9 deaths, many at senior homes: Carney extends state of emergency

DOVER — Delaware’s coronavirus death toll climbed from 23 to 32 on Friday, while the cumulative number of cases rose from 1,209 to 1,326.

Twenty-one of the deaths have been related to long-term care facilities, the Division of Public Health said. As part of its daily update, DPH said Friday it is now including both deaths of individuals with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases and of Delawareans who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and were exposed to a confirmed case but never tested. That change helps explain the large jump, which is more than double the previous high for a day-to-day increase.

There are 181 people currently hospitalized, with 48 critically ill. DPH said 177 Delawareans have recovered from the virus, meaning they have gone without symptoms for at least a week.

Delaware has been in a state of emergency since March 12, and the governor issued a stay-at-home order and closed non-essential businesses starting March 22. On Friday, Gov. John Carney formally extended the state of emergency declaration as required every 30 days by Delaware law, announced a partnership with neighborhood social networking platform Nextdoor and instructed Delawareans not to gather in large groups despite the Easter holiday.

“This is a difficult weekend as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Delaware,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “I know that so many Delaware families across our state — including mine — traditionally celebrate Easter and Passover surrounded by family. This year will be much different for all of us.

“The best thing you can do this weekend is stay home. Celebrate with your immediate family members. Protect your family — especially those who are immunocompromised — by not putting them at greater risk.

“Don’t gather in large groups. Call to check in on your parents and grandparents and connect virtually with family and friends. We’ll get through this, but it’s going to take all of us.”

Places of worship must conduct their activities from home or through remote audio or video services if possible. No more than 10 individuals may be present inside a religious facility during any service.

Violations of an emergency declaration are a criminal offense.

Nextdoor is a service designed to help communities swap information, goods and services with their neighbors. While officials promoted the service as a way to share information, they said residents should not use it to request police or emergency services.

Of the most recent deaths in Delaware Friday, all involve people with underlying health conditions. The deceased are a 61-year-old man from Sussex County, a 69-year-old woman from New Castle County, a 69-year-old woman from Sussex County, an 82-year-old woman from Sussex County, an 87-year-old woman from New Castle County, an 88-year-old woman from New Castle County, two 89-year-old women from New Castle County and a 94-year-old woman from New Castle County. The last seven were in nursing homes or similar care residences.

Individuals who have died from COVID-19 ranged in age from 57 to 94 years old.   

Nineteen long-term care sites have now reported 97 total positive cases, DPH said, although it is only naming the 14 that have multiple cases.

Those facilities involve five in Wilmington (HarborChase, Forwood Manor, Parkview Nursing and Rehab Center, Country House and Shipley Manor), four in New Castle (MeadowWood Behavioral Health Hospital, Brandywine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, New Castle Health and Rehabilitation and Delaware Psychiatric Center) and one in each of Newark (Little Sisters of the Poor), Delaware City (Governor Bacon Health Center), Millsboro (Atlantic Shores Rehab and Health Center), Milford (Genesis HealthCare Milford Center) and Smyrna (Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill).

The Little Sister of the Poor facility has seen 11 deaths. There have been three at New Castle Health and Rehabilitation and two at HarborChase, with no other site having more than one.

State officials say Delaware is in the midst of its roughest period to date, warning it could see more than 3,000 cases by the middle of next week. That prediction, shared Thursday in a livestreamed briefing with Gov. Carney and others, is slightly more optimistic than the prior forecast, which had the count surpassing 3,000 Sunday.

The state’s first laboratory-confirmed case was announced March 11, with the first official death coming 15 days later. There were 450 cases one week ago and 165 one week before that.

The caseload was less than 100 as recently as March 24, with 87.

Of the 1,326 COVID-19 cases, both current and inactive, there are 751 involving people living in New Castle County, 336 involving Sussex Countians, 230 involving residents of Kent and nine involving people whose residence is unknown.

Those who have had confirmed cases range in age from 1 to 97.

As of Friday, there had been 9,089 negative test results, DPH said, although it cautions the figure is preliminary and should not be used as a substitute for the overall number of Delawareans who have been tested. DPH did not release many additional details involving the cases, citing health privacy laws.

The agency said because of volume, the hospitalization and critically ill numbers now include non-Delawareans, although all other totals are just Delaware residents.

Totals Friday saw the state Department of Correction gain four more positive cases. There are now four inmates, two probation and parole officers, 10 correctional officers and three contracted health care workers who have tested positive.

While the elderly and those with serious health conditions, especially heart disease, lung issues, diabetes, severe obesity or a compromised immune system are most at risk, officials say everyone needs to avoid contact with others.

Anyone who believes he or she may be sick should not go out except for medical appointments and should contact a primary care provider before heading to the emergency room or an urgent care center. A person experiencing a medical emergency such as significant trouble breathing should call 911.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite. People who are sick with any of those and need essential supplies should ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy instead. They also are urged not to go to work.

Most people recover from COVID-19 with rest and hydration, although illness can be severe.

Statewide testing at standing health facility sites is under way for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Those without a primary care provider can call 1-866-408-1899.

In New Castle, individuals can call ChristianaCare at 1-302-733-1000, and Sussex residents who do not have a provider can reach Beebe at 645-3200. Bayhealth patients will be pre-screened via phone without needing to see a provider first.

Individuals awaiting test results should wait to hear from their medical provider. (DPH does not have test results.)

DPH this week launched a partnership with the United Way of Delaware to triage incoming calls related to COVID-19. Anyone with a question should dial Delaware 2-1-1 (7-1-1 for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing) or text their ZIP code to 898-211. The service can connect Delawareans with assistance including employment, mental health, food and housing.

The Division of Public Health asks any health care, long-term care, residential or other high-risk facility with questions to email DPH_PAC@delaware.gov or call the DPH Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 and press ext. 2. Health-related questions can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov. 

For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

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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