A timeline of coronavirus in Delaware

Updated Dec. 31 — 296 days after the first Delaware case of the coronavirus was announced. Check back regularly on developments covered by the Delaware State News.

Bayhealth medical providers were saluted by local fire companies in early April at the hospital in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

FROM THE HOME OFFICE – The dateline, as the newspaper business refers to the town in all caps at the start of our stories, was changed today to reflect work in the coronavirus era.

Our newsroom has been dark. But our journalists are still at work from wherever they are.

Like all of you, our way of life changed on March 11.

And, again on March 25, when we were divided into essential and non-essential workers.

It has been a time of uncertainty and a time of disruption.

We’re going to church on the internet, we’re taking our children to the dining room table for school.

We’re clumsily learning how to interact on Jetsons-like technology called “Zoom.”

We’re vigilant about our surroundings, challenged to see what can’t be seen.

We’re learning to “social distance” – well, many of us are. The rest seem to be irking those who want to stop the spread.

From our homes, we look outside and see the sun shining bright and the plants signaling it is spring. But it seems so much like hunkering down during a storm.

Who would have imagined a long line of cars at Dover International Speedway for food distribution and coronavirus testing instead of a stock car race?

We have no clear idea when we can rely on a calendar again.

We wish we could report the date that it will be safe to freely move about again.

“It’s really stressful,” said Delaware Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay recently. “It’s stressful for those in their own homes. It’s stressful for those who are watching the media every day and worried about what’s going to happen to them and their loved ones.”

So, how did we get here? And what all has happened?

We thought the following timeline might help put all of this into perspective.

When you look back on all the headlines and deadlines, it really is a lot to absorb.

Before you read on, we want to thank you for turning to us for information. More people than ever are reading our work and we’re humbled to be able to serve our community in this way.

Stay safe and be well.

-Andrew West
Executive Editor
Delaware State News

Editor’s note: Introductory paragraphs written for the April 5 edition.

Readers might also appreciate our glossary of coronavirus-related terms.

Timeline of the coronavirus in Delaware

Wednesday, March 11 – Delaware’s Division of Public Health announced that a 50-year-old University of Delaware staffer was the first to test positive for COVID-19.

Thursday, March 12 – Delaware Gov. John Carney issued a state of emergency, limiting gatherings to 100 or fewer people. Three additional coronavirus cases – all tied to the university staff member –  were announced.

Delawareans, panicked by news of the coronavirus, grabbed up toilet paper and cleaning supplies, as well as groceries. Shelves were left bare in many stores.

The semifinals of the state high school basketball tournament, already moved from the University of Delaware to the gyms of high seeds, were canceled. A day earlier, there had been discussion of the games being played without spectators or limited to parents/guardians of the players.

The Delaware General Assembly announced lawmakers would not meet the following week.

Friday, March 13 – Gov. Carney orders schools to close for the next two weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Among public schools, Polytech had already dismissed early for deep cleaning. Laurel had closed for two days to do so.

“The Delaware Division of Public Health has not recommended that we close schools,” Gov. Carney wrote in a letter with the order. “Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, I am directing Delaware schools to close.”

Schools were directed to work on plans for remote instruction.

Saturday, March 14 – Two New Castle County residents, also from the University of Delaware community, tested positive.

Delaware Supreme Court Justice Collins J. Seitz declared a judicial emergency, allowing scheduling leeway and limits on people in the courts.

Sunday, March 15 – A seventh positive case was announced in New Castle County.

“The number of patients being tested have increased significantly,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, head of the state Division of Public Health.

Monday, March 16 – Gov. Carney banned all gatherings of 50 or more people and limited restaurants to takeout service only. He also ordered the closure of the state’s casinos.

The governor said his earlier directive on crowds went unheeded. “There were full houses at different places throughout the state, so we decided we need to take the step of closing the bars and restaurants.

Dover International Speedway and NASCAR announced the May 1-3 race weekend was postponed. New dates have not been set.

The state’s economic forecasting committee said state revenues may fall by $94 million because of the coronavirus changes.

Tuesday, March 17 – Schools created opportunities for families to have food for children during the school closures.

Delaware reported a new total of 16 positive coronavirus cases, including the first in Sussex County.

Bayhealth staffers look at a computer monitor during a drive-up coronavirus testing at Dover International Speedway Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Wednesday, March 18 – Bayhealth staff manned a drive-up coronavirus testing event at Dover International Speedway.

In total, the state reported 26 cases, including the first in Kent County and the first listed as critically ill.

“Today, we are experiencing a profound shock to our sense of normalcy,” said Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker.

Dr. Walker urged Delawareans to limit social contact. “We need to act like we might be carrying the virus,” she said.

Delaware’s General Assembly postponed its session indefinitely.

Gov. Carney announced a loan program to help hospitality businesses with rent, utilities and other needs.

Boscov’s and Macy’s, anchor stores of the Dover Mall, announced they would be closing.

Thursday, March 19 –  With the statewide number of positive cases at 30, Delaware’s hospitals tightened visitation. Bayhealth said no visitors would be allowed unless they met some outlined exceptions.

The Food Bank of Delaware organized a food distribution event in Georgetown. Demand was so high that traffic backed up for more than a mile.

Friday, March 20 – The state’s Department of Labor said unemployment claims were reaching its highest numbers since the more than 9,600 filed in January 2002. Exact numbers were not known, but a spokesman said the previous three days had more than that.

Hundreds of motorists lined up in long rows at Dover International Speedway for food handed out by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Saturday, March 21 – Gov. Carney orders the closure of Delaware beaches after seeing large clusters of beach goers enjoying the warm weather. “We weren’t seeing the social distancing that we need,” he said.

Sunday, March 22 – Gov. Carney issues a stay-at-home order and released a list of essential businesses that could remain open. The non-essential businesses were directed to close, starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24.

