Coronavirus update: Delaware issues more stringent COVID-19 restrictions

The latest update to the state of emergency orders businesses to take more steps to enforce social distancing at the workplace.

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As of Friday morning, the state had reported 393 coronavirus cases in Delaware. The state’s total deaths now stands at 12. Right now, 56 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment.

There are 245 cases in New Castle County, 43 in Kent County and 105 in Sussex County.

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Birthday party hosts charged

Two people hosting a birthday party in Newark face charges for violating the town’s emergency orders banning gatherings of 10 or more.

Newark Police said two renters, one of whom was a University of Delaware student, were hosting a party with 18 other people at a residence in the 300 block of Main Street, not far from the UD campus. Police were called to the apartment after getting complaints of loud music around 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

“We are deeply disappointed that this small group of students made such reckless and irresponsible choices,” said Adam Cantley, UD dean of students.”The University’s Office of Student Conduct will take quick and responsive action, given the severity of this incident and would do the same for other incidents in the future.“

Though the state-wide limit on gatherings over 10 people doesn’t take effect until April 2 at 8 p.m., Newark instituted that limit on March 16.

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The two tenants were issued summons for violating the emergency order, the other 18 people were advised of the need to keep their distance away from other people.

New site to test health care workers, first responders

ChristianaCare is expanding its testing site with special hours for all health care workers, first responders and sanitation workers.

The Health Care Center at Christiana, located at 200 Hygeia Drive will be open for health care workers between 8 and 9 a.m Monday through Friday. The site will also be open between 10 a.m. and noon on Sundays.

First responders and sanitation workers can get tested at the Provider Referral Center at ChristianaCare’s Wilmington campus from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday.

“Health care workers, first responders and sanitation workers are on the frontline of this crisis and we want to support them as much as possible,” said ChristianaCare COO Sharon Kurfuerst. “By providing them with special walk-in hours for testing, we are recognizing the valuable role they play in service to our community and helping them to do their jobs, which benefit us all.”

These workers don’t need an appointment during the testing times, but they do need a prescription from a doctor ordering the test.

Because of the high number of tests being taken, hospital officials say wait times for results can now be as long as 10 to 12 days.

Delaware issues more stringent restrictions

For the ninth time, Delaware Gov. John Carney has amended the state of emergency order he originally issued March 12. The new modification further limits public gatherings and orders businesses to take more steps to enforce social distancing at the workplace.

“We will take action to enforce these restrictions if Delawareans, visitors, and businesses don’t comply voluntarily,” Carney said. “Our goal is to save lives. This is a serious situation and we need everyone to cooperate.”

Under the new rules, businesses that are allowed to remain open must limit customers to no more than 20% of the store’s fire capacity. So if a grocery store has a fire marshal issued capacity of 200 people, only 40 people would be allowed in the store at one time. The number of people allowed inside decreases to just 10% of fire capacity during hours the store is open exclusively for seniors or other high-risk populations.

Stores also must clearly mark six-foot spacing in check-out lines and other high traffic places including outside the store. They must also suspend any self-serve foods or tasting opportunities.

The order also calls for all events of 10 people or more to be canceled through May 15.

“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,” Carney said.

The new order also clarifies that these restrictions “have the force and effect of law.” Any violations of the emergency rules would be a criminal offense that can be enforced by state and local law enforcement.

Police get funding for coronavirus response

In addition to financial help for businesses and $1,200 checks for American workers, the stimulus bill passed last month by Congress also includes money to help public safety agencies responding to the crisis. Delaware’s share of that money is more than $3.5 million, according to U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss.

“Nothing is more important than protecting those law enforcement officials entrusted with the responsibility to keep our citizens safe,” Weiss said in a statement. “These funds will help to provide Delaware public safety professionals with the tools necessary to fulfill their responsibilities during these extraordinary times.”

The money includes nearly $700,000 for the city of Wilmington and almost $550,000 for New Castle County.

The money can be used to buy items like personal protection equipment and supplies like gloves, masks or hand sanitizer. It can also be used to offset overtime or travel expenses related to the virus response. It can also be spent to address the medical needs of inmates.

Delaware’s only ACA provider waives co-pays

For Delawareans insured under the Affordable Care Act needing in-network, inpatient hospital care for COVID-19 will have to pay deductibles, co-insurance or co-pays. That’s because Highmark, the state’s only ACA provider has waived those fees for its customers.

“With this decision, we are removing potential barriers our members may face in receiving care for COVID-19. It is the right thing to do for our members and for our community,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, Highmark president. “Our number one priority – especially during this crisis – is to make sure that our members receive the care that they need.”

Those costs will continue to be waived through May 31.

The company has also increased its telehealth services for customers and has waived out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments on all covered telehealth services from contracted vendors and providers through June 13, 2020.

“Using telemedicine also frees up medical facilities to treat those who are most in need of care, which is vitally important as the virus continues to spread,” Rice-Johnson said.

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