First $700,000 in Opioid Impact Fee Funding Allocated for Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

DOVER – Revenue from a new opioid impact fee created by the Delaware General Assembly in 2019 will be used to prevent overdose deaths and provide new services to those seeking treatment for their substance use disorder, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Sen. Stephanie Hansen announced Wednesday.

DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik this week detailed the department’s plan to spend the first $700,000 raised by the fee as of the third quarter of 2020, as required by Senate Bill 34.

Those funds will be used to bolster Delaware’s supply of naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose; support the expansion of Bridge Clinic services to 24 hours a day in all three counties; and provide grants to people in treatment or recovery for such needs as transportation, housing, or education.

“As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our state continues to respond to an opioid epidemic that is costing the lives of far too many Delawareans,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “The opioid impact fee created by Sen. Stephanie Hansen last year is proving to be a powerful tool in that fight. These funds are helping us to expand our services and reach the people most in need of that support.”

Signed into law by Governor John Carney in June 2019, Delaware’s first-in-the-nation opioid impact fee requires some of the nation’s largest drug makers to address the costs of the opioid crisis they helped to create.

Manufacturers are now charged one penny for every morphine milligram equivalent (MME) of any brand-name opioid dispensed in Delaware and one-quarter of a cent for every MME of their generic opioids sold here. Companies that refuse to pay the fee can be charged a penalty of up to $100 a day or 10 percent of the total impact fee, whichever is greater.

Proceeds from the fee are then held in a special Prescription Opioid Impact Fund that can be used only for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder. According to the law, the fund is administered by DHSS with input from the Behavioral Health Consortium, the Addiction Action Committee, and the Overdose System of Care Committee.

“When we started down this road, we heard from countless naysayers who falsely claimed either that this legislation would hurt pharmacies, negatively impact consumers or fail to make a difference,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, the lead architect and driving force behind Senate Bill 34, along with House prime sponsor Rep. David Bentz. “Fears such as these prevent progress and have allowed this crisis to go on so long. This announcement today proves we can hold drug makers accountable. We can bring innovative, new tools to bear to confront addiction in our communities. And we can do more to break the cycle of abuse, addiction and death that has touched so many families in our state.”

Delaware is one of the top 20 states in opioid prescriptions per capita and currently leads the nation when it comes to the prescription rate for high-dose opioids. Delaware also ranks in the top five for most overdose deaths per capita. Every year since 2009, more Delawareans have died from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes, including 431 in 2019 alone – a record likely to be broken this year.

“The status quo simply will not suffice if we are going to get Delaware’s opioid crisis under control,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, acting director for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “Revenue from the opioid impact fee will support our efforts to build out Delaware’s treatment infrastructure and continue our efforts to reach more people in new ways.”

Funds from the Opioid Impact Fee will be targeted for four main purposes in the coming year:

  • $300,000 will be combined with federal grant funding to help fill a critical gap in the existing system of care for people struggling with addiction issues. Interventions immediately following an overdose or other hospitalization present an effective opportunity to enroll patients in treatment programs. Currently, people discharged from the hospital are brought to a Bridge Clinic, located in each county, for screening and referrals to these programs. However, Bridge Clinics do not operate 24/7. DSAMH is currently working to address this issue through the addition of Stabilization Centers that can house and counsel clients during off-hours and weekends. Funding from the Opioid Impact Fee will help cover capital start-up costs, while the State Opioid Response federal grant will be used to fund programmatic and treatment expenses.
  • $250,000 will be used to help people struggling with addiction issues fill gaps in the social determinants that often present roadblocks in their efforts to enter, continue and complete the treatment and recovery process. These funds will provide DSAMH with the ability to assist clients with transportation costs and transitional housing while they seek treatment, as well as additional supports for people in recovery.   
  • $100,000 will be reserved to cover the Department of State’s administrative expenses associated with the collection of the fee.
  • $50,000 will be used to purchase 925 additional naloxone kits that DSAMH will make available to various community groups. Organizations can acquire these life-saving kits by contacting DSAMH. During the first three quarters of 2020, the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Office of Health Crisis Response distributed nearly 6,300 naloxone kits statewide through its community partners.

