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Coronavirus Daily Briefing News

COVID-19 Daily Briefing 4/20

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April 20

DPH updates COVID-19 numbers through Sunday, April 19 at 6 p.m.

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced Monday that five more Delawareans — 72 in all — have passed away due to complications from COVID-19, ranging in age from 33 to 98 years old.

DPH announced on Sunday April 19, that it was shifting to reporting case data earlier in the day to provide information in a more timely manner, and ensure the accuracy of the information being reported.  All data reported through the daily updates are based on data received as of 6 p.m. the previous day.

As of 6 p.m., Sunday, April 19, the state’s COVID-19 case statistics cumulatively since March 11 include 2,745 total laboratory-confirmed cases — 1,229 of them in New Castle County and 1,055 in Sussex County — with 1,494 of them female and 1,243 male. The state said preliminary data based on reporting by state and commercial laboratories, indicate there have been 12,508 negative cases, meaning that about 19.0% of those tested have tested positive (Note: Numbers updated on 4/21).

There are 256 Delawareans who are currently hospitalized, with 64 of them in critical condition, and 495 Delawareans who have tested positive have recovered.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, there have been 167 positive COVID-19 cases involving residents of long-term care facilities in Delaware. Forty-two residents of Delaware long-term care facilities — including Milford Center (Genesis Healthcare) with 14 and Little Sisters of the Poor in Newark with 11 — have died from complications related to COVID-19.

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April 20

WSFS adding nearly 100 ATMs to network, with plan to open more after pandemic

WSFS Bank is expanding its ATM network from 473 ATMs to 560 to serve Customers across Greater Philadelphia and Delaware, significantly increasing coverage in Philadelphia and South Jersey. Five of the new ATMs are in Delaware.

WSFS’s 560 ATMs are located across Greater Philadelphia and Delaware, including WSFS’ 91 banking offices and at various locations including Walgreens, retail centers, and many other convenient locations.  As retailers open after the passing of the current pandemic, WSFS will continue to expand to more than 600 ATMs.

“Having quick, safe, and easy access to their WSFS accounts is important for our Customers, and we are pleased to increase our coverage during this unprecedented time,” said Dominic C. Canuso, CFO of WSFS Bank and executive leader of Cash Connect. “Our new ATMs are located across our footprint at places our Customers frequent every day, making it even easier to access their money and WSFS services. For decades we have been committed to providing our Customers with the preeminent ATM delivery channel in our marketplace, and this expansion demonstrates that continued commitment.”

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April 20

Beebe Healthcare first to offer convalescent plasma therapy as treatment for COVID-19

In partnership with the Blood Bank of Delmarva, Beebe Healthcare is the first hospital in Delaware to offer convalescent plasma therapy as a treatment for acutely sick COVID-19 patients.

Currently, there are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, the FDA recently announced guidance and recommendations for convalescent plasma treatment. It is possible that plasma taken from those who have recovered from COVID-19 (known as convalescent plasma), which has antibodies against the virus, could help, according to initial studies.

“This type of therapy has been around for many years. By providing antibodies, proteins that attack infection, from recovered patient’s plasma, this could help our severely sick patients a better chance to fight the COVID-19 disease,” said Dr. Bill Chasanov, Beebe’s COVID-19 response medical director and infectious disease physician, said in a statement. “Beebe is proud to offer this type of treatment with the hopes of helping as many people affected by COVID-19 as possible. We have been following guidance throughout this pandemic from the CDC, WHO, FDA, and other health organization to bring the most advanced treatment options to our community in their time of need.”

The FDA guidelines allow only eligible blood donors who have recovered from COVID-19 (and have lab confirmed test) and have been asymptomatic for at least 14 days to donate their plasma. The Blood Bank of Delmarva is asking donors to be willing to donate up to three times.

“Beebe Healthcare is driven to be an innovative healthcare leader supporting our community here in Delaware.  I am grateful for the great work being done by Dr. Bill Chasanov and the rest of the Beebe team as we battle this pandemic together,” said Dr. David Tam, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare, said in a statement.

Beebe is relying on the Blood Bank of Delmarva to provide the limited plasma it has available. If you are interested to see if you are eligible for a donation, visit http://delmarvablood.org/cpdonor, or call 1-888-8BLOOD-8.

There are important requirements to meet the criteria of donating plasma:

  • Lab confirmed positive test for COVID-19 (documentation of positive test is required)
  • Your symptoms have been gone for at least 14 days
  • You are willing to donate plasma (donate up to 3 times)

All information provided will be kept confidential and will only be used to qualify you as a donor, according to the Blood Bank.

“We’re proud to partner with leading medical institutions from Delmarva and beyond in developing this potential treatment,” said Dr. Christopher D. Hillyer, president and CEO of New York Blood Center, in a statement. “We’re asking eligible individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to register to donate so that we can build a robust supply of convalescent plasma to treat as many patients as possible. Donors must have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been symptom-free for a minimum of 14 days.”


April 20

Rite Aid to open swab site in Smyrna

Rite Aid is opening a new COVID-19 self-swab testing site on Wednesday, April 22, at its Smyrna store, located at 200 Pharmacy Drive.

