Number of Delaware coronavirus cases rises to four

DOVER — Three more Delawareans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the state announced Thursday. The news comes one day after the first person tested positive in Delaware.

The three new cases all involve University of Delaware students — two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher — who had contact with the first individual at an off-campus social event in February. The initial positive test result comes from a faculty member over age 50 who was exposed to a confirmed case of the virus in another state.

All four people are doing well and have quarantined themselves at home, the Delaware Division of Public Health said.

The state and the university are working to identify individuals who may have been exposed and will provide guidance to anyone affected by the virus.

“It’s a time for us all to do what we can … protect ourselves with good hygiene, ensure we don’t go out into public if we are ill, try to avoid crowds, especially individuals who are higher risk, but it’s not a time to panic,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said during a livestreamed forum Thursday. “It’s just a time to make good, measured approaches.”

Delaware Governor John Carney elbow bumps Michael Purnell, a Capitol Police officer after a press conference regarding the coronavirus held at the Carvel State Office Building.

As of Thursday, DPH had tested 44 people for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with 10 of those still awaiting results. The four positive tests have not yet been validated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although that’s largely a formality.

The virus, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization Wednesday, has sickened about 130,000 people worldwide, with more than 4,700 deaths since appearing in Wuhan, China, late last year.

While individuals are urged not to panic, they should also take steps to avoid becoming sick or spreading the virus.

Anyone who has been to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea in the past 14 days or had contact with someone who has should contact the state at 1-866-408-1899 or email

Symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath and are believed to appear between two and 14 days after exposure. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection at this time.

Most people with the illness have only mild symptoms that can treated with rest, hydration and some basic medicine to relieve pains and fevers. However, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are at increased risk.

Testing for coronavirus disease is not recommended for individuals who do not have any symptoms of illness. Those who have symptoms can contact the DPH Lab in Smyrna for free testing. Several commercial labs now also have the capability to test for the virus.

Mouth and nose swabs can be used to determine if someone is a carrier, much the same way health care providers test for the flu.

Individuals are urged to speak with the state or their primary care provider first, instead of rushing to a hospital or urgent care center.

Regardless of whether they’ve traveled recently, individuals are urged to remain home as much as possible and practice good hygiene, such as coughing or sneezing into tissues, cleaning commonly used surfaces and objects and not touching their faces. People should limit their contact with others, such as not shaking hands.

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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