“There are no easy solutions when it comes to treating people struggling with substance use disorder,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium. “To be successful, we must take a truly holistic approach. This means supporting both the individual and their family as we attempt to remove the social determinant barriers that hinder an individual on a path to recovery,” she said. “The Opioid Impact Fee is helping Delaware to build that behavioral health system infrastructure. This legislation is doing more than just generating revenue. It will help us to save lives, rebuild families, and restore communities torn apart by addiction. Sen. Hansen, Rep. Bentz, the community advocates, and DHSS deserve a lot of credit for the plan being put forward today.”


Delaware Cancer Mortality Rates Decrease Between 2002-2006 & 2012-2016; Improvements Among Specific Races, Ethnicities

DOVER (October 12, 2020) – Over the last decade, Delaware’s mortality rate for all cancer sites combined (all-site cancer) declined 10 percent between the five-year periods of 2002-2006 and 2012-2016, according to the latest cancer data released by the Division of Public Health (DPH). In the same time span, Delaware’s all-site cancer mortality rate also declined for African-American males and females and Hispanic females. Additionally, mortality rates decreased for female breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“After years of work, the data reflects our efforts to have more Delawareans get important cancer screenings,” said Governor John Carney. “We know that the earlier cancer is detected, the more treatable it is. In addition to screenings, I urge everyone to make healthier lifestyle choices, as smoking, vaping, and being overweight or obese, are among our greatest risks for developing cancer.” Governor Carney also praised the ongoing work of the Delaware Cancer Consortium (DCC) and DPH for coordinating cancer advocacy efforts.

DPH presented its data report, Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 2012-2016, to the DCC in Dover on Monday. The report provides data for all-site cancer and eight site-specific cancer types: breast, colorectal, lung, melanoma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, prostate, thyroid, and uterine.

Among Delaware males from 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, all-site cancer mortality rates decreased 29 percent among non-Hispanic African-Americans and 16 percent among non-Hispanic Caucasians, yet increased 19 percent in Hispanic males. Among Delaware females from 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, all-site cancer mortality rates decreased 13 percent among non-Hispanic African Americans, 11 percent among non-Hispanic Caucasians, and 4 percent among Hispanics. DPH attributed the decreases in all-site cancer mortality among these racial and ethnic groups to increased screening and early detection efforts.

“We are working diligently to reduce the health disparities faced by many of our communities of color,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “By focusing on the important role of screening and prevention along with population health, I’m confident that we will see greater improvement in achieving health equity for all Delawareans.”

In the short term, Delaware ranked 15th highest in the U.S. for all-site cancer mortality in the most recent five-year period of 2012-2016, a decline compared to its rank of 18 in the five-year period of 2011-2015. Since the U.S. all-site cancer mortality rate statistically significantly decreased in 2012-2016, it may have impacted Delaware’s 2012-2016 rank. For 2012-2016, the state’s all-site cancer mortality rate (174.0 deaths per 100,000 people) was 8 percent higher than the U.S. rate (161.1 deaths per 100,000) a statistically significant difference. Also for 2012-2016:

• Delaware males (206.8 per 100,000) ranked 18th for all-site cancer mortality; a statistically significantly higher rate compared to U.S. males (193.3 per 100,000).
• Delaware males had a statistically significantly higher all-site cancer mortality rate than Delaware females (150.1 per 100,000).
• Delaware females had a statistically significantly higher all-site cancer mortality rate compared to U.S. females (137.8 per 100,000) and were ranked 14th for all-site cancer mortality in 2012-2016 (no change from 2011-2015).

Regarding incidence, or diagnosis of new cancer cases, in 2012-2016, Delaware (491.5 per 100,000) remained ranked second-highest nationally for all-site cancer incidence, which was statistically significantly higher than the U.S. (435.1 per 100,000). Delaware males (542.9 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly higher all-site cancer incidence rate compared to Delaware females (455.4 per 100,000). Delaware males rank third compared to U.S. males (474.3 per 100,000) and Delaware females rank fifth in the U.S. compared to U.S. females (409.6 per 100,000). The success of Delaware’s screening programs is part of the reason cancers are being identified, and leading in part, to the state’s continued No. 2 ranking for cancer incidence. However, DPH officials are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to adverse impacts in the future.

