Issue with coronavirus totals means large increase coming Friday

DOVER — Delaware announced six more COVID-19 deaths Thursday, with an increase of 61 cases from the day before. The totals now stand at 2,075 confirmed cases and 52 deaths.

However, the Division of Public Health cautioned those numbers undercount the situation.

“Due to system processing delays, today’s positive case total may make it appear that Delaware is leveling out or seeing a decrease in the daily case count, however, that is not an accurate reflection of the situation in Delaware,” the agency said Thursday. “The surveillance system is expected to be running normally tomorrow, and DPH anticipates seeing a significant increase in the overall number of cases once again.”

Asked for more information, a spokeswoman for the division said the problem was a “technical issue with the system itself related to system processing speed.”

Per DPH, 209 people are currently hospitalized in Delaware, with 60 critically ill. In all, 378 Delawareans are considered to have recovered, meaning they have gone without symptoms for at least a week.

The most recent deaths involve a 57-year-old man from New Castle County, a 59-year-old woman from Kent County, a 68-year-old man from Sussex County, a 71-year-old man from New Castle County, 72-year-old woman from New Castle County and an 84-year-old man from New Castle County. All had underlying conditions.

The 57- and 68-year-olds were long-term care residents.

To date, there have been 97 positive COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths involving long-term care facilities in Delaware, DPH said.

The sites that have seen deaths include Little Sisters of the Poor in Newark (11), Genesis Healthcare’s Milford Center (eight) and Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation and Health Center (two) in Millsboro. Additionally, DPH said five facilities in New Castle and one in Sussex have had one death each, although it is only naming centers with multiple deaths.

While the agency said Wednesday there had been 28 deaths, it said Thursday that was an error because Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation and Health Center was wrongly listed with five.

Genesis Healthcare said Wednesday there have been 12 deaths at the Milford Center, although a spokeswoman for DPH said the center’s figures would be more up to date.

Citing new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DPH last week started counting deaths of not just individuals with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases but also those who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and were exposed to a confirmed case but never tested.

Delaware announced its first laboratory-confirmed case March 11. One week ago, there had been 1,209 occurrences and 23 deaths, with 393 cases and 12 deaths one week prior to that.

Of the 2,075 COVID-19 cases, a total that includes current cases, people who have recovered and the deceased, there are 1,003 involving New Castle Countians, 698 involving Sussex Countians, 352 involving Kent Countians and 22 involving people whose residence is unknown. There are 1,129 females, 944 males and two people whose gender is unknown.

Those who have had confirmed cases range in age from 1 to 97, with deaths involving people from ages 33 to 96. The vast majority of deaths have involved the elderly, with about half of those who have died being at least 80.

As of Thursday, there had been 11,275 negative test results, DPH said, although it cautions the figure is preliminary and should not be used as a substitute for the overall number of Delawareans who have been tested.

DPH did not release many additional details involving the cases, citing health privacy laws.

The agency said because of volume, the hospitalization and critically ill numbers now include non-Delawareans, although all other totals are just Delaware residents.

The state began requiring samples include patient race in addition to other demographic data like age last week.

Delaware has been in a state of emergency since March 12, and the governor issued a stay-at-home order and closed non-essential businesses starting March 22.

While the elderly and those with serious health conditions, especially heart disease, lung issues, diabetes, severe obesity or a compromised immune system are most at risk, officials say everyone needs to avoid contact with others.

Anyone who believes he or she may be sick should not go out except for medical appointments and should contact a primary care provider before heading to the emergency room or an urgent care center. A person experiencing a medical emergency such as significant trouble breathing should call 911.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite. People who are sick with any of those and need essential supplies should ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy instead. They also are urged not to go to work.

Most people recover from COVID-19 with rest and hydration, though illness can be severe.

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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