Commissioner Navarro Signs Health Policy Letter to President-Elect Biden

Joins ten Insurance Commissioners in providing short- and long-term recommendations to the incoming administration

A group of the nation’s state insurance commissioners joined together in a pledge to work with President-elect Joe Biden by providing health policy recommendations to the incoming administration.

The commissioners share President-elect Biden’s vision that no American should have to go without health care coverage. They believe comprehensive and progressive health care is essential to addressing urgent public health priorities, such as the COVID-19 and opioid crises, addressing racial disparities in the health care system, and ensuring enforcement of mental health parity.

“President-elect Biden knows the healthcare needs of Delaware residents first-hand. So many of the healthcare challenges we face are being felt across the country, and I am proud to join Insurance Commissioners from coast to coast in recommending short and long-term policy solutions,” said Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

A letter sent by the group of commissioners detailed six immediate or critical policy recommendations and six longer-term recommendations for the Biden administration to consider.

Immediate policy recommendations

  • Ensure immediate access to the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov, through a special enrollment period.
  • Provide immediate relief from Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy clawbacks created by COVID-19 uncertainty.
  • Provide clarity on COVID-19 testing coverage requirements, especially in regard to tests that are ordered as part of state-based contact tracing efforts.
  • Partner with states in actively focusing on programs and practices that address the needs of historically marginalized communities.
  • Address problematic elements of the recently proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for Plan Year 2022.
  • Allow flexibility for states aiming to pursue progressive policy aims by empowering them to apply for ACA innovation waivers beyond reinsurance.

Longer-term policy priorities

  • Reverse policies, such as the weakening of non-discrimination protections and the public charge rule, that undermine the ACA and deny health care coverage to many people.
  • Encourage both people and small businesses to enroll in ACA programs, and stop encouraging enrollment in insurance plans that do not provide the ACA’s most critical consumer protections.
  • Improve income counting rules to allow consumers greater flexibility.
  • Extend premium tax credits to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients so that legally present noncitizens have access to health care coverage.
  • Modernize Department of Labor oversight of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to ensure all health insurance coverage is held to similar standards.
  • Consider a national reinsurance program to stabilize health insurance markets and improve affordability of health insurance coverage.

Enacting these policy recommendations will provide immediate relief to many Americans affected by the COVID-19 crisis, provide states with flexibility to strengthen health insurance markets, remove discriminatory barriers to health coverage, protect the coverage needs of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and ensure comprehensive health insurance access is available to all Americans.

The following state insurance commissioners developed these recommendations and are committed to working with the Biden administration on its national health care plan:
Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California
Commissioner Michael Conway, Colorado
Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Delaware
Commissioner Colin M. Hayashida, Hawaii
Director Anita G. Fox, Michigan
Temporary Commissioner Grace Arnold, Minnesota
Commissioner Andrew R. Stolfi, Oregon
Commissioner Jessica K. Altman, Pennsylvania
Health Insurance Commissioner Marie Ganim, Rhode Island
Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Washington
Commissioner Mark Afable, Wisconsin

View the Commissioners’ Letter


Weekly COVID-19 Update: DPH Continues to Announce New Cases, Recoveries, and Deaths; Decline in Hospitalizations

DOVER (July 31, 2020) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing an update on the most recent statistics related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Delaware, as of 6 p.m. Thursday, July 30, 2020.

A total of 14,788 positive cases of COVID-19 among Delaware residents have been reported to DPH since March 11, 2020, including 8,179 individuals who are considered recovered. In addition, 46 individuals are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Delaware down from 55 reported as of last Friday’s update. Eleven of the hospitalized persons are critically ill.

The Division of Public Health has recently shifted to providing a seven-day average of the percentage of persons who tested positive rather than a five-day rolling average. The seven-day average remained the same from 4.3% as of July 23 to 4.3% as of Thursday, July 30.

A total of 585 Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19. The state reported seven additional deaths since last week’s update. Three deaths were identified through ongoing reviews of death certificate records, leaving four deaths which actually occurred in the past week. The total number of individuals who have died from COVID-19 ranged in age from 21 to 104 years old. Of those who have died, 313 were females and 272 were males. A total of 287 individuals were from New Castle County, 107 were from Kent County, and 191 were from Sussex County.

To protect personal health information, DPH will not confirm specific information about any individual case, even if other persons or entities disclose it independently.

Additional Updates:
On June 19, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers not to use any hand sanitizers manufactured by “Eskbiochem SA de CV” in Mexico, because of the potential presence of methanol, a toxic alcohol that can cause blindness and/or death when swallowed or possibly absorbed through the skin. Since then, the FDA has identified several more alcohol-based hand sanitizers or rubs that contain methanol and is working with manufacturers and distributors on a voluntary recall of these products: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol.

