Testing, results and related issues were big topics during Tuesday’s weekly COVID-10 press conference.
State officials hailed the numbers of tests being done, saying they are helping the state track cases, but also said the large number of tests — more than 100,000 in both October and November — has put a strain on how quickly the results can be returned.
Even, so, testing czar A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, said the number of tests is expected to be high through the winter holidays.
“We know it’s going to be a busy time,” Schall said. “The spike we saw during Thanksgiving was running 6,000 to 7,000 tests per day, to a week when we did 13,000 and then two concurrent days of 10,000.”
He encouraged anyone who is gathering with friends or family — against the guidelines issued by the state — to be tested before going to see them.
Schall also pushed at home tests, saying the state has thousands and will push more home testing because it’s simple, doesn’t require travel and results are coming back faster. The state originally limited home tests to education personal and older people who could not get to a testing site.
“This is an easy, convenient thing for people to do at home,” he said.
Anyone who lives or works in the state of Delaware can obtain the free test by going to the state site here.
He or she must have an active email for each person getting tested and a smartphone or other tech so that a nurse can observe the person administer himself or herself the test.
The test is mailed in, and once a test arrives at the lab, results are coming back within 24 hours, Schall said.
Results from tests by area drug stores and Curative — the company providing the tests for most of the pop-up and drive-thru sites — are taking more than 48 hours for a result to be reported, largely because of the huge numbers of tests.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said that COVID-19 is so widespread throughout the state that if she applied the same criteria she had in early fall to trouble spots, the whole state would be included.
Instead, she said, the state is worried about particularly high numbers in Claymont, Wilmington, Wilmington/Elsmere, Newark, Hew Castle, Christiana, Delaware City, Middletown, Townsend, Smyrna, Dover, Magnolia, Clayton, Hartly, Marydel, Viola, Greenwood, Lincoln and Frankford.
The state offered 16 pop-up or drive-thru testing sites this week in New Castle County, five In Kent County and 12 in Sussex County for a total of 30 throughout the state.
It will offer as many next week, focusing on Kent County, where hospitalizations are particularly high and six people died Monday.
Most sites can handle at least 1,000 tests.
The state has not had to turn anyone away yet, Schall said.
Information on testing sites and times can be found here.
Testing sites for the week of Dec. 13 are expected to be released later Friday.