DPH Officials Concerned Regarding Increasing Spread of West Nile Virus As They Announce Third Case In a Human

DOVER – Division of Public Health (DPH) officials are concerned about the increasing number of cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in humans this year. DPH is announcing that WNV is confirmed in a 73-year-old New Castle County man, who has been hospitalized since late August. This is the third case of WNV confirmed in humans in the last month. The first case involved a 60-year-old Sussex County man, and the second a 68-year-old New Castle County man. Additionally, DPH is awaiting results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a fourth potential case of the disease. Last week, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced two cases of WNV in horses.

“We are extremely concerned about this situation and are urging people to use insect repellent whenever you go out,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Peak transmission period for West Nile Virus lasts for another six weeks. With people spending more time outside as the temperatures begin to cool down, and for after-school sports, it is vitally important that everyone take this basic step to protect themselves.” While the mosquitoes that cause WNV bite primarily from dusk (evening) to dawn (morning), other mosquitoes that cause diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever and Zika can bite during the day. The CDC now recommends wearing insect repellent whenever you go out.

WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause serious health problems. WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally in summer and fall, with a peak period for disease transmissions from mid-August to mid-October. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not become ill. While only a little less than 20 percent of those infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever with mild symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis).

Symptoms of severe WNV infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis and possibly death.

Mosquito Bite Prevention:
To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:

• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times.

• If using sunscreen, apply it first and insect repellent second.
• Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin.

• Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.

• When outside, wear shoes, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Mosquito netting can protect one’s face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers and playpens.

• Use permethrin (an insecticide) to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents), but do not apply to skin.

• Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens this year throughout the state. To assist the State’s mosquito control efforts, and to reduce mosquito-breeding habitat for mosquitoes that can transmit WNV, DNREC urges homeowners to practice good water sanitation on their property by eliminating standing water, particularly as might be collected in buckets, containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant bird baths, old tires and unused swimming pools.

While there are no human vaccines against WNV, there are effective vaccines available for horses through licensed veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office.

To report suspected cases of human WNV, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.

For more information about:
• Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
• Reporting WNV-suspect wild birds, or for requests for mosquito relief – For upstate areas from Dover north, contact Mosquito Control’s Glasgow field office at 302-836-2555; for downstate areas south of Dover, contact Mosquito Control’s Milford field office at 302-422-1512.
• Animal health questions related to WNV or EEE should be directed to the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

For more information on what you can do to prevent West Nile Virus, visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Jack A. Markell Trail Connecting Wilmington to New Castle Opens

Delaware’s Congressional delegation, Governor John Carney, former Governor Jack Markell, State Representative Valerie Longhurst, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, and other state and local officials gathered on Wednesday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, to open the new 7.9-mile trail named after former Governor Jack Markell.

The new trail links Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle, and connects to a 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway that traverses Maine to Florida. The trail includes a 300 foot-long pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2,300 foot-long boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge with paved pathways. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.

The trail was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the “Jack A. Markell Trail,” in honor of the former First State’s Governor, who spearheaded the dramatic expansion of bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways throughout Delaware during his two terms in office.

“Today’s groundbreaking on the final phase of this trail that connects the beautiful Wilmington Riverfront to Historic Old New Castle is a part of a national trail that reaches across more than 3,000 miles of our country,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Governor Markell’s hard work and dedication to creating a more walkable, bikeable Delaware can be seen in the great trails we have that span our state from Wilmington to the Bayshore. It’s a lasting legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“I am proud to have had a small part in establishing this track, when I served as New Castle County Executive, and I am equally pleased this trail will be named for Governor Markell, recognizing his championing of accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, and his vision for connecting all of Delaware through trails and greenways,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons.

“This exciting project further connects the communities of Wilmington and New Castle,” said Governor John Carney. “It provides more opportunities for walkers and cyclists to enjoy a beautiful part of our state. It gives those living near the trail another option for their morning commute. And, it finalizes a critical link that incorporates Delaware into a vast network of trails in our region and along the East Coast. None of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Governor Markell and his Trails and Pathways Initiative. Naming this trail in his honor is a fitting recognition of his efforts to promote healthier living, increase tourism, and bring together towns and communities in our state. I’m looking forward to its opening, and I know the Governor will be one of the first ones out here to ride it.”

“I’m thrilled that we’re opening this trail, which establishes a critical new link within our state’s trail network and the East Coast greenway,” said former Governor Jack Markell. “Dozens of miles of new trails and pathways have been constructed to more fully integrate our hundreds of miles of existing routes into a world-class regional trail network. Doing so strengthens the quality of life of people in our state, while helping attract more people to live and work here.”

“Governor Markell has done more to advance the idea of a walkable, bikeable Delaware than any other elected official, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s simply a fact,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, an avid cyclist who has biked with the Governor on several occasions. “During his time in office, Governor Markell has proposed, fought for, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars in funding for Delaware to invest in cycling and pedestrian trails up and down the state. As a result of many of these improvements, we’ve seen Delaware’s ranking by the League of American Bicyclists climb from 31st in 2008, to 18th in 2011, all the way up to 3rd last year. Thanks to Governor Markell, Delawareans and visitors to our state have an unprecedented opportunity to see our state as never before.”

“Thanks to Governor Markell, this trail – and many others already completed under his visionary First State Trails and Pathways Initiative – will continue to link people with opportunities for health, education, recreation and employment for decades to come,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

“It is appropriate that we name our newest trail in Delaware after Governor Jack Markell,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We continue to realize his vision to build a world-class trail network across the state that enhances recreational options for residents and visitors, provides alternative transportation routes, and benefits the environment. We are connecting more residents and visitors to the outdoors, and it is a wonderful legacy for our current and future generations.”

