new cases to report. Again, way more cases than we want to be reporting. In any one day, we have 152 people currently hospitalized. 15 people are in an intensive care unit, and nine people are on a ventilator throughout the state. As mentioned, we sadly have six new COVID-19 associated fatalities to report. Two people were in their fifties, one person was in their sixties, two people were in their seventies and one person was in their nineties. Our sympathies are with the families of these Rhode Islanders. Before taking questions, I want to spend a minute or two giving some insight into what the governor has shared and what’s driving behind it. We’ve been talking the last few weeks about that critical shift, wearing masks in those informal settings where we see spread occurring the most. A lot of what we’re saying here is being able to pause and reassess, what changes can we make to ensure that all of us start adopting that new way? The socializing that’s occurring in work settings, socializing that’s occurring related to sports events, socializing that’s occurring related to loved ones being in healthcare facilities. How can we adjust, so that we can have a different approach as a society to knowing we have to keep our groups small, we have to limit how many times we’re doing that socializing.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (41:14)
And when it does occur, we have to wear our masks. It’s the critical way to stop transmission. We’ve been talking about informal social gatherings every single week. This consistently is our number one problem. Our social gathering numbers are not getting any better. For the last two months, our social gathering size has been roughly 25 consistently, that was when 15 was the cutoff. We’re dropping it to 10. We need people to really cut back. If you’re going to just get together, we have to stop doing that. We have to avoid it and make sure that when it is less than 10 individuals, we are wearing our masks. It’s-
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (42:03)
… individuals. We are wearing our masks. It’s the same group. We’re keeping it consistent and we have to wear a mask. Another thing to consider is that all the data we have on social gatherings are self-reported. When people have social gatherings that are larger than they’re supposed to be, the estimates provided to us are probably under estimates in some situations. And there are people who we suspect went to larger social gatherings, but who refused to answer questions when we did case investigations. This is a critical point. We’ve talked about the stretch that has occurred on our case investigation and contact tracing team because of the increasing number of contacts that people have. We can get those numbers down, cut back on all the people that you’re interacting with. Make sure that with that smaller group, you are wearing a mask. That will allow us to start moving forward more effectively. And cooperate with us.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (43:02)
The more you can give us the information we need to help keep you and the people around you safe, the more effectively we can work. The quicker we can work. When we have a tough time getting that information, that slows down the entire system, in terms of people waiting online, on the phone, trying to get through because we’re working even harder to get information where people have more contacts and they’re not sharing. We want to work with you. We have a team of people who are committed to this. We need you to continue to give the information that’s necessary. Another issue we’re aware of when it comes to social gatherings is that some families and high school students are canceling larger parties, but are instead holding gatherings that are slightly smaller without the intention of wearing their masks as they’re doing it. We need you to ensure that masking is critical when you’re around anyone that you don’t live with. And we need you to keep your groups consistent and small.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (44:11)
Keep your social interactions limited to the same people. Really cut back. We need your attention to stop all of the different socializing that’s happening. Switching gears to look at houses of worship, between October 13th and October 19th, we had 20 cases who reported attending a social gathering. These cases had an average of 5.11 contacts. The previous week, we had 30 of these cases. At one of those religious gatherings, there were 200 people in attendance. Religious leaders have worked hard to do the right thing. They’ve been excellent partners. We are enormously appreciative of all that they have done and will continue to do help amplify this message. But as the governor said, these are very familiar settings for many of us. It’s not only what happens within the religious gathering, but it’s people socializing before and people socializing afterwards. We need to break those old habits. We need to be wearing our masks when there’s any type of interaction with anyone outside your household.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (45:28)
When coupled with the fact that it is many older Rhode Islanders who are going to places of worship, that’s a recipe for tragic health outcomes that we can avoid. We don’t have to let this happen. This is the key, is we have this moment before it’s too late, where we need to be able to pause, see what to do differently, really get everyone’s attention to understand the alarm that’s in place, and then see how to move forward with wearing masks effectively, keeping our group small and keeping our distance. When it comes to sports, we want to give kids the chance to exercise, to be outside, where they can run around and be healthy. That’s incredibly important. We want sports to continue happening. But the bottom line is that if we don’t get our cases under control, sports, which can make up a fair number of the cases that we are seeing, could get even more restricted.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (46:32)
This is our opportunity, again, to pause, see what we can be doing differently. It’s not only the sport event itself, it’s what’s happening beforehand with people socializing. It’s what’s happening afterwards in the locker room. Folks getting together to celebrate. As the governor mentioned, all normal things, all things that we have to stop right now. I know this change is hard to hear for a lot of people, especially the parents and students and athletes who are involved and who love more than anything else to be engaged in play and for the parents that want to watch their kids play. But this is something we need to do in the short amount of time, we can really have the impact we need so that we can go forward better on the other side. We can prevent the spread of disease. And as I said on Wednesday, we have that power to do so. Every individual does. If you’re with anyone you don’t live with, make sure you’re wearing that mask. We all just need to take the steps to keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe. With that, we will get started.
