State lifting stay-at-home order and some other bans June 1

Beachgoers walk along the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk wearing masks over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

DOVER — Gov. John Carney on Tuesday announced the state will lift the stay-at-home order June 1, although Delawareans are still encouraged not to venture out unnecessarily.

June 1 will see more than its fair share of changes: In addition to a previously announced reopening of many businesses, that day will also mark the end of the ban on short-term rental units, the mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers and the prohibition on many outdoor gatherings.

Part of the “rolling” reopening of the state, the steps follow the governor lifting the beach ban last week.

Delawareans have been instructed to avoid nonessential travel since March 24, and many businesses have closed their doors for the time being.

With pressure to reopen mounting and key COVID indicators like new hospital admissions trending in the right direction, Delaware is beginning to bloom again, just as the warmer weather brings flowers to life.

However, officials emphasize the outbreak is far from over, and Delawareans still must follow other COVID-related restrictions.

“I think it’s again important to point out that we’re moving into the new phase, a new phase of containing the virus. The virus hasn’t gone away,” Gov. Carney said Tuesday in his regular news conference offering an update on COVID-19.

“It’s a phase where we will replace the blunt instrument of stay-at-home orders and shelter in place and closing businesses to one where we gradually reopen those business sectors in a way that’s safe, that keeps people separate and that enables the businesses to keep revenue and bring customers back.”

He has described one of the key challenges as balancing public health with economic health while noting they are intertwined.

Delaware’s COVID case total went over 9,000 in the latest update, with an additional 101 cases bringing the count to 9,066. According to the Division of Public Health, there were 335 deaths, including four new ones, as of 6 p.m. Monday. DPH said 201 people were hospitalized, the smallest total in at least a month.

In total, 4,802 people have recovered, meaning they’ve gone a week without symptoms.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 8,316 cases, 236 hospitalizations and 304 deaths one week ago and 4,682 cases, 337 hospitalizations and 137 deaths as of April 28, four weeks before the latest data.

Under the latest order from the governor, outdoor events like weddings can be held beginning June 1, though no more than 250 people can attend. Participants must stay 6 feet apart from those outside their household and wear face coverings at all times.

Individuals hoping to hold gatherings of more than 250 people may still do so but first must submit a plan to the Division of Small Business at least seven days in advance.

Most businesses will be allowed to open next month at 30 percent capacity with strict health limits. Owners are urged to contact the Division of Public Health to learn about possibly testing employees. Guidelines for companies can be found at bit.ly/3eiR8QH.

“I think that we can keep this under wraps, but I think a lot of it has to do with us,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said Tuesday.

The state will release guidance later this week on summer school programs and summer camps.

As it moves into the reopening after two months in lockdown, Delaware has doubled its testing capacity. The state is now conducting about 1,400 tests a day, Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director A.J. Schall said.

Officials are seeking to contain coronavirus by testing many people, isolating those who come back positive and using contact tracers to identify to whom they might have unknowingly passed the virus.

Among the free testing events the state is holding is one Thursday in Harrington. It will be held at Lake Forest South/WT Chipman Campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Individuals are urged to preregister, though limited on-site registration will be available, and not to eat, drink or brush teeth for 20 minutes prior to taking the test.

Although individuals will soon have more freedom to leave their homes, Gov. Carney said they should still make an effort to halve the number of trips they would have made in the old days.

He’s largely been pleased with the response from Delawareans. Although some, including Republican lawmakers, have reacted negatively toward the restrictions, the governor said most people he’s seen have been wearing face coverings and properly social distancing.

He visited Rehoboth Beach and Lewes over the holiday weekend and said he was impressed with how many individuals were committed to the health and safety of others, as well as the work local officials are doing to educate visitors.

“I’ve been looking forward to the weekend that’s past for some time now to determine whether we could get through a reopening at our beach communities in a way that was safe and didn’t risk public health, and I thought that’s what I saw,” the governor said, contrasting the situation with the swarm of people that descended on Ocean City, Maryland, over the weekend.

Coronavirus data update

So far, about 0.94 percent of Delawareans, or 94 people for every 10,000 residents, have tested positive for the virus. DPH said there have been 54,915 tests, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of results that are pending.

Thirty-eight people were critically ill from COVID complications as of the latest DPH release.

The most recently announced deaths were one woman and three men ranging in age from 69 to 92. One lived in New Castle County, one was from Kent County and the other two resided in Sussex County.

Two were residents of long-term care facilities.

DPH also said although there were 332 deaths the day before, one “was recently identified as being a duplicate entry and has been removed from the data reporting system.”

Sussex has been slammed by the virus, and although New Castle has seen more fatalities, residents there are three-and-a-half times less likely than their southern counterparts to catch coronavirus. Many of the cases in Sussex have involved workers at the poultry plants, with around one in three testing positive at some factories earlier this spring, Gov. Carney said.

There are 4,132 cases and 128 deaths involving people from Sussex and 3,508 and 150 involving New Castle Countians. Kent has seen 1,368 cases and 57 deaths.

Additionally, the addresses for 58 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

Sixty-three of the 335 people who died due to complications stemming from the virus had no underlying health conditions, including one of the most recent four.

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, according to DPH. Just 5 percent of deaths involved people younger than 50 even though 58 percent of Delawareans who have caught the virus fit that description. Eighty percent of deaths involved people 65 or older.

There have been 4,980 cases and 173 deaths involving females and 4,052 cases and 162 deaths involving males. Thirty-four cases involve people of currently unknown sex.

By race, there have been 2,612 cases and 206 deaths involving non-Hispanic whites, 2,498 cases and 23 deaths involving Hispanics or Latinos, 2,407 cases and 81 deaths involving non-Hispanic blacks, 133 cases and one death involving Asians or Pacific Islanders and 464 cases and four deaths involving people from another race or multiple races. In 952 instances and 20 deaths, race is unknown.

Adjusted for population size, whites in Delaware are seven times less likely than Hispanics and almost three times less likely than blacks to have COVID-19. However, although whites, blacks and Hispanics each represent a little more than a quarter of the coronavirus cases here, whites make up 61 percent of deaths, while Hispanics account for just 7 percent.

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 and critically ill numbers 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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