The testing site will utilize self-swab tests, administered in the store’s parking lot and overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists. Rite Aid expects to be able to conduct more than 200 tests daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eligible people will be required to pre-register and schedule appointments online at www.riteaid.com.

In addition to Smyrna, Rite Aid announced ten other testing sites opening on Wednesday across Idaho, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Through its partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rite Aid now has a total of 24 self-swab testing locations opened across eight states.


April 20

Wilmington City Council member to distribute masks, Food Bank to give out food

Third District City Council Member Zanthia Oliver, in partnership with Mindy and John Kim, owners of the Brown Bag Deli and Grocery store at 301 E. 9th St. (intersection of 9th and Walnut streets) will distribute 800 face masks beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 21, outside the store to the eastside residents of the 3rd Council District. At the same time, around the corner on Wilson Street, the Food Bank of Delaware will distribute food.

Mayor Mike Purzycki, Council President Hanifa Shabazz, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and State Sen. Darius Brown will join Council Member Oliver to distribute the face masks. Social distancing of at least 6 feet will be required during this event and sidewalks will be marked accordingly.

Face masks can prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The council member is also sharing some of the face masks with St. Francis Hospital nurses and with the Ministry of Caring. Council Member Oliver said the face mask giveaway will bring an added sense of safety for residents who cannot afford a mask or locate one due to high demand.


April 20

Burke Equipment Co. donates to Bayhealth

On Monday, April 20, Burke Equipment Company staff donated needed items for front-line staff working at Bayhealth Hospital in Dover. Coordinating with the president’s office for suggested/designated items to bring, they delivered two carloads of items: 35 Wawa hot breakfast sandwiches, coffee, individual packets of snark foods, bagged fruit and 10 cases of water.


April 19

DHSS announces three more deaths of residents or patients at its facilities

NEW CASTLE – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is announcing three more deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) involving residents or patients at its 24/7 facilities.

A 72-year-old female resident from Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna died April 17 at a Kent County hospital and an 81-year-old female resident from the same facility died April 18 at a Kent County hospital. In addition, an 82-year-old female patient at Delaware Psychiatric Center near New Castle died April 18 at a New Castle County hospital.

They are the second, third and fourth residents or patients from DHSS’ 24/7 facilities to die from COVID-19. A 57-year-old male resident from Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City died April 14 at a New Castle County hospital.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the residents from Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill and the patient from Delaware Psychiatric Center who passed away,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker in a statement. “Across our state, we see the heartbreaking toll the coronavirus is taking on the residents of our long-term care facilities and their families. Our Division of Public Health and the Division of Health Care Quality are working closely with the facilities to help care for those who are sick, and to protect the health and safety of all other residents and staff.”

DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality (DHCQ) is working with DHSS’ 24/7 facilities and private long-term care and other licensed facilities in the state to verify that there are strong screening, infection control and isolation measure in place at each facility, and if, not, to assist them in implementing stronger protocols.


April 19

DPH makes changes to daily COVID-19 reporting

SMYRNA – Starting Monday, April 20, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) will begin providing its daily updates on COVID-19 statistics on the de.gov/coronavirus website during the noon hour. Data will reflect the most current information available as of the close of business the previous day.

The DPH Epidemiology team has spent the past week transitioning to a new infectious disease surveillance system.  In order to facilitate the team’s ability to make the final transition for implementing system enhancements, DPH will not be releasing updated case numbers or a press release today, Sunday April 19, 2020.  The online numbers will be updated again during the noon hour on Monday, followed by a press release outlining the latest statistics.

DPH is making the change in reporting time for several reasons. The time change provides adequate time for DPH staff to validate new case data and ensure accuracy and will ensure members of the news media have updated statistics earlier in the day to meet deadlines.  

In addition, over the next week, enhanced capability through DPH’s new surveillance database, will allow the State to begin providing additional data on key demographic information, such as race/ethnicity for positive cases and deaths, as well as age-adjusted incidence rates by ZIP code.


April 17

Incyte begins COVID-19-related study of Jakafi

Incyte announced the initiation of RUXCOVID, a global, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of its drug Jakafi, known generically as ruxolitinib, plus standard-of-care in patients 12 years old or older with COVID-19 associated cytokine storm. The collaborative study is sponsored by Incyte in the United States and Novartis outside of the United States.

The composite primary endpoint is the proportion of patients who die, develop respiratory failure (require mechanical ventilation) or require intensive care unit (ICU) care after 29 days. RUXCOVID will enroll approximately 400 patients globally.

Additionally, given the urgent nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Incyte is also initiating a separate emergency Expanded Access Program (EAP) in the United States. The protocol will allow eligible patients with severe COVID-19 associated cytokine storm to receive ruxolitinib while it is being investigated for this indication.

“There is an unprecedented unmet medical need for treatments that prevent or reduce severe COVID-19 related complications to improve outcomes for patients and alleviate the overwhelming pressure on the global healthcare system,” said Dr. Steven Stein, chief medical officer for Incyte. “We thank the FDA for the expedited review of the RUXCOVID study and hope to enroll this important clinical trial as quickly as possible to determine the potential utility of ruxolitinib for treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 associated cytokine storm.”

RUXCOVID is the first phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled study designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib in patients with COVID-19 associated cytokine storm.

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