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COVID-19 Daily Briefing 4/2

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April 2, 5 p.m.

DPH updates COVID-19 cases figures

 The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing one additional fatality related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and is providing an update on the number of positive and recovered cases reported in the state.   

In total, 12 Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19. There have been a total of six deaths related to long-term care facilities, including five in New Castle County (four at Little Sisters of the Poor) and one in Sussex County. 

The third outbreak of positive coronavirus cases at a long-term care facility, the Governor Bacon Health System, an intermediate-skilled nursing facility operated by Delaware Department of Health and Social Services in Delaware City, has two staff members and a resident who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The latest Delaware COVID-19 case statistics, cumulatively since March 11, include 43 cases in Kent County, 245 cases in New Castle County and 105 in Sussex County. Currently there are 56 hospitalized Delawareans, 15 of which are considered critical.  

April 2, 5 p.m.

Delaware Correctional Officers and inmates contribute to Delaware’s response

This week, three dozen inmates who are employed in the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center garment shop began producing cotton face masks for the correctional system and first responders as the Delaware Department of Correction steps up to support the First State’s COVID-19 response.

These skilled inmate workers normally cut and sew material from large rolls of red and white cotton cloth into the clothing worn by more than 4,200 inmates across DOC’s prison facilities. However, facing the spread of COVID-19,  the inmates and their CO supervisors offered to turn their skills into producing face masks in short supply.

Governor John Carney said in a statement, “As this serious situation evolves, we need to find innovative solutions for pressing issues. That is exactly what the Department of Correction has done by shifting the production within the James T. Vaughn Correction Center to provide greater protection to staff and inmates in DOC facilities. We’ll get through this, but we all need to pitch in and take this threat seriously.”

The mask production effort was originally presented to the DOC by Delaware Correctional Industries Trades Instructor Dion Hawkins, who’s team worked with inmate workers to design and produce a prototype mask.

Production began Monday on two sewing machines, and by mid-week daily volume increased to nearly 100 face masks.  Up to a dozen inmates will support the operation by cutting patterns and sorting and packing masks, while up to two dozen inmates will operate sewing machines to stitch the materials and add elastic ear loops.  At full production capacity, DOC estimates that it will be able to produce up to 500 face masks each week.

Face masks produced at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center will be used, as necessary, in DOC facilities to protect staff, inmates and contractors. Once inventory increases, the face masks will be offered to other first responders.

April 2, 4 p.m.

Boy Scouts of Del-Mar-Va launch coronavirus Victory Gardens

In the 1940’s labor and transportation shortages due to WWII made it hard to move fruits and vegetables to market. During this time nearly 20 million Americans, encouraged in part by the Boy Scouts of America, planted their own Victory Gardens to supplement home grocery supplies. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots, and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods, and formed cooperatives.

Today, the Boy Scouts are once again to promoting self-reliance by endorsing home gardening. Garden plots are available at the Akridge Scout Reservation south of Dover for any family in need of space to grow vegetables for themselves. Available Victory Garden plots consist of:

  • 10’ by 20’ tested, tilled, fertilized, and ready for planting plots, which will be assigned through a lottery system
  • Parking, tools, water, seeds and plants are all provided by the Del-Mar-Va Council
  • A team of gardening educators will assist with online instruction, site visits, and advice by email, for participating families
  • Plots are separated from each other with 20’ wide lanes to maintain social distancing.

If you are interested in growing your own vegetables to supplement your home groceries, please visit our Coronavirus Victory Gardens webpage at www.dmvc.org/victorygardens or email Adrienne Wrona at awrona@dmvc.org for an application. The cost of the plot is $25.00 per growing season.

April 2, 3 p.m.

ChristianaCare offers expanded COVID-19 testing for certain front-line workers

ChristianaCare has expanded hours at its testing centers in Newark and Wilmington to offer coronavirus testing for health care workers, sanitation workers and first responders who have a prescription for testing.

