COVID-19 Update: Over 400 cases, Outside travel restricted, Distance Learning Extended through May

The United States currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. In response, state and federal leaders are now taking even more serious measures in order to reduce the spread of the potentially fatal infection. Governor Gina Raimondo caused a stir over the weekend regarding her executive order to force out of state drivers from New York to self quarantine for 14 days. Governor Cuomo of New York publicly denounced the policy, questioning its legality. In response, Raimondo expanded the executive order to every state. Commercial vehicles will be exempted from the new order. Gina Raimondo also officially announced a stay-at-home order. This escalation was caused because of the amount of reports of people not following the original social distancing guidelines, with only an estimated 50% of Rhode Islanders actually complying. Under the stay-at-home order, residents are expected to only leave their homes to meet essential needs. Additionally, groups greater than five are prohibited from gathering. State and local offices have begun issuing fines to people who are caught violating the person limit. On Monday, March 30 an additional 114 cases were reported, bringing the total to over 400 cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island. Forty-one people are currently hospitalized because of the disease and four people have died in the state. As more tests are being delivered, the number of cases in Rhode Island rises and the hopes is that more strict adherence to social distancing will be able to minimize overloading the health care system, a problem which many states are already dealing with– notably New York. Another announcement on Monday was the extension of distance learning in Rhode Island to at least the end of May. The Governor expressed hesitance on “just giving up on 142,000 kids,” in reference to closing schools for the rest of the year. According to reports, participation in online classes has been higher than previously expected. Lincoln High School has recently transitioned to a new scheduled system for online classes in hopes of further improving the distance learning experience. On a national level, President Trump has extended social distancing guidelines to at least the end of April. Although this runs counter to the President’s previously stated intentions of reopening up businesses by Easter. Donald Trump’s change of heart was presumably caused by Dr. Fauci, leading infectious disease expert, estimating that lifting restrictions too soon would cause around 200,000 deaths. Hopefully, with the national and state governments continuing to keep things closed down, the number of deaths will not reach such detrimental levels.