Delaware officials urge caution despite decrease in COVID numbers

DOVER — Delaware continues to get good news in its fight to contain COVID-19, state officials said Tuesday, but residents should not take those as indicators coronavirus is fading away.

The Division of Public Health announced 63 new positive cases and one additional death Tuesday, bringing its totals over the past three months to 10,403 and 424, respectively.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, 87 people were hospitalized with COVID, the fewest in 10 weeks. Fifteen were critically ill.

DPH said 6,256 Delawareans who have caught the virus have recovered, meaning they’ve gone seven days or more without symptoms. The other 40% of Delawareans who have contracted COVID-19 are either currently dealing with it or are now deceased.

“People are tired. People are tired of this pandemic,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said Tuesday during a news conference on the virus. “We’re all tired of this pandemic, and we just want to go back to normal life, but the virus doesn’t care that we’re tired. The virus is still out there.

“As you see from our numbers, we’re doing well. We still have cases but we’re doing well, and that’s great. But we so desperately don’t want to be one of those 22 states that is increasing significantly.”

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 10,047 cases, 108 hospitalizations and 410 deaths one week ago and 8,340 cases, 236 hospitalizations and 304 deaths as of the May 19 update, four weeks before the latest data.

So far, about 1.08% of Delawareans have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 86,074 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

The state moved into Phase 2 of its economic recovery Monday, with many businesses authorized to raise capacity from 30 %to 60%. Child care services are open to all Delawareans again, and summer camps, summer schools and sports leagues are open with restrictions.

Sporting facilities such as arcades, bowling alleys, indoor skating rinks, martial arts and dance studios and indoor tennis courts remain closed unless they can create specific state-approved plans that meet guidelines for keeping participants safe and healthy. The same applies for water parks.

There’s no timetable on when the state will enter the third and final phase of its recovery, which is based off a model proposed by the White House. That’s dependent on how well people follow the current rules, such as social distancing and wearing a face covering in public.

Gov. John Carney has stated several times officials are largely relying on education and voluntary compliance, hoping to emphasize how individual actions affect other people. Delaware is a state of neighbors, he’s said repeatedly, aiming to impart a sense of community and of responsibility for keeping others safe.

Some states have seen recent upticks in cases, though new hospitalizations and percentage of tests coming back positive are trending downward here. The virus appears to have peaked in Delaware around the beginning of May, but health officials warn it is far from defeated.

Delaware is hoping to combat the spread with widespread free testing and contact tracing to quickly identify, track and isolate potential cases.

The virus hit Sussex County hard early in the outbreak, with the county — which has about a quarter of the state’s population — at the peak containing 49% of all Delaware cases.

Currently, there have been 4,428 cases involving residents of Sussex, 4,386 involving New Castle Countians and 1,573 involving those from Kent County. Additionally, the addresses for 16 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

New Castle has seen the most deaths, with 190, compared to 150 in Sussex and 84 in Kent. However, the fatality rate is highest in Kent, with 5.3% of residents who catch the virus dying. About 4.3% of New Castle residents and 3.4% of those in Sussex with COVID have passed away.

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. Just 6% of deaths involved people younger than 50 even though 58% of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description.

Four out of five deaths have been of people 65 or older.

About 13% of Delaware deaths involved people with no prior known health issues.

The most recent death, DPH said, was an 80-year-old woman from Kent County who had underlying health conditions. She was a long-term care resident, which describes almost two-thirds of fatalities here.

In total, there have been 5,751 cases and 226 deaths involving females and 4,635 cases and 198 deaths involving males. Seventeen cases have involved people of currently unknown sex.

About 55% of cases in the First State have involved girls or women.

By race, there have been 3,033 cases and 259 deaths involving non-Hispanic white Delawareans, 2,968 cases and 27 deaths involving Hispanic or Latino Delawareans, 2,774 cases and 112 deaths involving non-Hispanic black Delawareans, 159 cases and one death involving Asian or Pacific Islander Delawareans and 507 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 962 instances and 21 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, white Delawareans are more than seven times less likely than Hispanic Delawareans and three times less likely than black Delawareans to have COVID-19. Although white, black and Hispanic individuals each represent a little more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases here, white people make up 61% of fatalities, while black people are 26% and Hispanic people account for just 6%.

DPH has stopped offering information on specific deaths and is providing updated statistics on nursing home cases only on Fridays.

Based on guidance from the federal government, Delaware is counting deaths of individuals with laboratory-confirmed cases and people who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and were exposed but never tested. Individuals who tests show previously had the virus but no longer do are not counted in the cumulative total.

Because of volume, the hospitalization statistics now include non-Delawareans, although all other totals are just Delaware residents, according to DPH.

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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