Carney closes Delaware restaurants, state announces new coronavirus case

Dover Downs Casino will be closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Gov. John Carney on Monday banned all gatherings of at least 50 people, while also limiting restaurants and similar establishments to takeout and delivery services only and closing casino gaming. The announcement came literally a minute before the state said an eighth case of coronavirus has been diagnosed locally.

This newest case is not linked to the previous seven, all of which involved individuals associated with the University of Delaware.

The ban on large public gatherings comes after Gov. Carney declared a state of emergency Thursday and closed schools for two weeks Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended all events with at least 50 people be canceled for the next two months.

Harrington Raceway and Casino said Monday it will shut its doors until April 1. All shows through then are canceled. A spokesman for the casino wrote in an email the impact on the 800 or so employees is still being determined.

Dover Downs is also closing its casino, but the takeout restaurant Sweet Perks will remain open, as will the hotel.

The Chick-fil-A in north Dover and all other of their locations will only have drive-thru service for the time being. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Owners of businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies are strongly encouraged to limit the number of people inside to 50 at one time. Nursing homes and senior centers should not allow gatherings of more than 10 people if any of those individuals are older than 60 or have serious health concerns.

The governor on Monday also authorized the secretary of labor to draft emergency rules to protect workers in the state and ensure those impacted by the pandemic can receive unemployment benefits.

While restaurants can still provide food through deliveries and individuals picking meals up, they cannot serve alcohol, per the governor’s order.

“These restrictions will hit Delaware’s restaurants and bars especially hard,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “Delawareans should continue to support these businesses, and their workers, by ordering take-out or delivery. Restaurants also remain a critical source of food for vulnerable populations.

Shoppers head to their car in a full parking lot at the Food Lion in south Dover on Monday.

“But this is a very serious situation, with a significant amount of uncertainty. If you gather with 50 people or more, you are only increasing the risk that more Delawareans will come in contact with this virus. Let’s not make a challenging situation worse.”

Gov. Carney said he put the restriction in place because he noticed many establishments ignoring advice.

“I was concerned coming into (Monday) coming out of (Sunday) night that some of the advice that we had put into our declaration last week wasn’t really taken too seriously with respect to bars and restaurants. Apparently, there were full houses at different places throughout our state, so we decided we needed to take the step of closing the bars and restaurants.”

The newest coronavirus case, the eighth to be announced since Wednesday, involves a New Castle County woman over age 50. The woman, who is not seriously ill and is self-isolated at home, was exposed to a carrier of the virus in another state, the Division of Public Health said.

Per DPH, she has had few close contacts in Delaware. The agency is currently attempting to identify anyone who may have been exposed to her.

All eight cashier lines were full of customers at the Food Lion in south Dover on Monday.

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are similar to low respiratory infections and include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. There is no specific antiviral treatment for the virus at this time.

The elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions are at the greatest risk, although most individuals infected with the virus recover with simple rest, hydration and basic medications to reduce pain and fever.

Testing for the virus is not recommended for individuals who do not have any symptoms of illness. Anyone who has symptoms can be tested by their health care provider.

Medical providers should evaluate patients and rule out other causes of illness first before performing or suggesting a test for COVID-19. Providers only need to collect nasal swabs as they would for flu.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call DPH’s special call center at 1-866-408-1899 (or 711 for individuals who are hearing impaired) from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Anyone can also email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

For more information, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

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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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