Coronavirus update: Worst day for deaths in Delaware as cases, hospitalizations keep rising

Dr. Jack Horowitz of Newark Urgent Care says patients with COVID-19 symptoms are assessed outside to protect patients and staff. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Dr. Jack Horowitz of Newark Urgent Care says patients with COVID-19 symptoms are assessed outside to protect patients and staff. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

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Ten more people died in the last 24-hour tracking period, Delaware public health officials announced Tuesday, bringing the total of deaths tied to COVID-19 to 82.

Delaware had a total of 2,915 cases as of 6 p.m. Monday — an increase of 186 patients, officials said. A total of 263 patients are hospitalized and 71 are in critical condition — both slight increases from the previous day.

Of the 82 deaths attributed to COVID-19, 48 of the victims — 59% — have been residents of nursing homes.

Gov. John Carney said during a briefing Tuesday  that with the virus still spreading throughout his state, he would be guided by science — not the voices of protesters like those scheduled to gather at noon Wednesday outside Legislative Hall in Dover.

“These protest movements that are showing up around the country, saying we don’t’ really care about what the CDC says, what the situation on the ground says, I mean that’s just not helpful,’’ Carney said. “I hear the anguish in their voices, I hear the same amount of anguish in people’s voices when they say, ‘Don’t do it too soon. Protect me and my family.’

“And that’s what we are going to try to do. We are going to try to thread the needle.”

Aid for immigrants called ‘life or death’ matter

A coalition of citizen and community groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Delaware Hispanic Commission, is calling on the state “to take immediate action to protect, serve, and provide relief for immigrants” impacted by the coronavirus, particularly poultry and other laborers in Sussex County.

Declaring that “we are not seeing the type of urgency and actions that show this state’s commitment to immigrant communities,’’ the Safe Communities Coalition wrote in a letter Monday to Gov. John Carney.

The situation is “a matter of life or death,” the letter said. Immigrant workers “are at the frontlines of keeping Delawareans healthy and fed” and “also represent significant shares of workers cleaning hospital rooms, staffing grocery stores, and producing food.

“While immigrants are playing essential roles in the pandemic response, their physical and economic well-being has not been prioritized” and “undocumented immigrants are excluded from relief packages and do not have the type of social safety net that may prevent a fast downward spiral for their families.”

The coalition’s requests include having Delaware:

  • Create a disaster relief fund for immigrants that would provide assistance to undocumented residents who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and other relief including the CARES Act.
  • Protect workers’ rights by outlining publicly what this administration is doing to regulate employers who fail to follow safety regulations.
  • Assign a staff person in the governor’s office to oversee efforts to resolve gaps in relief efforts and funding for immigrants being disproportionately impacted.

Carney’s office did not immediately respond to WHYY’s inquiries about the letter, but the requests come in the wake of the governor saying he’s concerned that the virus has disproportionately hit Sussex County, including the Georgetown area that’s home to many Latinx immigrants.

Overall Sussex County’s 234,000 residents comprise 24 percent of Delaware’s population but it’s 1,055 cases as of Monday are 38 percent of the state’s total.

Sen. Coons: Expand national service agencies

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware wants to expand volunteer national service groups like AmeriCorps in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve seen them work in person, and I’ve seen the impact they can have,” Coons said.

Volunteers could help perform virus tests and do contact tracing to see who may have been infected by people who test positive. They could also provide some relief for health care workers.

“As our country faces the dual challenge of responding to a global pandemic, a national public health crisis and a very sharp economic crisis, I think this is exactly the time for us to call on Americans to respond and to serve,” Coons said. “I’ve seen them work in person, and I’ve seen the impact they can have.”

Coons said there is support for expanding national service volunteer opportunities among fellow  Democratic senators in Washington. He said he’s had some positive discussions with some on the Republican side about possibly adding funding to provide a stipend for volunteers in future legislation responding to the pandemic.

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