Speaker 1: (47:43)
Governor, if a significant problem is people ignoring the gathering rules and blowing past the 15. Realistically speaking, how much of a difference is lowering it from 15 to 10 going to make if some of those people were still following the rules? Or if the rule followers are like, “I’ve been following the rules and I’m not the problem. And the source of the problem is these larger groups.” What realistically do you hope to accomplish with that small change from 15 to 10 people?
Gina Raimondo: (48:08)
I think a few things. I think number one, it’s a signal. It’s a signal. We haven’t been at 10 for a while and it’s a signal that it’s time to really hunker down and reevaluate our lives. Secondly, it is true what you say that people are trying hard to follow the rules. And in particular, we’re seeing really good compliance at work, in schools, at restaurants, et cetera. I think if we’re all honest with each other, we’re not actually following the rules very well in our own casual settings. And we have had, as I think I explained, the average party, I think, was 23 people. So why did we pick 10? We know that in the events above 10 people, that’s where we’re seeing the biggest problems. Events greater than 10, we’re seeing the biggest problems. But also if you think about it, you have your family, four or five, six, seven people, and then a couple other people. That’s your 10 and that’s who you should be staying with. And that’s it. So that’s how I think about it.
Speaker 2: (49:24)
[crosstalk 00:49:24] shortly expect some pushback against this.
Gina Raimondo: (49:28)
I do. As I said, I don’t think anything I just said is popular necessarily. I view it to be necessary. Rhode Island’s in a tough spot right now. We’ve been dealt a really tough hand and I don’t have any easy decisions. And I am back in a place of deciding between bad option number one and bad option number two. So that’s why I’m telling you where we are. Where we are is not a good place. The trajectory we’re on, we’ve doubled our hospitalizations in three weeks. If we do that again in the next three weeks, we’re in trouble. So that much I know. I’m looking at the data. It’s what I’ve already said, these unstructured, casual gatherings with people we know not wearing masks. So I need to do something about that. And we got to keep people at work and kids in school. So in those parameters, we’re trying for the next couple of weeks, this is a call-out to the people of Rhode Island to be very disciplined in the next couple of weeks so that we can hope to avoid a broader set of blunter regulations that would hurt commerce.
Speaker 3: (50:45)
Governor, you mentioned that faith leadership moved to virtual yet schools are by and large staying in-person. You say people shouldn’t car pool yet… Pardon. You say people shouldn’t carpool yet school buses are still rolling. So how do you square those things?
Gina Raimondo: (51:00)
Great questions. First of all, if people carpool with masks and windows open, as the children are on the school bus, it would be fine. But you know yourself. When you get in the car with all your best friends who you work with, we all get a little bit lax. So if you want to carpool and listen, my dad carpools every day to to the factory, like people who work in manufacturing get in the carpool, fine. Put your mask on even if it’s with your buddies and keep the windows open like we’re doing on school buses. Virtual school doesn’t work well. We know that. The kids struggle, the kids fall behind. And right now the data is very clear. We’re having a harder time controlling the virus among the kids learning virtually than we are with the kids in the structured environment. So to me, it’s crystal clear. And by the way, a study of dozens and dozens of countries and states show the same thing.
Speaker 4: (52:01)
Governor, with the onset of the elections on Tuesday, not only is it Halloween weekend, per se, but this is also a period of days when there were a number of events. So you’re talking about honk and waves, you’re talking about door to door canvassing. You’re talking about parties election night. Are you essentially putting the kibosh [inaudible 00:52:20] all that?
