Delaware moves primary, suspends evictions, foreclosures as coronavirus cases move to 104

DOVER — Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday the state will suspend evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and will move its presidential primary election from April 28 to June 2.

Issued as part of the sixth update to a state of emergency first declared on March 12, the order also prohibits both landlords and utility companies from charging late payments and interest. It bars utilities from ending services for nonpayment as well.

Tuesday saw the state’s official coronavirus count rise from 87 to 104, a little more than half of the increase the day before. Eleven people are hospitalized, with five critically ill, the Division of Public Health said.

Of the Delawareans diagnosed with COVID-19, 71 are from New Castle County, 23 are from Sussex County and 10 are from Kent County. They range in age from 1 to 90.

Health authorities said the source of exposure for many positive cases is unknown, indicating community spread of the virus is occurring in the state.

“While the hallmark symptoms associated with COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath, we are noticing initial symptoms of those who test positive for the virus often include body aches and sore throat. The Division of Public Health recommends individuals stay home if these symptoms are present,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement.

“This underscores the evolving aspects of this situation and how individuals react differently to the virus. The bottom line is that even if you do not have the prominent symptoms described for this virus, it is vitally important that you stay home and self-isolate if you are sick to prevent spread of illness to others.”

Under the latest update to the state of emergency, school board elections are moved from May 12 to June 16, municipal elections from now until May 15 are canceled and absentee voting for the primary is expanded.

The governor issued an order Monday instructing Delawareans to remain at home and non-essential businesses to close.

Residential mortgage foreclosures that began prior to the state of emergency will not proceed until the 31st day after the declaration ceases.

“Delawareans have a basic, fundamental right to vote. Today’s order will preserve that right and allow Delawareans to vote by absentee ballot in the presidential primary on June 2,” Gov. Carney said in a statement.

“The additional protections in this order are essential to help support Delawareans – especially our most vulnerable neighbors – as this situation evolves. This is an extremely challenging economic situation for many of our neighbors, and we need to do what we can to support them.”

The declaration lifts May 15 or whenever the coronavirus is determined to no longer be a public health threat.

Twelve states have moved their presidential primaries so far. Twenty-six of the 50 state primaries or caucuses have already taken place.

Also on Tuesday, the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union and the Coalition for Smart Justice called on the governor to release select inmates due to the spread of the virus.

Offenders who are deemed to be non-violent or rehabilitated and either are over age 60, have immune deficiencies or have serious medical conditions should be freed now, as should people scheduled to be released from jail in the next six months, being held pre-trial for not posting bail or incarcerated for revocation of probation stemming from a technical violation, the groups said.

According to the Department of Correction, nine inmates are isolated with flu-like symptoms. Two have been tested for coronavirus: One tested negative, while the other result is still pending, a spokesman for the agency said.

The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families announced two coronavirus cases unconnected with each other Tuesday night. 

One involves a youth living at one of the agency’s “contracted community-based programs” who was separated when symptoms appeared. The youth is now home. The other case is a staff member working in an administrative building who is now isolated at home. 

In both cases individuals who may have interacted with the two have been notified and the areas cleaned, the department said

Statewide testing at standing health facility sites began Monday for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Those without a primary care provider can contact DPH at 1-888-408-1899, but individuals should not just walk in.

People who are sick, especially with shortness of breath or a fever and coughing, should stay home and contact their primary care provider instead of first heading to the emergency room or an urgent care center. A person experiencing a medical emergency such as significant trouble breathing should call 911.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, does not have a vaccine yet. Most people recover with rest and hydration, although illness can be severe in a segment of the population. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

Individuals awaiting test results should wait to hear back from their medical provider.

More than 44,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the United States, with more than 500 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call DPH at 1-866-408-1899 (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 or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

For more information, visit 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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