In general, I have been personally pleased and encouraged here in Rhode Island by the actions taken by our Governor, Gina Raimondo. She is leaving open the possibility of a state “shelter in place” if necessary, but is emphasizing strict, voluntary social distancing and self-quarantining to avoid that. Her reasoning, though some may disagree, is to “maintain some semblance of an economy” so businesses and ultimately families can ride out the COVID-19 crisis. If Rhode Islanders continue to act responsibly, our efforts will be rewarded.
Rhode Island COVID-19 stats support the governor’s actions. At this point, our virus cases have been modest in number with no deaths reported as I write. Another thing to watch are the numbers being reported in New York City, as many New Yorkers have summer homes in our state. So, we must remain vigilant. Our stats are minimal compared to other states, despite Rhode Island being the second-most densely populated state (second only to New Jersey). Rhode Island has 1,022 residents per square mile. Yet, despite our size, social distancing is possible.
What does make things difficult is that our state is known for its many restaurants, pubs, entertainment places and hospitality businesses. Most of these are under severe restrictions but can still function minimally with take-out, drive-up and delivery service. There are also 12 degree-granting institutions in Rhode Island, including two research universities, a community college, and a school of art. This is a lot of employees and students from all over the world.
The governor thanked a lot of people for their help, but she neglected to recognize and thank the churches in Rhode Island. We are helping with material goods as well as spiritual and emotional support. I was on a Zoom meeting this past week with 90+ pastors and staff members. All were sharing ways to stay connected and meet the many needs of people all around us. People are shopping for those at risk, sharing meals and finding creative ways to be Christ’s hands and feet.
At times like these, we want our state to be a place where God is Honored, Religious Freedom Flourishes, Families Thrive and Life is Cherished.
Chairman – Board of Advisors – Rhode Island