Coronavirus update: Delaware to hold testing event Thursday, even for those without symptoms

The state has purchased 200,000 saliva-based test kits from a California-based company as it eyes administering 80,000 tests a month.

Nurses with ChristianaCare wait for the next vehicle to arrive to test people for the coronavirus on Friday, March 13, 2020, at the Riverfront complex in downtown Wilmington, Del. (Butch Comegys for WHYY)

Nurses with ChristianaCare wait for the next vehicle to arrive to test people for the coronavirus on Friday, March 13, 2020, at the Riverfront complex in downtown Wilmington, Del. (Butch Comegys for WHYY)

As of Wednesday, state officials say 6,952 Delawareans have contracted COVID-19 and 247 people have died of related causes. A total of 282 people are hospitalized.

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Delaware’s move to increase testing exponentially using saliva-based kits starts Thursday in the southwestern Sussex County town of Seaford.

The four-hour event is open to people whether they have symptoms or not. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Frederick Douglass Elementary School and hosted by Nanticoke Health Services.

People are “strongly encouraged” to pre-register at but on-site registration will be permitted, according to the Division of Public Health.

People being tested should not eat or drink anything, or brush their teeth, for at least 20 minutes before their appointment, as it may decrease the accuracy of the test, public health officials said.

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More testing events will be held soon as Delaware, which has purchased 200,000 kits from  California-based Curative Inc., ramps up testing to a projected 80,000 a month. As of Wednesday, the state has reported results from fewer than 35,000 tests.

Those seeking to be tested can find information about upcoming events at

Rehoboth to open beach, boardwalk for exercise, curbside shopping but not swimming or sunbathing

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware’s premier summer tourist destination, will lift its ban on using the beach and boardwalk on Friday, but with the traditional Memorial Day kickoff weekend just days away, is still only allowing exercise, take-out dining and curbside shopping.

Town commissioners closed access completely in late March after Gov. John Carney banned all activities but exercise on the state’s beaches. Spokeswoman Krys Johnson told WHYY on Wednesday that commissioners decided to relax the rules Tuesday but will continue following all of Carney’s state of emergency requirements.

Until the governor gives the go-ahead, Rehoboth Beach won’t permit other typical beach activities such as swimming, sunbathing, sit-down dining or arcade games.

Bicycles will be permitted on the boardwalk from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Leashed dog walking will be allowed on the beach from 6 to 10 a.m. but not on the boardwalk.

“The idea is to open this up for exercise and walking, to keep people moving” and let businesses start the process of reopening under Carney’s restrictions,’’ Johnson said.

Visitors will be able to exercise on Rehoboth Beach starting Friday, and walk their dogs from 6 to 10 a.m. (Butch Comegys for WHYY)

As of May 8, non-essential Delaware retail businesses that Carney had ordered closed can now offer curbside service. Those businesses include clothing stores, a popular destination in Rehoboth Beach.

Johnson said police plan to enforce the rules, including wearing a face mask, physical distancing and prohibiting gathering of more than 10 people, if visitors don’t comply.

“Paramount to all of this is the safety and well-being of our community,’’ Johnson said. “If we don’t have a healthy community, healthy workforce, where are we?”

With the coronavirus crisis still plaguing Delaware, town businesses that depend on summer tourism revenue are bracing for a tough season without the usual throngs that fill rental homes and pack the beach, boardwalk and lengthy Rehoboth Avenue commercial strip.

“It’s definitely not going to be the same,’’ she said. “It’s this new normal that we are going to experience. It’s really challenging for the city of Rehoboth Beach.”

No commencement, but UD holds online ‘celebration’

The University of Delaware has postponed this month’s graduation ceremony but still hopes to hold commencement ceremonies this fall “if the public health situation will allow,’’ president Dennis Assanis told the Class of 2020 in an email this week.

In the meantime, the state’s flagship university will hold what it’s calling an online interactive “Blue Hen Celebration” to honor this year’s graduates on May 30, the original commencement date. The half-hour virtual experience starts at 11 a.m.

The University of Delaware campus in Newark. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Assanis asked students to visit, where they can record a short video message, and to tag their social media posts with #UDGRAD2020 for possible use during the event. Several videos have already been recorded.

“Though we cannot be together on campus, I am still looking forward to gathering with you in Blue Hen spirit to recognize your accomplishments and your degrees, and to celebrate the beginning of this next chapter of your lives,’’ Assanis wrote.

School spokeswoman Andrea Boyle told WHYY that a survey of students found that they “overwhelmingly’’ wanted to have a full commencement at a later date.

Last week the school announced it was freezing salaries for 4,700 staffers and Assanis, football coach Danny Rocco and other top officials took voluntary cuts.

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