Additional restrictions go into place on Monday after Delaware’s coronavirus numbers keep rising. As of Monday evening another 344 Delawareans tested positive for coronavirus – just 2 months ago the average number of positive tests daily was under 100, but for the past several weeks – we have been over 300 consistently. In an effort to bring down the numbers – and again flatten the curve, Governor John Carney has released updated restrictions that will reduce the number permitted at indoor and outdoor gatherings – to levels that we saw under phase 1 of the economic recovery. No more than 10 in a home. No more than 30% capacity – capped at 50 indoors. No more than 50 outdoors – unless you have an approved plan for up to 250 from Public Health. Restaurants and bars will be back to 30% capacity – but there will be allowances for outdoor seating. However people must keep their face coverings on unless they are eating or drinking. Gov. Carney also announced an expansion of the Delaware Relief Grants – for up to $25-million in additional relief for businesses that have been disproportionately impacted. This is available even if you’ve already received a grant. The deadline to apply is December 4th.
The National Federation of Independent Business in Delaware, in a release Tuesday, says the restrictions that will go into place on Monday will hurt Delaware bars and restaurants – especially the establishments that don’t have outdoor seating or the financial means to set up outdoor seating. NFIB Delaware Director, Mike O’Halloran adds that with so many businesses already barely staying alive – stricter capacity limits could result in more permanent closures. It’s not just restaurants and bars that are affected – but the entire hospitality industry – including caterers, event planners and other small businesses that rely on public events will be impacted.
Since an outbreak among poultry several months ago, Sussex County has had the highest rate of cases of coronavirus in the state, however Public Health Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay says that last week New Castle County’s numbers have started to rise as well – averaging 200 or more cases daily – which are not solely among the colleges – but other people as well. However when it comes to hospitalizations, while their numbers are lower – Kent County has seen the most increase there. Kent County has also seen less viral activity and less testing – until now.
Even with several school closings for coronavirus – the rate of infection in Delaware’s schools is very low. There have been only 5 incidents of in-school spread in the state – but the initial positive person was infected outside of school. Dr. Rattay says that there is no school spread of coronavirus and they are doing everything possible to keep schools open. It was learned during this week’s update that many teachers are paying for their own PPE – and Governor Carney and DEMA Director AJ Schall said they will look into better supplying teachers and staff.
The increases in new positive cases began just before Halloween and Dr. Rattay believes that Halloween gathering are likely part of the cause of the high increases in positive cases. However she says contact tracers are also investigating outbreaks following 4 weddings and 1 funeral. When it comes to Thanksgiving celebrations – students who are coming home from school should be tested before they come home – and wear a face mask and social distance from other family members. Public Health officials urge you to keep your celebration to immediate family to keep the spread of coronavirus down.
Rapid Tests have arrived in Delaware and they will be primarily uses for children and adolescents. Governor Carney says that for the students – the sooner they get the test results – the sooner they can be back in school.