The $22.5 million project was completed by JJID Inc. of Bear.

For further information visit www.deldot.gov, or contact DelDOT Community Relations at 1-800-652-5600 or 302-760-2080, or contact DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Governor Carney Signs Order Creating the Governor’s State Complete Count Commission

Commission will help ensure a fair and accurate 2020 Census count in Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed Executive Order #23 creating the Governor’s Complete Count Commission (SCCC) to assist with the 2020 Census. A recommendation of the U.S. Census Bureau, State Complete Count Commissions will help raise awareness and encourage full participation from Delawareans and make sure everyone is counted.

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long will chair the commission. Its membership will be compromised of individuals representing various sectors including state and local government, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, underrepresented populations, and business. The commission will provide a report to the Governor by January 1, 2020 outlining recommendations and strategies for maximizing participation in the 24th decennial census in 2020.

“It’s important that all Delawareans are counted in the next Census, to ensure that all available resources are reaching residents in our state who need them most,” said Governor Carney. “This commission will specifically help identify and reach populations that have historically been difficult to count, including young children, non-English speakers, renters, and homeless Delawareans. Thank you to Lt. Governor Hall-Long for taking the lead on this important effort.”

“I am honored to Chair Delaware’s State Complete Count Commission,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “Reaching those ‘hard to count’ populations is especially important. Census data is used for so many things from determining the number of congressional seats a state has to the amount of federal dollars a state receives for highways, schools and healthcare just to name a few. That’s why it’s crucial we count everyone in Delaware.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over $600 billion are dispersed from over 300 federal programs based upon census-generated figures.

“As a federally qualified health center, Westside Family Healthcare depends, in part, on Census data to help identify community needs and inform how to best allocate our limited resources to help fill the gap in services,” said Lolita A. Lopez, President & CEO of Westside Family Healthcare, who was appointed by the Governor to serve on the commission. “As an appointed member of the Complete Count Commission, Westside is committed to partnering with Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long, and others to encourage the communities we serve to actively participate in the Census process. The 2020 Census is vitally important to Delaware’s future.”

The Reverend Rita Paige, another member of the commission appointed by Governor Carney, added, “Make sure you’re counted. We don’t want anyone left out!”

“We thank Governor Carney for his leadership in establishing the Delaware State Complete Count Commission,” said Fernando Armstrong, Philadelphia Regional Director of the US Census Bureau. “We look forward to working in partnership with Lt Governor Hall-Long and the entire Commission in counting all Delawareans in the 2020 Census.”


Governor Carney Signs High-Needs Educator Student Loan Payment Program into Law

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed House Substitute 1 for House Bill 346 into law at McKean High School surrounded by school administrators, advocates, teachers and members of the General Assembly. This legislation offers up to $10,000 in student loan relief for educators in high-needs schools and subject areas.

“This legislation will help us recruit and retain educators into high-needs schools and subject areas, and help support educators who serve Delaware’s most vulnerable students,” said Governor Carney. “Thank you to Representative Bentz, Senator Townsend, the Delaware State Education Association, and members of the General Assembly of both parties for their efforts on this piece of legislation. It is my honor to sign it into law to help ensure every Delaware child gets the high-quality education they deserve.”

The legislation will provide up to $2,000 of student loan assistance annually to educators who qualify. Educators may qualify for up to five years of assistance.
Governor Carney called for passage of this legislation in his 2018 State of the State Address.

“Novice teachers are often challenged by hefty college loan debt, which in turn can make other career options that initially pay higher salaries more attractive. This bill offers an important support to attract and retain educators in the schools and subjects where we need them the most,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education.

“Dedicated teachers who serve some of our highest-need schools and students deserve recognition for their commitment to future generations,” said Representative David Bentz, prime sponsor of the legislation. “They are helping students succeed by providing extra assistance and working closely with them. Their commitment to their students is the cornerstone of our educational system. Forgiving some of their loan debt is a small way of showing our commitment to those teachers and the students they educate. By doing this, we will hopefully encourage them to continue their hard work with their students.”

“Teaching is a public service, a professional challenge, and oftentimes a financial sacrifice,” said Senator Bryan Townsend. “Teachers are the most important investment we can make in the classroom, and the ones who want to work in our highest-need schools shouldn’t have to choose between helping kids tap into their potential and paying their student loans. We owe a lot more to our teachers, but helping them with the albatross of student loan debt is a good start.”

“We are so excited for this bill to be signed today. This student loan forgiveness program will help educators of all ages who have student debt and work in our high-needs subject areas and high needs schools,” said Mike Matthews, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “It’s another great way to incentivize this work while helping to attract and retain quality educators in Delaware.”


Delaware Receives Nearly $33 Million in FHWA Redistribution

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) annual August redistribution has resulted in Delaware receiving an additional $32,995,605 in federal funding for infrastructure projects. The redistribution dollars represent federal transportation improvement funds that were allocated, but not used by other states. Last year, Delaware received $20,049,671.

“Any time we can add more funding for infrastructure investment in our state is great news. Over the past two years, Delaware has received more than $52 million in federal funding from the redistribution process to advance work on needed infrastructure projects that will have wide-ranging benefits,” said Governor John Carney.

“DelDOT works hard each year to identify projects that are eligible for these dollars and we are appreciative of the FHWA redistribution that allows us to move work forward sooner than previously planned,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

Each summer, FHWA redistributes unused funding for infrastructure programs to projects that are able to utilize the funding before the end of the federal fiscal year. DelDOT will obligate these additional funds for the projects below no later than September 30, 2018:

US 40 & SR 896 Improvements
I-95 / SR 896 Interchange Improvements
Road A / SR7 Improvements
• US 13 – Seaford Paving and Rehabilitation
• US 113 – Georgetown Paving and Rehabilitation