standing Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A fund established to support Rhode Islanders struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic has distributed another $700,000 to 23 nonprofits around the state to help with food, rent, utilities and other expenses, the fund announced Tuesday.

The COVID-19 Response Fund created in March by the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island has now awarded nearly $8 million in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.

One of the organizations helped in the latest round of funding is Connecting for Children & Families in Woonsocket. In addition to a food pantry and help with utility bills, the nonprofit has expanded its services to include a food-delivery service for frontline health workers, older and disabled residents.

The Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet in Scituate, the Housing Hotline in Newport, and the African Alliance in Providence are also among the organizations that received funding.

The fund has raised about $8.5 million, but there is still a need for donations, Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation said in a statement.

“As a state we have begun to shift focus from COVID-19 response to relief and recovery, but even with that positive shift, need in the community continues to grow,” he said.

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NUMBERS DECLINE

Rhode Island's coronavirus numbers are trending in the right direction.

The state Department of Health reported 71 new confirmed cases and three new deaths attributable to the virus Tuesday. There have now been 906 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

The 71 new cases were out of nearly 3,500 people tested, a positive rate of 2%. Gov. Gina Raimondo has said the goal is to keep that rate lower than 10%.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also continues to slowly decline, with 105 people in the hospital as of Saturday, the most recent day for which the data is available.

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PUBLIC TRANSIT LOSSES

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to cost the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority up to $80 million in lost ridership revenue over the next five years, agency officials say.

The state's bus operator had been losing riders even before the pandemic, which triggered a huge shift to working from home.

Fixed-route bus ridership fell 67% last month compared with May 2019, according to figures presented to the RIPTA board of directors, the Providence Journal reports. April ridership was down 72% year over year.

The agency expects to get $91 million in federal stimulus money to make up for the losses.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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

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