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Coronavirus update: Delaware is flattening curve, but ‘not there yet’

Governor John Carney tours State Health Operations Center with Director of Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Thomas Rattay on Monday, March 16, 2020, at State Health Operations Center in Smyrna, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Governor John Carney tours State Health Operations Center with Director of Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Thomas Rattay on Monday, March 16, 2020, at State Health Operations Center in Smyrna, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

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Delaware’s two-day streak of declining growth in coronavirus cases is over.

As of midday Friday, there are 4,918 cases of the virus in Delaware, an increase of 184 over yesterday. DPH reported seven more deaths, bringing the state death toll to 159. The number of hospitalizations is down again. There are 281 people being treated in Delaware hospitals, a decline of 15.

The increase in new cases breaks Delaware’s two-day trend which saw the number of new cases decline.

Despite the jump in new cases Friday, Gov. John Carney says the state is seeing improvement. “We are flattening the curve, but we’re not quite there yet,” Carney said in a news conference. He said new hospital admissions have been on the decline, “which is a really important indicator because it’s real. We know it. Hospitals count it every day. We know what that number is. We know how many are in critical care at ICU. We know who those folks are and we know that those numbers are flattening out and actually this week going down a little bit.”

In Sussex County, which Carney officially labeled a hot spot for the virus in Delaware, cases increased by 76. It remains the worst case in the county for cases with 2,292 as of Friday afternoon. Because the state has started over-testing in an effort to stop the spread in Sussex, “we’re not getting a full state picture of the flattening out in other parts of the state,” Carney said.

Delaware has tested 1.7% of the state’s population, which puts the state among the top 15 states for testing, according to DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “But we need to start ramping things up,” she said. Adding testing capacity is one of the main criteria for the state to start phase one of repealing stay-at-home restrictions.

In Sussex County, which Carney officially labeled a hot spot for the virus in Delaware, cases increased by 76. It remains the worst case in the county for cases with 2,292 as of Friday afternoon.

The coronavirus has killed more people in six weeks than the seasonal flu has over the past three years, according to the state Division of Public Health.

Another death in Del. prison

A man serving life in prison for murder is the third person held at the state’s largest prison to die from the coronavirus.

James Waller, a 75-year-old man who’d been imprisoned since 1978, died Thursday after suffering complications from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and COVID-19.  He was held in a minimum-security unit at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, where 56 other men incarcerated have been diagnosed with the virus.

“We are saddened that an inmate we had been actively monitoring for three weeks has passed away today from complications from underlying health conditions and COVID,” said Dept. of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatties. “We continue our comprehensive protocol of testing, temperature checks, screenings, intensive cleanings and minimizing movement to combat this virus. We are optimistic that the number of recoveries continues to grow.”

A total of 14 incarcerated people have recovered, but 72 still have the virus. Another 40 correctional officers and three contract workers also have the coronavirus.

Help for renters added to emergency order

In the fourteenth update to his state of emergency executive order issued in March, Carney ordered more protection for renters. On March 24, Carney ordered a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The latest update prohibits property owners from charging tenants who remain in a property after the end of a lease term more per month then they had been under the expired rental agreement.

Separately, the order also extends the deadline to apply for senior school property tax credits from April 30 to June 1.

Dover NASCAR race goes virtual

Thousands of race fans should be filling the campgrounds around Dover International Speedway this weekend, but like all other sports, NASCAR has canceled its spring schedule. But diehard race fans can still watch action on the Monster Mile in a virtual way.

As they have for the past several weeks, the series’ top drivers will be competing in a hyper realistic  “video-game” version of the race through iRacing simulators set up at their homes. Even retired drivers like fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will participate.

The race will be broadcast on the Fox network starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“We remain in constant communication with NASCAR as it organizes the remainder of the 2020 national series schedules, including the make-up dates for our postponed May 1-3 weekend” said DIS president Mike Tatoian in a letter to fans.

Earlier this week, NASCAR revealed its plans to restart the season with a pair of races starting at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on May 17 and May 20. Two more races will be held the following week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR officials have said they hope to reschedule the entire season, including this weekend’s canceled race in Dover.

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