State call center open to handle coronavirus questions

State lab conducting testing
March 6, 2020

A state call center for residents concerned about the coronavirus COVID-19 is now taking calls.

“We are receiving a tremendous number of calls from concerned individuals, and from organizations seeking guidance on what they should be doing to mitigate community spread of coronavirus disease, should it occur in Delaware,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Opening this call center will enable us to answer people’s very valid concerns and enable key epidemiology staff to better focus on the job of monitoring returning travelers, and maintaining our high level of surveillance.”

Located in the Smyrna State Health Operations Center, the call center can take questions from the public, schools, medical providers, state agencies and community organizations. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Officials said hours may be adjusted to accommodate peak volume.

The Division of Public Health Lab in Smyrna has the capability to test for coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. It is the only testing lab in the state for the virus, officials said.

The first two tests were of two patients from Kent County; the latest test was on a Sussex County resident. To date, officials said, nine patients have been tested and all results have been negative. There are no patients under investigation at this time, officials said.

Prevention key

Public health officials continue to recommend simple, everyday measures that people can take to prevent the spread of all infections. One way of stopping the spread of coronavirus disease is not catch it. Preventive measures include:

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. If you use a tissue, dispose of it right away.

• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, including the backs of your hands and under your nails.

• Clean surfaces at home, work or school that you use often.

• Stay home when you are sick.

If you are healthy, health officials do not recommend buying or using face masks. If infected, however, officials said, a mask can help prevent the spread of a virus.

The call center number is 1-866-408-1899. A recorded message will provide instructions for persons calling after 4:30 p.m. or on weekends who may have symptoms of concern. Returning travelers from a country with a level 2 Travel Alert or higher – China, Japan, Italy, South Korea or Iran – who have a medical emergency should call 911. Individuals can also submit questions at


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