Issue 481 | September 9, 2020
In This Issue:
  • Plans for New Testing and Delaware’s Present, Future Under COVID-19 Restrictions Discussed
  • $25 Million Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund Unveiled
  • COVID-19 Tracking, State and Nation
Plans for New Testing and Delaware’s Present, Future Under COVID-19 Restrictions Discussed
SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 – As part of the weekly COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, state officials announced plans to expand testing for the virus and discussed Delaware’s immediate future under Governor John Carney’s continued State of Emergency declaration. 

The event was held yesterday afternoon in the auditorium of the Carvel State Office Building and included Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay and Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director AJ Schall.

The following are highlights from the event that can be viewed by clicking here or on the image above:

THE STATE’S CURRENT SITUATION AND NEAR FUTURE:

  • The governor said he is concerned about the possible impact of the Labor Day Weekend on the spread of COVID-19 and believes the state is “moving into a critical new phase” as the traditional seasonal flu season approaches.

  • “We’re in kind of an in-between zone,…in-between really good and bad, not-so-good,” Gov, Carney said. “We’re better than a lot of states. We haven’t seen an uptick since what we saw at the end of June and the beginning of July, as we moved out of Memorial Day Weekend and into the 4th of July. We know where the challenges are. They are increasingly in unstructured, house parties, not-so-much in bars and restaurants.”

  • The governor says he hopes people observed precautions over the Labor Day Weekend so Delaware does not see a spike in new cases. The effects of the weekend, if any, will likely not be detected until next week.

REACTION TO A LARGE PUBLIC EVENT HELD EAST OF BRIDGEVILLE OVER THE WEEKEND

  • An event described as a rodeo or concert took place on Redden Road, east of Bridgeville over the weekend, drawing an estimated 2,000 people.

  • “I was very disturbed by the photographs I saw,” Gov. Carney said of the event. “It is clearly not allowed, a gathering like that. I did not see folks wearing masks and I saw people shoulder to shoulder.” 

  • The governor called the event “a prescription for disaster” and added that it held the potential for being a “super-spreader” – an incident that could lead to a spike in COVID-19 positive cases.

  • “Not only was this event illegal, it has put many people at-risk,” Dr. Rattay said. 

  • Dr. Rattay urged everyone who attended the event to get tested for COVID-19.

  • Dr. Rattay said her agency is working with the attorney general’s office to determine if legal action against the event’s organizers will be pursued.

MOVING INTO PHASE III

  • “When are we going to move into Phase III?,” the governor asked. “When we get better!” 

  • Specifically, the governor said he wants to see “fewer cases over a 14-day period of time and improving conditions with respect to the percent [of people testing] positive.” The governor says he wants the percentage of people who test positive to be 3% or less. The World Health Organization has a threshold of 5%.

  • “As I looked at the list – this is going back several weeks – for what would constitute Phase III, frankly it wasn’t a lot,” the governor said. “It was mostly opening up certain venues, but it gave the impression that everything was back to normal. Well everything is not going to be back to normal until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment. We need to have protections in place to keep the spread down and to protect particularly vulnerable populations.”

TESTING

  • On September 4th, Delaware had a spike in new cases (145), but the rolling seven-day average of people testing positive remained below the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization (Sept. 1 thru Sept. 7).

  • State officials have observed some local upticks in Newark, Wilmington, and Dover, including 41 cases at the University of Delaware (Newark), which Dr. Rattay said appear to be associated with off-campus social gatherings.

  • Dr. Rattay said anyone working directly with the public “should be tested at least once a month,” especially teachers, first responders, and those visiting or working with seniors.

  • According to data provided by the state, the number of people tested weekly in August ranged between 11,268 and 13,548. The pace picked up last week with 15,731 people tested. State officials have consistently fallen short of their goal of testing 80,000 people per month.

  • AJ Schall says the state has tested about 7,000 people working at schools and less than 0.6% have tested positive.

  • Mr. Schall said the state will be shifting to using consistent testing site locations with five-day or seven-day a week access. Details to be finalized and shared in coming days.

  • The state will be expanding its at-home testing option. Test kits are sent to residences and recipients are walked through the process via video chat. The samples are mailed back with results within two days. Mr. Schall said they plan to expand the option to 1,000 people a day.

  • The state is developing an antigen test protocol, which provides results in about 15 minutes. Mr. Schall said they intend to implement it as part of a school monitoring program that would test a certain percentage of students each week (with parental permission).

DELAWARE BACK ON THE QUARANTINE LIST FOR NY, NJ, AND CT

  • The governor says New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut only use two thresholds for placing a state on quarantine.  Exceeding either measurement will get a state added to the list. The first benchmark is 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. The second is a 10% positive test rate. “We’re way below the 10% positive, but we’re right on the edge on the seven-day case average each week,” he said.

  • The governor said Delaware only needs to exceed an average of 97 new cases per day to violate the 10 new cases per 100,000 residents metric. He said that number is influenced by increased testing and is not an accurate reflection of the virus being more pervasive. “We could fix it easy,” he said. “We could just do fewer testings and once we get to 80-some [new cases], stop. [But] we’re not going to do that. It’s not good for public health.”

  • Anyone from a state on the quarantine list – who is visiting NY, NJ, or CT – is supposed to isolate for 14 days after arriving.
$25 Million Delaware Nonprofit
Support Fund Unveiled
SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 -- The new Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund was announced today to provide up to $25 million in total aid for organizations that have provided critical services to Delawareans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
Organizations eligible for assistance under the fund include those providing the following services:
 
  • Homelessness and shelter assistance
  • Food assistance 
  • Substance abuse counseling and services
  • Assistance for Delawareans who have lost employment
  • Domestic abuse services
  • Services for youth in crisis
 
“In many cases, they (nonprofit organizations) saw increased caseloads and need extra support to assist Delaware families," said Gov. John Carney. "Delaware could not get through this crisis without these committed service organizations. We owe them our support and our gratitude.”
 
The Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund is jointly funded by the State of Delaware and New Castle County, using federal allocations from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

“COVID-19 has impacted thousands of people across all sectors in New Castle County, and our friends and neighbors who rely on assistance from nonprofits are among those hardest hit,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.
 
Nonprofits may receive reimbursement for basic operational expenses – such as assistance with cleaning supplies and funding for personal protective equipment – as well as reimbursement for increased caseloads. Grant levels will be awarded based on the nonprofit’s 2019 operating expense budget. The program excludes organizations that qualify for assistance under the $100 million DE Relief Grants program, administered by the Delaware Division of Small Business. 
COVID-19 Tracking, State and Nation
The following charts show the tracking for COVID-19 cases and deaths, for both the nation and Delaware (January 22 to September 8). The data is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.