New Castle passes Sussex in total COVID-19 cases for first time since April

DOVER — New Castle County has roared into the lead once more, passing Sussex County for most total COVID-19 cases seven weeks it was surpassed by the southernmost county.

In total, the state had seen 10,499 cases, an increase of 55 from the day before, as of 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Division of Public Health said there were five new deaths, bringing that sum to 431.

Seventy-nine people were hospitalized due to coronavirus, the fewest in 10 weeks. Seventeen were critically ill.

DPH said 6,350 Delawareans who have caught the virus have recovered, meaning they’ve gone seven days or more without symptoms. The other 40% of Delawareans who have contracted COVID-19 are either currently dealing with it or are now deceased.

There have been 4,470 cases involving residents of New Castle, 4,431 involving residents of Sussex and 1,584 involving residents of Kent County.

Additionally, the addresses for 14 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

New Castle has seen the most deaths, with 195, compared to 152 in Sussex and 84 in Kent. However, the fatality rate is highest in Kent, with 5.3% of residents who catch the virus dying. About 4.4% of New Castle residents and 3.4% of those in Sussex with COVID have passed away.

The virus hit Sussex hard early in the outbreak, with the county — which has about a quarter of the state’s population — at the peak containing almost half of all Delaware cases. Cases exploded there earlier this spring in part due to the ease of transmission in poultry plants.

The southernmost county has seen its rate steadily slip over the past month or so, which may be partially due to more testing in New Castle, the most populous county.

Still, residents of Sussex are three times more likely than residents of New Castle and two-and-a-half times more likely than those from Kent to have tested positive.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 10,144 cases, 109 hospitalizations and 414 deaths one week ago and 8,500 cases, 220 hospitalizations and 317 deaths as of the May 21 update, four weeks before the latest data.

So far, about 1.09% of Delawareans have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 88,684 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

The most recent deaths, DPH said, were three men and two women ranging in age from 74 to 98. Four were from New Castle and one was from Sussex. Four were residents of long-term care facilities, a statement that describes almost two-thirds of fatalities here.

All five had underlying health conditions. About 13% of Delaware deaths have involved people with no prior known health issues.

The state moved into the second part of its three-step economic recovery Monday, with many businesses authorized to raise capacity from 30% to 60%. Child care services are open to all Delawareans again, and summer camps, summer schools and sports leagues can operate with restrictions.

There’s no timetable on when the state will enter the third and final phase of its recovery, which is based off a model proposed by the White House. That’s dependent on how well people follow the current rules, such as social distancing and wearing a face covering in public.

Gov. John Carney has stated several times officials are largely relying on education and voluntary compliance, hoping to emphasize how individual actions affect other people. Delaware is a state of neighbors, he’s said repeatedly, aiming to impart a sense of community and of responsibility for keeping others safe.

Some states have seen recent upticks in cases, though new hospitalizations and percentage of tests coming back positive are trending downward here. The virus appears to have peaked in Delaware around the beginning of May, but health officials warn it is far from defeated.

The First State is hoping to combat the spread with widespread free testing and contact tracing to quickly identify, track and isolate potential cases.

Delawareans who have had confirmed cases range in age from less than a year old to 104, with deaths involving people from 21 to 104. Just 6% of deaths involved people younger than 50 even though 58% of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description.

Only 20% of deaths have come in people younger than 65.

In total, there have been 5,811 cases and 229 deaths involving females and 4,672 cases and 202 deaths involving males. Sixteen cases have involved people of currently unknown sex.

About 55% of cases in the First State have involved girls or women.

By race, there have been 3,057 cases and 263 deaths involving non-Hispanic white Delawareans, 3,015 cases and 27 deaths involving Hispanic or Latino Delawareans, 2,797 cases and 115 deaths involving non-Hispanic black Delawareans, 159 cases and one death involving Asian or Pacific Islander Delawareans and 507 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 964 instances and 21 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, white Delawareans are more than seven times less likely than Hispanic Delawareans and almost three times less likely than black Delawareans to have COVID-19. Though white, black and Hispanic individuals each represent a little more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases here, white people make up 61% of fatalities, while black people are 26% and Hispanic people account for just 6%.

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 statistics 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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