More good news in COVID data as Delaware takes steps forward in reopening, testing and tracing

DOVER — The spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Delaware as the First State takes more steps toward reopening. Many businesses were allowed to open with limits Monday, the same day officials announced the state has started doing contact tracing to track and halt the spread of coronavirus.

Key indicators like hospital admissions and new positive cases show a clear downward trend, but decision-makers here are urging people not to let up, emphasizing the virus is not beaten yet.

Delaware now stands at 9,605 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 368 related deaths, with 107 new cases and two additional deaths coming the latest update.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, 159 people were hospitalized, with 32 critically ill, the Division of Public Health said. That’s the smallest number of hospitalizations in almost three months.

DPH said 5,353 people have recovered, meaning they’ve gone a week without symptoms.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 8,996 cases, 205 hospitalizations and 332 deaths one week ago and 5,614 cases, 281 hospitalizations and 182 deaths as of May 4, four weeks before the latest data.

So far, about 1 percent of Delawareans have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 62,448 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

The most recent deaths involve two men, one 30 and one 77. Both were New Castle County residents with underlying health conditions.

As part of its strategy to halt the spread of the virus, the state is hosting free community testing using saliva-based tests. Events will be held Tuesday in Lewes, Wednesday in Dover and Thursday in Bridgeville, DPH said.

The first will take place from 10 to 2 in Lewes at Beacon Middle School, located at 19483 John J Williams Highway. The following day, there will be one from 1 to 5 at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, located at 901 Forest St. The third event will take place at the Bridgeville Fire Company, located at 311 Market St., from 10 to 2.

People are strongly encouraged to preregister at delaware.curativeinc.com, although limited on-site registration will be available. Participants should not eat or drink anything or brush their teeth for 20 minutes prior to taking the test.

For more information, visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing.

The state also said Monday DPH is dispatching employees to visit individuals the agency has been unable to contact by phone to inform them they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive.

The employees will have state identification and will be wearing masks and gloves. They will request permission to ask the person a series of questions but will not seek to enter the home unless they are unable to maintain the individual’s privacy outside the home.

An individual’s information will not be shared with any person or organization and will only be used to help DPH monitor a person’s health status through additional phone calls to that person to help stop the spread of the disease. Residents should also be aware legitimate contact tracers will never ask for bank account or Social Security information.

For additional information about contact tracing, visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/contact-tracing.

Of Delaware’s positive cases, about 44 percent have involved residents of Sussex County even though the southernmost county has just a quarter of the state’s population. However, the spread appears to have slowed there, owing in large part to concerted efforts to stamp it out.

There have been 4,272 cases and 133 deaths involving Sussex, with 3,838 and 172 involving New Castle. Kent County has seen 1,440 casesand 63 fatalities.

Additionally, the addresses for 55 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

Delawareans who have had confirmed cases range in age from less than a year old to 103, with deaths involving people from 21 to 103, according to DPH.

Just 5 percent of fatalities involved people younger than 50 even though 58 percent of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description. Eighty percent of deaths involved people 65 or older.

About 15 percent of the 368 people who died due to complications stemming from the virus had no underlying health conditions.

There have been 5,271 cases and 192 deaths involving females and 4,289 cases and 176 deaths involving males. Forty-five cases involve people of currently unknown sex.

By race, there have been 2,757 cases and 221 deaths involving non-Hispanic whites, 2,677 cases and 24 deaths involving Hispanics or Latinos, 2,540 cases and 97 deaths involving non-Hispanic blacks, 144 cases and one death involving Asians or Pacific Islanders and 492 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 995 instances and 21 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, whites in Delaware are more than seven times less likely than Hispanics and almost three times less likely than blacks to have COVID-19. However, although whites, blacks and Hispanics each represent a little more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases here, whites make up 60 percent of deaths, while Hispanics account for just 7 percent.

DPH has stopped offering information on specific deaths and is providing updated statistics on nursing home cases only on Fridays.

Based on guidance from the federal government, Delaware is counting deaths of individuals with laboratory-confirmed cases and people who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and were exposed but never tested. Individuals who tests show previously had the virus but no longer do are not counted in the cumulative total.

Because of volume, the hospitalization and critically ill numbers now include non-Delawareans, although all other totals are just Delaware residents, according to DPH.


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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