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Four more Rhode Islanders have died from the coronavirus, bringing the Ocean State’s total to eight, as Gov. Gina Raimondo described a race against time to prepare the state for a growing number of hospitalizations.

Raimondo said an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, from 41 on Monday to 59 on Tuesday, shows how quickly the illness is spreading.

“We need to buy a little time to ready the system -- more testing, more beds, more ventilators, more doctors,” the governor said during her daily briefing. “Only one way to buy us time -- every single person out there staying at home, minimizing your contact with other people, washing your hands for 30 seconds constantly, washing your surfaces.” 

State Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the four new deaths involved a man in his 60s, a woman in her 80s, and a man and a woman in their 70s.

With the state ramping up appointment-only testing at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, 488 cases of coronavirus have been identified. Within days, the state is expected to be able to test 1,000 people a day.

On the plus side, Raimondo said, a federal disaster declaration approved by President Trump will enable the state to get paid back for coronavirus-related costs.

But with the number of cases growing, Rhode Island still doesn’t have enough hospital beds for an expected surge, she said.

Because people are still congregating in groups at state parks and beaches, Raimondo said, she's closing their parking lots as of Friday. People can still visit the sites, but not by driving into the parking lots, she said.

Asked by reporters about a University of Washington projection that shows the possibility of more than 250 coronavirus deaths in Rhode Island by August, Raimondo said that figure could prove roughly accurate. But she said it also depends on how Rhode Islanders respond, particularly if they can limit the spread of the virus through social distancing.

Raimondo said Rhode Island has a desperate need for additional doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. She asked for those who are retired or with extra time available to respond through a state web site.

She also asked Rhode Islanders to keep a daily log, describing their activity and the people they came in contact with, in case it’s necessary to trace the source of an illness.

The governor again noted how the crisis represents a stressful time for Rhode Islanders.

Her message: “Take it a day at a time. Try to get through today. Reach out to us if you need help. Do everything you can to do something kind for a neighbor or a friend or a family member. And know that even though I don’t know how long this is going to last, know that we’re going to get a little bit better in responding to the crisis.”

Raimondo said she expects announcements in the coming days about getting food to people in quarantine and offering more mental health care for kids and adults “who just need someone to talk to.”

Alexander-Scott repeated a plea that anyone with symptoms of illness stay home.

Asked whether senior Republican legislative leaders should be part of the state’s decision-making, Raimondo said she doesn’t see a need for legislation at this time. “When the time comes, and I don’t know when that will be, then I’ll call the legislature back into session and we’ll figure out what to do. In the meantime, I’m asking all legislators to do what you’re doing – stay home, stay in touch with your constituents, and do your very best to get the word out to your constituents and also to get the word back to us.”

On Monday, GOP lawmakers called for a resumption of General Assembly meetings. The Democratic leaders of the legislature, who last week approved a $300 million emergency line of credit, have said they do not support renewing legislative activity at this moment.