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Rhode Island extends remote learning period due to virus

PROVIDENCE (AP) — School children in Rhode Island will continue distance learning through at least the end of April as the state grapples with the growing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday.

Although online attendance rates have been higher than anticipated since the state's public schools moved to remote learning earlier this month, more needs to be done, the Democrat said.

To help, the state's top four cellphone providers have agreed to provide free cellphone hot spot service until May 8, she said.

In addition, internet provider Cox will provide two free months of internet service for eligible low-income families.

“I am not throwing in the towel and giving up on 142,000 kids," she said.

Raimondo also reported Monday that the state has 114 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 400 cases statewide. Forty-one people are hospitalized with the disease, and a fourth state resident, a man in his 70s, has died.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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COLLEGE TESTING SITES

Rhode Island is using space at the state's public colleges to set up coronavirus testing stations.

The National Guard is setting up mobile testing sites in parking lots at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Warwick campus, Rhode Island College and at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown.

By bringing all three drive-thru testing areas online this week, the state will meet its goal of being able to test at least 1,000 people a day, Raimondo said.

At all the sites, testing will be by appointment only and is only available to prescreened patients who must show a form provided by their physician, an urgent care center or the state Department of Health.

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LICENSES AND LOTTERY

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles is offering a 90-day grace period for residents whose driver’s licenses, permits, identification cards and vehicle registrations are due to expire in March and April.

They can be renewed once the state's stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.

In-person transactions at the agency's Cranston headquarters are by reservation only.

Winning state lottery tickets must also be redeemed by mail, and prize checks will be mailed out.

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TAX FILING DELAYED

The Rhode Island Department of Revenue, in line with the federal government, on Monday pushed back its tax filing deadline to July 15. But the agency encourages taxpayers to file their returns as soon as possible to make sure the state has the financial resources it needs to fund critical services as it fights the pandemic.

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NURSING HOME PATIENTS

Six residents of a Pawtucket nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Upon feeling sick, the residents were immediately placed into isolation, said Jeff Jacomowitz, a spokesman for Oak Hill.

Twenty-seven other residents were placed into protective isolation.

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