In a front page story, the Delaware State News reported on a Harvard Global Health Institute report that said Delaware would face an extraordinary surge in hospital demands. In a “moderate” scenario in which 40 percent of adults in the Wilmington-Dover region contracting the virus, there would be a need for 1,766 beds – nearly three times what is available.

Monday, March 23 – Gov. Carney mandated that schools will be closed through May 15. The directive said no school calendars would extend beyond June 30.

Not only did runs on the groceries escalate, so did gun and ammo sales. A line of more than 30 people waited in a chilly drizzle outside of the Shooter’s Choice in Dover.

Gov. Carney declared a public health emergency to loosen some restrictions on providers and enable ways to obtain needed supplies.

Tuesday, March 24 – Gov. Carney’s emergency order was modified to suspend evictions and foreclosures.

Additionally, the state’s presidential primary date was moved from April 28 to June 2.

The Firefly Music Festival, which was has drawn tens of thousands of fans the past eight years, was canceled. It was to be held June 18-21 at The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway.

Wednesday, March 25 – Dover Air Force Base announced its first positive test on a day when the state reported a total of 119 with 14 hospitalized and seven critically ill.

Thursday, March 26 – Delaware announced its first two COVID-19 deaths, a 66-year-old Sussex resident and a 86-year-old New Castle County man. Both, the state said, had underlying conditions.

Delaware’s jobless rate soared to its highest for any month in 30 years with 10,790 people filing claims March 15-21.

Friday, March 27 – Gun shops and auto dealers, both initially deemed non-essential in the governor’s “stay-at-home” order were allowed to reopen. The condition: Customers had to make appointments, and only two are allowed per half hour.

Delawareans learned they would receive federal checks of about $1,200 each after President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill.

Saturday, March 28 – Delaware announced three more COVID-19 deaths.

In an inspirational local story, we shared how Linda Steele of Dagsboro had sewn more than 100 masks for nurses and others in the medical field.

Colleges described efforts to continue classes online. Said Delaware State University President Tony Allen, “It’s given us an opportunity to have our students learn on the devices that they have a natural affinity for.”

Sunday, March 29 –Gov. Carney ordered all travelers to Delaware to quarantine themselves for 14 days. “Now’s not the time to visit Delaware,” he said.

Monday, March 30 – In an insightful front page story, Delaware nurses described how the coronavirus has impacted their lives. “I have to say this for all our healthcare workers, not just nurses, they feel like they’re on the front line of a war,” said Leslie Verucci, president-elect of the Delaware Nurses Association.

A backlog of tests has left some Delawareans feeling frustrated and anxious. As of 11 a.m. that day, the state had received 3,048 tests.

The state said it was considering options for temporary hospitals where non-COVID-19 patients could be moved if hospitals experienced a surge. Among the sites: the former Milford Memorial Hospital.

Tuesday, March 31 – Gov. Carney said FEMA officials projected 2,000 – maybe 3,000 – new cases could be confirmed in the next two weeks. Additionally, the University of Washington released a report that said Delaware could anticipate a surge in the April 13-23 time period with up to eight deaths per day and up to 754 beds would be needed.

An increase of 55 new cases on this date were the most to date. Delaware reported a new total of 319 cases and 10 deaths.

Wednesday, April 1 – Gov. John Carney ordered that Delawareans to limit public gatherings, including funerals, to 10 people in his latest change to the state of emergency declaration. The order also requires businesses to limit customers in stores – especially during special senior shopping hours, mark six-foot spacing at check out lines, discontinue self-serve foods and designate staff to enforce limits.

The Division of Public Health said there needed to be heightened emphasis on protecting senior citizens.

Thursday, April 2 – In a call to action, Gov. Carney issued a list of critical needs, such as masks and wipes, and unveiled a new online tool to connect Delawareans with materials or supplies that could help organizations and medical providers.

Friday, April 3 – The number of cases reached 450, as of the state’s 5 p.m. report. Earlier in the day, Gov. John Carney warned the number would continue to go up as test results come in. He said Delaware health officials are keeping a close eye on hospitalizations, now with 63 COVID-19 patients, because a surge could overwhelm the medical system.

Saturday, April 4 – Delaware saw its biggest jump in cases and hospitalizations in its Saturday update.

State troopers manned checkpoints to warn out-of-state drivers about Delaware’s coronavirus guidelines.

Sunday, April 5 – More than a hundred people gathered at a drive-in Palm Sunday service in Georgetown.

Monday, April 6 – Gov. Carney modified the state of emergency, adding a ban on short-term rentals in Delaware. The order added new restrictions on businesses, banning door-to-door solicitation and closing pawn shops, video game stores, and other electronics retailers.

Tuesday, April 7 – The Delaware National Guard has been called on to create a field hospital to alleviate demands on downstate hospitals.

Wednesday, April 8 – Delaware reported 188 more positive cases, the highest single-day count, as the total rose to more than 1,000.

Thousands of rapid test kits for COVID-19 arrived in Delaware and the state is earmarking them for health care workers, first responders and residents of long-term care facilities where outbreaks are suspected, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health.

The trial drive-thru tested 10 first responders and health care providers who were asymptomatic, but had come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, DPH said in a release.

Thursday, April 9 – Delaware’s Department of Labor said nearly 49,000 people have filed unemployment claims in three weeks.

The state said it would start documenting information on race with coronavirus testing. Across the country, studies have shown minorities are disproportionately affected.

Friday, April 10 – Senior year is supposed to be the exciting endcap of “lasts” — last prom, last game as a high school athlete, last day of traditional school. For the class of 2020, some of those “lasts” came upon them a lot faster than expected. Read the interesting perspective of high school seniors.

