The director of the Rhode Island Department of Health has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement Saturday night from the governor’s office.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott is asymptomatic and will continue to work from home. She had attended the state’s weekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday.
Gov. Gina Raimondo tested negative Saturday and will continue to be tested throughout her seven-day quarantine, according to her spokesman Josh Block. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, Block and consultant medical director Dr. Philip Chan will also quarantine since they also attended Thursday’s news conference.
Block said he tested negative and Commerce spokesman Matt Sheaff said Pryor tested negative on Saturday. Chan will be tested Sunday.
Alexander-Scott is the second member of Raimondo’s cabinet to test positive. Director of Administration Brett Smiley tested positive on Thursday.
Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday extended New Hampshire’s state of emergency declaration another three weeks, citing an increase in coronavirus cases across the state and in the region.
Sununu, a Republican, initially declared a state of emergency on March 13 and has continued to extend it every 21 days. A further extension is needed to combat a “significant increase” in COVID-19 infections in New Hampshire in recent weeks, he wrote.
Among other measures, the order continues a statewide mask mandate for everyone over age 5 when they cannot stay 6 feet away from people outside their household.
Sununu’s order also cites concerns with climbing cases in neighboring Massachusetts. The New Hampshire counties with the highest numbers of infections are those that border Massachusetts, he wrote.
A separate order signed Friday establishes new rules to collect data on COVID-19 vaccinations once doses become available. The order requires all health care providers to enter vaccinations into a state database in order to track the state’s planned rollout of the vaccine.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 359 new cases per day on Nov. 27 to 824 new cases per day on Dec. 11, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.