COVID-19 hot spot areas have cooled off around the state, including in Newark, but public health officials are watching several locations up and down Delaware where positive cases are higher than expected.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said Tuesday during Gov. John Carney’s weekly coronavirus press briefing that the rise in of positive cases of the coronavirus in Newark had slowed, partly because of a sharp decrease in cases related to the University of Delaware.
In the last week, the university has seen less than eight 8 additional cases of COVID-19 on its campus.
The number of coronavirus cases were one of many issues discussed during the press conference, which touched on rising hospitalizations, an increase in testing in the last two weeks and the state’s plan to distribute a vaccine when it is available.
Carney thanked the UD President Dennis Assanis, Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton and the Newark police department for their work in helping to limit the spread of coronavirus in Newark.
Rattay characterized locations the state is monitoring as “warm spots,” including zip code 19801 in Wilmington, Brandywine Hundred, Laurel, Bridgeville, Ellendale, Lewis, Georgetown and Camden-Wyoming.
Among other things that came up:
- Social and family activities are risks for positive cases. Rattay talked about a house party in which 50% of susceptible people tested positive afterwards. She detailed another case in which 14 relatives were in the same house with a teenager who had become positive, and nobody wore masks or social distanced. Ultimately, 11 of the others in the house tested positive.
- A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, said the state tested 34,287 people during the last two weeks, a high number achieved partly because there are many groups being tested, including school workers and students. Carney said the state may reach its “stretch goal” of testing 80,000 people per month.
- Carney offered a few more details about the Monday settlement of a lawsuit that means the state will more that double its spending on low income children, children with disabilities and English learning children.
- Carney said a rise in hospitalizations is partially attributable to a rise in cases in four Delaware nursing homes, but state contact tracers are investigating why those cases reached the hospital.
- The state announced citizens can now see data about hospitalization in each Delaware county on its COVID-19 dashboard.
- Carney urged workers to seek out retraining being paid for by federal CARES dollars in high-demand areas such as healthcare, construction, hospitality, transportation, and information technology.
- Rattay repeated that the state will now publicize two difference kinds of testing data. One will be the total number of tests and one will be people tested. That will allow two different views of the data and will mesh with frequently reported number from Johns Hopkins University and the CDC. For example: there have been 315,752 Delawareans tested. But those Delawareans have had 486,262 tests because some people have been tested more than once.
- Rattay said that the state must send a vaccine plan to the CDC on Friday, that the state will get more definitive strategies from the federal government and that others including hospitals, private doctors and pharmacies will participate in the program. She will continue to release updates about it, she said. The state, she emphasized, will not distribute a vaccine that is not safe and has not gone through the Food and Drug Adminstration approval or received Emergency Use Authorization