Saturday, April 11 – Gov. John Carney expanded his community call-to-action, urging all Delaware citizens with health care and child care experience to offer their expertise in Delaware’s fight against COVID-19.

Sunday, April 12 – Georgetown resident Betty Kasperski shared the story of her fight against the coronavirus in an interview with the Delaware State News. Sadly, her fight followed the death of a brother in New Jersey.

Monday, April 13 – Delaware will partner with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island, forming a task force to share data and work together as the coronavirus hopefully abates, the states announced.

Tuesday, April 14 – A University of Delaware professor said we should expect a reopening of the state to be gradual.

Gov. Carney said the state’s restrictions have helped, and added that a return to normalcy will note be like adjusting a “dimmer switch.”

Wednesday, April 15 – Gov. Carney issues stricter guidelines for longterm care facilities. Among the facilities hardest hit: Milford Center.

Thursday, April 16 — Gov, Carney spoke to CNN about the likelihood of students not returning to schools this year following the White House guidance issued earlier Thursday. On Friday, April 17 in a press conference, he said no decisions have been made.

Friday, April 17 — Delaware saw its largest increase yet in coronavirus case totals, as the count of laboratory-confirmed cases jumped from 2,075 to 2,323 today. The big bump is at least partially due to a system error that did not completely update the numbers, the Delaware Division of Public Health said.

The Blood Bank of Delmarva called out for blood plasma donations for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.

Saturday, April 18 — Delaware saw an increase of 215 cases, topping the 2,500 mark. Six additional deaths were announced, bringing the total of coronavirus-related deaths to 67.

Sunday, April 19Delawareans Against Excessive Quarantine, a grassroots campaign to get citizens back to work and businesses open, discussed a “Reopen Delaware Rally” in a story in the Delaware State News. The event is scheduled for Friday, May 1.

Monday, April 20 — The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory committee lowered the state revenue estimate for this year by $415 million. And, it forecast $273 million less for the next fiscal year.

Tuesday, April 21 — During a press briefing, Gov. Carney outlined the criteria Delaware will need to meet to begin phasing in a return of the state’s economy. He said Delaware would closely follow the guidance of the White House task force.

An alarming spike in coronavirus cases in the heart of Sussex County spurred calls for heightened awareness, increased preventive measures and state response through COVID-19 relief for immigrants. As the greater Millsboro area joined the Georgetown ZIP code as downstate “hot spots” in the coronavirus spread, Safe Communities Coalition Monday reached out to Gov. Carney to take immediate action.

Wednesday, April 22 — Scores of people took advantage of new drive-thru testing at the Smyrna Rite Aid, the first pharmacy in the state to offer it.

Thursday, April 23 — The state Division of Public Health announced 108 new positive cases of the coronavirus. At 3,308 total cases, the state doubled the total over the course of 10 days.

Friday, April 24 — Gov. John Carney announced that school buildings would remain closed for the rest of the school year. It also meant that the spring high school sports season was completely canceled.

The state announced that Delaware now has 100 deaths related to COVID-19.

Saturday, April 25 — Gov. Carney ordered Delawareans to wear face coverings in public, including places such as grocery stores. The modification to the State of Emergency began on Tuesday, April 28.

Hundreds of cars lined up at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington for chicken sales from Mountaire. The poultry company said 188,000 pounds of chicken.

Sunday, April 26 — The state Division of Public Health announced 458 new cases, the most in a single day. Of those, 311 were in Sussex County.

Monday, April 27 — The Delaware State Fair announced that it was canceling all concerts. Hank Williams Jr. was among the headliners. The fair, itself, is still scheduled to go on, but new precautions are being considered.

Tuesday, April 28 — The state identified Sussex — particularly, the zip code around Georgetown — as a “hot spot.” Outbreaks among workers at poultry plants led to ramped up testing efforts.

Wednesday, April 29 — In a Delaware State News follow-up to a story about gun sales increasing during the pandemic, we learned that background checks nearly doubled in March. The FBI reported 8,123 background checks in March.

Thursday, April 30 — Delaware House Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Carney, urging him to lift the state of emergency so businesses could reopen their doors.

Positive tests results — 80 for April 28 and 79 for April 29 — were the lowest two-day total in two weeks.

Friday, May 1 — On the 50th day of the state of emergency in Delaware, a group called “Delawareans Against Excessive Quarantine” held a protest parade and rally on Legislative Mall in Dover. Speakers, including some Downstate Republicans, called on Gov. Carney to reopen the state.

Saturday, May 2 –With 120 new positive cases confirmed, Delaware passed the 5,000 mark in cumulative cases. The state also announced the death of a 26-year-old, the youngest to date.

Sunday, May 3 — The state of Delaware is setting up a “contact tracing” effort that will require about 200 staffers. The idea is to share information and testing recommendations to people who may have been in close contact with someone who has already tested positive.

In a display of the coronavirus era, Dover International Speedway was quiet in real life on what was to be race weekend, but the engines roared in a virtual race with the sport’s top drivers on the simulated Monster Mile. Willam Byron won the iRacing Series race.

Monday, May 4 — The state Department of Labor announced that it will begin taking unemployment applications for self-employed individuals and independent contractors on May 11.

Tuesday, May 5 – Delaware Gov. John Carney said small businesses will be allowed to open with limits beginning Friday. A variety of businesses can offer curbside pickup, while a few can provide services by appointment only, starting at 8 a.m. that day.

Wednesday, May 6 – The state announced 407 new positive cases, the third largest single-day increase.

The coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for the U.S. Census, a once-every-decade gathering of data gathering that determines U.S. congressional representation and distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds.

Thursday, May 7 — The state passed the 200 mark in deaths related to COVID-19.

The state announced that it was delaying, for the second time, the presidential primary election until July.

Friday, May 8 — Gov. John Carney announced that June 1 is the target date to begin the first phase of opening the Delaware economy.

