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The coronavirus is unlikely to overwhelm Rhode Island’s healthcare capacity thanks to the degree of social distancing by residents, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday, but thousands of people are still expected to die from the virus.

In her first discussion of the state’s modeling projections, Raimondo said the number of deaths through October is likely to be between 2,000 and 4,000.

Despite that grim toll, the governor lauded Rhode Islanders for putting the state in far better shape than it was a few weeks ago, due to their compliance with stay at home orders and social distancing.

 “We’re in pretty good shape,” Raimondo said during her daily briefing. “We’ve been preparing for the worst. If we need to, we will be ready with over 3,500 hospital beds in the next few weeks. But because we’ve all been working our tails off, including you and those of you who are staying at home, teaching your kids at home, struggling through this, wearing your mask, washing your hands – because of you, I don’t think we’re going to see that [worst-case scenario].”

Because of residents’ actions, the state’s peak hospitalization is expected May 3, with a need for 2,225 beds – a number that could be accommodated through existing hospital beds, the governor said.

“It will be very difficult …. But it is possible,” Raimondo said.

The governor warned that if residents relax their compliance with stay at home orders and social distancing, the peak stress on the healthcare system will come sooner, April 27, with a need for 4,300 beds.

Raimondo said the state is still working to prepare for the worse scenario, but is not yet there.

Looking out until the end of October, projections for the number of deaths range from roughly 2,000 to 4,000.

Social distancing is the biggest variable in reducing the impact, Raimondo said: “So for those of you who wonder, does it really matter, it really matters. We’re talking double the number of deaths, double the number of hospital beds, determined by what we do together as a community right now in the next couples of weeks.”

State officials announced 18 additional deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the state’s toll to 105. More details are available on the state Health Department web site.

The number of positive cases climbed by 308, to 3,838.

Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the deaths occurred Wednesday or before, but had not previously been confirmed as related to the virus. Seven of the deceased were in their 70s, seven in their 80s, and four in their 90s, she said. All were residents of congregate living facilities such as nursing homes.

Raimondo downplayed a concern cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, leader of a White House task force, that Rhode Island could be a future hot spot for the virus.

The governor said Rhode Island is testing people at about twice the rate of Connecticut and Massachusetts, so an increase in cases is not surprising.

Alexander-Scott pointed to a high proportion of elderly in the state, and the density of some Rhode Island cities, in explaining how the state has had a fairly high fatality rate from the illness.

Alexnander-Scott said Latinos are disproportionately represented, with about 45 percent of the coronavirus cases in Rhode Island.

In related news, Raimondo said she is not yet ready to announce whether virtual learning will continue for the rest of the K-12 school year. She said she has some hope that students may be able to return to traditional classrooms.

But the governor poured cold water on summer events with thousands of people. She said those are the type of thing that will be the last to get restarted.