“Many people had to delay getting cancer screenings due to COVID-19, so it’s possible that some people’s cancers are not being caught as early as they otherwise might be,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “I strongly encourage Delawareans to make their appointments now to get caught up on recommended screenings. We’ve made it easy to find and schedule cancer screening appointments with a phone call or a few clicks at HealthyDelaware.org.”

To encourage women to get screened for breast cancer, DPH’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program worked tirelessly with DCC and community leaders to reach racial and ethnic minorities through their providers, hair stylists, churches, and other organizations. DPH and DCC initiated patient navigation services for women age 40-64 and asked providers to send patient reminders, display educational posters, and show informative videos to alleviate any fears of getting a mammogram. Eighty-one percent of non-Hispanic African-American females and 79 percent of non-Hispanic Caucasian females 40 years of age and older in Delaware reported having a mammogram within the previous two years, according to the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS). All Delaware females 40 years of age and older ranked third highest nationally (79 percent) for this indicator.

BREAST CANCER

In 2012-2016, Delaware (22.1 per 100,000) ranked 20th for breast cancer mortality compared to 21st in 2011-2015; the Delaware rate was not statistically significantly different from the U.S. rate (20.6 per 100,000). From 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, female breast cancer mortality in Delaware decreased 6 percent, compared to the U.S. decline of 16 percent. The 2012-2016 female breast cancer incidence rate for Delaware (136.5 per 100,000) was statistically significantly higher than the U.S. female rate (126.0 per 100,000). Delaware’s percent of female breast cancer cases diagnosed at the local stage increased from 42 percent in 1980-1984 to 68 percent in 2012-2016.

COLORECTAL CANCER

Delaware ranked 11th-highest in prevalence in the U.S. for meeting the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force colorectal screening recommendations. Nearly 73 percent of Delawareans age 50-74 years reported meeting the recommendations, more than the national median of 70 percent. Incidence: Delaware’s 2012-2016 ranking for colorectal cancer incidence is 31st (38th in 2011-2015). In Delaware, colorectal cancer cases diagnosed at the local stage increased from 32 percent in 1980-1984 to 40 percent in 2012-2016. From 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, Delaware’s colorectal cancer incidence rate decreased 28 percent compared to a 22 percent decrease in the U.S. Also, Delaware’s colorectal cancer incidence rates declined more than the U.S. rates for both males and females. Mortality: While the state’s colorectal cancer mortality rate has historically been higher than the U.S. rate, in 2012-2016, Delaware’s colorectal cancer mortality rate (13.7 per 100,000) was lower than that of the U.S. (14.2 per 100,000). Delaware ranked 35th nationally for colorectal cancer mortality in 2012-2016 (41st in 2011-2015).

LUNG CANCER

As the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. and Delaware, lung cancer continues to account for an enormous share of the state’s overall cancer burden. For 2012-2016, lung cancer accounted for 15 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer cases and 28 percent of all cancer deaths in Delaware. DPH and the DCC continue to encourage providers to refer tobacco users to lung cancer screening and the Delaware Quitline, the state’s tobacco cessation program. They continue to educate the general public on lung cancer screenings and the importance of quitting tobacco and vaping.

Delaware saw slight increases in lung cancers diagnosed in the earlier stages before the cancer spreads to distant tissues, organs, or lymph nodes and is more difficult to treat. Fifty percent of Delaware’s lung cancers in 2012-2016 were diagnosed at distant stage, compared to 52 percent in the U.S. In 2012-2016, Delaware (69.7 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly higher lung cancer incidence rate compared to the U.S. (53.4 per 100,000). Delaware males (79.1 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly higher lung cancer incidence rate compared to Delaware females (62.9 per 100,000) and to U.S. males (61.9 per 100,000). Delaware females had a statistically significantly higher lung cancer incidence rate compared to U.S. females (47.0 per 100,000) in 2012-2016. In 2012-2016, Delaware Hispanics (30.8 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly lower lung cancer incidence rate compared to both non-Hispanic Caucasians (72.5 per 100,000) and non-Hispanic African Americans (69.2 per 100,000).

