As Delaware's COVID-19 cases accelerate, more than doubling every three days, state officials say some older residents are having social parties instead of social distancing.
“I keep hearing stories about individuals who are in their 70s, 80s getting together for parties. And the reality is then we're seeing people succumbing to illness after those events together,” said Division of Public Health Direction Karyl Rattay in an April 1 video conference.
Delaware's COVID-19 cases rose to 393 on April 2 with 245 positive cases in New Castle County, 43 in Kent County, and 105 in Sussex County.
There have been 12 deaths – all among people over the age of 65 who had chronic, underlying health conditions. The most recent Sussex death involves an 84-year-old Rehoboth Beach man who was hospitalized at Beebe Healthcare, according to an obituary that ran in the Cape Gazette. Public health officials said he had significant underlying health conditions.
Fifty-six people are hospitalized, and 49 have fully recovered. The DPH has posted 4,566 people have tested negative for the disease.
Rattay said the numbers are more than doubling every three days, which is expected when there is a widespread infection. “We know we are in the midst of what's called the acceleration phase of this,” she said.
Ratty said she is concerned that people are not following social distancing guidelines and are not staying home when they are sick.
“People are going out, people are going to work when they are ill,” she said.
Rattay said anyone who is positive for COVID-19 and not self-isolating in compliance with the state order should be reported. Businesses that are not enforcing social distancing should also be reported, she said. Both violations can be reported by emailing DPHcall@delaware.gov.
On April 1, Gov. John Carney extended his emergency order a ninth time, limiting public gathering to 10. Stores that are permitted to stay open must abide by the limits, and enforce they must enforce social distancing at checkout lines and other areas. Anyone in violation could face a misdemeanor charge of failing to obey an emergency order or misdemeanor disorderly conduct.