Gov. Carney calls out sick for State of the State as Delaware sees an uptick in flu and COVID

It’s not clear what the governor has, but lots of Delawareans are sick too with COVID and flu cases rising.

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Delaware Gov. John Carney, speaks at an Amtrak facility in Bear, Del., Monday, Nov. 6, 2023

Delaware Gov. John Carney, speaks at an Amtrak facility in Bear, Del., Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke))

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Delaware Gov. John Carney was supposed to deliver the final State of the State Address of his administration Thursday afternoon, but his office sent word early today that he was postponing the speech because he’s sick.

“The Governor has a fever and mild symptoms, but is in good spirits,” their statement said.

While it’s not clear exactly what exact symptoms Carney is suffering, he’s not alone.

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State health officials say there’s been a noticeable uptick in respiratory illness cases. Health officials and providers are carefully taking action to address and manage the growing health concerns.

At Beebe Healthcare in southern Delaware, infectious disease physician Bill Chasanov said they’ve seen an increase in respiratory illnesses observed across their hospitals and wellness centers.

“What we have noticed over the past couple months is that we have had an increase in the number of visits for respiratory illnesses that include the flu, that includes COVID, that includes RSV,” he said. “And then others are the respiratory viruses that we expect to see during what we call respiratory season for this time of the year.”

Nationally, the slow rise in COVID cases is evident in current hospitalization numbers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In early November, about 15,000 people nationally were hospitalized, compared to nearly 36,000 in the beginning of January.

Chasanov also emphasizes that, in addition to the observed trends, they have been monitoring the increase in illnesses through various metrics. On a state level, Delaware is mirroring those national trends.

Approximately 12 weeks ago, there were around 48 people hospitalized statewide with COVID. As of Jan. 6, that number is up to 144.

“We keep a close eye on the metrics that are published by the state of Delaware and public health and epidemiology offices around the number of cases of flu, the number of cases of COVID, to understand where Delaware is when it comes to those respiratory illnesses,” Chasanov said. “We also use that with our other data in our other assessment of what’s happening in our county, along with our healthcare organization, our community, to really help guide us about what’s going on.”

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“We have had an increase week over week in the number of flu cases reported throughout the state of Delaware and then obviously through each county of the state of Delaware,” he added.

Chasanov noted that in the coming weeks, given the current influx of walk-in visits and hospital admissions, the rate of flu cases is projected to rise significantly.

“We expect to see an ongoing rise in the number of flu cases for the next several weeks. We expect COVID numbers to remain about the same for the next few weeks. And then we actually are expecting our RSV to start to decrease over the next few weeks,” he said.

In response to the anticipated surge in flu cases, Beebe Healthcare has taken proactive measures to ensure the safety of their staff members and patients. That includes reintroducing masking requirements in Beebe Healthcare offices, wellness centers and hospitals.

“A few days ago, we actually decided to move back to requiring masks in our healthcare facilities to try to increase the safety of our patients, our visitors, our team members and ultimately our community. Because if we can stop the spread of someone getting one of these viruses, then hopefully that breaks the chain and stops the further spread of other people getting it,” Chasanov said.

The commitment to safety extends beyond Beebe Healthcare, as TidalHealth and Bayhealth are also now mandating masks.

As the Delaware Division of Public Health closely watches the impact of COVID-19, RSV, Flu, and other respiratory viruses, officials urge Delawareans to follow safety measures in the following areas:

  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19, flu, and RSV if you are eligible.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone sick, get tested and seek treatment.
  • As cases rise or if you have close contact with someone who is sick, consider wearing a mask.
  • Practice good hygiene.

“This is the first season that we have vaccines available for not only flu, and not only COVID, but certain individuals in our community. There are recommendations for those individuals to actually get an RSV vaccine,” Chasanov said. “There have been other treatments for RSV that have been around for a while. But this is really the first year that we have had an RSV vaccine for more of our population.”

As for Carney, he posted on social media that he’s following the advice he’s given to state residents since the early days of the pandemic.

“Since 2020, we’ve said stay home if you’re sick. So, out of an abundance of caution, that’s what I’m doing. I look forward to giving my State of the State Address at a later date,” he said in the online statement.

A makeup date has not yet been set.

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