standing Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is committing $8.2 million to boost pay and help retain workers in the state's nursing homes, group homes and other congregate care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

The Workforce Stabilization Loan Program is expected to benefit more than 10,300 workers who make less than $20 per hour at 164 facilities dedicated to caring for the elderly, people with developmental disabilities, substance-use disorders and at-risk youth.

“Once again, Rhode Island saw a critical need caused by the COVID-19 crisis and we responded — quickly and effectively. These caregivers are helping our most vulnerable residents and the state needs to help them in return,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The loans to providers will be forgiven by the state as long as the funds are spent exclusively on employee wages.

The program covers hours worked from May 4 to June 1.

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VIRUS UPDATES

Rhode Island Health officials reported 14 new deaths from the virus on Tuesday, bringing the state’s death toll to nearly 450. They also reported 164 additional positive cases, bringing the total to nearly 12,000, according to the state Department of Health.

The majority of the state’s deaths have been in long-term care facilities.

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FOOD PANTRY DEMAND

Rhode Island's food pantries have seen a surge in demand because the coronavirus pandemic has put more than 100,000 state residents out of work, officials said.

Demand is up by about 30%, Andrew Schiff, CEO of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, told WJAR-TV and his organization is on track to deliver 50% more food than it normally would by the end of May.

“So many people lost work. Whatever savings they’ve had, they ran through that savings,” Schiff said.

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DRIVE-INS REOPENING

Two Rhode Island drive-in movie theaters are scheduled to reopen Friday, but with changes.

The owners of the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In in North Smithfield posted on Facebook that in order to comply with state social-distancing guidelines, every other parking space will be left empty, masks must be worn at all times when outside a vehicle, and concession stand orders can now be called in.

The Misquamicut Drive-in in Westerly is limiting attendance to about half its normal capacity.

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

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