COVID-19 Updates, Metro, News

$5.4 million in aid issued to Rhode Island to combat COVID-19

Ocean State currently has five known cases of coronavirus, operating in state of emergency

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 12, 2020

In an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Rhode Island is receiving $4.9 million in supplemental aid as part of an $8.3 billion spending package issued by the Trump Administration, which comes in addition to a $500,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a press release published on the website of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Rhode Island Department of Health will use some of the aid to address the state’s shortage of coronavirus testing kits and protective equipment for doctors and nurses, including masks, gowns and goggles, according to a statement by Gov. Gina Raimondo. Another portion of the aid will contribute to funding a 24/7 hotline for medical questions about coronavirus and self-quarantining, she added.

The money will also go toward vaccine development, monitoring travelers, data management and funding for local governments to protect their communities, according to the press release.

On Tuesday, just one day after Raimondo declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island, the World Health Organization labelled the coronavirus a pandemic, according to The Boston Globe. “Congress did what they should have done. They acted, and they acted quickly,” Raimondo said. “Time is the most important asset right now.”

The number of known coronavirus cases rose from three to five in Rhode Island Tuesday, according to WPRI. Raimondo believes the Ocean State’s proactive response is a necessary precaution as that number continues to rise. She said that countries like Italy provide a warning to Rhode Island, as they were “overwhelmed too quickly” with new cases. “We’re putting in place a robust response in case we get to a place where we’re starting to have to test 100-200 people a day,” she said. “I hope we never get there. But we want to be ready if we (do).”

Whitehouse believes the aid will provide a “significant boost” to the preventative measures already being taken, according to a statement sent to The Herald. He wrote that “bipartisan, bicameral negotiations have moved with urgency” to provide appropriate funding and resources.

In the press release, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) said that the funding comes at a “critical time,” but believes preventative measures cannot end here. “I’ll continue to advocate with my Congressional colleagues for adequate resources to confront this crisis,” he said.

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