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Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo outlined Monday a series of factors that will be used in deciding when the state can reopen its economy, and she expressed hope for some forward momentum after May 8.

‘The Six Key Indicators for Reopening’ cited by the governor include a decline in infections, and whether the state has the healthcare capacity and necessary equipment to handle a potential resurgence in cases.

“Before I say we can reopen, I need to have confidence that we can do enough tests per day in every population, we have adequate contact tracing, so that we can quickly pinpoint a problem going forward,” Raimondo said.

The other indicators are having the necessary support for vulnerable populations and anyone in quarantine; whether businesses, schools, faith-based organizations and other groups have plans for long-term social distancing; and capacity on part of the state to impose restrictions, or re-close certain sectors of the economy, if it becomes necessary.

While there’s a lot of uncertainty about the way forward, Raimondo said Rhode Islanders should take confidence from how well the state has responded.

“We have more testing per capita than almost any place,” she said during her daily briefing. “Our healthcare system is being well coordinated, and we have an excellent surge plan. We have a field hospital nearly ready to use – was built in record time.

The state’s existing orders on coronavirus remain in effect until May 8, and Raimondo said she hopes a decline in cases will allow for the relaxation of some of those orders after that date.

But the governor also counseled patience since, she said, what had once been considered normal will not return without the development of a vaccine or therapy, expected to be more than a year away.

She said she's sympathetic to people frustrated by the closing of the economy, and knows that many people are out of work and hurting economically.

Raimondo, however, said prematurely reopening the economy will do more harm than good.

“You can see so clearly from the experience of other states and other countries that when they took the foot off the gas from social distancing too soon, they just get right back into trouble," she said. "And we’ve worked too hard for too long and too much sacrifice to take that risk.”

The state Health Department said the deaths of five more people, three in their 90s, and one each in their 60s and 80s (all nursing home residents, are attributed to the coronavirus, bringing the state’s toll to 155.

Meanwhile, a decline in newly identified positive cases over the last two days was reversed with 339 new cases, pushing Rhode Island’s total COVID-19 cases over 5,000, with 5,090.

Raimondo said the increase reflects expanded testing. As she has before, she credited Rhode Islanders’ compliance with social distancing orders with blunting the impact of the virus in Rhode Island.

While the governor last week released modeling data showing the state might need more than 2,000 beds from late April to early May, under an optimistic projection, the actual need is now expected to fall far short of that. Raimondo chalked that up to how models are a snapshot in time and how variables can change the results.

Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state is continuing to review information on the demographic impact of COVID-19. Initial data shows that Latinos account for more than 40 percent of the cases, and African-Americans are also disproportionately affected.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org