Coronavirus update: Second incarcerated person tests positive in Delaware

Main Street on the campus of the University of Delaware is completely deserted Monday. March 23, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Main Street on the campus of the University of Delaware is completely deserted Monday. March 23, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

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Delaware’s coronavirus case total is now up to 1,116. That’s an increase of 188 since Tuesday. Total deaths in the state is now at 19. That’s three more deaths than yesterday.

Another incarcerated person tests positive for coronavirus

A second inmate at Delaware’s largest prison has tested positive for coronavirus, the state Department of Correction announced Wednesday afternoon. The inmate at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna is in a housing unit that has been monitored by healthcare workers with temperature checks twice a day. It’s the same unit another inmate was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week.

The inmate was found to have a fever during Tuesday morning’s temperature check. He was moved to the infirmary where he tested positive for the virus. He’s now being treated in isolation.

The remaining men being held in that unit have now been moved to a vacant building on the prison grounds to provide more physical distance between inmates.

“DOC’s well-established infectious disease containment and mitigation protocols have kicked in to address these COVID-19 cases and keep our facilities and people safe,” DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said. “These inmate patients are receiving excellent treatment and we are fully prepared to meet the healthcare needs that arise from this illness.”

The first incarcerated person diagnosed earlier this week is in stable condition and does not have a fever.

A probation and parole officer assigned to the Cherry Lane office in New Castle has also been diagnosed with the virus. The officer was last at work on April 3 and has been self-isolating at home since experiencing flu-like symptoms.

New Castle bans out of town residents from park

Delaware leaders have encouraged residents to get outside and use state parks as a way to exercise and relieve stress while under Gov. John Carney’s stay-at-home order. Delaware State Parks have also issued guidance on how best to maintain social distancing while hiking or doing other activities.

But the city of New Castle has decided to ban out-of-town residents from using Battery Park which borders the Delaware River on the east edge of town. “Improving spring time weather has prompted large crowds to gather and closely associate at Battery Park,” Mayor Michael Quaranta wrote in the fourth update of his emergency declaration. He added “a significant number of visitors to Battery Park are not city residents and have other outdoor resources available to them at state and county parks closer to their own residences.”

Starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, non-New Castle residents will be prohibited from using the park.

Delaware AG warns of stimulus check scams

As Delawareans await money from the federal coronavirus aid package approved by Congress last month, Attorney General Kathy Jennings is warning residents not to fall for scams related to funding.

“During this time of uncertainty—with unemployment surging and a growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases—Americans have enough to worry about without fear of predatory scammers,” Jennings said. “Scammers will use various tactics to deceive and intimidate Americans.”

Some residents will get physical checks in the mail, while others will get their funds via direct deposit. Jennings said no one will ask for your personal information like Social Security number or bank account numbers in order for you to receive the money. “We will not tolerate preying on people’s fear and uncertainty, and I urge Delawareans to report any suspicious scams or phishing attempts to the Consumer Protection Unit,” Jennings said.

SEPTA cancels Delaware trips

The Wilmington-Newark line is one of six Regional Rail lines that have been suspended as SEPTA reduces service system-wide. The move comes less than 24 hours after a third SEPTA worker died of coronavirus-related causes.

The suspension of service in Delaware and elsewhere is part of SEPTA’s “Lifeline Service Schedule,” intended to increase safety for riders and operators while discouraging nonessential trips. The changes will take effect April 9.

DART First State is urging riders not to use the bus service except for essential trips. According to a post on DART’s website: “If your trip isn’t essential, please stay home and leave the seat for a healthcare worker or someone who needs critical access.” That means bus trips should only be made for essential workers, or for travel to the grocery store, pharmacy or other critical destination.

Last week, DART put limitations on the number of passengers allowed on a bus at one time. Riders are only able to access the bus via the rear door to protect the drivers from the virus. DART is no longer collecting fares for bus travel until further notice.

ChristianaCare launches out-patient coronavirus site

The majority of Delaware’s nearly 1,000 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday evening are not hospitalized. Now, ChrisitanaCare near Newark is opening a new location for those patients to get in-office care including lab and x-ray services, as well as support for pregnant women who have the virus.

Only COVID-19 positive patients will be treated at this new site, located at the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center. No walk-ins are accepted, patients will only be seen by appointment.

ChristianaCare is also launching a virtual version of this site, with patients being seen via video. Patients at high risk would get a monitoring check-in two to four times a day, while lower risk patients would be “seen” once every 24 hours. Patients who become more symptomatic could then be referred to an in-person visit or sent to the Ambulatory Care Center if their symptoms worsen.

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