The state announced it has secured testing kits and will have enough to test 80,000 Delawareans per month.

Delaware passed the 6,000 mark in total positive tests.

Saturday, May 9 — A 22-year-old became the youngest Delawarean to die from complications of COVID-19. The state, citing protection of personal information, did not offer additional details.

Sunday, May 10 — Gov. Carney said the state would be suspending end-of-year evaluations for educators, professional development requirements and assessments. Additionally, he said students would not be penalized for the shortened school year.

Called “quarandreams,” “pandemic dreams” or “COVID dreams,” scores of folks are reporting an increase of dreams and also remembering them more often than they ever have.

Monday, May 11 — The state Department of Agriculture said it will allow farmers’ markets to open beginning Friday

Tuesday, May 12 — The state unveiled plans to begin contact tracing, and announced the Delaware National Guard would be assisting in the effort.

A pair of Transport Isolation Systems, along with trained medical airmen, arrived at Dover Air Force Base on April 30, base officials announced. Their arrival came as Dover AFB took the lead as serving as the East Coast hub for TIS decontamination in the United States.

Wednesday, May 13 — Three teenagers were identified in Delaware as having an inflammatory syndrome that may be linked to COVID-19.

Thursday, May 14 — Gov. Carney announced that beaches will be opened at 5 p.m. May 22, but there has been no change to Delaware’s requirement that out-of-state visitors quarantine for 14 days when arriving here. And, there has been no change to short-term housing rentals..

The Delaware General Assembly, which has not met in full session since the end of January, plans to convene virtually. The House will vote on a resolution to meet via Zoom on May 26.

Friday, May 15 — Delaware unveiled new guidelines for the first phase of the reopening process, which is scheduled to begin June 1. The announcement came just two hours after the Division of Public Health said 11 more Delawareans have died from COVID-19, bringing that total to 271.

Saturday, May 16 –More than a hundred people attended a peaceful “Storm the Beach” rally on Saturday at the Rehoboth Bandstand to protest state restrictions on beaches, schools, and businesses related to COVID-19.

Sunday, May 17 — The state announced four more COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, bringing to 290 the number of Delawareans who have died of coronavirus related complications.

Fifteen deaths were announced Saturday, May 16, the most for a single day so far. Sunday’s report ended a five-day span of double-digit deaths each day.

Monday, May 18 — The state announced houses of worship can conduct in-person services with restrictions, chiefly limited capacity, continued social distancing, face coverings and frequent cleanings.

Tuesday, May 19 — Fifteen of the General Assembly’s 24 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. John Carney urging him to lift limitations and open the state by Friday instead of June 1.

Wednesday, May 20 — The USDA said families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will begin receiving assistance with food purchasing. Parents were notified of their eligibility for additional funding — about $370 per child.

Thursday, May 21 — The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council on increased its revenue estimate for the current fiscal year by $92 million compared to April projections. The panel also increased its revenue estimates for the fiscal year starting July 1 by $73 million.

Friday, May 22 — The Delaware Division of Public Health reported that 208 of the state’s 322 coronavirus-related deaths were residents of long term care facilities.

The Delaware Department of Labor said unemployment reached 14.3 percent in the month of April.

Saturday, May 23 — Gov. Carney said churches may now conduct outdoor services, but must limit the size of gatherings and practice social distancing and other health precautions.

Sunday, May 24 — People sunbathed on the beach and swam in the ocean as many businesses attempted to operate under COVID-19 limitations, but the Memorial Day weekend was not the normal kick off to the tourism season. Local business owners despaired over the heavy restrictions, citing difficulties in generating enough money to stay afloat while following them.

DNREC police cited a Bowers Beach charter boat captain for violating state orders.

Monday, May 25 — Gov. Carney praised Delawareans for taking precautions after he walked the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach.

“What I saw today really impressed me with respect to how folks were wearing face coverings on the boardwalk as required and some as recommended on the beach and how, on the beach, folks were spread out,” the governor said. “On the boardwalk and up and down Rehoboth Avenue, the same thing.

“So, it shows that attitudes have changed in a significant way.”

Tuesday, May 26 — Gov. Carney said the stay-at-home order ends on June 1 as the first phase of reopening the economy begins. He also said the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors and the ban on short term rentals will be lifted.

Wednesday, May 27 — The state Senate approved a resolution authorizing the chamber to meet virtually. Because of COVID-19, the full General Assembly has not met in person in four months. Voting from their home offices or similar locations today, senators approved the resolution 17-4. It passed the House of Representatives 39-2 on Tuesday, May 26. All opposition came from Republicans.

The Department of Education released guidelines for outdoor graduation ceremonies.

Thursday, May 28 — A federal judge, after hearing three hours of arguments, said he would review modifications to Gov. Carney’s state of emergency order to analyze whether religious freedoms are being infringed upon by constitutional violations.

Sunday, May 31 –The Division of Public Health announced that contact tracing operations will begin on June 1. DPH field teams of two will personally visit individuals for whom DPH has no phone number to advise them they have a positive test result for COVID-19, or have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Monday, June 1 –Traffic appeared to be running at a heavier pace than it has in months on U.S. 13 through Dover as Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, several retail stores and restaurants swung open their doors and people — some gambling, many shopping and eating and others wandering as Phase 1 of Delaware’s economic reopening began.

Tuesday, June 2 –Delaware will be moving to the next phase of its reopening midway through the month. Gov. John Carney announced many businesses can expand to 60 percent capacity come June 15. Face coverings and social distancing would still be mandatory, he said.

Friday, June 4 –In a unique graduation ceremony, Dover High students took a lap around Dover International Speedway before accepting diplomas one at a time at Victory Lane.

