Delaware officials warn of another holiday COVID surge

WILMINGTON — State officials are hoping to avoid another surge of COVID-19 this holiday season after the Thanksgiving holiday was a “super-spreader day for us as a state,” said Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Gov. John Carney and DPH officials are urging Delawareans to not gather with others outside of their household through the holidays.

This comes as Delaware is experiencing record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and elevated case rates. The state is at an all-time high of 433 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday at 6 p.m.

“We just cannot afford to have another run-up in positive cases and hospitalizations on top of the run-up you see now,” Gov. Carney said at the state’s COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday. “We just can’t afford to have the same effect in the Christmas, Hanukkah season.”

Dr. Rattay said the state had a similar guidance for Thanksgiving, but numerous people did not follow it.

As a result, hospitalizations are more than double what they were a month ago. The number was 178 30 days ago and is now at 433 with 61 of those cases considered critical, according to the DPH.

“We don’t want to rain on people’s holiday parades,” Dr. Rattay said. “But we are pleading with all of you to please be very careful and don’t spread this virus over the holiday.”

If individuals are planning to gather with others outside of their household despite the state’s warning, Dr. Rattay said they should put mitigation strategies in place such as:

• Limiting the number of people.

• Wearing face coverings when around those from another household.

• Having separate household members dine in different rooms.

• Opening windows or doors for increased ventilation.

• Social distancing when around others.

• Quarantining for five to seven days after being around others.

“We use a term in public health called ‘harm reduction,’” Dr. Rattay said. “Kind of like we give advice, ‘Don’t binge drink.’ But if you’re going to binge drink, which of course is not great for your health, but if you’re going to do it, have a designated driver. In a similar vein, if you are going to gather with others, you have to put some mitigation strategies in place and you need to have some tough conversations.”

Dr. Rattay added if anyone is inviting individuals from outside their household, they should check to see if anyone is high risk and if all guests have been tested for COVID-19 beforehand.

There have been 51,623 positive cases of COVID-19 in Delaware since March 11. The DPH reported 579 new cases in Tuesday’s daily report which reflects data as of Monday at 6 p.m.

The number of new positive cases reported in the most recent days may appear lower than the preceding days, according to the DPH, due to reporting delays in some labs. The DPH said “this may not be reflective of the true level of infection and may cause the number of new positive cases to be larger than normal in the days ahead as this issue is resolved.”

One new COVID-19-related death was added to Delaware’s total, increasing the cumulative number to 872. The most recent death was an 82-year-old New Castle County resident who had underlying health conditions and was a resident of a long-term care center, according to the DPH.

Long-term care centers have made up 477 of the state’s 872 COVID-19-related deaths.

Delaware’s seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests was at 9.1% in the most recent report. That number is as of Saturday at 6 p.m. due to a two-day lag for that data to account for the time delay between the date of the test and the date the DPH receives the test result.

Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at

Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.

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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