Governor: About 200 linked to Italy trip under quarantine
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Roughly 200 people have been quarantined in Rhode Island because they have some connection to a school trip to Italy that has so far resulted in three cases of the new coronavirus, state officials said Thursday.
Gov. Gina Raimondo also said in a briefing about the state’s new measures to respond to the virus’s spread that a team from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been deployed to Rhode Island and that officials will be opening additional coronavirus testing sites across the state.
The Democrat said all state employees who have traveled to the coronavirus hotspots of China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy in the past two weeks have been ordered to self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days.
She urged other employers to impose similar policies and for schools and other organizations to cancel any planned group trips overseas.
Raimondo said people should also refrain from their visiting loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals if they’re feeling ill.
She said residents should also call the state’s coronavirus hotline first, rather than go to a hospital or doctor’s office, if they’re experiencing symptoms such as fever, coughing or difficulty breathing.
“We have to be smart about this and not panic,” Raimondo said, adding that the risk of contracting the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, remains low in Rhode Island.
Raimondo’s comments come after the Roman Catholic school at the center of three cases of coronavirus in Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced it will remain closed another week.
St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket said in an announcement Wednesday that all students who had contact with a faculty member who recently tested positive for the virus are being monitored until March 12.
The school near the Massachusetts border said it hopes to reopen March 16.
School officials said that the state hasn’t required the school remain closed, but that it has decided to take a “conservative approach” and is continuing to assign students online coursework through March 13.
The school has been closed since two cases of the virus were confirmed Sunday in a man in his 40s and a teenage student, both Rhode Island residents who had returned from a school trip to Italy in mid-February.
A man remains hospitalized and the student is recovering at home.
The third person who has since tested positive for the virus is a teacher at the school. She is a Massachusetts resident in her 20s.
All 38 people who took the trip including students and adult chaperones, were initially placed on a two-week home quarantine.