Sunday, June 6 – In an interview with the Delaware State News, the wife of an Army veteran discussed her concerns about what’s happening in the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford. “You know the thing is, my husband is in hospice and that means death is imminent, so every day is precious,” she said.

Tuesday, June 9 — One day after announcing no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in two months, the state said 12 more residents have died from the virus.

Thursday, June 11 – Three months into the COVID-19 outbreak, Delaware has seen more than 10,000 cases and 400 related fatalities.

Social distancing, sanitizing and bus safety were among the hot topics for a group studying the reopening of schools.

At a Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce event, a handful of Republican lawmakers lambasted Gov. John Carney and the state’s approach to COVID-19, claiming his policies have left citizens removed from government, created a “culture of fear” and represent “the biggest source of the transfer of wealth … from Main Street to Wall Street” since at least the early 1980s.

Friday, June 12 – The state announced guidelines for the resumption of youth sports.

Saturday, June 13 – For the first time since early April, hospitalizations were under 100 for the first time.

Monday, June 15 – Certain businesses began to increase capacity and larger public gatherings were allowed as Delaware entered the second phase of its reopening plan and recovery from the long shutdown.

Locations that operated at 30% of fire occupancy requirements for Phase One, were able to move to 60% of fire occupancy requirements (excluding staff). The indoor gathering limit was raised to 50 people and fully unenclosed outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people were permitted if public health precautions are in place.

Thursday, June 18New Castle County’s cumulative number of positive cases topped Sussex County for the first time since April.

Conversations spanning children wearing face masks, managing athletics and keeping hybrid schooling possibilities equitable continued as the reopening schools working groups wrapped up their third week of discussions.

Friday, June 19 –Youth sports can resume tournaments and personal care services can expand to 60% capacity, as Gov. John Carney signed the 22nd modification to his State of Emergency Order.

Saturday, June 20 – The Division of Public Health issued an alert, encouraging parents of teens who participated in senior week activities that involved living in a group setting or attending a large gathering to have them tested. The recommendation came after DPH learned of several positive cases among teens living in a rental unit in the Delaware beach area.

Sunday, June 21 – In a review of Delaware zip codes, it was clear that coronavirus spread was most severe in the heart of Sussex County. A key metric is the percentage of positive cases per population. In the 19947 zip code (Georgetown), that number converts to 595 per 10,000 residents.

Monday, June 22 — Delaware announced no new COVID deaths Monday, the third time in two weeks that’s happened. Before June 8, the last day without a coronavirus-related fatality here was in early April.

Tuesday, June 23 – Delaware’s COVID-19 death count jumped by 69 in the latest update, from 435 to 504, chiefly as a result of the state identifying deaths not previously reported as coronavirus-related.

The Division of Public Health said the revision came from identifying 67 deaths dating back to April following “a review of death certificate records from the Delaware Vital Events Registration System” and epidemiological surveillance data.

Friday, June 26 — In its weekly update, the Division of Public Health said 329 of the 507 coronavirus-related deaths were long-term care center residents.

Saturday, June 27 — The state announces the soft launch of its contact tracing effort.

Sunday, June 28 — A surge in cases at the beach led state health officials to urge people in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach to get tested. Three days earlier, about 100 people tested positive in Rehoboth Beach.

Monday, June 29 — Three Rehoboth Beach lifeguards test positive for the coronavirus.

Tuesday, June 30 — Delaware will remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plans indefinitely and bar seating will be banned in the state’s beach restaurants starting Friday after an alarming uptick in coronavirus cases there.

Gov. John Carney made the announcement at his weekly press conference, saying Delaware does not want to follow the path of Texas, Florida, Georgia, California and other states that have seen a sharp rise in the spread of the virus.

About 250 people with a  group that calls itself “Stand Up Delaware” held a rally in front of the Dover Mall, calling for Gov. Carney to open up the economy.

Wednesday, July 1— The Delaware Department of Correction announced it is tracking a new cluster of positive cases among the inmate population at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, which marks the first sign of the disease at SCI since the pandemic started in early March.

Delaware State Parks announce precautions and limit state beach parking lots to 60 percent capacity.

Thursday, July 2 — Delaware Division of Public Health announced 221 additional positive cases. Of those, 160 new positive cases were reported to the DPH as of July 1. The remaining 61 positive cases are from test results reported on prior days, the majority of which were reported over the weekend, but were hung up as the DPH transitioned to a new data system, the DPH said in its daily release.

Saturday, July 4 — Coronavirus is dark cloud over beach business on Fourth of July weekend.

Sunday, July 5 — Two important in-depth looks at the coronavirus:

Younger generations blamed for irresponsible behavior and spread.

Big question marks hang over Delmarva economy. “What we do know is that a certain percentage — a significant percentage of businesses — are going to find it very difficult to be in business this time next year,” said Salisbury University economy expert Memo Diriker.

For the third consecutive day, new cases were in the triple digits.

Monday, July 6 — Gov. Carney on Monday formally extended the State of Emergency declaration another 30 days.

Tuesday, July 7 — The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have added Delaware to a list of states requiring people to quarantine for 14 days before entering.

The Rehoboth Beach commissioners unanimously voted to lift the requirement of face coverings on the beach.

Thursday, July 9 — A nonprofit partnership warned of a potentially worsening situation in Delaware based on its most recent data model. Its data model says that on average each Delawarean with COVID-19 infects 1.22 other people.

Sunday, July 12 — Delaware is facing a second challenge to overcome — a spike in overdoses, the state told the Delaware State News. “So we’ve been watching this very closely, particularly because we know that COVID-19 is affecting people’s emotional and physical wellbeing, particularly those who are suffering from financial consequences and then also have substance use disorder,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. In May, 39 people died for suspected overdoses — a number that ties with the monthly high of overdose deaths in August 2018. In June of this year, an additional 30 people lost their lives due to suspected overdose.

