Sussex County records third case of COVID-19

Delaware cases number 26; one Kent County patient is critical
March 18, 2020

A third Sussex County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, and at least one person with the illness in Kent County is now in critical care. The state total of COVID-19 cases has now reached 26, health officials announced.

There are now 20 positive cases in New Castle County, three in Kent County and three in Sussex County.

Of these cases, 14 are male and 12 are female, all ranging in age from 18 to 80. Three individuals are currently hospitalized with one in critical condition in Kent County, said Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay. A second individual is hospitalized in Kent County and another is in New Castle County.

Rattay said testing has expanded with 15 labs processing results. Rattay said there is a 24-hour turnaround at the DPH lab in Smyrna and a 3-4 day time frame for private labs. “The expectation is that will decrease,” she said.

Rattay said the number of positive cases is increasing because of the increase in the number of people tested. Both ChristianaCare and Beebe Healthcare held recent drive-thru testing for hundreds of residents. Officials said more testing will be offered in the coming days.

Based on a recent drive-thru test site held by ChristianaCare in which 536 tests were done, Rattay said the rate of positive cases is about 2 percent. “That tells us it’s a low rate now,” she said.

Social distancing remains the best way to avoid the virus, officials say. 

Public health officials continue to tell citizens to stay 6 feet away from others, and anyone who is sick should stay home.

“In [the past] seven days our way of life has changed dramatically from the way we do our jobs to the amount of time we spend in our homes secluded from others,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker.

Walker said there are still unknowns about how the virus affects young people and children, but the disease is 10 times more deadly than the seasonal flu.

“There's a lot to be learned right now,” she said. “It's unclear about reinfection, and what happens with infants,” she said.

She said health officials are monitoring those who have tested positive and taking steps to protect public health.

“If you are sick with fever, or cough, or shortness of breath, do not leave your house,” she said. “Do not go out and expose yourself to others.”

Anyone with symptoms should call their healthcare provider for guidance and healthcare recommendations.

While social distancing is stressed, Rattay said, healthy people should remain active.

“Going for a walk at a time like this is a really positive thing to do for our mental and physical health,” she said.

Rattay also recommends those with seasonal allergies to take precautions so there is no confusion between allergy symptoms and those associated with COVID-19.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. Incorrect numbers were originally provided by public health.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter