Rhode Island lawmakers in the House of Representatives deliberate on the floor of the House Chamber while separated by plastic protective barriers during a legislative session Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. Wednesday's session was the first by the legislature on the floor of the chamber since March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island officials on Wednesday reported 11 new coronavirus deaths and 49 new positive cases.

That brings the state’s virus death toll to 876. The state has reported more than 16,200 positive cases. Nearly 130 people are hospitalized, according to data released by the state.

There were 17 patients in intensive care. That’s an increase of one patient from the previous day. Thirteen patients were on ventilators.

Besides the 49 tests that came back positive, about 2,800 tests came back negative — representing a positive test rate of less than 2 percent, according to the state.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said the positive testing rate has been higher in more densely populated areas of Rhode Island, but added that even in more urban communities, results were improving.

The Democrat said the positive testing rate in Providence has been below 10 percent for the past few days compared to around 18% or 19% at the end of May.

Tests would also soon be available at four Stop & Shop locations for asymptomatic individuals, she said.

The locations are in Cranston and Pawtucket and two in Providence.

Each of these locations can perform 30 tests a day — on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Each of the sites has the capacity to test 30 patients per day.

Raimondo said she plans to release more details of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan at her next briefing on Friday.



Rhode Island lawmakers in the House on Wednesday approved legislation that would reduce how many signatures congressional candidates need to collect to get on the ballot.

The bill cuts in half the signature requirements — from 1,000 to 500 for candidates for the U.S. Senate and from 500 to 250 for the U.S. House as candidates struggle with safely collecting signatures during a pandemic.

The bill did not change the signature requirements for the state Senate which remains 100, or for the state House which will stay at 50.

It was the first time the chamber has convened in three months. To help curb any potential spread of the coronavirus, plexiglass was installed on three sides of each lawmaker’s desk.