Monday, July 13 — The Delaware Department of Correction announced that a third of inmates at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown have tested positive for COVID-19. The department said 303 inmates at SCI have the coronavirus.

Delaware Technical Community College announced it will continue its classes remotely for the fall semester, officials announced.

Tuesday, July 14 — Delawareans can visit other states in the region again without a need to quarantine. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut made the decision after seeing our state’s reduction in positive test percentages. Gov. John Carney said the reason Delaware was removed was because it now meets both criteria to not be on the list — a percentage of positive tests rate lower than 10% over a seven-day rolling average and a positive test rate lower than 10 per 100,000 residents.

Whether schools will open their doors for the fall will be determined in early August, and will be contingent on the spread of the coronavirus in Delaware, officials said today.

Wednesday, July 15 — The Department of Education released its Returning to School Guidance, addressing face coverings, social distancing, transportation, cleaning, staffing and more for when schools begin again this fall.

Thursday, July 16 — The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which includes the Delaware State University, announced this afternoon that it is canceling football and other fall sports due to the threat of the coronavirus.

On Friday, July 17, the Fighting Blue Hens announced it will not be kicking off in the fall. The Colonial Athletic Association, which includes the University of Delaware, becomes the fourth NCAA Division I FCS league to cancel its fall football season.

Friday, July 17 — A staff member at the Killens Pond State Park water park tested positive for COVID-19. The water park will be closed until at least July 24,

Unemployment rate slips but one in eight Delawareans are still not working Delaware’s unemployment rate fell 3.4% in June. Unfortunately, one out of every eight Delawareans belonging to the labor force remains unemployed.

Capital School District is putting new school guidance into practice. “We’re revising every day, to be really honest,” said Paul Dunford, director of instruction for the district.

Monday, July 20 — Delaware Department of Labor has begun offering the extended unemployment benefits for individuals whose benefits have run out.

Tuesday, July 21 – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut isn’t welcoming Delawareans again – at least not without a 14-day quarantine — because Delaware positive cases exceeded 10 per 100,000 population for the past week. “I’m mad as hell quite frankly,” Gov. Carney said during a press briefing.

Wednesday, July 22 — Caesar Rodney and Milford school districts have delayed the start of the school year until after Labor Day. The change — which has occurred in several districts that originally planned on a pre-Labor Day start — comes after Gov. John Carney and state Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said in a press conference last week that a formal decision on how students will return to buildings will come in August.

The Delaware Division of Public Health announced that its coronavirus case charts on the My Healthy Community website will now show a seven-day rolling average to better align with what other states are doing.

Tuesday, Aug. 4 — Delaware Gov. John Carney has recommended that schools reopen with a mix of in-school and remote learning. The “hybrid” approach is based on minimal to moderate spread in the state.

The announcement came with a chart and outline of how the state arrived at the decision. It is based on average daily hospitalizations, new COVID-19 cases, and percent of persons testing positive.

Thursday, August 6 — Delaware Health and Social Services released contact tracing for the first time. For the period of June 27-August 5, the state’s contact tracers interviewed 52 percent of the people who tested positive.

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors voted to support three condensed sports seasons for the upcoming high school academic year. High school sports will start with winter sport practices on Dec. 14 and games just after the New Year.

Aug. 7 – Across the state this week, school board members listened to their community of educators, parents and administrators as deliberations began on how to approach the start of the academic year. “We’re in a lose-lose situation. People have really strong opinions on either side,” said Cape Henlopen board member Jessica Tyndall in just the first of a six-hour meeting filled with testimony from educators, staff and parents.

Aug. 8 – In Delaware, 18-to-34-year-olds remain the age group with the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, a status they have held since mid-July.

Aug. 10 – Delaware announced $40 million in rent and mortgage assistance.

Aug. 11 – There is no timetable for Delaware to move to Phase 3 of its reopening plan, Gov. Carney said at his weekly press briefing. “It would send a signal to folks, which is frankly not the right signal to send now,” he said.

Aug. 15Restrictions on visitation have made life difficult for families of loved ones, particularly those in nursing homes, long-term care and senior facilities. “It has been excruciating,” said Michael Betts whose mother Rosemary died in August. “The ways to go about doing that changed almost every other day when it was available. It went from no visits, to maybe if you stand on the other side of the glass and make an appointment several days in advance, to ‘Oh, come anytime’ — and then no visitors except for one person a week.”

Aug. 17 – Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Delaware dropped under 30 for the first time since March, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health’s daily report. At 29, it was third straight day of lows.

Peninsula Regional Health System modified patient visitation restrictions at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. The hospitals permitted one visitor per patient during a patient’s stay, except for patients suspected of having or confirmed to have COVID-19.

Aug. 19 –Delaware was added to the 14-day quarantine list for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut for the third time.

Aug. 22 – According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, with a rate of 22,216 tests per 100,000 residents, Delaware had the nation’s 14th highest testing rate. The news came at a time when testing was on the decline in Delaware and nationally.

Aug. 23 – For five months during the coronavirus crisis, Gene Thornton’s mission was to be with her 72-year-old military husband in person at the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford. Wednesday, Aug. 19 was the day she finally visited her husband of 42 years, U.S. Army veteran Donovan F. Jagger. Her husband has dementia, aphasia, is in declining health and at this point basically unresponsive.

Aug. 25 – Gov. John Carney signed the 25th modification to his state of emergency declaration, requiring Delaware schools to notify families if they become aware of positive cases of COVID-19 in their buildings. The modification also officially formalized new face-covering requirements for children.

As educators geared up for the return to school, the state released 11,000 links to at-home tests for educators across the state.

Aug. 29 –  To avoid the newly-coined term “twindemic,” experts are encouraging the public to receive their flu shots as soon as possible.

