Feb. 27: Marc Thibault, the 48-year-old vice principal of student life at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, is admitted to The Miriam Hospital five days after returning from a school-organized trip to Italy.
March 1: The Department of Health announces the first two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Rhode Island. Both are connected to the Saint Raphael trip to Italy.
March 9: Although only four Rhode Islanders have tested positive in total, Gov. Gina Raimondo declares a state of emergency, authorizing the National Guard to assist in the state’s response.
March 11: Hours after the World Health Organization declares coronavirus a global pandemic, the University of Rhode Island suspends in-person classes.
March 12: Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza declares a state of emergency, canceling all city events and revoking entertainment licenses.
March 13: Raimondo moves up the April vacation week, after students at Cranston High School West and Springbrook Elementary School in Westerly test positive for the virus. Visits to nursing homes are halted. Twin River casinos close. Newport cancels St. Patrick’s Day parade.
March 16: Public Masses in the Diocese of Providence are canceled until further notice.
March 17: Raimondo shuts down in-person dining, bans crowds of 25 or more. Elorza closes Providence Place mall. Health officials say “community spread” of virus occurring in Rhode Island, though only 32 cases have been confirmed.
March 20: National Guard activated to deliver food and assist in testing.
March 22: Raimondo orders all public recreation and entertainment venues to close, as well as close-contact businesses such as gyms, barbershops and tattoo parlors.
March 23: Public schools in Rhode Island transition to distance learning.
March 24: Raimondo orders travelers arriving at T.F. Green Airport to quarantine for 14 days. Colleges and universities begin canceling commencement exercises.
March 25: State health officials learn of the first positive case in a nursing home, Oak Hill Center, in Pawtucket.
March 26: Raimondo says that while the spread of COVID-19 in the United States has accelerated, “the speed of our response has also been incredibly fast. … We are ahead of this virus in Rhode Island.”
March 27: A day after the governor orders residents of New York to quarantine after entering Rhode Island, state police and National Guard troops begin stopping cars with New York plates at the Connecticut border.
March 28: Rhode Island reports its first two coronavirus deaths. (The state now says the first death occurred on March 19.) Raimondo issues stay-at-home order, closes “nonessential” retail, bans gatherings of five or more. The governor tells those who are flouting her orders to “knock it off.”
March 30: Bernard A. “Bernie” Lanzi, the “mayor of Golden Crest,” dies at the North Providence nursing home. By April 6 nine other residents had died there, more than 50 had tested positive.
April 3: Raimondo closes state beaches and parks, announces that field hospitals will be set up in the Rhode Island Convention Center, at a former Citizens Bank building in Cranston and in a former Lowe’s hardware store in North Kingstown.
April 6: CVS begins offering free, rapid coronavirus testing outside the closed Twin River Casino. The rapid testing is not, however, available at nursing homes.
April 7: More than 100,000 Rhode Islanders have filed claims for unemployment since the start of the pandemic.
April 18: Raimondo orders employees at “customer-facing” businesses to wear masks. “I’ll be the first to admit, it feels strange,” she says. “This is not normal … but it’s the right thing to do.”
April 24: With cases and deaths surging, Raimondo announces that nursing-home workers will be eligible to receive hazard pay, and that National Guard “strike teams” will help with testing there.
April 25: The peak of the first wave. Known infections average 370 a day over a seven-day period, with 12% of tests coming back positive. About 100 protesters demonstrate outside the State House against Raimondo’s restrictions.
April 27: Raimondo announces a multi-phase plan for reopening the Rhode Island economy, starting in early May.
April 29: Raimondo cancels large, signature summer events in Rhode Island, including the Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and Washington County Fair.
May 5: Raimondo requires Rhode Islanders to wear face coverings in all public places. State authorities say they are investigating hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints of unemployment fraud. David Butziger and David Staveley, former owners of the closed Remington House restaurant in Warwick, become the first two people charged with defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program.
May 9: Rhode Island’s stay-at-home order is lifted, and state enters Phase One of its reopening. Nonessential retailers and state parks reopen with restrictions. Hospitals allowed to resume nonessential procedures.
May 18: Restaurants allowed to reopen for outdoor dining.
May 19: State unveils “CRUSH COVID” contact-tracing app. Raimondo says she would like to see 90% of the state’s population sign up.
May 25: Memorial Day. Two state beaches, East Matunuck and Scarborough, reopen with limited parking and no restrooms.
