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Raimondo pointed to some indicators, like a decline in recent weeks in the percentage of infected Rhode Islanders, as good news. But during her daily briefing on Saturday, she maintained a message that residents need to take COVID-19 seriously as they start to circulate more.

“I’m imploring the people of Rhode Island to not go too fast in this first phase,” Raimondo said. “The risk of going too fast in the next couple of weeks is enormous. We risk going backwards. So let’s go slow. The plan is go slow and steady, to test our systems.”

At the same time, the state reported 19 deaths, bringing the state’s coronavirus toll to 418. Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said six of those who died were in their 90s, five in their 80s, four in their 70s and four in their 60s.

The lifting of a stay at home order became effective Saturday.

At Avie’s Ski/Sport in Westerly, owner Ted Avedesian was among the merchants statewide welcoming customers back to a drastically changed retail landscape.

"I've never experienced this before. Nobody has,” Avedesian said. “I've been in retail for 45 years. But we've never done this before. It is truly the unknown. I have to constantly be concerned about separation, people wearing masks, both my customers and my employees, cleaning. I have a big poster out in front that stops customers, saying, ‘Are you sick? Do you have a facemask? Do you have this? Do you have that?’ ”

Back at the briefing, Alexander-Scott said seven Health Department workers have tested positive and are resting at home.

“This is not in any way interrupting our COVID-19 response,” she said. “We have done extensive planning and have worked closely with the state’s IT department leadership …. to ensure that people are able to continue working remotely and even to accelerate the process that we have been preparing for.”

Less than 10 percent of the latest 2,549 Rhode Islanders to be tested, 210, have tested positive for the virus.

The number of hospitalized Rhode Islanders fell to 292, with 77 in the ICU and 56 on ventilators.

Raimondo said she has not been tested for COVID-19 since she believes she has not come into contact with anyone who is positive for the virus.

Alexander-Scott said she tested negative weeks ago and plans to have another test she visited the Health Department’s Smith Hill offices recently.

Alexander-Scott said the vast majority of the Rhode Islanders whose deaths are linked with COVID-19 have been 70 or older: 24 percent have been 70-79, she said; 32 percent, 80-89; and 23 percent, 90-99.

Raimondo said a moratorium on utility shutoffs has been extended through the end of May.

She also mentioned a new free effort to provide counseling for Rhode Islanders burdened by college loans and how the US Department of Agriculture has approved a plan to provide boxed meals for needy residents through Farm Fresh Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

Raimondo said she and Alexander-Scott will issue a video greeting on Mother's Day instead of staging a briefing. Moving ahead, the governor said, regular briefings will be cut back to operate on a Monday to Friday basis.

South County reporter Alex Nunes contributed to this report. Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.