- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Wednesday called for people to avoid attending or organizing events with more than 250 people amid concerns about the new coronavirus.

The guidance stops short of the outright bans that have been issued in harder-hit parts of the United States, but the governor said it was in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control for places that have minimal to moderate community transmission. As of Wednesday afternoon, five Rhode Island residents had tested positive, she said. The intention, she said, was to contain the spread of the virus.

“We have one shot to get this right. Everybody get in the boat and row in the same direction so we can put a lid on coronavirus before, as we’ve seen in other places, it gets out of control,” Raimondo said at an afternoon news conference.

Raimondo did not recommend that K-12 schools close, citing considerations such as children being less susceptible to severe illness, how many children rely on school for breakfast and lunch, and that if children are not in school, they may be left with elderly relatives. She also did not recommend that businesses shut down.

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GUN CONTROL HEARING POSTPONED

A legislative hearing on gun control measures scheduled for the Rhode Island State House on Wednesday that had been expected to draw a large crowd has been postponed over concerns about the new coronavirus.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing was postponed based on the recommendation of Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, according to a statement from the state House of Representatives.

It will be rescheduled. All other House committee hearings will be held as scheduled Wednesday.

Cancelling or postponing large events is an important tool in limiting the spread of the disease, Alexander-Scott said in a statement.

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ONLINE LEARNING

Some colleges in Rhode Island are transitioning to online classes for the immediate future to prevent the possible spread of the new coronavirus.

The University of Rhode Island announced Wednesday that starting Monday, all face-to-face graduate and undergraduate classes are canceled, and that beginning March 23 and at least until April 3, all undergraduate and graduate classes will be delivered remotely.

Campus intercollegiate athletic events will continue, but fans will be prohibited, and only players, coaches and essential staff with be allowed to attend.

Roger Williams University also announced it is switching to online instruction starting Monday and continuing for as long as necessary.

Many colleges around the county are switching to online classes in response to the coronavirus threat.

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TWO MORE POSITIVE CASES

Two more Rhode Island residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, state health officials say.

The new cases announced Tuesday bring the state’s total to five, the state Department of Health said in a release. They are considered presumptive until they are confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the new cases is in a woman in her 50s who had recently traveled to Egypt, the department said. The other case is a woman in her 30s who works at a hospital in the state. The source of her infection remains under investigation.

Both women are recovering at home, the department said.

Health officials are reaching out to anyone who had contact with the women and instructing them to self-quarantine.

Gov. Gina Raimondo has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

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ST. PATRICK’S PARADE GOES ON

The Newport City Council has voted to allow the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade to go on as scheduled this Saturday, despite the virus.

The council voted after listening to comments from the public that were overwhelmingly in favor of holding the event. They cited the importance of the parade for the city’s businesses.

Boston and several other Massachusetts cities have canceled their St. Patrick’s Day parades.

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HOSPITAL VISITS CURTAILED

Another Rhode Island hospital group has announced visitor restrictions to address concerns about the coronavuris.

Care New England President Dr. James Fanale in a statement Wednesday said adult patients at the group’s hospitals will not be allowed visitors. Obstetric patients will be allowed one designated support person. Neonatal intensive care unit patients will be allowed two designated support people. Emergency room patients will be allowed only one accompanying adult.

Care New England runs Kent, Butler and Women & Infants hospitals.

Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital group, announced visitor restrictions on Monday.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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