March has been a month of uncertainty for families across the First State as the concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit home last week as the Delaware Department of Health confirmed the first presumptive case on March 11. Within 48 hours, an official State of Emergency was declared by Governor John Carney, major events across the state were cancelled and public schools were closed for two weeks.
As of Sunday, March 15, a total of 8people have tested positive for the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer requiring presumptive positive results to go through CDC for confirmatory testing, and that all presumptive positives up to this date are considered confirmed.
“Because of the nature of this disease, we know that we are going to continue to see an increased number of cases in Delaware,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay. “With the amount of test samples that health care systems and providers across the state are submitting to the Delaware Public Health Lab and to commercial labs, the numbers of patients being tested have increased significantly. We want to make sure that we are giving the most accurate information to the public, so going forward we will only be releasing the number of positive cases in Delaware.”
On Thursday, March 12, 2020 Governor John Carney issued a State of Emergency declaration to prepare for the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). on Monday, March 16, the Governor modified this declaration to limit Delaware restaurants, taverns and bars to take-out and delivery service only to help prevent spread of the coronavirus. Governor Carney’s updated emergency declaration — which took effect at 8:00 p.m. on March 16 — also bans public gatherings of 50 or more people, consistent with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and closes gaming activity at Delaware casinos.
“There are things every Delawarean can do to stay healthy. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Stay home from work or school if you are sick,” said Governor Carney. “ It’s especially important for at-risk populations, specifically elderly Delawareans, to avoid large gatherings. And we’re advising Delaware organizations to cancel large, non-essential public events to prevent community spread of the coronavirus.”
In Downtown Milford, the 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl and Irish Music & Dance Concert was postponed due to the growing concerns of the potential spread of the virus through large public gatherings.
“This was a tough call to make – the events bring income to our Downtown and Uptown businesses and the weekend shines such a bright light on our amazing small town – but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our community, business owners, vendors, performers, volunteers, and visitors,” said Downtown Milford, Inc. in an official statement sent out on March 12. “We also want the event to be of the caliber you, as attendees, have come to expect and with dwindling volunteer numbers and possible venue or vendor cancellations, it would not be.” The organization plans to reconvene and plan the event for a later date.
On the evening of Friday, March 13, Governor John Carney directed all Delaware public schools to close from March 16-27, to allow schools to prepare for potential spread of COVID-19. The Governor stated that over the next two weeks, the State of Delaware will work with school leaders and public health experts to create a plan for Delaware students and educators as this coronavirus outbreak continues.
Milford School District Superintendent Kevin Dickerson sent out several correspondences last week to keep families updated on the evolving information from the Delaware Department of Education and the local school district. “During this time, there will be no school-related activities in the Milford School District as all schools will be closed,” he said.“Milford School District will work with school leaders across the state to specifically prepare for the potential impact of extended school closures to our students, families and community. We will also take time to extensively clean within our schools.”
On Saturday, March 14, Superintendent Dickerson sent out a message to district families asking for their help in preventing the potential spread of COVID-19 through proactive engagement.
According to District officials, a Wilmington University-affiliated student who was in Milford High School this Thursday and Friday has exhibited mild symptoms potentially linked to the Coronavirus and is presently self-monitoring at home on the advice of medical professionals. The person was also in the presence of an employee connected to LuLu Ross Elementary School. The Division of Public Health considers the person low-risk for the Coronavirus.
“In an abundance of caution, we want you to have this information so that students, staff, families and community members can monitor their health and well-being,” stated Dickerson in a letter to the public. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update you if or when additional information comes to our attention. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding, and we will continue working together and sharing information.”
The Milford School District will begin having meals available for students under the age of 18 beginning this Wednesday. Families can participate in a drive thru grab and go service in front of Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary and Morris Early Childhood Center from 11:00 am through 12:30 pm each weekday. Families will receive a lunch for the day and a breakfast for the following day. Children must be present with their family to receive the meals. The district plans to continue working with local organizations to expand food services for local families over the period of the school closings.
Effective Monday, March 16, Bayhealth adopted a temporary visitor restriction policy at Bayhealth Kent Campus, Bayhealth Sussex Campus, the Emergency Department in Smyrna, Bayhealth Medical Group practices, and all outpatient locations.
“The health of our patients, visitors, employees and physicians is a top priority for Bayhealth,” said hospital officials in a statement on Friday. “As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, we are taking measures to protect the health of our community and employees.” The list of the full policy can be found at https://milfordlive.com/2020/03/13/bayhealth-adopts-temporary-visitor-restrictions/.
The impact on the local economy and local families is still not fully known as the community heads into a week that will see an unusual schedule for all. The Delaware Department of Health will continue to update the public on COVID-19 testing results in the First State and MilfordLIVE will continue to provide ongoing coverage to our readers on MilfordLIVE.com and on our Social Media formats at https://www.facebook.com/MilfordLive/ and @MilfordLIVE.
Should you or someone you know develop symptoms such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath, you should contact the Division of Public Health at 1-866-408-1899 or your primary healthcare provider.