Rising numbers: 3 new Delaware virus deaths, 214 total cases

DOVER — The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rapidly infect people from all over Delaware.

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced three additional fatalities in Delaware related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Saturday and reported 214 total laboratory-confirmed cases in the state since March 11.

In total, five Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19.

The most recent deaths involve two men from Kent County, a 74-year-old and 77-year-old who had been hospitalized, along with a 76-year-old man from New Castle County who was not hospitalized. All three individuals had underlying health conditions.

The source of exposure for those cases is not confirmed. To protect personal health information, DPH will not disclose additional information about the individuals who passed away.

The 214 positive cases include 49 additional cases since Friday. Of the Delawareans diagnosed with COVID-19, 130 are from New Castle County, 25 are from Kent County and 59 are from Sussex. The total number of positive cases represents a cumulative total of cases, including individuals who are currently ill, and those who are considered recovered. Nine Delaware residents have recovered from COVID-19.

Patients are considered fully recovered seven days after the resolution of their symptoms (three days after symptoms resolve, they are no longer required to self-isolate at home; however, they must continue to practice extreme social distancing for the remaining four days).

Of the state’s 214 cases, 105 are male and 109 are female. The individuals range in age from 1 to 90. A total of 31 individuals are currently hospitalized and eight are critically ill. DPH said it cannot confirm specific personal information about those people even if other entities choose to make their own announcements.

The source of exposure for many of the positive cases is unknown, which indicates community spread of the virus is occurring in the state. In an effort to provide more demographic information to the public, additional information has been incorporated into Delaware’s data dashboard located at de.gov/coronavirus.

Through Gov. Carney’s state of emergency, Delawareans are to stay home, except if their business has been deemed essential. The governor’s order does allow Delawareans to leave their homes to see a doctor, pick up a prescription, buy groceries, or engage in other activities essential to their health.

“This is a time for us all, as Delawareans and as Americans, to rally together, pull together, do the right thing, be calm and try to flatten that curve,” Gov. Carney said, “and it’s going to take some pretty dramatic actions, which we’ve taken led by the science and experts with an eye towards the abundance of caution to protect the people of our state.”

Anybody who is sick with any symptoms should stay home. Anybody who is sick and needs essential supplies should ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy to get what they need.

Anyone who thinks they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of the illness, should make sure to distance themselves from others, particularly vulnerable populations. This includes people 60 years of age and older; people with serious chronic health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease; or those who are immunocompromised.

Individuals who are sick should stay home and contact their primary care provider for guidance regarding symptoms and next steps. DPH urges individuals who are sick, even with mild symptoms that would be present with a cold or flu, to stay home to help prevent the spread of illness to others.

State leaders continuously have urged Delawareans to pretend they have the virus to avoid exposing others, especially those in high-risk categories for falling seriously ill.

Statewide testing at standing health facility testing sites requires a physician’s order or prescription to be tested (Bayhealth patients will be pre-screened via phone without needing to see a provider first). These are not walk-in testing sites.

Those without a primary care provider can call the DPH Call Center Line at 1-866-408-1899. Individuals awaiting test results, should wait to hear back from their medical provider; the Call Center does not have test results.

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899, or 711 for individuals who are hearing-impaired, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Questions also can be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.

Multiple coronavirus cases at a second care facility

The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) said Saturday that a second care facility in Delaware has multiple coronavirus cases.

Six residents of a memory care unit of HarborChase of Wilmington have tested positive for COVID-19, including five who were hospitalized as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Division of Public Health. The current census of that unit is 36. DHSS staff have worked with the assisted-living facility to ensure resident and staff safety. The source of the infection is under investigation.
“Responding to multiple cases of COVID-19 in such facilities is among our greatest concerns,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “The populations who live in these facilities are at the highest risk for COVID-19, based on their age and underlying health conditions.

“Our DHSS team is working closely with the facility’s staff to make sure that the residents with COVID-19 are isolated from other residents, and that staff follow strict safety protocols regarding care of the individuals with the virus and also screening of all who enter the facility.”

HarborChase is the second care facility in Delaware to have an outbreak of coronavirus cases. On Thursday, DHSS announced the coronavirus-related death of an 86-year-old resident of Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark and said six additional residents had tested positive for COVID-19. A seventh resident has since tested positive.

On March 13, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued aggressive measures for nursing homes nationwide to follow regarding safety at their facilities:

• Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;

• Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);

• Canceling all group activities and communal dining;

• Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory systems.

In cases of compassionate care, CMS advises that visitors will be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and the visits will be limited to a specific room.

On March 16, DHSS issued further restrictive and specific guidance to all facilities serving older adults, including screening protocols for visitors, requirements for disinfecting rooms, and reinforcing resident and staff hygiene.

Secretary Walker said as difficult as it is for loved ones not to visit residents of long-term care facilities during the global pandemic, those visitor restrictions are in place to help keep vulnerable residents safe. DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality is continuing to work closely with long-term care facilities in the state to verify that such strong measures are in place at each facility, and if, not, to assist them in implementing stronger protocols.

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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