Gina Raimondo: (52:21)
Yes. Which is why I’m here today and didn’t wait. Yes, yes, yes, yes. No election night parties. No day after the election parties. I suppose a honk and wave could be safe, but 100% Halloween followed by what looks to be a contentious and emotional election followed a few weeks thereafter by Thanksgiving, that’s the point I’m trying to make. Right now, right in this moment, it’s a kind of a call to action.
Speaker 4: (53:04)
One follow up, all of this increase enforcement, what type of due process exists for those folks who would like to contest these fives, which can potentially be onerous?
Gina Raimondo: (53:11)
Excellent question. So first of all, I want to be clear. As I said, for instance, with that party in the East Bay, first we’re going to get to the bottom of it, right? We’re going to see is it as egregious as we thought, were there more than 15 people there, et cetera. Secondly, it’s like anything else. I mean, it’s like any other civil violation with a fine that a police officer or in case of DBR would levee. Standard due process.
Speaker 4: (53:40)
People will have the opportunity to have hearings?
Gina Raimondo: (53:42)
Speaker 5: (53:44)
Governor, related to the fines you mentioned earlier in the week that contact tracers are having a lot of trouble getting contacts. If you are contact tracing and going back and finding people, finding the host based on the number of contacts, are you concerned that’s going to drive down contact tracing cooperation?
Gina Raimondo: (54:05)
It’s a risk. It’s like everything else. It’s a balance. I’ll tell you, like I said, state police will be tripling their manpower over the weekend similar with localities. I’ve been in touch with mayors. DBR is putting more inspectors on. So if we show up at a grocery store or wherever and 10 people don’t have a mask on, I could tell you right now, that store is going to be fined. If they show up at a house this weekend and there’s 11 people there, there’s going to be a fine. And the same thing if it comes up in contact tracing. So look, it’s in nobody’s interest to lie to the contact tracers, but I hear what you’re saying. But I think net, the right thing is enforcement.
Speaker 5: (54:57)
On travel, we are cracking down on a lot of these social gatherings with cases rising. At the same time, Connecticut is easing travel on Rhode Island. And it sounds like you have another cooperative arrangement with governors. You could tell me which ones, that would be great. But are you concerned about sending a signal to encourage interstate travel at any time we’re trying to prevent more spread?
Gina Raimondo: (55:21)
I know. So I’m very grateful that Governor Lamont did that and I’m hopeful and hoping that Governor Baker will follow suit. And I’m in touch with both of them regularly. The message isn’t travel freely. The message is not encouraging travel. In fact, I’m asking folks to stay home and close to home. But the fact of the matter is, it was hurting commerce. Again, I don’t want to close businesses. I don’t want to hurt commerce. I don’t want more people to lose their jobs. So Connecticut has a very similar public health approach to us, mandatory mask wearing, really good enforcement. So I’m not worried about the messaging. If anything, it’s just a nod to the fact that we share so much interstate commerce, that it’s just a practical thing to have a regional approach.
Governor, if I understood that, we’re really looking at an age breakout of the people in the hospitals are people in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Any thoughts to then restrictions for those individuals, as opposed to treating everyone the same?
Gina Raimondo: (56:33)
Well, that why we’re going to tighten up visitation to nursing homes and hospitals. And that’s why we have every seven days, everyone in nursing homes and hospitals is tested. But the problem is, John, it’s the young people giving it to the older people.
But what about, let’s just say college students at Brown or PC. They live in their own world, where they just interact with people their own age. And it just seems that, granted, if you’re over 60 or if you’re obese, underlying health conditions, you have to be careful. But young kids, college students, they’re not in the hospital, they’re not being affected by this.
Gina Raimondo: (57:11)
That’s true but they don’t live in their own world. If they did stay in their own bubble, that would be terrific. But they don’t. They go to work. By the way, they should work. I’m not saying this, but they go to work. They might work at a grocery store. They might wait on my someone’s grandma. They go to the gym. They go to wherever they go, out for dinner.
But is it maybe then the onus falls onto those older individuals to be careful around younger people that could have it?
Gina Raimondo: (57:44)
Yes and they should. I mean, if you are an older person you should be taking extreme precaution. The problem with this, it’s an infectious disease. It’s just really hard to control. And once you get past the tipping point, which is what I’m trying to avoid, it really blossoms. So-
[inaudible 00:58:04] crystallize. It comes down to hospitalizations, correct?
