The Cape May-Lewes Ferry resumed service for foot traffic crossing the Delaware Bay July 7 – the same day New Jersey, New York and Connecticut put Delaware on a quarantine list.
Gov. John Carney questioned why Delaware was placed on the quarantine list when Delaware's percent of positive COVID-19 test results was in the single digits compared to double-digit statistics for the other states listed.
“I don't believe we belong in that category,” he said, adding he intended to talk to the governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut about why Delaware is on the quarantine list. “We're not in the same ballpark as the other states there. I don't think we should be singled out, certainly not by our partners in the region that we've tried to help when they needed our help.”
On July 8, the city of Philadelphia included Delaware on its quarantine list; however, the state of Pennsylvania does not have Delaware on its quarantine list.
While Delaware's percent positive rate is about 6 percent, other states on the quarantine list are much higher. Arizona has a 25 percent positive rate, Florida about 19 percent, South Carolina 16 percent, and Texas 14 percent.
“I think you could conclude that we don't belong in the same category,” Carney said.
Under the 14-day quarantine travel advisory announced by the governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, and posted on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry website, individuals traveling to or returning from states with increasing rates of COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes travel by train, bus, car, plane and any other method of transportation.
The 14-day quarantine travel advisory applies to travel from certain states identified as those that have a positive COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or have a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Based on July 7 statistics, Delaware had 12,462 total positive cases – a rate of 130 per 10,000. The percentage of positive cases averaged 6.2, even though the number of new cases was 22, and the hospitalization and critical care numbers are at all-time lows. There are 57 hospitalizations with 11 in critical care – a number not seen since March.
In Sussex County, the number of positives has spiked since early June when an outbreak was reported in Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach associated with teens celebrating senior week. The 19971 ZIP code is now the COVID-19 hotspot for the state, largely driving up the state's total percent positive rate.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health director, said in the beach area, there have been more than 4,000 tests done with 264 positives for a 6.3 percent positive rate.
“We were able to identify a number of positive cases in the beach area and take the mitigation approaches that are necessary to address this situation,” she said.
Many of the 264 positives were asymptomatic, she said, but those people should still isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. No COVID-19-related death has been reported in Sussex County since June 22.
Following the beach COVID-19 spike, Carney shut down bar seating in beach towns, requiring table service only. Although the state has also used hospitalizations and number of critically ill to guide its economic reopening, Carney said the percentage of positives is an important metric to prevent an increase in the number of people hospitalized or those who need critical care.
Carney said he wants to be cautious and not go backward.
“Once you flatten the curve, you want to make sure it stays flat and you don't get another surge like some of these other states have seen,” he said.