Sussex County cases stabilizing as surge hits upper counties

Vaccine expected around Dec. 15
December 10, 2020

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Delaware, prompting a new round of restrictions on businesses and activities, state officials say the numbers in Sussex County appear to be stabilizing.

“Those numbers are a little bit lower in Sussex County, which is a little different from what we experienced going back to April where Sussex County always had the highest numbers,” Gov. John Carney said during his Dec. 8 press conference.

Carney said the state is experiencing significant community spread, with COVID-19 numbers about seven times what they were in August and September. In the latest seven-day average, the state posted 23 percent of persons testing positive; about 10 percent of total tests positive; and an average of 730 new cases per day. Delaware also broke its previous record of 337 hospitalizations set in April, with 348 hospitalizations posted. “This has been driven by activities going indoors,” Carney said.

Compared to sharp inclines in New Castle and Kent counties, COVID-19 statistics are flattening in Sussex County.

In Sussex County, there were no deaths recorded Dec. 4-8. The number of people and tests that were COVID-19 positive are comparable with the state, but the number of new cases has been dropping since Dec. 6 – from 191 to 117.

Still, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said the rate of infection is a concern, despite positivity rates and hospitalizations that seem to be stabilizing in Sussex County.

“If I used the criteria that I started out using in August and September, all of the state would be lit up,” she said. “There's no area in the state of which we are not concerned. That being said, our data is suggesting some stabilization in Sussex County.”

There are some increases across ZIP codes, but in general, she said, rates and numbers in Sussex County appear more stable. Rattay added fewer people who were hospitalized have required a ventilator, and fewer are spending time in intensive care units.

Vaccine coming

Rattay said Delaware has put in a vaccine order with Pfizer for about 8,775 doses of the vaccine. She said she expects them to arrive around Dec. 15. About a week after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, Rattay said, the state expects to receive roughly 8,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“The calvary is on the horizon,” she said.

A state-run warehouse now includes an ultra-cold storage unit that can hold about 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be stored under extremely cold conditions, Rattay said.

Quarantine shortened

The Centers for Disease Control recently changed its guidance for anyone exposed to COVID-19 from a 14-day quarantine to 10 days, as long as the person has no symptoms. The quarantine drops to seven days for anyone who tests negative using a nasal swab PCR or antigen test. As long as there are no symptoms, Rattay said, the person would be able to end quarantine by day eight.

“It's a high burden on individuals and society by keeping people out of work for a 14-day period,” Rattay said. “The 10-day quarantine we feel is an appropriate option ... very few people are going to become positive after 10 days.”

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