New Castle poised to pass Sussex in total cases again

DOVER — Delaware announced two new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, part of an increase of 41 cases. In total, the state has now seen 10,444 cases. A total of 426, or 4.1%, have resulted in fatalities.

The Division of Public Health said as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 83 people were hospitalized with COVID, the fewest in 10 weeks. Thirteen were critically ill.

DPH said 6,305 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.

New Castle County continues to see its share climb and is now poised to pass Sussex County for the highest cumulative total. Sussex has held that ignominious mark since the last week of April, with cases exploding there earlier this spring in part due to the ease of transmission in poultry plants.

Currently, there have been 4,429 cases involving residents of Sussex, 4,422 involving New Castle Countians and 1,579 involving those from 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 191, compared to 151 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 4.3% 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 49% of all Delaware cases. Over the past month or so, however, its share has been steadily dropping.

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 10,084 cases, 108 hospitalizations and 413 deaths one week ago and 8,414 cases, 220 hospitalizations and 310 deaths as of the May 20 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 86,393 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

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.

The most recent deaths, DPH said, were a 36-year-old and 72-year-old. One was male and one was female, while one came from New Castle and one hailed from Sussex.  One of the two was a resident of a long-term care facility, a statement that describes almost two-thirds of fatalities here.

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

In total, there have been 5,776 cases and 227 deaths involving females and 4,650 cases and 199 deaths involving males. Eighteen 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 3,045 cases and 259 deaths involving non-Hispanic white Delawareans, 2,988 cases and 27 deaths involving Hispanic or Latino Delawareans, 2,779 cases and 114 deaths involving non-Hispanic black Delawareans, 159 cases and one death involving Asian or Pacific Islander Delawareans and 509 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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