PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — After shedding tens of thousands of jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, Rhode Island added jobs and saw a decrease in its unemployment rate last month, the state Department of Labor and Training reported Thursday.

The state added more than 13,000 nonfarm jobs in May, for an employment level of 423,400.

But that was still about 80,000 fewer jobs than in May 2019.

Most of the job gains were in the accommodation, food services and retail sectors, among the hardest hit businesses when the economy was shut down in March due to the pandemic.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 16.3% last month, down from 18.1% in April. The national unemployment rate last month was 13.3%, the department said.

The state's unemployment rate in May 2019 was 3.6%.

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LOW POSITIVE RATE

Forty people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Rhode Island, out of more than 3,100 people tested Wednesday, a positive rate of 1.3%, the state Department of Health reported Thursday.

The department also reported eight additional coronavirus-related deaths, for a statewide fatality total of 920.

The number of people hospitalized, according to the latest data, was 103, down slightly from the previous day. Eighteen of those patients are in intensive care.

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CITY WATERPARKS REOPENING EARLY

The city of Providence is reopening all but one of its waterparks on Friday in anticipation of a hot weekend, the office of Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Thursday.

The waterparks were originally scheduled to reopen next Wednesday. Bathrooms and concession stands will remain closed.

Only 15 people at a time will be able to use the parks and will be limited to 45 minutes. All users will have their temperature taken before playing and the facilities will be sanitized between each group.

The Roger Williams Park Botanical Center and the Museum of Natural History are still scheduled to open Wednesday on a limited basis with recommended sanitation and social distancing guidelines.

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BLOCK ISLAND FERRY

High-speed ferry service from Fall River, Massachusetts, to Block Island likely won't run for another several weeks due to health and safety concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say.

“I would say August probably. It might be financially viable by then,” William McCombe, director of security for Interstate Navigation, the company that operates the service, told The Herald News.

McCombe said seasonal, high-speed ferry trips from Newport to Block Island are also on hold until further notice.

Traditional ferry service is running, but at 40% to 50% capacity to maintain passenger social distancing guidelines, he said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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