Governor Carney joined state health officials this afternoon in announcing the first Delaware resident has contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) says the case involves a New Castle County man over the age of 50 who is “associated” with the University of Delaware community. No further details on the man’s identity were disclosed.
DHS says the individual “is not severely ill and self-isolated at home as soon as symptoms appeared.” The patient was exposed to another confirmed case of COVID-19 in another state. Epidemiologists from DPH are working to identify any close contacts of the individuals who were possibly exposed to ensure they receive appropriate guidance and are monitored for symptoms.
DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the patient is doing well. “We understand that news of a positive case in the state is concerning, but this is something we have been preparing for over the last several weeks,” said Rattay.
Rattay said the department was working closely with the CDC and local hospitals, clinicians, and medical providers to proactively identify and respond to any possible cases of the coronavirus. “We will continue to keep the public fully informed as additional information becomes available,” she said.
The designation of the individual’s condition is technically labeled “presumptive positive,” as the testing done at the state’s new Smyrna coronavirus lab will be sent to the CDC for final confirmation, per protocol.
Governor Carney said the disease and its impact in Delaware is an “evolving situation.”
“We’ve been expecting and planning for this for weeks – and we are ready,” said Carney. “We are able to keep our citizens safe in the least restrictive way possible.”
DPH is currently monitoring 31 individuals who recently returned from China and Italy.
Carney was joined by UD President Dennis Assanis at today’s press briefing. Following the briefing from Assanis to the UD community said the school would be starting spring break early, this Saturday, March 14, and then all classes would move online. Here’s an excerpt from Assanis’ message:
Out of an abundance of caution and care for our community, we have made the decision to transition our instruction to online learning for the rest of the semester, or until further notice. In order to prepare for this move, we are suspending classes for two days — Thursday and Friday of this week.
In addition, in order to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Spring Break will be moved up in the calendar and now begin on Saturday, March 14. Classes are scheduled to resume via online format on Monday, March 23, and will continue as such until further notice. Students have the option of remaining in the residence halls during this time. Residence halls will remain open, and Dining Services will provide meals as needed.
Students who choose to leave campus for the break should take whatever personal and academic materials they might need to complete the semester online. The University will continue to monitor this evolving situation and communicate additional decisions in the coming days.
DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For more information, visit de.gov/coronavirus .
Persons with questions about coronavirus disease are encouraged to call the DPH coronavirus information line at 1-866-408-1899, TTY 1-800-232-5460, or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.