Gina Raimondo: (58:06)
I mean, that’s really the number we’re looking at. And just quick follow up, I thought the other day you had mentioned the way Massachusetts had a color code that maybe we were exploring that because Princeton Central Falls is over 10% yet they’re treated the same as a community that is very, very low. Is that something that could be implemented?
Gina Raimondo: (58:27)
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Gina Raimondo: (58:28)
We are looking at that. So as I said, today is part one of a two-part press conference. I had to get out today and do some things because we have to put a lid on it. It’s big weekend coming up, we’ve got a big election coming up. Can’t wait. I’m going to spend the next few days talking to Baker and Lamont. Talking to the mayors, looking through the data. And I could see myself doing something like that next Thursday or not. Rhode Island is different. We’re small and we’re dense, but it’s on the table.
Speaker 6: (58:59)
Speaking of Massachusetts, what they’re saying is that the data from this new spike, these latest cases seems to be less connected to social gatherings and more connected to households. People actually transmitting within their own households, the people they live with. Are you seeing differences in Rhode Island compared to that?
Gina Raimondo: (59:21)
I can’t speak to Massachusetts. So I want to let that be. I can tell you that I’ve been talking to Governor Baker almost daily and he tells me he’s seeing similar trends. So I’ll leave it at that. And as he said, they closed ice rinks. They’ve done some other things before us. So I know they’re having those troubles. We’re seeing spread in houses, but not necessarily in just a household. So you definitely… You invite your friends to sleep over. It’s friend gatherings. The enemy is familiarity in a weird way. You just let your guard down when you’re with people who you know. And so that’s where we’re seeing the problem. And the truth of it is, look, we’re seeing a lot of birthday parties, backyard parties, football game parties, baby showers, wedding showers. Those are the things.
Speaker 7: (01:00:20)
Governor, you mentioned that you floated the idea of going back to phase two. I didn’t hear you say that in your remarks. Why did you decide-
Gina Raimondo: (01:00:27)
We’re not doing that right now. Two reasons. One, commerce, commerce, commerce, commerce. Too many people are already out of work. And if I can keep a lid on this without dialing back commerce, that is the preferred route. So just as I stand here on Friday afternoon, I’m not ready to do that just yet. I may have to go there next Thursday. We’ll see. Also, as I said, I’m trying to keep it targeted. We know we’re having certain problems. And so what I’ve just rolled out is targeted at those problems.
Speaker 8: (01:00:58)
Governor, the pushback on the dire warning about the hospitalizations is that you never used the field hospital, didn’t have to back in the spring. And that hospitalizations now, even though the cases are actually on some days higher than they were in the spring, the hospitalizations are still less than half. And you mentioned the rate. It seemed like there was a big jump in early October, the first couple of weeks. And while there’s still an increase over the past couple of weeks, it’s not as great. So what’s your response to some pushback on being overly dramatic about the hospitalization rate and talking about the field hospitals when we’re in the spring with that?
Gina Raimondo: (01:01:38)
Okay. So this right here, what you just said, is the challenge. I don’t want to ever open that field hospital. I consider it a victory that we had it ready and didn’t have to use it. That would be 300 people’s lives who were in the hospital, who don’t need to be. That would be $50 million a month of state money or federal money keeping it running. So that’s a good thing that we don’t open it. So what I’m trying to say now is, get your own statistician if you don’t believe me. Climb through the data.
Gina Raimondo: (01:02:17)
We are on a path right now if we don’t make a change to have to open it in about four weeks. Doubling every 20 days with what we know, with what we’re seeing in the data, the increase in our test positivity. The virus has a pretty aggressive attack rate right now. Hopefully, I don’t want you to come to me in four weeks and say, “Hey gov, you didn’t open the hospital. You were not telling the truth.” That’s the whole plan. If everybody kind of reduces their social gatherings this weekend and next week, that is the goal to not open it.
Speaker 8: (01:03:01)
And just, you mentioned some of the case numbers and the data-
Gina Raimondo: (01:03:03)
… to not open it.
Speaker 9: (01:03:03)
You mentioned some of the case numbers and the data around these parties, and what you saw with these get togethers. Do you have any case data on the sports spectators and hockey to back up what you’re doing, and kind of what the spread has been in those situations?
Gina Raimondo: (01:03:16)
Maybe the doctor can help me out. I know that a third of all of our sports related cases are related to hockey specifically. Do you have anything else to add?
