Gov. John Carney expanded his emergency order March 16 limiting all restaurants, taverns and bars to delivery and take-out only. His declaration, going into effect 8 p.m., also bans public gatherings of 50 or more people, and closes gaming activity at Delaware casinos.
“These restrictions will hit Delaware’s restaurants and bars especially hard,” Carney said. “Delawareans should continue to support these businesses, and their workers, by ordering take-out or delivery. Restaurants also remain a critical source of food for vulnerable populations. But this is a very serious situation, with a significant amount of uncertainty. If you gather with 50 people or more, you are only increasing the risk that more Delawareans will come in contact with this virus. Let’s not make a challenging situation worse.”
Carney issued his latest order at the same time the eighth positive COVID-19 case was announced. The case involves a New Castle County woman over the age of 50 who was exposed to a positive case in another state, officials said. The individual is not severely ill and is currently self-isolated at home. Epidemiologists from the Division of Public Health said she has minimal close contacts in the state and are working to identify any who were possibly exposed.
The seventh case involved a New Castle County woman under the age of 30 who is connected to the University of Delaware, officials said.
The source of her exposure is under investigation, and she is not severely ill. Officials said she is self-isolated at home, and epidemiologists are working to identify anyone exposed.
Officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer requiring presumptive positive results to go through CDC for confirmatory testing. All presumptive positives up to this date are considered confirmed, officials said.
“Because of the nature of this disease, we know that we are going to continue to see an increased number of cases in Delaware,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “With the amount of test samples that health care systems and providers across the state are submitting to the Delaware Public Health Lab and to commercial labs, the numbers of patients being tested have increased significantly. We want to make sure that we are giving the most accurate information to the public, so going forward we will only be releasing the number of positive cases in Delaware.”
On March 12, three additional positive cases of coronavirus COVID-19 were announced. All three individuals are under the age of 30 and are associated with the University of Delaware community, said Jen Brestel, spokeswoman for the Delaware Division of Public Health. The individuals are not severely ill and are currently self-isolated at home, she said.
UD officials said two are graduate students and one is a postdoctoral researcher. On March 11, officials said a UD faculty member over 50 was the first COVID-19 case in Delaware. Officials said the man was exposed to an out-of-state person who had COVID-19. The three cases that tested positive were also in contact with the same out-of-state person, Brestel said.
Epidemiologists from the Division of Public Health are working with the patients to identify any close contacts of these individuals who were possibly exposed, Brestel said. If other people are found to have possibly been exposed, state health officials will provide guidance to these individuals and monitor them closely for the development of symptoms, she said. DPH will not be disclosing additional information about the individuals.
“We understand that news of additional cases is concerning to students, staff, and families in the University of Delaware community,” Rattay said. “However, DPH is working closely with the administration at the University of Delaware on their coronavirus disease response.”
DPH has issued the following guidance for the University of Delaware community:
- Close contacts of these individuals, whether or not they have symptoms of illness including fever, cough, or shortness of breath, may return home during University of Delaware’s spring break. These individuals may not use public transportation to get home. They will need to remain home for at least 14 days after last contact with positive cases.
- Individuals who did not have contact with these individuals can return home and go about their daily lives. They should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their primary contact provider if symptoms appear.
UD spring break has been extended to two weeks, March 14-29, and students will finish their semester with online courses only. Only UD employees performing essential functions that cannot be carried out remotely will report to campus, officials said in a press release March 13.