Delaware announces state’s first coronavirus case; UDel to move classes online

A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, in Lake Success, N.Y. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, in Lake Success, N.Y. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

A Delaware man in his 50s is the first person in the state to test positive for coronavirus, according to the Delaware Division of Public health.

The New Castle County resident was exposed to COVID-19 through contact with an out-of-state resident who also tested positive for the virus.

DPH is not identifying the man, but said he is “associated with the University of Delaware community.”

“The patient is doing well. We understand that news of a positive case in the state is concerning, but this is something we have been preparing for over the last several weeks,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a statement. “DPH is working closely with CDC, hospitals, clinicians and other medical providers to proactively identify and respond to any possible cases of the coronavirus … We will continue to keep the public fully informed as additional information becomes available.”

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The man has been in self-quarantine at home since he first showed symptoms, which DPH said are not severe. DPH is now working to identify anyone the man may have exposed to the virus. The department will advise any exposed individuals and monitor them for symptoms.

The University of Delaware will transition classes online for the remainder of the semester. Classes are canceled Thursday and Friday of this week so university faculty and staff can prepare for the change.

Spring break will begin early, starting this Saturday as an effort to control the spread of the virus. Online classes will begin on March 23 and students can remain in their dorms at this time.

In Delaware, 21 test results have returned negative, and the state is waiting for nine more results.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been more than 120,000 worldwide cases of the virus, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and more than 4,500 deaths.

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In the U.S. there have been over 1,000 cases and more than 30 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.

Maine is the only East Coast state to have no reported coronavirus cases as of yet.

In order to contain the spread of the virus, DPH encourages residents to cough and sneeze into the elbow, wash hands frequently, avoid touching their face, clean surfaces and stay home while sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

DPH advises those with severe chronic health conditions and older individuals to avoid crowds as much as possible. DPH is also monitoring those who have recently traveled to China, Japan, Iran, Italy and South Korea, who have elevated risks of developing COVID-19.

University of Delaware students, faculty and staff who are concerned about exposure should call the university at (302) 831-1188 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Delawareans with questions about coronavirus are encouraged to call the DPH coronavirus information line at 1-866-408-1899, TTY 1-800-232-5460, or email

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