Major expansion of Delaware coronavirus testing announced

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The first of 200,000 test kits arriving  today

A major  expansion of Delaware’s statewide testing program for COVID-19 has been announced.

The plan will be implemented in partnership with Delaware’s hospital systems, primary care physicians, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and community organizations statewide, thaks in part to work from New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.

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The new testing program will allow the State of Delaware to conduct 80,000 tests monthly – more than four times the current level of testing statewide. Delaware’s plan is based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“We know that widespread community testing needs to be in place before we can safely reopen our economy,” said Gov. John Carney. “Finding a reliable supply of reliable tests has been a serious challenge, but we’ve put a plan in place that gets us to the starting line. We’ll be able to diagnose symptomatic Delawareans and detect asymptomatic spread through community testing. I want to thank all of our partners who are stepping up for their fellow Delawareans during this crisis.”  

The State of Delaware has purchased 200,000 saliva-based tests from Curative, a Los Angeles-based testing company that has supplied COVID-19 tests to Los Angeles and Atlanta. The tests are scheduled to begin arriving in Delaware today.

Curative, which has received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its test, was referred to state officials by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.

“Mass testing is a critical component to understand, identify, and defeat this invisible enemy,” said  Meyer. “These new, innovative tests will allow us to increase testing capacity in our communities and Governor Carney, and his team deserve credit for their leadership and collaboration to help us persevere through this pandemic.”

The State of Delaware will prioritize testing under the new statewide program for:

  • Any symptomatic individual.
  • Anyone with known exposure to COVID-19.
  • Vulnerable Delaware populations, including elderly Delawareans and members of low-income communities.
  • Certain front-line essential workers

“Black and Hispanic communities in our state are experiencing disproportionate rates of coronavirus infection,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). “Increased and targeted community testing by our health care partners will help us identify asymptomatic spread, isolate individuals who are positive for COVID-19 and, ultimately, slow the transmission.”

Governor Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced on Tuesday the launch of a universal COVID-19 testing program for staff and residents in long-term care facilities statewide. Public health experts at DPH also will develop a list of front-line workers who will receive prioritized testing and will work with employers to develop employee testing programs.

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency, led by Director A.J. Schall, will work with Delaware’s hospital systems and other health care partners to develop  the testing framework and stabilize the supply chain.

Under the new testing program announced on Friday, Delaware plans to supply partner organizations with testing supplies to more effectively reach Delawareans where they need and can easily access tests. Delaware’s list of partners includes primary care physicians, Federally Qualified Health Centers, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities, a release stated.

“Our partners in this statewide testing effort will help us quickly identify Delawareans who need COVID-19 testing and prevent the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “This new testing program is a significant expansion of our current testing efforts, and it’s designed to keep all Delawareans safe and healthy by helping us to understand where and how much viral activity is occurring in our state. Thank you to our partners who are helping us take this important step forward.”

The State of Delaware also will continue to work with hospitals and county administrators to offer  rotating locations of community testing sites statewide. Hospital systems will continue to administer tests both on site and in the community.

“Testing is an important step on the road to economic reopening,” said Wayne A. Smith, CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association. “Hospitals are working closely with our state partners in the planning and execution of testing as more resources become available to test the general population. This is a big lift and requires the close collaboration that has been present since the start of our testing efforts.”  

Delaware’s new testing strategy will be implemented alongside a robust contact tracing program to isolate infected individuals and their close contacts, a release announced.  Details of Delaware’s contact training program will be released early next week and will include details on hiring a dedicated workforce to help Delawareans who are positive with COVID-19 to safely self-isolate.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

Testing is universally accepted as a way to aid in the reopening of the state. Some critics in the reopening movement claims the virus is widespread and usually mild, making test unnecessary in many situations.

At present, the state is dealing  with outbreaks in some areas of the state, including the poultry processing area of Sussex County.

 

 

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