Adverse health effects related to methanol poisoning can include the following:
• Headache
• Blurred vision
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of coordination
• Decreased level of consciousness
• Visual impairment or blindness
• Death

New Curative Inc. Text Service – Beginning this week, those tested through Delaware’s community saliva-based testing events, will be able to receive results via text as well as email when an email address is provided. This enhanced service from Curative Inc. will reduce the time for those who do not provide an email address when registering, to receive their test results.

Additional COVID-19 cases to be added to My Healthy Community: Over the weekend, those viewing Delaware COVID-19 statistics will notice what may appear to be a cumulative increase of 20 new positive cases. These cases were identified through late submissions of lab reports this week. The positive cases occurred between the second week in July and this week. While the cumulative number of positive cases will rise by 20 either Saturday or Sunday, they did not all occur in one day.

Delaware COVID-19 data:
The latest Delaware COVID-19 case statistics* cumulatively since March 11, provided as of 6 p.m., Thursday, July 30, include:

• 14,788 total positive cases
• New Castle County cases: 6,794
• Kent County cases: 2,167
• Sussex County cases: 5,608
• Unknown County: 219
• Females: 8,162; Males: 6,602; Unknown Sex: 24
• Age range: 0 to 104
• Currently hospitalized: 46; Critically ill: 11 (This data represents individuals currently hospitalized in a Delaware hospital regardless of residence, and is not cumulative.)
• Delawareans recovered: 8,179
• 166,259 negative cases**
*Data are provisional and subject to change.
**Data on negative cases are preliminary, based on negative results reported to DPH by state and commercial laboratories performing analysis.

CDC recently updated its guidance related to discontinuation of self-isolation, therefore DPH has updated its guidance related to recovery. Generally, Delaware is now considering patients recovered after at least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and/or improvement in symptoms, and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Individuals who tested positive who have not had any symptoms are considered recovered after at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test with no subsequent illness.

Long-term Care Statistics:
Information related to positive cases and deaths among residents at long-term care facilities will be updated weekly each Friday, using information reported as of 6 p.m. Thursday. There have been a total of 1,193 positive COVID-19 cases cumulatively involving long-term care residents, and 361 residents of Delaware long-term care facilities have died from complications related to COVID-19. Note: The total number of deaths among long-term care residents was updated since last Friday to account for five additional individuals who were since identified as residents of long-term care facilities.

The locations and number of deaths involving residents of long-term care facilities are:

• Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation and Health Center, Millsboro (17)
• Brackenville Center, Genesis Healthcare, Hockessin (17)
• Brandywine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Wilmington (34)
• Brandywine Living at Seaside Pointe, Rehoboth Beach (2)
• Cadia Healthcare Broadmeadow, Middletown (10)
• Cadia Healthcare Capitol, Dover (12)
• Cadia Healthcare Renaissance, Millsboro (6)
• Cadia Healthcare North Wilmington/Silverside, Wilmington (4)
• Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill, Smyrna (11)
• Governor Bacon Health Center, Delaware City (1)
• HarborChase of Wilmington, Wilmington (4)
• Harbor Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Lewes (20)
• Harrison House Senior Living, Georgetown (40)
• Hillside Center, Wilmington (3)
• Little Sisters of the Poor, Newark (11)
• ManorCare Health Services, Wilmington (13)
• ManorCare Health Services, Pike Creek (20)
• Methodist Country House, Wilmington (4)
• Millcroft, Newark (2)
• Milford Center, Genesis Healthcare, Milford (35)
• New Castle Health and Rehabilitation Center, New Castle (11)
• Newark Manor Nursing Home, Newark (11)
• Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation, Wilmington (26)
• Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center, Smyrna (24)
• Regal Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Hockessin (5)
• Summit Assisted Living, Hockessin (3)
• Sunrise Assisted Living, Wilmington (2)
• Westminster Village, Dover (7)
• Six other New Castle County long-term care facilities (1 death at each facility)

Additional demographic data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, including race/ethnicity, more age-specific data and rates information by ZIP code, can be found on the Division of Public Health’s My Healthy Community data portal at de.gov/healthycommunity.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headache or congestion or runny nose without a known cause such as allergies. Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a primary care provider. If you are sick and need essential supplies, ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy to get what you need.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Individuals who have complaints about individuals violating public gathering restrictions should contact state or local law enforcement. Concerns that a business may be violating operating restrictions should be directed to: HSPContact@delaware.gov. Questions related to business re-openings or operations as businesses reopen should go to COVID19FAQ@delaware.gov.

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; 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.

In addition, DPH asks any Delaware health care, long-term care, residential, or other high-risk facility with questions or concerns to email: DPH_PAC@delaware.gov or call the DPH Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 and press ext. 2.

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


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.


Additional Alternate Care Site Announced

Smryna – The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the State Health Operations Center (SHOC) are announcing today the plan for an additional alternate care site (ACS) to support Kent and Sussex Counties.  This plan is to accommodate overflow patients from Delaware hospital systems as they begin to experience a surge in patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  This mobile hospital will join the two previously designated: the first on the campus of Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the second at Governor Bacon Health Center.

