Delaware taken off quarantine list; governor questions criteria

WILMINGTON — Delaware’s on-again, off-again saga with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut’s 14-day quarantine list continued Tuesday as Delaware was removed from the list for the third time.

Delaware was just added to the list one week ago. The three states have been using the quarantine list since late June when COVID-19 cases spiked in other states around the country.

Gov. John Carney said Tuesday Delaware did not deserve to be on the list this time, questioning how the criteria works.

The criteria for Delaware to be on the list is 97 or more average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous week or states with a 10% positive test rate for the last week.

Delaware has consistently had a positive test rate below 5%, which is also the recommended mark used by the World Health Organization. Gov. Carney pointed out Delaware’s average daily COVID-19 cases have been in the 70s the last several weeks, well below the mark of 97.

Why Delaware was put on the list last week, Gov. Carney said, is from time to time Delaware inputs old cases to its data for a better idea of a cumulative total, but New Jersey includes those newly added cases in total for the previous week.

“They don’t care enough to take the time to even respond to us and tell us what kind of methodology they’re using,” Gov. Carney said. “We would tell them, the methodology you’re using is flawed and therefore you’re coming up with a calculation that completely misrepresents the number of new positive cases on a seven-day moving average.”

Last week’s numbers were likely pushed over the criteria by nearly 300 cases reported by the Delaware Department of Correction. Those positive tests were done in June and July but were not inputted into the Delaware Division of Public Health’s (DPH) system until last week.

Gov. Carney said at his weekly COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday he has discussed with the governors of the three other states how Delaware inputs its historical data.

“I guess you can call it communications,” Gov. Carney said with a chuckle. “I’ve had some shouting matches with my friend Gov. Phil Murphy (of New Jersey).”

“The problem is frankly, that we’re reporting the data to be as complete as possible,” Gov. Carney added.

“In doing so, they’re not being very attentive to the methodology that they’re using and the numbers they’re taking. If they took our numbers in daily positive cases, it was 72 today on the seven-day moving average. Their cutoff is 97. Why would they say we’re above that? Because they’re including all these cases that were subsequently put into the database and show up on our cumulative total, but the tests were a month ago, two weeks or three weeks ago, certainly out of their interval.”

“A criteria that works like that, to me doesn’t make any sense,” Gov. Carney concluded. “It’s not telling you anything about the risk in your area.”

On Tuesday, which reflects data as of 6 p.m. Monday, the DPH was reporting a seven-day rolling average of 4.4% for positive tests and a seven-day rolling average of 71.6 for new cases per day.

Delaware ended up being on the 14-day quarantine list this time for seven days.

“We shouldn’t be on the list in the first instance and it certainly makes no sense if you’re on one week, and off the next, on the next week and off the next — it’s not even a 14-day interval,” Gov. Carney said. “They should do away with it our at least change their methodology for calculating the gating material.”

The DPH announced an adjustment to Delaware’s COVID-19 related deaths toll, lowering the number by one to 603. The DPH said this was done after a duplicate death record was identified and removed from the state’s statistics.

The DPH reported 75 new positive cases of the virus on Tuesday, increasing the state’s total to 16,962. There are currently 40 people hospitalized in Delaware with COVID-19, including 12 cases that are considered critical.

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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