Delaware Farmers’ Markets To Open Under New COVID-19 Protocols

DOVER, Del. – With the assistance of the Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition, a group of market managers from across the state, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is issuing protocols to help farmers’ markets safely begin opening starting May 15.

“We want to make sure that opening the farmers’ markets in Delaware is done in a way that maximizes the safety of market staff, family farmers, and the customers who are looking to purchase produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know a lot more about COVID-19 now and the steps we all need to take to prevent the spread of this disease. Farmers’ markets will not be the same social experience as they were prior to COVID-19, but we hope that Delawareans will utilize the markets as a place to purchase locally produced food.”

The protocols issued by DDA will be in place until further notice and are solely intended to allow farmers to sell produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items that have been directly grown or raised on a farm or prepared in a permitted on-farm kitchen or cottage-food kitchen. Individual farmers’ markets may choose to implement more specific and stringent protocols, but they must at a minimum follow the issued protocols in order to operate and remain open.

“There is nothing better than heading to a farmers’ market in the spring as Delaware grown produce starts to become available. There is a sense of community pride around farmers’ markets that includes supporting our local economy and our family farms,” said Governor John Carney. “With the help of the farmers’ market managers and the staff at the Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Division of Public Health, we are able to allow farmers’ markets to begin opening on May 15 as long as they are able to enact the protocols issued by the Department of Agriculture.”

To create a safer environment for all involved in farmers’ markets, they will no longer be considered a social venue. This means there will be no social gatherings, no entertainment shows or activities, no food trucks or prepared food for consumption on site, no on-site food preparation or sampling, no demonstrations, and no pets allowed, except for service animals.

Depending on the farmers’ market, they may operate a walk-through market or a drive-through market. All customers will be required to wear face coverings, or they will be denied entrance. A maximum of two people per household will be allowed to enter the market to shop. Upon arrival, customers will check in at the entrance with market staff. If the market is at capacity, the customer will be given instructions on how they will be notified when they can go into shop.

Progress through the farmers’ market will only be in one direction. All market attendees will be required to enter through a specific entrance and will all leave out a designated exit, there will be no doubling back to shop at a vendor. Market staff, vendors, and customers will need to social distance, maintaining six feet distance from all others while inside the market area. In order to reduce shopping time, vendors will not have their product available where people can touch or handle product. Customers will need to request items that they want to purchase, and the farmer will package for purchase.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite) are potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, you may not go out in public. 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. We want to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our farmers’ market community, so if you are sick or have been exposed or are at higher risk for severe illness – stay home, do not go to the farmers’ market.

More information regarding the protocols for opening Delaware farmers’ markets can be found at https://de.gov/buylocal.

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DNREC state parks, wildlife area visitors must bring masks starting Friday

DOVER, Del. – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced that starting Friday those aged 13 or older are now required to bring a face mask with them to enter state parks, wildlife areas and reserves, and should wear them when they cannot maintain social distancing from other visitors. Those who do not bring face masks when visiting these areas may be required to leave by officers or staff.

This decision is in accordance with Governor John Carney’s thirteenth modification to his State of Emergency declaration, which requires Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings. Visitors to DNREC parks and areas must wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult, such as on boat ramps, narrow trails, and when they encounter anyone not in their household including other visitors and staff. Masks are required at all times at the Ommelanden shooting range.

“In order to keep our outdoor public spaces for all members of the public to enjoy, visitors to state parks, wildlife areas and reserves must heed social distancing and mask requirements,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We need our visitors to do their part to help keep these areas safe for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Visitors are also asked to be mindful of the length and frequency of their visits, and to avoid peak times. The safest way to enjoy state parks is sparingly, as needed, and during off-peak times: before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. daily.

While most state parks, wildlife areas and reserves continue to stay open for Delawareans during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency order from Governor John Carney, DNREC has a few guidelines for visitors to stay safe:

  • Bring a mask and wear it when needed. Parks and wildlife areas are becoming increasingly crowded as the weather warms so it is now required to have a mask to put on when you are near others not from your home.
  • Plan ahead. Many amenities are closed, including all public restrooms.
  • Be prepared. Bring your own soap, water and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Stay close to home. This period is not the time to travel for outdoor adventure. Out-of-state visitors must observe a 14-day quarantine before entering a park, wildlife area or reserve.
  • Keep your group small. Make sure to enjoy the outdoors with your immediate household members only. You should not attend or host any gatherings like barbeques or birthday parties.
  • Avoid close contact activities. Instead, choose outdoor recreation like fishing, hiking or bike riding.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and others. Warn others of your presence and give them enough space to pass on boat ramps, paths and trails. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Areas may be closed if it is determined based on observation of parking lots or groupings of people that lack of responsible social distancing has become an issue.
  • Leave no trace. Even during normal operations, parks are carry-in/carry-out with regards to trash. Trash you take into the park or area, including disposable gloves and masks, you must take with you. Our staff resources are limited, and we need your help collecting trash.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t visit our parks, wildlife areas or reserves if you or any member of your household is not feeling well.

Any failure to comply with the provisions contained in a Declaration of a State of Emergency or any modification to a Declaration of the State of Emergency can constitute a criminal offense.