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (01:03:30)
Over the past three months, there have been 96 sports cases. 70% of those cases were associated with four specific sports: baseball, football, hockey … which as the governor said, was the third. Soccer, which is about 23% of the cases. A key component is of the 96 cases identified, we had over 970- so contacts that needed to be quarantined. That number is still climbing. It’s partially the sport activity. It’s moreso all of the work and the resources that it pulls from the system that occurs. The socializing before, the socializing after, the number of contacts, the number of athletes that are on more than one team. You can have one individual that causes 60 or so contacts to occur. That’s really the association.
Speaker 10: (01:04:37)
[crosstalk 01:04:37] Do you know how much of it’s the parents? How many of the percentage of cases is actually parents and not the kids?
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (01:04:43)
I don’t have that exact number, but we’ll get that for you.
Speaker 10: (01:04:46)
On that point with respect to indoor sports, I spoke with the general manager at one of the most popular indoor sporting facilities in the state. He says they’re already looking at test results. They’re temperature checking. There’s the compliance with how you feel that day. All that’s occurring. They’re cleaning. They’re doing everything they can. In fact, their bars are closed. They’re reducing spectators. A week from now, what is going to change that’ll make a significant impact? And why not just either close down youth sports as a whole? I guess in other words, what’s going to shift in a week or two that will make it worth continuing to have youth sports if it’s such a dangerous place for the virus?
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (01:05:28)
There’s much more we can do in the partnership together. The work that goes into identifying all of those contacts, getting all of the contact information of the people who were there, helping to ensure that folks understand what they need to do, how to quarantine, making sure that people have the information on how to get tested or what they need to do. We want to really work together on solidifying those types of requirements, and really expand the partnership on how we can do that together and more effectively … knowing that the goal is for you to be able to engage in sports. But there are a number of additional steps that we can do in our state and in the region to help us do it safer.
Gina Raimondo: (01:06:14)
Can I say something? There’s no guarantee that we’re reopening in a week. That would be a great outcome, but we need to sit down with the ice rinks, with the facilities and have a discussion. These are the conditions under which we think it would work. For instance, there’s a lot of travel with hockey right now. That’s not a good thing. There’s a lot of non-mask wearing. It’s not just kids. Adults playing hockey at ice rinks.
Gina Raimondo: (01:06:52)
We’re going to have to have a really serious discussion around what would they have to comply with in order to reopen. And hopefully we decide the answer is yes, but I am not … just to be clear, this could very well last more than a week if we can’t come to some shared understanding that there’s a way to do it safely, and we’re going to have strict compliance.
Speaker 11: (01:07:21)
[inaudible 01:07:21] Governor, just a couple of sports related questions? What’s your message to spectators now, especially in the high school level? [inaudible 01:07:29] They’re not going to be able to watch their kids. What’s your message to them?
Gina Raimondo: (01:07:35)
Could I please clarify something that I left out? The new rules do not apply to college or professional. The NCAA rules will apply to college, and the professional league rules apply to the professional league rules. Here’s the message. The reason it’s two weeks … we want them to finish their season. The choices were: do you shut it down, or do you let them finish their season? We’ve seen as much of a problem with spectators as we are with the kids. We are asking the parents to hold back for two weeks.
Gina Raimondo: (01:08:12)
Hopefully there’ll be able to go watch the playoffs, because the playoffs are after two weeks. Bear with us now. Stay away for two weeks, so hopefully you can go watch the kids in the playoffs. And also like I said when we do the final regulations, we’re going to allow some spectators for the littlest kids. So, mom, or dad, or somebody could go watch the little kids. But the bottom line is I think it’s what’s necessary for the next two weeks in order to let them finish their season and go ahead to do the playoffs. And hopefully you can go watch for the playoffs.
Speaker 12: (01:08:46)
And just along those lines, your message to the high school student athletes and the coaches to make sure they get to finish their season. I’m sure there’s a lot of them breathing sighs of relief right now.
Gina Raimondo: (01:08:57)
Yeah. It’s a priority of mine to let the athletes and the coaches finish their season. I should say that the coaches and the leaders of the Interscholastic League have been amazing. Like, Herculean efforts to keep these kids playing. And it’s because of that that they’ve been allowed to continue to play … having been a student athlete, and seeing the impact of that on myself and my kids, I think it’s necessary. We want the kids to keep playing and finish their season. Also, I don’t exactly know what the rules will be for winter sports. We are starting to work on that, but I’m hopeful that there will be some winter sports.