Regarding mortality, Delaware (48.4 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly higher lung cancer mortality rate compared to the U.S. (41.9 per 100,000) in 2012-2016. Delaware females (41.0 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly higher lung cancer mortality rate compared to U.S. females (34.4 per 100,000). In the longer term, from 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, lung cancer mortality rates decreased 19 percent in Delaware and 22 percent in the U.S.

PROSTATE CANCER

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among males in the U.S. and Delaware. Delaware ranked eighth nationally in the prevalence of males 40 years of and older who have had a protein-specific antigen (PSA) test within the past two years. According to the 2018 BRFS, 38 percent of Delaware males 40 and older reported having a PSA test in the past two years, compared to the national median prevalence of 33 percent. Delaware’s prostate cancer incidence rate decreased by 27 percent between 2002-2006 and 2012-2016, compared to a 34 percent decrease in the U.S. Delaware’s 2012-2016 prostate cancer incidence rate (129.1 per 100,000) was statistically significantly higher than the U.S. (106.8 per 100,000) – trends that likely reflect a greater prevalence of prostate cancer screening. In Delaware in 2012-2016, non-Hispanic Caucasians accounted for 69 percent of prostate cancer cases.

Regarding mortality, from 2002-2006 to 2012-2016, the prostate cancer mortality rate decreased 34 percent in Delaware and 26 percent in the U.S. Also, Delaware’s prostate cancer mortality rank improved from 43rd in 2011-2015 to 46th in 2012-2016. Non-Hispanic Caucasians in Delaware (15.3 per 100,000) had a statistically significantly lower prostate cancer mortality rate compared to the U.S. (18.1 per 100,000) in 2012-2016. However, non-Hispanic African Americans (33.8 per 100,000) in Delaware had a statistically significantly higher prostate cancer mortality rate in 2012-2016 compared to Delaware’s non-Hispanic Caucasians – a disparity similarly seen in the U.S. (U.S. non-Hispanic African Americans: 39.8 per 100,000; U.S. Caucasians: 18.1 per 100,000).

MALIGNANT MELANOMA

While Delaware’s incidence rank of malignant melanoma of the skin (“malignant melanoma”) improved from third in 2011-2015 to fifth in 2012-2016, its 2012-2016 incidence rate (29.9 per 100,000) is statistically significantly higher compared to the U.S. (23.2 per 100,000). Between 2002-2006 and 2012-2016, malignant melanoma incidence rates increased 35 percent in Delaware and 17 percent in the U.S. In 2012-2016 in Delaware, 76 percent of malignant melanomas were diagnosed at the local stage. Regarding mortality, Delaware’s malignant melanoma mortality rank improved from 15th in 2011-2015 to 18th in 2012-2016 and for Delaware males, it improved from 21st in 2011-2015 to 25th in 2012-2016. However, among Delaware females, the malignant melanoma mortality rank worsened from sixth in 2011-2015 to third in 2012-2016.

“Since malignant melanoma can develop over 30 to 40 years, it is important to prevent blistering sunburns, especially in children, because that doubles the risk,” Dr. Rattay said. “In addition to avoiding the sun year-round between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Delawareans should wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, cover up with clothing, and wear sunglasses and a hat with a wide brim. Communities should consider installing sun-protective covers over play areas. Do not delay seeing a dermatologist if you observe changes to the skin.”

RESOURCES

In addition to cancer incidence and mortality data, the Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report, 2012-2016 includes information about risk factors, screening, state of diagnosis, data trends, and a section on cancer survivorship in Delaware. The full report is available at: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/files/iandm2012-2016.pdf. A secondary analysis of all-site cancer incidence rates by census tract accompanies the report and can be found at: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/files/ct_analysis2012-2016.pdf.

