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Governor Gina M. Raimondo on Saturday banned all gatherings in Rhode Island of more than five people and told residents to “stay at home” as part of new, broader measures to contain the coronavirus which health officials confirmed has resulted in the state’s first two deaths.

 “Our best estimate is we have maybe 50 % compliance’’ with the previous social-distancing orders, Gov. Raimondo said during a news conference. State officials are receiving reports of crowds gathered at the seawall in Narragansett, she said, in grocery stores and in big-box retailers. “Knock it off,’’ Raimondo said. “You are risking the lives of everyone in this state.”

Starting Monday, the governor ordered all “non-essential” retail businesses to shut down until April 13. Raimondo said she was taking this step “reluctantly after great consideration’’ because of lack of compliance with the previous order, which was limiting gatherings to 10 people.

The order does not include manufacturers or other industries. “I want you to keep running for as long as you can,’’ Raimondo said, “as long as you can do it safely.”

In addition to self-quarantine rules announced Friday for people traveling from New York to Rhode Island, Raimondo said that anyone coming to Rhode Island for “non-work reasons” must self-quarantine for 14 days.

The new five-person limit on gatherings, Raimondo said,  is designed to limit each of our contacts to the same five people to curb the virus’ spread. “This is about limiting the number of human contacts each one of us  has with anyone,'' she said. If outside, people are asked to practice social distancing, which includes keeping a distance of six feet. Anyone who is sick, even if it's "the sniffles," must stay at home, she said.

“Too many residents are not following the mandates,’’ the state Health Department’s director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, said. “We need 100 % of the Rhode Island population to follow these directives.”

The new restrictions were announced the same day the state reported that two Rhode Island residents died after contracting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Both residents were over 70 and had underlying medical conditions, health officials said. One of the patients, in their 80s, died Friday night; the other, in their 70s, died Saturday.

As of Saturday, 239 people had tested positive for COVID-19, and 29 patients are hospitalized, state health officials said.  About 2,500 people have been asked to self-quarantine, not including people who have traveled to Rhode Island from New York.

Members of the US Army Corps of Engineers have been scouting the state for places to locate additional medical facilities in case of surge in COVID-19 patients.  Rhode Island needs to be able to provide “thousands of extra hospital beds,” Raimondo said, in order to meet the anticipated demand during a surge. But she said the state is not ready yet to handle a surge. 

“We’re in a ferocious fight” with every other state and country to get the medical supplies needed to expand testing, she said. The state needs more swabs, test kits, reagents and other supplies, she said, to more than double the current level of testing to 1,000 people a day, on par with the pace of South Korea, considered a model for its response to the virus.

-Lynn Arditi, health reporter, larditi@thepublicsradio.org