Speaker 13: (01:09:39)
I want to talk to Dr. Alexander-Scott. You mentioned football. What level of football were you are referencing the recovery cases?
Gina Raimondo: (01:09:50)
I don’t know.
Dr. Alexandra Scott: (01:09:53)
I’ll let Director [Floyd 01:09:54] certainly add to the extent that she would like to. Our requirement had been that football was only limited to practice and not competitive sports. Again, a credit to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. They’ve worked closely with us to help ensure those types of rules are followed. There are scenarios outside of that where it hasn’t been followed. The more you have people coming together competitively without a mask, without the distancing, the higher the risk. I need to get back to you as to whether it was just in competitive versus the practice, but it was in a scenario that we were asking to not take place.
Speaker 14: (01:10:43)
Governor, much of what you’ve said today was based on two weeks. I’m wondering if there’s some sort of magic to two weeks. Are you expecting something after that two week period to improve, or some sort of signal that would say we can go to another phase? And then secondly, you endorsed going outside and outside events. Do these regulations in terms of 10 or less now apply to outside events as well?
Gina Raimondo: (01:11:21)
No. I’ll answer the second question first, because it’s a quick answer. No. The 10 is just social gathering. It’s everything I put up on that slide. All the other … I mean, if it’s in your backyard, it certainly applies. But if you’re asking me weddings, and catered events, and all those regulations, those are still as they were.
Speaker 14: (01:11:43)
Well, sort of like the [inaudible 01:11:45] marketplace that is happening on Saturdays. Where the first time that it occurred a couple of weeks ago, there were actually a thousand people.
Gina Raimondo: (01:11:57)
At this point, that may change next Thursday for part two of these regulations. But right now, as of now, all the commerce rules remain intact. Something like that … official gathering, farmer’s markets, weddings, indoor events, restaurants, all the existing rules apply. I’m trying to see if we can stem the tide before having to take some of those measures.
Speaker 15: (01:12:29)
Governor. Is Twin River unaffected by any of the-
Gina Raimondo: (01:12:32)
At the moment. At the moment.
Speaker 15: (01:12:34)
And what about getting messages to people, like rallies and protests? For instance, Wednesday, there’s a rally already planned at the state house post the election. That’s not a protest. That’s just a rally. Large outdoor gathering. A lot of people close together.
Gina Raimondo: (01:12:48)
You know, it would violate the rules. It’s going to be more than 10, the gathering. People have a right … First Amendment rights. We’re going to handle it the way I have allowed the protests to go on throughout this. We won’t be heavy-handed in our approach. I’d ask you not to do it, because it’s a gathering more than 10. If you’re going to be there, wear your mask. We’ll be there passing out masks and enforcing social distancing.
Speaker 15: (01:13:18)
Do you do worship virtually, or do you go in?
Gina Raimondo: (01:13:21)
We have been going to mass in person.
Speaker 15: (01:13:25)
Okay. And that’s not a problem, because just virtually you can’t get communion.
Gina Raimondo: (01:13:29)
Correct. Again, like I said, if you go to church or wherever you worship, wear your mask, go in, have your service, leave, go right home. That could be okay. But the temptation to chat with your friends on the way in is great. If you think you can be truly disciplined, stay away, wear your mask, and go home right away, it could be fine. But if you think you can’t, I’m asking you to worship virtually.
Speaker 16: (01:14:00)
Governor, [crosstalk 01:14:01] I get questions as we stand here if you’ll allow me to from the people. One is what do you tell people who share placement with a child? Both of their households have multiple people in it. It would seem a difficult question.
Gina Raimondo: (01:14:18)
Yeah. Those are people you live with. I would say in that case you have to use your judgment. Those are your family. So, back to the point of write down on a piece of paper who you must be with, that’s your family. You live with them. They’re on your list. Inviting friends over, going out with your colleagues, that’s got to stop.
Speaker 16: (01:14:43)
Both households would qualify as family. And secondly, I received a video today from a person of their child in a high school. And today was their first day [inaudible 00:01:14:54]. Today they were in school, sends a video home of their child all bundled up, all the windows were open. The heat’s not on in school. What do you-
Gina Raimondo: (01:15:07)
So, they should call the school and see if they can get the heat on. There’s no good answers right now. This is about what’s the least bad, most healthy, least harmful option. I think being in school learning with your friends, instruction environment even if you’re chilly is a better option than shutting the school down.
