Watch: Coronavirus Update from March 18 in the Evening

Governor Carney and State Officials give a media briefing on Wednesday March 18, 2020 in the evening, announcing an updated emergency declaration and help for small businesses.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ec34D4Vbsbc


Governor Carney Directs Two-Week Closure of Delaware Public Schools

State to close schools March 16 through 27 to prepare for potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Friday directed all Delaware public schools close from March 16-27, to allow schools to prepare for potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The following is an excerpt from a letter Governor Carney sent to superintendents and charter school leaders on Friday:

Over the next two weeks, the State of Delaware will work with school leaders and public health experts to create a plan for Delaware students and educators as this coronavirus outbreak continues. We will specifically prepare for the potential impact of extended school closures on Delaware children and their families. Public school leaders should also undertake a deep cleaning of their facilities during the two-week closure. 

Delaware children deserve a world-class education, and ongoing access to services that are delivered in our schools each day. Many students – especially those from disadvantaged communities – also rely on school meals for nutrition, and other important social services. We will be working with districts to plan for providing learning opportunities and other meal and social services for our students in the event of an extended closure.

Read the full letter here.

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Delaware Division of Public Health Provides Update on Individuals Being Tested

DOVER (March 12, 2020) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing an update on the number of individuals currently being tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In Delaware, DPH is currently monitoring 35 individuals. A total of 44 individuals have been tested for COVID-19, including the 4 individuals who tested positive for the disease. A total of 30 tests returned negative results, and 10 persons under investigation are awaiting test results.

Testing for coronavirus disease is not recommended for individuals who do not have any symptoms of illness. For individuals who have symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or shortness of breath), their primary care provider can collect specimens and send them to either the Delaware Public Health Lab or LabCorp for testing. Medical providers should evaluate patients and rule out other causes of illness first before recommending testing for COVID-19.

While testing for the disease at the Public Health Lab requires DPH approval, providers do not need DPH approval to submit test samples to LabCorp. With the addition of commercial lab testing now available, Delaware has enough capacity to accommodate its current testing needs. Providers can use flu kits to collect a nasal swab and include an additional oral swab for testing. Commercial labs are required to report testing and results to DPH.

Those at elevated risk for developing the disease is based on exposure due to travel to a country with a Level 2 Travel Alert or higher in the last 14 days; contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19; or older individuals (ages 65 and older) and those with chronic underlying health conditions.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or TTY at 1-800-232-5460 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For more information, visit de.gov/coronavirus.


DHSS Recommends Nursing Homes and Other Long-Term Care Facilities Temporarily Ban Visitors to Reduce Coronavirus Risk

NEW CASTLE (March 12, 2020) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is recommending that all Delaware nursing homes, long-term care facilities and adult day-care centers temporarily end visitation as a way to reduce the risk of residents and clients contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The recommendation follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that urges long-term care facilities to be vigilant in preventing the introduction and spread of COVID-19. DHSS’ Division of Public Health and DEMA are working with DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality (DHCQ), Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) and other community partners to implement strategies and restrictions to keep residents safe and healthy. In addition to restricting visitors, DHSS is urging Delaware’s long-term care facilities to:

  • Make online methods of face-to face communication and phone calls available.
  • Staff should be monitored if they are showing any signs of respiratory infection such as fever, cough or sore throat.
  • Any staff member who has these signs or symptoms should not go to work. Any staff that develop these signs or symptoms on the job should immediately stop working, put on a face mask, and self-isolate at home.
  • Nursing homes should increase availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, no-touch receptacles for disposal, and face masks at entrances, waiting rooms, and resident check-ins
  • Signage should be increased for vigilant infection prevention.
  • Properly clean, disinfect, and limit sharing of medical equipment between residents and areas of the facility.

The CDC has found that early data suggests older people are twice as likely to suffer a serious illness from coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19. Earlier this week, DHSS urged older Delawareans and people with severe chronic health conditions to follow CDC guidance that they “avoid crowds as much as possible” as a way to reduce their risk. Delaware announced its first presumed positive cases this week and the Division of Public Health (DPH) and other state partners are planning for the likelihood of community transmission.

The Department of Health and Social Services advises that community preparedness planning – recommended by CDC – should include older adults and people with disabilities, and the organizations that support them in their communities, to ensure their needs are taken into consideration. Many of these individuals live in the community, and many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their independence and their health. For family members and caregivers providing support, the CDC recommends these steps:

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.

DPH continues to monitor travelers arriving in the U.S. from countries with a Level 2 or higher Travel Alert. The CDC recommended that such travelers be monitored for 14 days after their return. During the 14-day period, these persons are asked to remain at home while self-monitoring for symptoms. If any of these persons shows symptoms of fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, the person should call DPH at 1-866-408-1899 immediately to determine next steps, which may include transport to a local hospital for evaluation and testing.

For more information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the DPH website at de.gov/coronavirus, where materials can be found in English, Simplified Chinese/Mandarin, Spanish, and Haitian-Creole. Members of the public with questions can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or TTY at 1-800-232-5460 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.


Governor Carney Declares State of Emergency to Prepare for Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Emergency declaration allows for broad coordination of state agencies to respond to outbreak

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday issued a State of Emergency declaration to prepare for the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The State of Emergency directs the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services’ Division of Public Health to mobilize state agency resources to assist with Delaware’s response to the virus.

The declaration becomes effective at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Governor Carney’s emergency declaration also:

  • Requires the Delaware National Guard to take precautionary and responsive actions to assist with Delaware’s response to the coronavirus;
  • Advises event organizers in Delaware to cancel non-essential public gatherings of 100 people or more, to prevent community spread of coronavirus;
  • Allows the State of Delaware to conduct public meetings electronically to prevent unnecessary public gatherings;
  • Prohibits price gouging, or an excessive price increase of goods or services, during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are taking this situation extremely seriously,” said Governor Carney. “We have been expecting positive cases in Delaware, and for the last two months we have prepared our state’s response in close coordination with the experts at the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. Today’s emergency declaration will make sure we have the authority and resources necessary to effectively prevent the spread of this virus.

“There are things every Delawarean can do to stay healthy. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Stay home from work or school if you are sick. It’s especially important for at-risk populations, specifically elderly Delawareans, to avoid large gatherings. And we’re advising Delaware organizations to cancel large, non-essential public events to prevent community spread of the coronavirus. We will continue to respond aggressively to this situation in close coordination with state and federal public health experts.”

Governor Carney’s emergency declaration WILL NOT:

  • Require schools or businesses to close their facilities;
  • Implement any driving restrictions in Delaware;
  • Close state office buildings.

On Wednesday, Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Human Resources issued guidance to state employees about coronavirus and potential impacts on the state workforce. Full-time and casual/seasonal state employees may be eligible for 14 or 30 days of Paid Emergency Leave if they are forced to miss work due to a coronavirus impact, or to care for a family member.

Costs related to diagnostic testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be waived for Delaware families who are covered by the state’s health plan.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or TTY at 1-800-232-5460 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

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Click here to read the State of Emergency declaration.