May 30: Houses of worship allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.
June 1: Rhode Island enters Phase Two of reopening plan. Gyms and salons can reopen with limited capacity, all state beaches reopen, child-care facilities reopen, offices allowed to bring a third of work force back on site. Indoor dining resumes with 50% capacity limit.
June 8: Twin River casinos reopen, by invitation only.
June 29: Raimondo announces that quarantine rules will apply to people entering the Rhode Island from states where more than 5% of coronavirus tests are positive.
June 30: Rhode Island enters Phase Three of reopening plan, which allows for larger gatherings and a reopening of indoor recreation facilities. While most of the country is seeing surging coronavirus caseloads, the seven-day new-case average in Rhode Island falls to 40, its lowest point since March. It has not been that low since.
July 11: Rhode Island surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths. The majority are associated with nursing homes.
July 28: Visits can resume at Rhode Island’s hard-hit nursing homes.
July 29: With virus cases on the rise again, Raimondo lowers the social-gathering limit from 25 to 15, and says she will not move Rhode Island into Phase Four reopening in early August as she had planned.
Aug. 4: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts all add Rhode Island to their list of states facing travel restrictions. While Rhode Island is eventually removed from three of those states’ lists, Massachusetts continues to restrict travelers from Rhode Island due to the state’s case rate.
Sept. 5: Rhode Island’s midsummer uptick in cases appears to have abated. For fifth straight day, fewer than 1% of coronavirus tests in the state are positive. The seven-day new-case average falls to lowest point in nearly seven weeks.
Sept. 14: Most public schools reopen for in-person learning, for the first time since mid-March.
Sept. 18: Providence College says 120 students have tested positive for COVID over three days. College shifts to remote learning.
Sept. 30: Rhode Island sees most new cases in a single day since May. Raimondo says young adults are driving the increase in cases.
Oct. 15: With cases continuing to rise, Raimondo orders businesses to close break rooms for 30 days.
Oct. 21: 470 Rhode Islanders test positive for the virus, shattering the previous high set in April.
Nov. 5: Raimondo announces a series of new business restrictions and a “stay-at-home advisory” from late evening through 5 a.m. — essentially a voluntary curfew.
Nov. 11: More than 1,000 Rhode Islanders test positive for the virus in a single day, for the first time.
Nov. 19: Raimondo announces a two-week “pause,” which will take effect after Thanksgiving, in an effort to slow surging cases. The pause involves increased restrictions on businesses but allows most to remain open. Social gatherings involving more than one household are prohibited. It will ultimately be a three-week pause.
Nov. 30: Field hospitals in Providence and Cranston, which were never used in the spring, begin receiving patients for the first time.
Dec. 6: Rhode Island leads country in new coronavirus cases, per capita, over the previous seven days. It will maintain this sad distinction for 10 straight days.
Dec. 7: The peak of the second wave. Known infections average 1,329 a day over a seven-day period, with 10.4% of tests coming back positive.
Dec. 12: State announces that Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott has tested positive for coronavirus. Raimondo, who is a close contact, enters quarantine.
Dec. 13: In the deadliest single day of the pandemic in the state, 30 COVID-positive Rhode Islanders die.
Dec. 14: The first Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines are administered in Rhode Island, to high-risk hospital workers. Rhode Island Hospital emergency physician Dr. Christian Arbelaez receives the first shot.
Dec. 30: The state begins an effort to vaccinate members of the general public in Central Falls, the community hardest-hit by the virus.
Jan. 5: Rhode Island surpasses 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
Jan. 7: Raimondo is nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to be U.S. commerce secretary. She abruptly stops answering questions from the media about the state’s coronavirus response, and turns the regular vaccine briefings over to Alexander-Scott.
Feb. 15: With Rhode Island near the bottom of the country in the percentage of residents who have received a vaccine shot, and in the percentage of allocated vaccine doses used, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee says he is “not satisfied” with the vaccine rollout.
Feb. 18: Rhode Island opens two mass-vaccination sites, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston. (Opening the sites had been planned before McKee criticized the vaccine rollout). Within a few days, the state begins to climb toward the middle of the pack in percentage of population vaccinated and percentage of shots administered.
Feb. 22: With the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients just a third of the peak from December, the state announces plans to shut the field hospitals in Providence and Cranston.