For more information about DPH’s cancer prevention and treatment work, visit www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/cancer.html or call the Delaware Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 302-744-1020. For more information about the DCC, including its recommendations, visit www.healthydelaware.org/Consortium. To learn how to prevent, detect, and treat chronic diseases, visit the Healthy Delaware website: HealthyDelaware.org.

Delaware’s cancer survivors can access insurance and cancer treatment needs from the Health Care Connection at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/chap.html) or call 2-1-1; and from Delaware’s Cancer Treatment Program at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/catreatment.html or call 1-844-245-9580. For cancer follow-up and maintenance, visit the Cancer: Thriving and Surviving program (https://www.healthydelaware.org) or the Live Strong program at the YMCA (www.ymcade.org/livestrong/).

Individuals at high risk for lung cancer who should get a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan are those who are 55-74 years of age and in fairly good health, have a smoking history equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years or longer, and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. They can access CT screening criteria and scheduling directions at HealthyDelaware.org/lung or call 302-401-4212 to speak with a screening nurse navigator.

Providers in search of free lung cancer screening materials should visit www.healthydelaware.org/Healthcare-Providers/Cancer/Lung.
Delaware tobacco users seeking help quitting can contact the Delaware Quitline, a free tobacco cessation counseling hotline through the Delaware Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Delaware residents 18 and older can reach Delaware Quitline at 1-866-409-1858 or http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/quitline.html.

The Screening for Life program (www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/sfl.html) provides payment for cancer screening tests to qualified Delaware adults. Eligible individuals can receive office visits, mammograms and clinical breast exams, Pap tests, screening tests for prostate, colorectal and lung cancer when recommended by your doctor; and lung cancer screening tests for men and women who are 55-80 years of age if they currently smoke or have quit smoking during the past 15 years; and smoke or smoked a pack a day for 30 or more years, or two packs a day for 15 or more years.

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.

The Delaware Department of 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.


DPH Partners With Health Care and Community Partners to Launch Fight Flu DE — Enhanced Flu Vaccination Campaign

DOVER (Sept. 29, 2020) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is partnering with health care, faith-based and community partners to launch an aggressive communications campaign to mobilize all Delawareans to get their flu vaccinations called ‘Fight Flu DE.’ Working to reach diverse audiences through influencers and with messaging that will motivate them to get the flu vaccine, the campaign integrates grassroots outreach with mass-media marketing strategies to make sure people know where they can get a flu vaccine regardless of insurance coverage.

While DPH has always been proactive in encouraging flu vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater urgency for Delawareans to get vaccinated against influenza.

“This year it is more important than ever to get your flu vaccine, as we are dealing with uncertainties around how flu season will look this year with COVID-19 circulating at the same time,” said Governor John Carney. “While the flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID, it has many important benefits. It will reduce your chance of getting the flu and flu-related complications, while saving critical health care resources to treat COVID patients.”

Delawareans are urged to think about the Big 4 locations where they can get their flu vaccines this year:
• Medical provider offices or community health clinics
• Pharmacies
• Community Flu Clinics
• DPH Clinics for uninsured and underinsured individuals

This week, DPH will hold three community flu clinics, two on Friday, Oct. 2 – one at the Gigante grocery store on Front Street (Route 14) in Milford from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and one at the New Castle Farmer’s Market on Route 13 in New Castle from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. DPH will hold a second clinic at the New Castle Farmer’s Market location on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., while Westside Family Healthcare will hold a free community flu clinic at its Bear facility in the Fox Run Shopping Center from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3. Beebe Healthcare is holding the following community flu clinics:

• September 29, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Milton CHEER Center, 24855 Broadkill Road, Milton
• October 1, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Rehoboth Convention Center, 229 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth (walk-up and bike only)
• October 2, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Crossroads Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown (drive-through only)
• October 3, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Beebe South Coastal, 32750 Roxana Road, Frankford (drive-through only)

A list of community and DPH flu clinic sites can be found on flu.delaware.gov. In addition, the locations for flu vaccines can be found if you Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death by about half.

