Virus cases jump; beach testing sites announced

SMYRNA — The amount of reported positive COVID-19 cases jumped back into the hundreds, though hospitalizations fell and no additional deaths were announced Sunday.

The state announced 135 additional cases, bringing the state’s total to 11,226. Meanwhile, the Division of Public Health is asking people in the beach area — particularly Rehoboth and Dewey beaches — to get tested for the virus.

Two separate testing events in the past few days identified additional cases there, according to a DPH release.

“We are extremely concerned by yet another cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area and the potential for spread to others both at work and in social gatherings,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a prepared statement.

The recommendation comes after testing in Rehoboth Beach Thursday identified approximately 100 people as positive for the disease, and testing in Dewey on Friday identified another dozen individuals as positive. DPH has begun making contact with the positive cases and their contacts and is providing guidance on how to safely self-isolate or self-quarantine. DPH is investigating potential additional cases in the beach area as well.

On Monday, a free saliva-based testing event will run from 1 to 6 p.m. at The Starboard, 2009 Del. 1, Dewey Beach.

On-site registration is available; pre-registration has filled up.

Beebe Healthcare is also partnering with the Delaware Restaurant Association to offer testing on Monday and Tuesday to staff of any food establishment in or near the beach area. Testing is scheduled for Monday from noon to 2 p.m. at Big Fish Grill, 20298 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach. Testing will also be held on Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Touch of Italy in Rehoboth Beach at 19724 Coastal Highway. No pre-registration is required. Anyone with questions can call (302) 738-2545.

A second community testing event is scheduled for Thursday, July 2, at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional community testing sites in the beach area are likely to be scheduled in the next week or so.

“We know that some of the positive persons have been at parties recently, potentially transmitting the virus to others who may still be here or may have returned to their homes in other counties or states,” Dr. Rattay said. “We are also concerned by our own staff observations in the beach area and pictures seen on social media of people not wearing face coverings or social distancing while they are out and about, including at bars and restaurants.”

“Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster,” she continued. “It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.”

Dr. Rattay indicated that the risk for widespread infection, hospitalization and even death is higher when people spend more time, close together (not social distancing), in an indoor setting such as a restaurant or bar, where they are not using face coverings.

DPH asks anyone who observes either lack of social distancing or lack of use of face coverings by patrons or staff at businesses to report it to HSPContact@delaware.gov. All complaints are anonymous.

Last week, DPH announced a partnership with the Division of Small Business in which DPH’s Health Systems Protection section will begin enforcing violations of the state’s reopening requirements in Delaware businesses. While collaboration and education for non-compliance is the preferred action in most cases, HSP will have a broad array of enforcement actions available, including business closures as warranted.

Some restaurants and bars have chosen to close, limit hours, or limit services based on concerns over the spread of infection in the beach community, and DPH appreciates, supports and encourages any prevention measures businesses they may implement.

“We truly need the public’s cooperation to report when they see persons at businesses not wearing face coverings or social distancing as required,” said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong in a prepared statement. “Every individual has the opportunity to play an important role in our statewide infection control efforts by telling us when they see something wrong.”

In Kent County, two free saliva-based testing events will also be held Monday. The first runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Delaware Tech Terry Campus, 100 Campus Drive. The second will run from noon to 3 p.m. at Whatcoat United Methodist Church, 16 N. Main St., in Camden.

On-site registration will be available, but to reduce check-in time, pre-register at: delaware.curativeinc.com.

In New Castle County cases, there have been 4,925 positive cases, 1,663 in Kent County and 4,608 in Sussex County cases. There are 30 marked as unknown county. 

Hospitalizations decreased, with 78 people hospitalized and 14 listed as critically ill. 

Recovery figures remained static, with 6,665 people having recovered from the virus.


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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