Speaker 16: (01:15:35)
School’s got to meet them halfway though, right?
Gina Raimondo: (01:15:37)
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know that school. I am not there, so I don’t want to criticize anyone. But put the heat on.
Speaker 16: (01:15:44)
Speaker 17: (01:15:44)
Governor, one of the things that seems to confuse people is any kind of disparate treatment. We’ve talked about carpools versus school buses, school in classrooms versus manufacturing facilities. I would raise that in the context of protests. With the election coming up, I think people are going to be very actively interested. Many people I think are going to be upset with whatever the result is, and will want to protest and demonstrate. And lately there have been in Rhode Island’s particularly provenance protests about the moped driver and so on.
Speaker 17: (01:16:26)
You’ve said clearly that you feel that sort of protest violates your rules. But on the other hand, you said you don’t want to be heavy-handed. While I understand that disparate treatment of disparate groups is kind of to put it coarse … like saying, “Okay, we’re going to have an authorized section of the swimming pool where we let you urinate.” That’s not going to work with an infectious disease, and we all know that. But obviously you’re not trying to stop protests. In that context, what is your guidance to the police, to law enforcement, to mayors, to cities, and towns who may not share your tolerant view of protesting and seeing it as a necessary First Amendment activity? Are you concerned that the lack of buy-in from police law enforcement, mayors, and so forth on allowing protests could result in crackdowns, arrests, and violence?
Gina Raimondo: (01:17:32)
Yes. You make a good point. I’m clear gatherings of any kind greater than 10 people break the rules. That is clear. You have to ask yourself what’s the right way to enforce that rule in order to get compliance and the result you need. Escalating a situation and being heavy-handed could just increase the violence and actually decrease compliance. Our approach to these protests has been more born out of practical concerns and not out of a ideology per se. We’re trying to … like I just said to John, I’m discouraging it. To be clear, I am discouraging it.
Gina Raimondo: (01:18:24)
Figure out another way to exercise your First Amendment right without congregating and big groups. If it does happen though, rather than starting an altercation over mask wearing, we’re going to give you a mask. We’re going to give you a mask. We’re going to ask you to go home. But we’re not going to escalate a situation. And as it relates to disparate treatment, that’s what’s required right now. There’s just certain environments where we’re not seeing spread, and the societal benefits to enabling that are huge.
Gina Raimondo: (01:19:01)
There’s other environments where … I mean, why is anyone allowing their kids to have a 20 person party at this stage of the game? Why? So, yeah. We’re cracking down on that pretty hard because it’s got to stop right now. We have a goal. We have a goal. Keep people out of the hospital, keep the hospitals to be not overwhelmed, keep people at work, and keep this virus at a stable place until we have a vaccine. I’m going to use all the tools in my toolbox to get to that goal. Anyway, remember I’m back next Thursday. This is step one. When I come back next week with different rules, don’t say they were different than Friday. I’m telling you now there may be more next week once we think about it some more.
Speaker 18: (01:19:55)
Next question. Is the Boston Consulting Group … are they involved in these ongoing?
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:01)
Not anymore, no. They were ex excellent in the beginning, but for months we haven’t engaged them.
Speaker 18: (01:20:06)
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:11)
Oh. We’re now at 12 cases from that party. Sorry. In the time I’ve been here, initially I said there were five cases from that one party. We’re now up to 12 cases.
Speaker 19: (01:20:21)
In the East Bay?
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:22)
In the East Bay. You could easily see 500 people being quarantined, and that could take them to four different school districts. Those are the kinds of disruptive things that just have to stop. [crosstalk 01:20:35]
Speaker 19: (01:20:35)
Well, Middletown students.
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:38)
Is that not the East Bay? [crosstalk 01:20:40]
Speaker 20: (01:20:43)
There was a report of a large party that it was in Middletown. I just want to make sure you’re talking about the same thing.
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:48)
Speaker 21: (01:20:48)
Gina Raimondo: (01:20:51)
I had thought it was Bristol. That’s my bad. I thought it was Bristol. It’s Middletown. Are you from the East Bay? Is that where you’re-
Speaker 20: (01:20:58)
I actually had to look it up just to make sure that was included in the East Bay. Because I didn’t think it was-
Gina Raimondo: (01:21:20)
I stand corrected. Thanks. [crosstalk 01:21:20]