Under the new metrics, Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls would not be eligible for a full in-person reopening if school was to begin this week. In order to return to in-person learning in the fall, a city must have fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents each week. Out of the three districts, Providence is the closest to reopening, averaging 103 cases per 100,000 people as of last week’s data.

“It is my hope—certainly in the case of Providence—that we get you back to school,” Governor Gina Raimondo said of all the school districts. State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green said RIDE is working closely with school districts to firm up contingency plans for the fall. 

“The numbers will dictate how we move forward,” Infante-Green said.

Over the past few weeks, Rhode Island has seen a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases, with some spikes surpassing 100 cases per day. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut recently added Rhode Islanders to their required-quarantine lists. 

But the statewide positivity rate remains under 3 percent. Governor Raimondo said the increase in numbers signifies a turning point, but not an emergency. At least not yet. “It should serve as a wake-up call for the people of Rhode Island,” Governor Raimondo said. Raimondo noted a possible redeeming aspect of the travel restrictions, claiming they could reduce travel to and from Rhode Island. But Raimondo admitted the tourist and restaurant industry could take a hit.

“We have a choice right now. We need to clamp down ourselves and get more serious.” Raimondo said, before introducing some new restrictions. 

Beginning Sunday, travelers to Rhode Island staying in hotels or rental properties will have to sign a compliance form agreeing to quarantine for two weeks or demonstrate proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of arrival. Raimondo says members of the National Guard and the Department of Health will be positioned at airports and train stations to inform travelers of new restrictions. 

Raimondo had another note for Rhode Islanders who made plans to leave the state this weekend. The Rhode Island Convention Center will offer rushed testing for those who indicate their travel plans. Raimondo says labs will work to return results within 48 hours. 

Raimondo also announced that two COVID-19 testing labs will open next week. The new labs, Accu Reference and Dominion Diagnostics, will each conduct 1,000 tests per day, guaranteeing results in 24 to 48 hours. Next month, Dominion Diagnostics will ramp up daily testing by 7,000, bringing the total additional testing in Rhode Island to 9,000. 

And the Department of Health announced today that all Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 39 now qualify for asymptomatic testing. The move comes in an effort to target the state’s younger demographic. The Department of Health has attributed large social gatherings and lack of compliance—particularly among young people—to the state’s recent case spikes. 

Governor Raimondo announced that she has created a special Crush COVID unit within the state police department to field confidential reports of oversized social gatherings. Raimondo urged Rhode Islanders to “do their civic duty” and report any oversized gatherings using the new hotline. Individuals within an oversized crowd could face up to a $500 fine. 

Governor Raimondo also cautioned today that bars continue to be part of the crowding problem. She said an 11PM curfew for the state’s bars will go into effect Friday. Raimondo says if the curfew does not yield improvements, she will consider shutting down bars altogether.