11 new COVID deaths but hospitalizations keep falling as Delaware prepares for Monday reopening

DOVER — Delaware announced 11 new deaths stemming from COVID-19 Friday as it prepares to take its biggest step yet in reopening. Despite seeing the most fatalities in one day since May 16, the latest update does indicate the virus’ spread is indeed slowing, with hospitalization admissions and new positive cases trending down.

There was also just a single coronavirus-related death the day before for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, there were 9,236 cumulative confirmed cases, according to the Division of Public Health.  The number of hospitalizations continues to decline and was at 183, the lowest in more than six weeks.

DPH said 5,103 people have recovered, meaning they’ve gone a week without symptoms.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 8,596 cases, 221 hospitalizations and 322 deaths one week ago and 5,031 cases, 281 hospitalizations and 159 deaths as of May 1, four weeks before the latest data.

So far, about 0.96 percent of Delawareans, or 96 people for every 10,000 residents, have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 57,533 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

Delaware is allowing many businesses to open with strict limits Monday. Among the restrictions are 30 percent capacity for most, mandatory wearing of face coverings and frequent cleaning.

Gov. John Carney has faced pressure both from people who think he is being too cautious and from those who believe he’s charging ahead without sufficient regard for public safety. He’s sought to rebut those claims, pointing to the data and noting the decision-making process requires a balancing act.

Delaware opened its beaches last week with restrictions, and Gov. Carney said he pleased at the precautions he saw there over the holiday weekend.

“Everything still continues to move in the right direction, getting to a point where it’ll probably, I guess, stabilize. I don’t know that it will ever go away,” he said Friday. “In fact, all the science suggests that with the lessening of the restrictions there’s a risk of it increasing.

“We’re going to encourage folks to follow mask-wearing and social distancing so that does not happen. That’s the way we’re going to control the spread.”

The state has put together kits containing necessities like hand sanitizer and masks that are being distributed to small businesses.

As part of its fight against the virus, Delaware is holding widespread free community testing. DPH said the newest event is scheduled for Tuesday in Lewes. It will take place from 10 to 2 at Beacon Middle School at 19483 John J Williams Highway.

People are strongly encouraged to preregister at delaware.curativeinc.com, although limited on-site registration will be available. Participants should not eat or drink anything or brush their teeth for 20 minutes prior to taking the test. For more information on this or other testing events, visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing. 

Coronavirus data update

The most recent deaths involved ten women and one man ranging in age from 45 to 95. Eight lived in New Castle County, one lived in Kent County and two lived in Sussex County.

Fifty-five of the 356 people who died due to complications stemming from the virus had no underlying health conditions, including one announced Friday.

Five of the 11 most recent individuals who passed away were residents of long-term care centers. In total, nursing homes and similar facilities have seen 228 deaths and 687 cases involving residents. The state is not tracking how many employees have contracted the virus.

Genesis Healthcare’s Milford Center and Georgetown’s Harrison House Senior Living combined account for 56 fatalities.

Of Delaware’s 9,236 cases, about 45 percent have involved residents of Sussex even though the southernmost county has just a quarter of the state’s population. However, the spread appears to have slowed there, owing in large part to concerted efforts to stamp it out.

In total, Sussex has seen 4,155 cases and 131 deaths, with 3,629 and 163 in the more populous New Castle. There have been 1,401 cases and 62 deaths involving Kent.

Additionally, the addresses for 51 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

New Castle has held the ignominious mark for most deaths the entire time, although the number of cases there has seen a slight uptick in recent weeks.

About 18 percent of the 356 people who died due to complications stemming from the virus had no underlying health conditions.

Delawareans who have had confirmed cases range in age from less than a year old to 103, with deaths involving people from 21 to 103, according to DPH.

Just 5 percent of fatalities involved people younger than 50 even though 58 percent of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description. Eighty percent of deaths involved people 65 or older.

There have been 5,091 cases and 187 deaths involving females and 4,117 cases and 169 deaths involving males. Twenty-eight cases involve people of currently unknown sex.

By race, there have been 2,682 cases and 214 deaths involving non-Hispanic whites, 2,581 cases and 23 deaths involving Hispanics or Latinos, 2,468 cases and 93 deaths involving non-Hispanic blacks, 137 cases and one death involving Asians or Pacific Islanders and 469 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 899 instances and 21 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, whites in Delaware are more than seven times less likely than Hispanics and almost three times less likely than blacks to have COVID-19. However, although whites, blacks and Hispanics each represent a little more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases here, whites make up 60 percent of deaths, while Hispanics account for just 6 percent.

DPH has stopped offering information on specific deaths and is providing updated statistics on nursing home cases only on Fridays.

Based on guidance from the federal government, Delaware is counting deaths of individuals with laboratory-confirmed cases and people who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and were exposed but never tested. Individuals who tests show previously had the virus but no longer do are not counted in the cumulative total.

Because of volume, the hospitalization and critically ill numbers now include non-Delawareans, although all other totals are just Delaware residents, according to DPH.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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