Largest coronavirus increase yet as state passes 1,000 cases

DOVER — Delaware saw almost 200 additional coronavirus cases Wednesday, including three more deaths. There have now been 1,116 laboratory-confirmed cases here, causing 19 deaths, according to the Division of Public Health.

A total of 159 people have recovered, meaning they have been without symptoms at least a week. DPH said 177 individuals are currently hospitalized, with 51 critically ill.

The most recent deaths involve an 88-year-old man from New Castle County who was in a long-term care facility, an 81-year-old man from New Castle County and a 74-year-old woman from Sussex County. All had underlying conditions and were hospitalized.

Nine of the 19 deaths have been related to long-term care facilities, including six at Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark.

Seven nursing homes have had confirmed COVID-19 cases. Those are the Jeanne Jugan home, HarborChase of Wilmington, Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City, Forwood Manor in Wilmington, the Department of Health and Social Services’ public psychiatric hospital on the grounds of the Herman Holloway Sr. Campus in New Castle and two others.

Because the two remaining homes have only one patient with coronavirus apiece, DHSS said it would not name them, only saying one is located in Kent and the other is in Sussex. That’s consistent with DPH’s policy of sharing limited information about coronavirus cases, despite some public uproar, due to privacy laws.

Wednesday’s caseload increase of 188 is the largest from one day to the next thus far, surpassing Tuesday’s 145-case jump. Delaware is entering into its roughest period to date, with officials warning the state could see more than 3,000 cases by Sunday.

The state’s first laboratory-confirmed case was announced March 11, with the first official death coming 15 days later. There were 368 cases one week ago.

Also Wednesday, DPH announced it is recommending Delawareans wear cloth face coverings in public places “where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” such as supermarkets.

Cloth masks are not meant to protect the user but to benefit others. Medical masks are not recommended, save for health care professionals.

A cloth face covering can be made in various ways, such as with a scarf or shirts cleverly wrapped around one’s head.

Individuals who are sick should wear face coverings whenever they are around others, including at home, DPH said. Masks are not a substitute for good hygiene and social distancing practices.

“Delaware’s response to COVID-19 has been driven by science, and will continue to be driven by science,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “Our goal is simple. We are working to prevent a surge in cases, protect hospital capacity, and save lives.

“The science tells us that wearing a face covering in certain public settings can help prevent transmission and spread of the COVID-19 virus. But wearing a face covering is not an excuse to spend more time in public.

“Stay home. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. Wash your hands. Disinfect surfaces frequently. It’s important we all do our part to get through this.”

Of the 1,116 COVID-19 cases, a total that includes people currently sick, those recovered and the deceased, there are 636 involving those from New Castle County, 279 involving those from Sussex County and 201 involving those from Kent County.

Delawareans who have had laboratory-confirmed cases range in age from 1 to 97, and the 19 individuals who have died were all between 66 and 94 years old.

The caseload was less than 100 as recently as March 24, with 87.

As of Wednesday, there had been 8,323 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.

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

Meanwhile, the Department of Correction announced Wednesday a second inmate and a probation and parole officer have tested positive. The first inmate positive test was announced Tuesday, while cases involving six correctional officers and three contracted health care workers have already been publicized by the agency.

Both inmates are at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and are now isolated in the infirmary. The probation and parole officer is assigned to the Cherry Lane Probation and Parole Office in New Castle.

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 from COVID-19, 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, although illness can be severe.

Statewide testing at standing health facility sites is under way for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Those without a primary care provider can contact DPH at 1-866-408-1899, but individuals should not just walk in. Bayhealth patients will be pre-screened via phone without needing to see a provider first.

DPH this week launched a partnership with the United Way of Delaware to triage incoming calls related to COVID-19. Anyone with a question about the virus should dial Delaware 2-1-1 (7-1-1 for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing) or text their ZIP code to 898-211.

The service can connect Delawareans with all sorts of assistance, including employment, mental health, food and housing.

In addition, the Division of Public Health asks any health care, long-term care, residential or other high-risk facility with questions or concerns to email DPH_PAC@delaware.gov or call the DPH Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 and press ext. 2.  

Health-related questions can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.    

For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.


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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