Face masks mandatory as 12 more die from virus

SMYRNA — The Delaware Division of Public Health announced 134 new positive cases of COVID-19 Saturday and said 12 more people, all with underlying health conditions, had died from the virus.

Ten of the people who died were residents of long-term care facilities. DPH learned that two previously reported deaths were residents of long-term care facilities, therefore those individuals are now included among the total fatalities related to long-term care.

The most recent deaths announced Saturday ranged in age from 61 to 97. Four were females and eight were males. Seven were New Castle County residents, three were Kent County residents and two were Sussex County residents.

In total, 112 Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19.

Individuals who have died from COVID-19 ranged in age from 32 to 103 years old. Of those who have died, 59 were females and 53 were males. A total of 52 individuals were from New Castle County, 18 were from Kent County and 42 were from Sussex County. Seventy-one of the deaths involved residents from long-term care facilities.

Starting Saturday, DPH began providing demographic information for COVID-19-related deaths in aggregate only, and will no longer provide demographics of each individual person who died. Since last week, DPH has been reporting its daily updates based on data received as of 6 p.m. the previous day.

Saturday evening Gov. John Carney issued the 13th modification to his State of Emergency declaration, requiring Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and on public transportation. That order begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 28.

His order does not require children ages 12 or younger to wear a face covering and says any child 2 years old or younger must not wear one due to the risk of suffocation.

“Now is not the time for Delawareans to get complacent,” said Gov. Carney. “We face a very serious situation, with additional cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations statewide. All of our actions are guided by science, and intended to save lives. Wearing a face covering in public settings is important to prevent transmission of this disease. But wearing a face covering is not permission to go out in public more often. Delawareans should stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out for essential work or essential items. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. You will only increase your risk — and the risk to your family, friends, and neighbors.”

Under his modified order, businesses must also take certain steps designed to keep their employees and customers safe.

By 8 a.m. on Friday, May 1, businesses must:

• Require employees to wear a face covering while working in areas open to the public and in areas where coming within 6 feet of other staff is likely.

• Provide, at the business’ expense, face coverings and hand sanitizer for their employees.

• Deny entry to individuals who do not have a face covering — or if one is not available for them.

• If any business denying entry is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, the business must provide alternate methods of pickup or delivery.

Delawareans are urged to use cloth face coverings and reserve medical-grade masks for use by health care workers and first responders. Medical-grade masks include N95, KN95, surgical, or other masks that would be appropriate for a health care setting.

Delawareans wearing a face covering should practice strict hand-washing before and after touching the covering, according to DPH. Face coverings are not a replacement for washing hands, practicing physical distancing, and staying home. Delawareans who are sick should wear a face covering over their nose and mouth if they must be around other people — even while at home.

“Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for existing guidance around hand-washing and social distancing,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “Delawareans should stay at home whenever possible, only leaving for essential activities. Wash your hands. Keep 6-10 feet between yourself and others.”

With the case update released Saturday, DPH said 809 people have recovered from COVID-19, which means they have gone without symptoms for at least a week.

There are now 300 people hospitalized and 61 critically ill.

Of the total cases in Delaware, there are now 1,504 in New Castle County, 579 in Kent County and 1,490 in Sussex. Three hometowns are unknown.

Of those cases, ages range from 0 to 103 with 1,613 males, 1,936 females, and 27 unknown.

There have been 14,122 negative cases, but data is preliminary, based on negative results reported to DPH by state and commercial laboratories performing analysis.

Business changes

Late Friday, the Delaware House of Representatives in an e-newsletter said that retailers selling furniture and home furnishings can now serve customers on a limited basis.

Until this week, those stores had been prohibited from conducting face-to-face sales as part of the state of emergency restrictions limiting businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Store owners argued that other businesses were operating on an appointment-only basis and that they could safely conduct sales using the same method,” the newsletter stated. “Their case was taken up by multiple legislators, including three leaders of the House of Representatives: State Reps. Danny Short (R-Seaford), Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach), and Tim Dukes (R-Laurel). The bipartisan group approached the governor’s office about making the change.”

The resulting amendment now allows furniture and home furnishings stores to sell at their showrooms by appointment only, with no more than two appointments per half-hour. Similar concessions have been made to other businesses, including gun shops and auto dealers, since the essential business ruling went into effect March 24.

On Friday, Gov. Carney announced that public and charter schools would remain closed through the remainder of this school year, with learning continuing remotely.

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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