Nurse Natasha Viveiros waits for a patient at the state's first walk-up coronavirus testing site which opened Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Providence, R.I. The site in the parking lot of the Robert L. Bailey IV Elementary School is an effort to bring testing to underserved communities, authorities say. The tests are by appointment only with a referral from a health care professional. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Brown University has made available at no cost 700 single-occupancy dorm rooms for frontline Rhode Island workers who need a safe place to stay during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.

The rooms are for health care workers, nursing home employees, public safety personnel and others at high risk of contracting the virus and who do not want to risk infecting family members by staying at home, the Democrat said at her daily news briefing.

The rooms are not for people who have tested positive for the disease and need to stay in isolation.

Laundry and meal service are available for a fee, she said.

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NEW INFECTIONS

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 394 additional cases of COVID-19 and 16 new deaths on Tuesday. The 394 new cases, a single-day high since the pandemic began, brings the total number of positive cases in the state to 5,500. The state now has 171 deaths.

Of the 16 new deaths, six of the patients were in their 90s but one was their 30s, state Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said.

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SURGE PREPARATIONS

Two field hospitals in Providence and Cranston with a combined capacity of 1,000 beds are ready for a possible surge in coronavirus cases, the governor said, though she hopes they won't be needed.

“The peak isn't going to be nearly as bad as it could have been," she said.

The state has obtained about 1.5 million face masks for medical personnel in the past two weeks, about 90% of which were procured on the open market, Raimondo said, and not from federal stockpiles.

She said one of the biggest complaints she has heard from health care workers is having to re-use masks for days at a time, and the new equipment will ensure that workers can have a new mask every day.

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WALK-UP TESTING

Rhode Island's first walk-up coronavirus testing site opened Tuesday.

The site in the parking lot of the Robert L. Bailey IV Elementary School in Providence is an effort to bring testing to underserved communities, authorities say. The state Department of Health announced Monday that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has hit people of color particularly hard.

The site, which also offers drive-thru testing, is being run by the Providence Community Health Center.

It is a resource for people who don't have cars and can't drive to a more distant testing site, officials said.

“As we continue to see the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state, it is critical that everyone have access to the medical tests and care they need,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said in an emailed statement. “That’s why we are working with our community partners to provide care that is easy to get to and offered in multiple languages.”

The site has the capacity to administer 40 tests per day. The tests are by appointment only with a referral from a health care professional.

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INMATE INFECTED

A woman who tested positive for the coronavirus while in the community was recently brought to the state prison intake center where she has been placed in isolation, a Department of Corrections spokesman said Monday

“Our well-trained staff is fully prepared for such scenarios and we are taking every precaution to make sure everyone is safe,” prisons spokesman J.R. Ventura told The Providence Journal.

The woman is awaiting trial, he said. It is the second time someone who has tested positive in the community has been brought to a state prisons facility. The first person has already been released.

No other inmates have tested positive, Ventura said.

The state Department of Corrections also said Monday that a sixth staffer has tested positive for COVID-19. The person is an employee at the women’s facility at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, Ventura said.