The site will be a collaborative effort between Bayhealth, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, and Beebe Healthcare.  The three healthcare systems are coordinating their surge plans with county and state officials.  The primary goal is to maintain the surge within current hospitals.  If needed, the state has offered to set up a mobile hospital as an alternate care site.  Triggers have been identified as well as potential locations dependent on surge.  Site evaluations were performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Delaware National Guard in the weeks preceding.  The Delaware National Guard will provide crucial assistance with preparing, building, and operating this facility.  The field hospital was utilized during a 2016 exercise and the Delaware National Guard stands ready to deploy the unit as previously trained.  The mobile hospital can potentially treat 50-60 patients who do not have COVID-19.  If the site is used for COVID-19 patients that number would be reduced.  Numerous buildings were surveyed, however proximity to existing health care facilities and the accompanying resources are crucial to a successful mission.

The hospitals are managing the patients now with their current staffing but we are preparing for the expected increase in the coming days.  This location, like the New Castle County sites, will be opened to alleviate the surge on hospitals when needed.  We are grateful for the efforts of our partners in the health care systems within the state, the Division of Public Health, and the Delaware National Guard for their continued support.

For more information on COVID-19http://de.gov/coronavirus

Follow Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/delawareemergencymanagementagency

Follow Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/delawareema

Contact: Jeff Sands, Delaware Emergency Management Agency, 302-659-2211.

 


Alternate Care Sites Announced

SMYRNA (April 6, 2020) – The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the State Health Operations Center (SHOC) are announcing today the designation of alternate care sites (ACS) in New Castle County to accommodate overflow patients from Delaware hospital systems as they begin to experience a surge in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Sites for the southern part of the state are expected to be announced later this week.

One alternate care site will be Governor Bacon Health Center, the Department of Health and Social Services’ long-term care facility in Delaware City, said DEMA Director A.J. Schall and Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Residents in two units will be transferred over several days this week – along with their current staff – to the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill, another DHSS long-term facility in Smyrna. The residents from Governor Bacon will be placed in a separate unit at the DHCI Campus, isolated from current residents of DHCI. If all transferred residents clear the 14-day quarantine period, they will be integrated with the current residents of DHCI, said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician.

Residents of one unit at Governor Bacon will remain on the second floor for 14 days, with the current staff caring for them. If those residents clear the quarantine period, they also will be transferred to Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill.

The residents’ families and Governor Bacon staff have been notified of Governor Bacon’s alternate care site designation and the impending move, Secretary Walker said. As floors of Governor Bacon are made available, they will be deep-cleaned by DHSS before they are used as an alternative care site, Secretary Walker said. When all residents are moved to Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill, Dr. Rattay said the State will have the potential of 75 additional beds at Governor Bacon for overflow patients from Delaware’s hospitals. Staffing to care for the potential overflow patients is currently being developed.

“We are grateful to the families of the residents and the staff for understanding why we have to move the residents of Governor Bacon,” Secretary Walker said. “Throughout this crisis, our top priority is the health and safety of our residents and also making sure that our staff who care for our residents are safe and healthy as well.”

Schall and Dr. Rattay said the other alternate care site being announced today by DEMA and SHOC is within Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Nemours will only be accepting transfers from Delaware community hospitals of non-COVID-19 adults. 

Nemours duPont Hospital for Children has developed two treatment areas to provide medical care for non-COVID-19 adults. The rehabilitation gym, which is located one floor below the main level and away from pediatric care, has been converted into an alternative care site for low-acuity cases beginning with 38 beds, with possible expansion if needed. A medical intensive care unit will be situated across and separate from the pediatric intensive care unit, and be comprised of 24 beds.   

Nemours’s treatment sites can become operational this week, and will begin providing medical care only once capacity is exceeded within Delaware’s community hospitals. Nemours’ surge sites will remain operational until community hospitals can reabsorb these non-COVID-19 adult patients.

Schall and Dr. Rattay said last week the State worked with Nemours, St. Francis Healthcare and ChristianaCare to identify options for the northern part of the state. After searching multiple possible sites with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Nemours campus was identified as the location that would provide the most efficiencies.  

Nemours has worked diligently over the last week to prep part of its building and this week training will take place with Nemours, ChristianaCare and the Delaware National Guard.

Schall and Dr. Rattay said the State, National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers continue to work with Beebe Healthcare, Nanticoke Health Services and Bayhealth for options to place non-COVID-19 patients from the southern hospitals if surge occurs. Site assessments continue today, with potential options being the old Milford Memorial Hospital and a National Guard field option adjacent to one of the current hospitals. 

For more information on COVID-19, http://de.gov/coronavirus

Follow Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/delawareemergencymanagementagency

Follow Delaware Emergency Management Agency on Twitter, https://www.twitter.com/delawareema

Contact: Jeff Sands, Delaware Emergency Management Agency, 302-659-2211.