Aug. 30 –  As the new school year neared, the Delaware State News offered the first in a series about teachers’ challenges during the pandemic. Said fourth-grade teacher Ada Todd, “It’s almost like it’s their first year all over again, for every teacher I talk to, because we have to increase our skill set. We have to increase our research and how we’re doing things and still think of all of those things that we know are best practice … It’s a shift in education that might not go away. Even if COVID goes away.”

Sept. 1 – Delaware announced restrictions would be loosened at coastal bars after Labor Day weekend. Bar seating had been banned since June 30.

Sept. 3 – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services said it will allow eligible long-term care facilities to resume indoor visitation at facilities with low rates of COVID-19 cases, pending approval of plans. Visitations have not been permitted at Delaware’s 88 long-term care facilities since mid-March.

Delaware’s seven-day rolling average of percentage of positive COVID-19 tests dropped back below the World Health Organization’s recommended mark of 5 percent. In the final week of August, Delaware exceeded the mark twice, having gone since mid-July under it.

Sept. 8 – The DIAA’s sports medicine advisory board filled in a lot of the details about how high school sports can be played in a pandemic. One of the bigger recommendations was that medium-risk sport athletes should have to wear masks while competing — not just high-risk sport athletes in football and wrestling. Gov. Carney’s late August change in guidelines led to the reconsideration.

Positive COVID-19 cases are beginning to appear among college and university students in the state, as hot spots crop up in Newark and Dover.

Sept. 9 – The University of Delaware reported 41 positive cases of the virus since Sept. 3. Last week, Wesley College reported its first positive case Sept. 2.

Sept. 10 –The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors voted, 14-2, to begin the fall sports pre-season on Sept. 28, changing an early August decision to delay all school sports seasons. The state board of education narrowly approved the plan by a 4-3 vote.

Sept. 11 – Delaware announced a shift from mobile to fixed testing sites to expand opportunities. The new testing sites included eight drive-thru Walgreens locations, five State Service Center sites and Public Health clinics.

Sept. 12 – Regardless of how school begins session, the social lives for teenagers and children have changed drastically. “It’s inevitable that there’s going to be some effect on kids and teens, just like there is on adults, from a change in social behavior — whether that’s school quarantine like we were in previously, or even now,” said Meghan Walls, pediatric psychologist at Nemours.

Sept. 12 – The pandemic hurt summer businesses significantly.  Carrie Leishman, president of the Delaware Restaurant Association, says the situation will get much worse. “We think that when all of this is said and done, we’ll lose 20 percent of our restaurants here in the state — 20 to 30 percent,” she said. “They will permanently close.”

Sept. 15 – The option to vote by mail, with a specific excuse during the pandemic, led to record turnout for a Delaware primary election.

 The seven-day rolling average of percentage of positive tests was 7.1 percent — the highest since July 13. “As we’ve been saying for months now, our World Health Organization target is 5 percent,” said Gov. Carney. “We’ve been comfortably below that. Our green scenario for going back to school is 3 percent so we’re moving away from that.”

Delaware announced the availability of a new COVID Alert DE app as a contact tracing tool.

Sept. 19 – After promising to step up enforcement in August and September to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Delaware Division of Public Health issued a total of six administrative penalties and one short-term closure to businesses for noncompliance with regulations. The most notable actions were taken against Rancho El 24 in Bridgeville and Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York in early September for a rodeo that drew about 1,500 people and did not require mask-wearing or social-distancing.

Sept. 23 – The Haitian American population in Sussex County, has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic in Delaware. “We lost so many Haitians,” said Nadya Julien, a Haitian-born nurse practitioner who owns Tabitha Medical Care in Laurel. “We probably lost more than 15 to 20 Haitians.”

Sept. 23 – Delaware Emergency Management Agency announced plans for eight to 10 pop-up sites weekly to respond to outbreaks.

Sept. 25 – Delaware public health officials explained the process of getting approval for large outdoor gatherings of more than 250 people.

Sept. 26 – Some family members of loved ones at the Delaware Veterans Home spoke out about visitation policies and other administrative matters.

Oct. 1 – More than a third of Delaware’s $900 million in CARES Act money went to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

A total of 741 applicants, small businesses and non-profit organizations, were awarded $25.7 million in funding through the first round of DE Relief Grants.

A Cape Henlopen High School student dropped a federal lawsuit after the school district accommodated her remote-learning needs.

Parents and legislative hopefuls, with signs asking to return to school and American flags,  gathered around the front steps of the Department of Education in Dover.

Oct. 2 – President Trump and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19.

Delaware schools reported 73 cases, including students and staff, since Sept. 1.

Oct. 6 – During the weekly briefing, Delaware education secretary Susan Bunting said schools were adjusting to different types of learning. Six districts had implemented some in-person learning.

Gov. John Carney said there were no current plans to tighten public restrictions. The seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests was 8.1% — the highest it has been since July 12.

The state, however, did issue some guidance for Halloween.

Oct. 7 – The state’s mobile testing trailer made its debut in Wilmington.

Delaware Technical Community College announced its spring semester would be mostly remote.

Oct. 8Hospitalizations topped 100 for the first time since June.

Oct. 9Outbreaks in three nursing homes linked to 204 positive cases.

Oct. 11 – An in-depth Sunday package in the Delaware State News outlined the cases, deaths and restrictions that came in the first seven months of the pandemic.  At this point, the state had more than 21,500 cases and 649 deaths. An area of progress, the state noted, was in testing.

Oct. 13 – According to Delaware’s Chief Public Defender Brendan O’Neill, the state’s current backlog of jury trial cases will take months to resolve. Trials were scheduled to resume this month following a nearly seven-month hiatus.