The Provider Referral Center at the Healthcare Center at Christiana is open to all health care workers in the community, including private providers, health care workers from other hospitals and employees of the Blood Bank of Delmarva, at the following times:

  • 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday – Friday.
  • 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday.

The Provider Referral Center at ChristianaCare’s Wilmington campus is now open to all first responders and sanitation workers at the following times:

  • 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday – Friday.

Health care workers and first responders do not need an appointment during these special hours, but they must bring in paper or electronic copy of their test order, their ID and their insurance card. Electronic orders can be emailed to LabOutreach1@christianacare.org.

Only health care workers and first responders who have been referred by their doctor and are in possession of a testing order will be tested.

April 2, 2 p.m.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce creates COVID-19 benefits guide for Delaware

Every industry, business, and state is facing a financial impact from the disruption from COVID-19.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to help small businesses, independent contractors, and gig economy workers prepare to file for a coronavirus relief loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This guide outlines the steps small businesses should take now and prepare to access much-needed funds to help keep their workers on the payroll during this disruptive period.  

Access the Emergency Loan Small Business guide and checklist here 

April 2, 10 a.m.

New Castle County Department of Land Use amends operational policies

As the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified throughout New Castle County and the surrounding areas over the past week, it has been deemed necessary to amend operational policies. 

Effective April 2, at 12 p.m. the New Castle County Government Center will be closed to the public until further notice. Residents and customers will need to conduct business with the county government by one of the following methods.  

The public strongly encouraged to conduct business by one of the aforementioned methods. However, if a customer wishes to personally drop-off applications, fees or other paperwork, there will be a blue mailbox located inside of the vestibule of the Government Center. A staff member retrieves any submitted materials from that mailbox daily. Please understand as the health emergency continues to evolve, this drop-off option may be eliminated. 

April 2, 9 a.m.

Highmark waives deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays for in-network, inpatient hospital care of COVID-19

Highmark has announced that members who require in-network, inpatient hospital care for COVID-19 will not incur any deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays, effective immediately. The decision applies to members with group employer coverage (self-funded groups may elect to opt into the program), as well as ACA and Medicare members.

The waiver will continue through May 31 as Highmark continues to monitor and evaluate the rapidly changing nature of this crisis.

To further ensure members can continue to safely receive care, Highmark has expanded access to telehealth services for all members and has waived out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-pays on all covered telehealth services from contracted vendors and providers through June 13, 2020.

April 1, 6 p.m.

Governor Carney Restricts Gatherings, Requires Businesses to Strictly Comply with Social Distancing

Effective 8 p.m. April 2, public gatherings will be limited to 10 people through May 15 or until deemed safe and essential businesses must take specific actions to enforce social distancing.  Gov Carney’s signed the ninth modification to his State of Emergency tonight, April 1.

For the purposes of the order, public gatherings include weddings, funerals, and related activities.

The modifications to the SOE also requires new action from businesses that remain open. Going forward all businesses must:

  • Allow no more than 20 percent of stated fire capacity in the store at any given time – and no more than 10 percent during exclusive hours for high-risk populations.
  • Clearly mark six-foot spacing in check-out lines and other high-traffic areas, including outside.
  • Discontinue any self-serve foods, or product sampling.
  • Designate staff to enforce the number of people coming into the store and enforce limits.

“We will take action to enforce these restrictions if Delawareans, visitors, and businesses don’t comply voluntarily,” said Governor Carney in a statement. “Our goal is to save lives. This is a serious situation and we need everyone to cooperate. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. If you need to go out, stay away from others. Wash your hands and follow basic hygiene guidance. We’ll get through this, but it’s going to take all of us.”

Governor Carney’s emergency declaration has the force and effect of law. Any failure to comply with the provisions contained in a Declaration of a State of Emergency or any modification to a Declaration of the State of Emergency constitutes a criminal offense.


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