Carney impressed by COVID precautions over holiday weekend, planning rental announcement

DOVER — Delaware’s first Memorial Day weekend in a post-COVID world went smoothly, Gov. John Carney said Monday, noting most people he saw in Rehoboth Beach were properly social distancing and following related rules.

Delaware lifted its beach prohibition Friday, although anyone hoping to get some sun in the sand must still follow strict rules. Social distancing is mandatory, as is wearing a mask on the boardwalk. Out-of-state residents are only allowed if they have already quarantined in Delaware for two weeks.

“What I saw today really impressed me with respect to how folks were wearing face coverings on the boardwalk as required and some as recommended on the beach and how, on the beach, folks were spread out,” the governor said. “On the boardwalk and up and down Rehoboth Avenue, the same thing.

“So, it shows that attitudes have changed in a significant way.”

Delaware closed its beaches for everything except exercising more than two months ago after people flocked to the coast following a warm and sunny weekend just a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. Pressure from some quarters to reopen has grown as the shutdown stretches on, and with coronavirus cases seeming to have perhaps slowed, the state has started lifting some limits.

Delaware is undergoing a “rolling” reopening, with many businesses now allowed to operate under restrictions. Gov. Carney will make an announcement about the ban on short-term rentals Tuesday.

Delaware will be “using June to gradually reopen” its beach communities, which are heavily dependent on summer tourism, so July 4 doesn’t lead to people swamping the beaches and boardwalks, Gov. Carney said.

He expressed satisfaction with the state of Delaware’s beaches compared to the influx of visitors in Ocean City, Maryland, over the weekend.

The governor’s Monday news conference, unlike his usual weekly updates on coronavirus, was announced with little notice, delivered outside and lasted less than half an hour. Standing on the dock at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s facility by the Roosevelt Inlet, the governor urged Delawareans to continue to avoid large gatherings or close contact with others and to wear face coverings when out in public.

Almost everyone has suffered in some way due to the virus, be it the loss of a job, death of a loved one or simply an inability to see friends and family. Acknowledging that and comparing it to the sacrifices made by the many men and women who died fighting for the United States, Gov. Carney called on residents not to let up now.

“The new normal’s going to be different, but we have to reach a new normal,” he said.

Virus update

More Delawareans continue to recover from COVID-19, although each day still sees at least a few new deaths.

The Division of Public Health said 332 people have died from coronavirus here, with 8,965 total cases, as of 6 p.m. Sunday. In total, 4,693 have recovered, meaning they’ve gone a week without symptoms.

There are 205 hospitalizations, the smallest total in at least a month, with 41 people critically ill.

So far, about 0.93 percent of Delawareans, or 93 people for every 10,000 residents, have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 53,896 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

Delaware’s first official coronavirus case was announced March 11.

There were 8,204 cases, 240 hospitalizations and 297 deaths one week ago and 4,276 cases, 325 hospitalizations and 125 deaths as of April 27, four weeks before the latest data.

The death toll has basically doubled over the past 23 days. The case count, meanwhile, was half its current total about four weeks ago.

Both new hospital admissions and the percentage of people testing positive, two key statistics used by officials, are trending down.

The newest deaths include three women and three men ranging in age from 66 to 98. One lived in New Castle County, while the other five resided in Sussex County.

All six had underlying health conditions, and four were residents of long-term care facilities.

Sussex has been slammed by the virus, and although New Castle has seen more fatalities, residents there are more than three times less likely than their southern counterparts to catch coronavirus.

There are 4,118 cases and 126 deaths involving people from Sussex and 3,436 and 149 involving New Castle Countians. Kent County has seen 1,356 cases and 56 deaths.

Additionally, the addresses for 55 people who have caught the virus and one who died are currently unknown, DPH said.

Sixty-two of the 332 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 6 percent of deaths 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.

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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