PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The 2020 Newport Folk and Newport Jazz festivals were canceled by organizers Wednesday, the same day Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said that all events that attract crowds of more than 50 people will not be allowed to take place this summer as the state continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to evolve unpredictably and in accordance with state guidance on large gatherings, we are deeply saddened to announce that both the 2020 Newport Folk and Newport Jazz Festivals will be canceled this summer," organizers said on the festivals' website.
The three-day Folk Festival was scheduled for July 31 to Aug. 3. The Jazz Festival was scheduled for Aug. 7-9.
July 4th parades and large weddings with more than 50 guests also will not be allowed to go on, the governor said.
“It’s a killer announcement for me to have to make, and my stomach is in a knot as I think about Aquidneck Island and Newport and Westerly and Bristol, with the Fourth of July Parade, and the Newport Folk Festival and all of the events that we have that make Rhode Island great and buoy our tourism economy,” the Democratic governor said.
State Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott disclosed more information Wednesday about the racial disparities in COVID-19 infection rates among Rhode Islanders.
There are 1,129 cases for every 100,000 state residents who identify as Latino, she said.
There are 911 cases per 100,000 African American state residents.
There are 220 cases per 100,000 white residents, she said.
Latino and black residents are hospitalized more, and death rates are “more or less consistent across all races," she said. A department chart shows the death rate among Latinos lower than for African American and white residents.
Raimondo said the state has received $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money so far and gave a “very preliminary" breakdown of where it will be spent. Some will go to nursing homes and hospitals, to cities and towns and for temporary supplemental pay for low-income workers, she said.
BY THE NUMBERS
There were more than 320 new cases of the virus in Rhode Island and 12 more related deaths, the state Department of Health reported Wednesday.
There have now been nearly 8,250 cases in the state and 251 deaths.
There are nearly 270 people currently hospitalized with the disease, with 80 in intensive care and 55 on ventilators.
The state Division of Taxation assured Rhode Islanders on Wednesday that they will get their state tax refunds on time, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gina Raimondo was asked about possible delays in issuing tax refunds by a reporter during her daily news briefing Tuesday.
The pandemic and the resulting decline in revenue “in no way impairs our ability” to issue tax refunds, the Democratic governor replied.
State revenue from Rhode Island's two casinos, shuttered because of the pandemic, plummeted last month, according to state figures.
Revenue from slot machines at casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton totaled $16.3 million in March, down 67% compared with the same month last year, when the slots brought in nearly $50 million, WPRI-TV reported, citing state lottery data.
The casinos, both operated by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, closed March 14.
State revenue from table games and sports betting at the two facilities also fell sharply.
Gambling generates about $400 million per year for the state.
The mayor of the state's second-largest city announced Wednesday that he will lay off up to 50 municipal workers to make up for a pandemic-related decline in revenue.
Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon, a Democrat, said in an emailed statement that the layoffs were necessary because the city employees union refused a request to forgo a scheduled pay raise.
Union head Walter Hartley confirmed to WPRI-TV that the majority of 190 city workers who participated in an online meeting last week voted to reject the mayor’s proposal.