Community spread feared as state’s COVID-19 cases rise to 45

Eight positive reports in Sussex County
March 21, 2020

Health officials warn of community spread now that the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 45 and the source of the disease is unknown.

“The presence of community spread shows that we all must take the danger associated with this virus seriously,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health. “For every person infected with COVID-19, they typically infect two to three additional people. That's why the steps that Governor Carney has taken to close schools, restaurants and bars, recreational facilities and beaches is so important. We need to take these steps to prevent widespread outbreaks and slow the spread of the virus.”

The total statewide cases of COVID-19 rose to 45 on March 21. There are 32 cases in New Castle, five in Kent County and eight in Sussex County, according to the DPH.

Of these cases, 24 are male and 21 are female, and the individuals range in age from 14 to 80. Five individuals are currently hospitalized; two are critically ill. On March 20, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said one of the critical cases is in Kent County.

Public health officials offer the following information: For individuals who are sick, particularly with fever and cough or shortness of breath, stay home and contact your primary care provider for guidance regarding symptoms and next steps. Many individuals infected with COVID-19 recover by resting, drinking plenty of liquids and taking pain and fever-reducing medications. However, illness can be severe and require hospitalization in some cases.  

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the DPH Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899, or 711 for individuals who are hearing-impaired, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Questions can also be submitted by email at  

 DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to  

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