Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Wednesday told President Donald Trump to “do your job,” a day after the Republican president said there would be no action before the election on economic stimulus legislation.
The Democratic governor warned of dire consequences for the state if there is no additional coronavirus aid from the federal government.
“The bottom line is, come on, like do your job," she said in response to a question at a news conference. “Be serious, give us some certainty give us some predictability, send us some stimulus, let us know how much, so we can get to the serious work of planning Rhode Island's budget.”
The state is planning for every eventuality, including how to balance the state budget without any additional federal stimulus.
“If we don't get a stimulus, it's going to be awful," Raimondo said. “Layoffs like we’ve never seen in public service, cuts to health care, cuts to education, horrible choices that nobody including myself wants to make.”
Trump later Tuesday tweeted the idea of some piecemeal aid.
Even though it remains uncertain exactly when an effective coronavirus vaccine is available, Rhode Island is already preparing for that time, Raimondo said.
The state is setting aside tens of millions of dollars to ensure that there are adequate resources to distribute a vaccine, and has established a panel of experts not only to assess the safety and efficacy of any potential treatments, but also to advise the administration on how to prioritize distribution, she said.
"We went to make sure in Rhode Island everybody has access to the vaccine, regardless of where you live, rich or poor, immigration status, your neighborhood, whether or not you have insurance, we want to take care of you and we want it to be safe and effective,” she said.
The coronavirus vaccine panel is a subcommittee of the state's existing Vaccine Advisory Committee.
There have been 260 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among students, faculty and staff in schools since classes resumed in mid-September, but most of those people were working or learning remotely and had not set foot in a school building, Raimondo said.
There have been confirmed cases in 95 schools, but 69 of those schools had one case because of the state's aggressive isolation and contact tracing efforts, she said.
”That means in all of those schools, the system is working," she said.
Only 109 of those positive cases were tested at the state's dedicated K-12 testing sites, while the rest were tested outside the system.
Raimondo appealed to the state's retired teachers to get back in the classroom to address a severe statewide shortage of substitutes brought on by the pandemic.
“I'm putting a call out to all retired teachers — we need your help," she said.
Substitutes are particularly needed for virtual learning, she said.
She also encouraged anyone looking for a career change to apply for the state Department of Education substitute teacher training program.
Qualified candidates can take a free 10-hour course that includes training in child development, curriculum development, engagement strategies, classroom management and other skills.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT NUMBERS
The state Department of Health on Wednesday reported 145 new confirmed cases of the disease out of about 9,500 tests, a positivity rate of about 1.5%.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Rhode Island has risen slightly over the past two weeks to 1.53% as of Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
That's within Raimondo's goal of keeping the rate lower than 2%.
The state also reported one additional death, a person in their 80s, department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said.
There date's death toll is now 1,126 people.
There were 107 patients with coronavirus in Rhode Island hospitals on Monday, the most recent date for which the information was available, up from 95 the previous day. Ten were in intensive care.
Twenty-four patients who tested positive were admitted to hospitals on Monday, the highest single-day total since May 25.