“Getting a flu vaccine is one of the most important things that every Delawarean, 6 months and older, can do to protect themselves from flu illness,” said Molly Magarik, Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services. “It is critically important that persons over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions of any kind get the vaccine as soon as possible.” Pregnant women, children under age 2 and African Americans and Hispanics who are more often impacted by chronic diseases such as lung and heart disease, obesity, and asthma are also at greater risk of flu illness.

“It’s important to get a flu vaccine especially in the African American and other minority communities because of our higher risk of illness,” said Henrietta Johnson Medical Center CMO, Dr. Yvette Gbemudu. “The flu virus and other viruses can affect us more strongly without proper protection. Even if you are infected with the flu after getting a flu vaccine, studies show that your response to it will be lessened because you got the flu shot. It reduces your risk of dying from the flu, which is possible because the virus is deadly.”

It takes about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, so it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season.

“It will also be vitally important that Delawareans step up their efforts around wearing face coverings, social distancing, and washing or sanitizing their hands frequently, not only to protect against COVID-19, but also against flu in the coming months,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It’s too early to know what impact these preventive measures may already be having in reducing the early spread of flu in our state, but it’s possible they may be the key to a milder flu season this year – but only if we stay vigilant in our efforts.”

In addition to these basic prevention measures, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Some signs and symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms. Testing can help you determine which you have.

COVID-19 symptoms that are different from flu may include change in or loss of taste or smell. Also, flu symptoms generally come on more suddenly than COVID symptoms.

The following organizations have proudly partnered with DPH in the effort to significantly increase flu vaccinations this fall and into the winter: The Delaware Healthcare Association and its member hospital systems: Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare, ChristianaCare, TidalHealth Nanticoke, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, St. Francis Healthcare and the Veterans Administration Medical Center; the Medical Society of Delaware; and the Federally Qualified Health Centers: Westside Family Healthcare, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, and La Red Health Center.

“The annual influx of flu patients taxes hospital capacity. That’s a big problem during the pandemic,” said Wayne A. Smith, President & CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association. “The best way to preserve hospital space is for everyone to get a flu shot.”

“While scientists are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the flu vaccine is readily available and can make all the difference in the fight against the flu, which kills tens of thousands of people each year. Now is the time to connect with your physician and get vaccinated,” said Joseph J. Straight, MD, President, Medical Society of Delaware.

“La Red Health Center (LRHC) is pleased to partner with the Delaware Division of Public Health in providing the flu vaccine at each of its Family Practice Sites located in Georgetown, Milford and Seaford,” said Marketing and Communications Director Kevin Loftus. “This flu season it is especially important to get the flu shot as soon as possible and LRHC encourages its patients and all residents of Sussex County to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.”

During the 2019-2020 flu season, Delaware recorded 7,075 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 362 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 11 people died from flu complications.

“Easy access to free or low-cost flu vaccines is critical to keeping our communities healthy, and ultimately, reducing the risk of severe flu symptoms that cause hospitalization,” said Tom Stephens, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Westside Family Healthcare. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine as severe complications from both illnesses can be life-threatening.”

Those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours. People with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with well people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications.
For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.

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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.

The Delaware Department of 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.


DPH, Healthy Communities Delaware Announce Funding to Support Community-Level COVID-19 Response Projects

DOVER (July 23, 2020) – The Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Healthy Communities Delaware (HCD) initiative announced on Tuesday collaborations with several communities throughout Delaware that have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Working with 12 community-based lead organizations, Healthy Communities Delaware is providing more than $720,000 in funding to nine communities across the state to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Delaware’s most vulnerable populations. This funding will help communities address important fundamental needs by creating neighborhood hubs to serve as food pantries and provide prevention care and resources; hiring bilingual resource navigators; and replacing deteriorating buildings with affordable rental units. Projects will engage residents in identifying the needs of their communities, building trust, and directly providing food, education, and care resources.

