R.I. visitor restrictions toughened; no evictions before mid-May

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s governor said Thursday that the state nearly doubled its coronavirus testing over the past week, and she announced tough new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the outbreak.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state is now conducting more than 1,800 tests daily, well over her goal a week ago of 1,000 tests a day.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s perfect … but we’ve made enormous progress,” Raimondo said.

Testing sites would close Thursday afternoon because of lightning in the forecast, she added. Most of the state’s testing is conducted outside in drive-up tents that contain metal equipment.

Raimondo signed an executive order intended to double down on forced quarantines and isolation for people who have been diagnosed with the virus or had close contact with someone who has. The new rules allow authorities to fine out-of-state visitors who don’t self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling to Rhode Island.

“This is going to get harder, not easier,” she said. “It’s necessary to help keep everyone healthy, safe and alive.”

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NO EVICTIONS THROUGH MID-MAY

Rhode Island’s governor is reassuring people struggling to pay their rent that they cannot be evicted because courts are closed at least until mid-May.

Raimondo said Wednesday night in a message to Rhode Islanders that courts have extended their closure for all nonessential business through May 17 because of the pandemic.

“This means the courts are not hearing any eviction matters through May 17. Tenants need to know that you cannot be evicted at this time,” she said.

Landlords are required to get a court order to evict tenants.

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PROVIDENCE COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT

Providence College is postponing its May commencement exercises to Oct. 31 because of the pandemic, the college said Thursday.

The college said it still plans to confer degrees on May 17 in a virtual ceremony, but the traditional procession in caps and gowns at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center had to be pushed to autumn as a precaution.

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LATEST CASES

As of Thursday afternoon, Rhode Island’s death toll rose by eight to a total of 43 fatalities, with 277 additional cases pushing the total to 1,727. The most recent deaths included individuals ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s, authorities said.

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