State announces coronavirus hotline

DOVER — The Division of Public Health is opening a call center to deal with questions or concerns residents may have about the coronavirus, the agency said Wednesday.

Anyone seeking more information about the disease can call 1-866-408-1899, with staffers present Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. Individuals can also email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

“We are receiving a tremendous number of calls from concerned individuals, and from organizations seeking guidance on what they should be doing to mitigate community spread of coronavirus disease, should it occur in Delaware,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement.

“Opening this call center will enable us to answer people’s very valid concerns and enable key epidemiology staff to better focus on the job of monitoring returning travelers, and maintaining our high level of surveillance.”

The state announced Monday two Kent County residents under investigation for the virus had tested negative. So far, tests for eight individuals suspected of possibly carrying the virus have come back negative, with a test for one more person pending, DPH said Wednesday.

The coronavirus outbreak has seen about 95,000 confirmed cases and 3,200 deaths, mostly in China, since December. It has spread to more than 70 countries.

Per the federal government, at least 13 American states have seen cases. Nine deaths, all in the state of Washington, have occurred.

DPH is centralizing staff at the State Health Operations Center to help coordinate between the agency’s sections. As part of the Delaware Emergency Operations Plan, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency is sending a liaison to assist the agency and help keep the public informed.

School districts throughout the state, such as Woodbridge, Cape Henlopen and Capital, posted reminders to parents, urging them to keep students home if they are sick and to practice good hygiene.

The best way to stay healthy is to follow some simple practices to prevent the spread of germs, such as coughing or sneezing into an elbow or tissue, washing hands frequently, cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched and remaining home when sick.

Masks can be helpful to prevent the spread of the virus but are not recommended for those who are healthy, per DPH.

DPH said anyone recently returned from China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea should be on heightened alert. People who were in at least one of those countries in the past 14 days should call the hotline to learn what they should be looking out for even if they have no symptoms.

Anyone back from those nations who is experiencing a medical emergency should call 911.

Coronavirus symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. They may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure and can vary greatly in severity.

Asymptomatic returning travelers are asked to stay home from work, school and other public events during this 14-day period. If a returning traveler develops symptoms during this time and there is no medical emergency, he or she should contact DPH instead of first calling 911 or visiting a health care provider.

DPH is encouraging employers to give workers added flexibility during this time.

For more information and updates, visit de.gov/coronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.


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

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