Anyone concerned about an individual or group in any state park or wildlife area may contact DNREC’s Natural Resources Police via Tip411, DNREC’s smartphone app, or by calling the 24-hour DNREC Dispatch Center at 302-739-4580. Tip411 allows the public to easily report concerns. The app is available for free download by searching DENRP via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Delaware, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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Get Outside, But Protect Yourself

DNREC offers tips to enjoy outdoors safely during the coronavirus period

DOVER, Del. – With entrance fees to Delaware State Parks and state wildlife areas currently waived, Delawareans are getting outside to stay active and healthy. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control offers a few tips for enjoying the outdoors safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) period:

  • Keep your social distance, even when outside. Enjoy less crowded areas. Limit your group to fewer than 10 people and keep at least 6 feet away from other visitors.
  • Avoid close-contact activities. Instead, fish, hike, paddle board, ride a bicycle or explore nature.
  • Don’t rent or share sports equipment. Use your own binoculars, bike, fishing rod, golf disc, kayak, yoga mat, etc.
  • Wipe down sports equipment before and after use. Disinfect gear with federal recommended products including diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and EPA-registered household disinfectants.
  • Avoid playgrounds. Delaware State Parks has closed all its playgrounds, but they may still be open in other areas. Surfaces like slides and swings have a lot of touch points that could potentially spread the virus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands. Use soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. If you’re sick or have been sick in the past two weeks, please stay home to recuperate.

“If you choose to get outside, please take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your community,” said Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Whether you’re spending time in your own backyard or exploring our state’s nature areas, practice social distancing and be safe. And please watch for possible changing announcement in the interest of public health and safety.”

Delaware State Parks offers Play Outside, a map-based, mobile-friendly app helps visitors find parks, natural areas, trails and more. Filter the search by county and facility to find appropriate options during the coronavirus period. As a reminder, the public is currently prohibited from accessing the beach except to exercise or walk their dogs where dogs are permitted. Beach access from within Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks is prohibited at this time. Parking and fishing at the Indian River Inlet within Delaware Seashore State Park is permitted at this time. Additional resources are available at dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/coronavirus and destateparks.com/Covid19.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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DPH Announces New Flu-Related Death as Numbers of Statewide Cases Continue to Drop

Flu season sign on a paper and glasses.

DOVER — Statewide flu totals in Delaware decreased for the third week in a row, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH). During the week ending March 10, DPH reports 290 laboratory-confirmed flu cases, down from the prior week’s total of 381 confirmed cases. The latest numbers increase the total number of influenza cases for the season to 7,433. DPH is also reporting one additional flu-related death, a 62-year-old female from New Castle County with multiple underlying health conditions, bringing the number of flu-related deaths for the 2017-2018 flu season to 31.

“We’ve unfortunately lost another Delawarean to the flu this season and we express our condolences to her family,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Although flu cases have dropped again, that is not a reason to take flu lightly. Flu germs can circulate even into the summer months, so it is crucial to continue taking preventive measures against influenza, such as social distancing and handwashing.”

Social distancing means that if you are sick, do not go to school, work, or other social functions until you are fever-free (temperature less than 100 degrees F; 37.8 degrees C) for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. Wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into a tissue which you immediately dispose of. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

DPH emphasizes the importance of calling your primary care provider at the first sign of illness and taking antivirals, as directed, if prescribed. You should go to either your physician or a walk-in clinic rather than the emergency room when symptoms are non-life threatening. People who are extremely ill with symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin color, fever with a rash, dizziness, or severe or persistent vomiting should seek out immediate medical help.

While the overall number of flu cases have gone down, DPH reminds Delawareans that as long as the flu virus is circulating in the community, there is still time to get a flu shot. DPH offers ongoing free flu shots at five State Service Centers. For more information about free flu clinics including dates and times, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. To shorten your wait time, you can complete the vaccination form found at the bottom of the webpage and bring it with you.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html. For general information about the flu, visit flu.Delaware.gov.

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.


Flu Deaths Hit All-Time High; Weekly Case Numbers Continue to Drop

graphic image of woman blowing her nose while text reads "Flu Got You Down. Call Out Sick. Your co-workers Don't want Your Germs."DOVER — The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two more flu-related deaths that occurred during the last two weeks of February, bringing the 2017-2018 season death total to 30. This number breaks the previous single-season record of 28 flu-related deaths, set in 2014-2015. The deceased were both females, 83 and 84 years old, from New Castle and Kent counties, respectively. Both had multiple underlying health conditions.

The total number of flu cases in Delaware for the season is now at 7,071, also breaking the previous record of 4,554, set in the 2016-2017 season. These numbers only include laboratory-confirmed flu cases and the actual number of flu cases in the state is likely much higher. While overall numbers are at an all-time high, the number of weekly cases has dropped for the second week in a row. There were 381 lab-confirmed flu cases for the week ending March 3, the lowest number of confirmed flu cases in a week since the week ending January 20 when there were 375 confirmed cases. Hospitals and walk-in health clinics are also reporting a drop in patients with influenza-like illnesses.

“We are terribly saddened to learn of even more deaths this flu season,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We’ve never seen a flu season this severe before and hope to never see one again. It’s important for everyone to remember that flu continues to circulate in Delaware, and to keep practicing vital prevention measures such as social distancing and frequent hand washing.”

Social distancing means that if you are sick, do not go to school, work, or other social functions until you are fever-free (temperature less than 100 degrees F; 37.8 degrees C) for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. You should wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into a tissue which you immediately dispose of. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

DPH continues to emphasize the importance of calling your primary care provider at the first sign of illness, and taking antivirals if prescribed. Delawareans are reminded to first go to either your physician or a walk-in clinic rather than the emergency room when symptoms are non-life threatening. People who are extremely ill with symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin color, fever with a rash, dizziness, or severe or persistent vomiting should seek out immediate medical help.

Although the overall number of flu cases have gone down, DPH reminds Delawareans that as long as the flu virus is circulating in the community, there is still time to get a flu shot. DPH will be offering free flu vaccines on March 13, 2018, at the Pyle State Service Center, 34314 Pyle Center Road, Frankford, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. DPH also offers ongoing free flu shots at five State Service Centers. For more information about free flu clinics, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. To shorten your wait time, you can complete the vaccination form found at the bottom of the webpage and bring it with you.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html. For general information about the flu, visit http://flu.Delaware.gov.

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.