On April 7, 2020, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $1.81 million-dollar six-month lease with the Carpionato Group and a $100,000 month-to-month lease with the R.I. Commerce Corporation to be used as field hospitals. Then on April 15, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $3.96 million-dollar six-month lease for the Convention Center to be used as a field hospital. The very next day, on April 16, after weeks of refusing to disclose Rhode Island’s coronavirus forecasting model, Governor Gina Raimondo disclosed that hospitalizations from the coronavirus would likely peak around 2,250 on May 3rd. Just two days later, on April 18, Raimondo admitted that she did not expect Rhode Island to have over 2,000 hospitalizations in early May.

Rhode Island Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki commented: “During a pandemic, it is prudent to lease facilities to serve as field hospitals. However, with the peak of hospitalizations forecasted for early May, there is no need to lease a facility to serve as a field hospital for six months. A low-cost month-to-month lease is reasonable, but a $4 million-dollar six-month lease for an essentially vacant Convention Center is just excessive. Public officials cannot approve a lease to house 600 hospitals beds one day and then say it’s not likely to be needed the next. A pandemic is not an excuse to waste taxpayer money, even if that money comes from Washington. Federal money is still taxpayer money.”

Cienki concluded: “Rhode Island Republicans have publicly supported the Governor’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, we do not agree with an unnecessary lease which will drain millions of federal relief funds to further subsidize the Convention Center. Nor do we agree with the Governor’s reliance on an entirely unreliable forecasting model. In a crisis, our leaders must prepare for the worst, but they can’t use it as an opportunity to play politics. Governor, you tell us to ‘Knock it off;’ we say to you “Be honest.”

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