Small increase in latest Delaware COVID update, three months into outbreak here

DOVER — Three months into the COVID-19 outbreak, Delaware has seen more than 10,000 cases and 400 related fatalities.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, there had been 10,106 cases and 414 deaths, up 50 and one, respectively, from the day before. About 91% of cases and 94% of fatalities are confirmed, with the remaining ones being considered probable, according to the Division of Public Health.

DPH said 6,001 Delawareans who have caught the virus have recovered, meaning they’ve gone a week without symptoms. The other 41% of Delawareans who have contracted COVID-19 are either currently dealing with it or are now deceased.

As of the latest update, 109 people were hospitalized, among the lowest daily totals since early April. Eighteen were critically ill.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 9,719 cases, 142 hospitalizations and 386 deaths one week ago and 7,336 cases, 273 hospitalizations and 260 deaths as of the May 14 update, four weeks before the latest data.

New in the most recent release is a separation of cases and deaths into confirmed and probable. DPH did not specify the difference, but an agency spokeswoman previously described confirmed cases as ones with positive test results, while “presumptive cases either have a positive serology test or an epidemiological link with clinical criteria.”

Delaware uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and definitions. The agency describes a probable case as one with an individual “meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19” or “meeting presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence or “meeting vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19.”

Although some states have seen recent upticks in cases, new hospitalizations and percentage of tests coming back positive are trending downward here. Given the seeming downturn, Delaware is moving further toward reopening, with capacity limits for many businesses being raised from 30 to 60% starting Monday.

As Delaware reopens, officials are focusing on widespread free testing, with hopes of screening 80,000 people a month in the near future. Several free testing events are scheduled in all three counties over the weekend. Information on those can be found at coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing.

So far, about 1.05% of Delawareans have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 74,033 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

The virus has been especially prevalent in Sussex County, with 2.3% of the age-adjusted population contracting it, compared to .7% in New Castle County and .9% in Kent County. However, the fatality rate is lowest in the southernmost county at 3.4%, compared to 4.5% in New Castle and 5.1% in Kent (those rates are not age-adjusted).

The high prevalence in Sussex reflects not just the spread of the virus there but also the increased testing in the county that started earlier in the spring. In recent weeks, New Castle’s share has begun to creep up, owing in part to more testing in the northernmost county.

There have been 4,379 cases and 149 deaths involving residents of Sussex, 4,171 and 186 involving people from New Castle and 1,543 and 79 involving Kent natives.

Additionally, the addresses for 13 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

About 62% of Sussex residents, 57% of Kent residents and 57% of New Castle residents who contracted the virus have recovered so far.

The most recent death, DPH said, was a 62-year-old man from Kent who had underlying health conditions. About 86% of the Delaware deaths, or six out of every seven, involved people with prior known health issues.

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. Just 6% of deaths involved people younger than 50 even though 58% of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description.

Four out of five deaths involved people 65 or older, and almost two-thirds of fatalities have been nursing home residents.

There have been 5,577 cases and 220 deaths involving females and 4,513 cases and 194 deaths involving males. Sixteen cases have involved people of currently unknown sex.

By race, there have been 2,929 cases and 251 deaths involving non-Hispanic white Delawareans, 2,892 cases and 27 deaths involving Hispanic or Latino Delawareans, 2,700 cases and 110 deaths involving non-Hispanic black Delawareans, 155 cases and one death involving Asian or Pacific Islander Delawareans and 497 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 933 instances and 21 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, white Delawareans are almost eight times less likely than Hispanic Delawareans and three times less likely than black Delawareans to have COVID-19. However, although 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 27% and Hispanic people account for just 7%.

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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