“We know that health is more than just health care,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Our environments – where we live, work and play – have a huge impact on our health. We believe that all Delawareans should have the opportunity to make healthy choices, regardless of their income, education or ethnic background, and we are excited about the work these communities will be doing to help us ensure all Delaware residents have access to the COVID-19 resources they need.”

“We are seeing the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on vulnerable Delawareans, including low-income households, Black and Hispanic communities, and non-English speakers,” said Rita Landgraf, Director of the University of Delaware’s Partnership for Healthy Communities. “These collaborative efforts will support nine communities working with 12 community-based organizations to navigate such challenges under COVID-19 as food security, resource navigation, housing, job creation and workforce development.”

“As Delaware continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we know that one of the most critical supports that Healthy Communities Delaware can provide is strategic community investment,” said Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation. “We are grateful to the State of Delaware for helping to fund these pragmatic community-based investments.”

Healthy Communities Delaware is collaborating with the following communities. Although only lead organizations are listed, every project is a collaboration among many partners within each community:

New Castle County:
• Jefferson Street Center, Inc.; Northwest, Wilmington — $99,900
• Cornerstone West Community Development Corp. (CDC); Westside, Wilmington — $49,950
• Be Ready CDC; West Side, Wilmington — $99,998
• Central Baptist CDC; Eastside, Wilmington — $99,900
• Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County; Eastside, Wilmington — $49,950
• Route 9 Master Plan Monitoring Committee; Route 9 Corridor of New Castle County — $49,950
• South Wilmington Planning Network; Southbridge, Wilmington — $49,950
• Latin American Community Center; Wilmington/New Castle County — $49,950

Kent County:
• NCALL, Inc.; Dover and Western Kent — $49,950

Sussex County:
• The Food Bank of Delaware; Georgetown/Western Sussex — $49,950
• La Esperanza; Georgetown/Western Sussex — $49,950
• Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project; Ellendale — $25,500

Healthy Communities Delaware involves business, community, and organizational participants, and is managed as a collaboration among DPH, the University of Delaware Partnership for Healthy Communities, and the Delaware Community Foundation. HCD works in partnership with communities to address resident priorities around the social determinants of health — conditions in which we are born, live, learn, work and age. Many Delawareans lack the basic resources for health and well-being – safe and healthy homes, a quality education, meaningful employment, a healthy environment, access to healthy foods, financial stability and reliable transportation. Many of these inequities are a result of and perpetuated by structural racism and discrimination, and are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more detailed information on the specific projects being funded, visit healthycommunitiesde.org/collaborating-communities. For more information on Healthy Communities Delaware, visit healthycommunitiesde.org.

Individuals with questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211 or email delaware211@uwde.org. Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov. Questions regarding unemployment claims should be emailed to: UIClaims@delaware.gov,

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit de.gov/coronavirus.


DHSS Announces First Coronavirus-Related Death of Resident from 24/7 Facilities

SMYRNA (April 16, 2020) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is announcing the first death from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) of a resident at one its 24/7 facilities.

A 57-year-old male resident of Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City died April 14 at a New Castle County hospital. He was the only resident who had tested positive at the long-term facility; eight staff at Governor Bacon also have tested positive.

In Kent County, two residents and two staff at Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna have tested positive. The residents from DHCI are hospitalized; the staff members from both facilities are self-isolating at their homes.

“We are heartbroken for the resident who lost his life to COVID-19,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “This man’s death makes it even clearer to all of us just how vulnerable the residents of our 24/7 facilities are, as well as residents in private long-term care facilities up and down our state. Our Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities is working closely with our sister agencies, the Division of Public Health and the Division of Health Care Quality, to ensure that the health and safety of our residents and staff continue to be our highest priority.”

Delaware Psychiatric Center, DHSS’ 24/7 psychiatric hospital near New Castle, has 12 lab-confirmed cases among patients and six positive cases among staff.

DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality (DHCQ) is working closely with DHSS’ 24/7 facilities and private long-term care and other licensed facilities in the state to verify that there are strong screening, infection control and isolation measure in place at each facility, and if, not, to assist them in implementing stronger protocols.

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The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.