Oct. 13 – The state’s coronavirus dashboard was updated to include county breakdowns and added charts showing the percentage of positive cases from all tests. Previously, testing percentages only showed persons being test for the first time.

Oct. 15 – Several school districts announced plans to begin hybrid learning the following week.

Oct. 17 – State officials have urged Delawareans to receive their flu shots early this year and the public has responded. Beebe Healthcare said it has vaccinated more than 3,100 community members through 13 flu clinic[AW1] s. That is about 75% of the total number of vaccinations Beebe recorded last year in more than 30 clinics.

Oct. 19 – The Dover Public Library, closed to visitors since March, announced plans to open Nov. 3 with limited hours.

Oct. 19 – The state, averaging 11.1 daily hospitalizations per 100,000 people, moving that category from “green” to “yellow” for Delaware’s criteria to reopen schools. It marked the first time all three categories were in the “yellow” – minimum to moderate spread – categories.

Oct. 24 – State teachers discussed the added stress of remote learning. “Unequivocally, teachers are not OK,” said Wendy Turner, a past Teacher of the Year.

Oct. 27 – The state shifted a metric in its school reopening criteria to show percent of positive cases from all tests.

Oct. 28 – TidalHealth Nanticoke returned to a no-visitation policy as cases rose in Western Sussex.

Oct. 29 – The state Department of Health offered an outline of what its school liaisons do when there is a COVID-19 case in a classroom.

Oct. 29Hospitalizations in Sussex reach highest number since June.

Nov. 1Capital School District said students would be returning to school under a hybrid learning plan, starting Nov. 9.

Nov. 2 – New case rates, one of the three measures for state school guidance, was in the “red” zone for the first time.

Nov. 3 – More than 509,000 Delawareans, a 69 percent turnout, voted in the general election. There were extraordinary numbers of votes cast by mail and across the state there were long lines at polling places.

Nov. 5 — Delaware saw its highest total of new positive cases since the height of the pandemic. DPH reported 271 new positive cases — the highest number since May 15.

Nov. 5 – Gov. Carney lifted restrictions on coastal bars which had been implemented during the busy summer season.

Nov. 13 – The state reported 455 positive cases in schools.

Nov. 13 – Delaware Division of Public Health recommended Delawareans only dine socially with those who live with you; not spend time socially with people outside your household; and not plan on holding holiday dinners with those outside your household — even family. “What we can see in our data is that social gatherings, whether at a house party, casual dinner, or restaurant, where people take off their masks while they eat, drink and chat, are the primary situations in which COVID-19 is being spread,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Nov. 16 – The Delaware State Education Association called for more oversight from the governor’s office at the district level during the pandemic.

Nov. 17New guidelines, to take effect Nov. 23, lowered the capacity for indoor dining at restaurants from 60 to 30 percent. And all other indoor gatherings outside of homes must also be limited to 30 percent of the venue’s stated fire capacity, up to a cap of 50 people.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, private indoor gatherings in homes must now be capped at no more than 10 people. Outdoor public gatherings are limited to 50 people. Up to 250 may be allowed with a plan approved by the Delaware Division of Public Health.

Nov. 20 – Delaware reported 649 new positive cases, shattering the previous high of 488 on May 10.

Nov. 23 – Restrictions on indoor religious services began. The state said a house of worship could have 30 percent of its stated fire capacity, with a maximum of 50 people. The restrictions also cover indoor events such as weddings, funerals, political gatherings and more, according to the announcement.

Nov. 27 – Delaware public health officials advised outdoor visitation only at long-term care centers.

Dec. 1 – Caesar Rodney joined Capital in moving to all remote learning after data showed “significant spread.”

Dec. 2 – Delaware announced 78,000 people had downloaded the COVID Alert DE app.

Dec. 3 – Delaware reported 916 new positives – a single-day high.

Dec. 8An advisory panel recommended Delaware focus on health care and long-term care workers in the initial phase of vaccinations.

Dec. 9 –Delaware Division of Public Health announced it will begin to follow new quarantine guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. The new guidelines change quarantines to either seven days with a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days without a test. This only applies to close contacts of a positive case, not those who test positive or are symptomatic.

Dec. 10 – Gov.  Carney implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants, effective Dec. 14. The order also limited most establishments to 30 percent capacity and limits larger retail establishments to 20 percent  to reduce crowds.

Gov. Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health also announced a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for businesses during the current stay-at-home advisory.

Dec. 11 – Some lower-risk patients who are recovering from COVID-19 are being sent to Genesis’ Milford Center, the state said during a weekly news briefing. The partnership with Genesis, which is paid for with relief funds, is intended to help Delaware’s hospitals.

Dec. 14 – Delaware receives first shipment of vaccines and announces a plan for distribution.

Dec. 15 – Elisabeth Cote, a progressive care unit nurse at Bayhealth, received the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Bayhealth received the state’s first 975 of 8,775 ordered doses of the Pfizer vaccine a day earlier.

Dec. 17 – At 407, Delaware hospitalizations reached a new high for the fourth consecutive day.

Dec. 18 – A total of 750 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were administered to health care staff at Delaware’s six health systems and three sites of one long-term care organization.

Dec. 19 – Delaware exceeded 50,000 cases of the coronavirus.

Dec. 21 – President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Dec. 22 – With 454 hospitalizations, Delaware hit a new high.

Gov. John Carney said he is still eyeing Jan. 11 as the date for schools to return to hybrid learning whether educators are vaccinated or not. For three weeks, school reopening criteria released by the state has been all “red,” showing significant spread in the community.

Dec. 24 – Delaware reported 16 coronavirus-related deaths. It was the state’s second-highest single day total – one short of the total reported on May 13.

Dec. 31 — Delaware finished the year with 930 coronavirus-related deaths in 2020 and, for the 17th consecutive day, more than 400 people hospitalized.

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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