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Drive-thru testing finds more COVID-19 cases in Del.

Katie Tabeling

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Beebe Healthcare screened more than 245 people for coronavirus at a March 14 event in Lewes. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BEEBE

The first positive coronavirus case in Sussex County was found from Beebe Healthcare’s screening event in Lewes last weekend, and as case numbers continue to rise, Delaware hospitals are continuing to screen more patients.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed 26 cases in the First State. Three patients are in Sussex County, three are in Kent County and 20 are in New Castle County. One patient is a student from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington. Three are hospitalized, and one is critically ill.


Beebe, Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington, Nanticoke Health Systems in Seaford and ChristianaCare, the largest health provider in the state, are all screening patients in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on who should be tested.

But after two major screening events at opposite ends of the state last week, it’s unclear how many of those samples had been tested yet. The turnaround on samples taken by ChristianaCare and Beebe last week is two to five days, and between the two hospital providers 763 samples were taken.

Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath, and can appear within two to 14 days.

Dr. William Chasanov, an infectious disease physician with Beebe, said there are two kits involved in the COVID-19 testing process. The sampling kit, where health officials use to swab the nasal passage, and the test kit itself.

“We carry the sampling kits and we do not have a current shortage of those,” Chasanov said.

Beebe is sending samples to the private company LabCorp for testing, while ChristianaCare is sending them to undisclosed out-of-state labs. Many state hospital officials said that testing is being done by LabCorp, the Mayo Clinic or DPH.

ChristianaCare announced Wednesday it is opening a testing center in New Castle County for patients who have symptoms and have been referred for testing by their primary care doctor. It’s on an appointment basis, and ChristianaCare is not publicizing where the center is to ensure social distancing.

Meanwhile, St. Francis Healthcare, part of the Trinity Healthcare Mid-Atlantic group, can test people at its facilities, and is doing so for patients that meet the CDC standards.

“We are working diligently with the departments of health and other officials to respond … We are coordinating across our region and through Trinity Health nationally to ensure we are appropriately and adequately adapting to the changing conditions on the ground,” said Ann D’Antonio, vice president of marketing and communications for Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic.

Bayhealth Hospital is in the midst of creating plans to expand treatment spaces and critical care beds, as well as working with vendors and state officials on getting additional supplies.

Peninsula Regional Health System told Delaware Business Times it was working on developing its own test for its patients, including those at Nanticoke, but that’s still weeks out.

Nanticoke spokeswoman Sharon Harrington said that more testing is being done at the Seaford hospitals, and none have tested positive yet.

“That can change at any time as COVID-19 continues to move into our area,” Harrington told DBT. “It’s important to note that for most patients, even those with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms are mild to moderate … Those with more severe symptoms are those who are admitted to the hospital.”

Nanticoke will not be hosting any drive-thru screenings to make sure it “has the necessary supplies on hand.” The Seaford hospital system now has a two-step intake process and is working on an outpatient testing process with a physician order.

Testing supplies are a valuable resource, much like across the country, but Harrington said Nanticoke has what it needs.

“As we continue to use the supply, it is critical that we are testing patients appropriately so that we continue to have the supplies we need,” she said.

By Katie Tabeling


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1 Comment

  1. Avatar photo
    Patrick March 18, 2020

    This title is misleading. It makes it sound like the drive-thru sites are infecting people and not simply uncovering more cases. Not washing your hands not adhering to social distancing leads to more cases. Awful choice of wording.


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