PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Restrictions that required many Rhode Island businesses to close early to thwart the spread of the coronavirus have been lifted.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo issued an executive order Friday eliminating the requirement that many businesses, including restaurants, close at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
State Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said earlier this week that the curfew would be lifted Sunday because key coronavirus metrics were heading in the right direction.
But Matt Sheaff, a spokesperson for the state Commerce Department, said Friday's order ends the operating hour restriction put in place in late November, effective immediately.
The order also extends to Feb. 27 a range of other restrictions on travel, social gatherings and businesses that Raimondo has imposed to help control spread of the virus.
“Small businesses, especially our restaurants, have been hit so hard during this pandemic,” Sheaff said in a statement. “Because our COVID-19 data is showing positive signs across the board, we are able to gradually relax some of the business restrictions in place.”
The state Department of Health on Friday reported 550 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, 10 additional virus-related deaths and a daily positivity rate of 2.9%.
The number of people in the hospital with the disease was 324 as of Wednesday, the latest day for which the information was available and the lowest single-day total since Nov. 14.
The latest seven-day average positivity rate in Rhode Island is 3.73%, down from 5.55% two weeks ago.
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 has now dropped over the past two weeks from almost 971 on Jan. 14 to about 710 on Thursday, according to the project.
Almost 67,000 residents has received their first dose of a vaccine, and nearly 23,000 have now also received their second dose, the department said.
TWO SCREENS FOR TEACHERS
Hundreds of Providence public school teachers are getting a second computer monitor from a nonprofit that will enhance their remote teaching capabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A second screen lets teachers see their students on one screen and their lesson plans on the other,” Matt Lerner, a cofounder of Two Screens for Teachers said in a statement. “A second monitor helps teachers and students immediately with remote learning during COVID."
More than 400 Providence teachers will get a second monitor. The cost of the monitors is approximately $50,000.
“This has been an incredibly challenging 12 months for our teachers as they adjust to changes not only in their daily routines but in their instructional delivery,” schools Superintendent Harrison Peters said in a statement.
VACCINE SLOTS FILL FAST
It took just about half an hour for the city of Warwick to fill up all the slots for the 390 COVID-19 vaccines for residents 75 and older it is offering next week.
City officials announced just after 1 p.m. Thursday that it would begin offering vaccination appointments at 2 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis to people who registered online. By 2:31 p.m. all the slots were filled, a city spokesperson told The Providence Journal.
The city expects to get additional doses, perhaps 500 a week, in the near future.
The shots are being administered at the Swift Community Center in East Greenwich from Monday to Wednesday.