Delaware’s Covid containment strategy faces major test

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Good afternoon,

As noted in this space on Friday, signs pointed toward an outbreak of Covid-19 at the beach.

Now it appears that the state will get a major test of its containment plan based on mass testing and contact tracing.

To no one’s surprise, the virus reared its ugly head at the beach following senior week festivities that included teens crowding into beach houses and partying.

Last week, Gov. John Carney tapped the brakes on announcing Phase 3 of the state’s reopening. Officials did take note of a large percentage of beachgoers not wearing masks or observing social distancing.

The cautious stance comes despite Delaware posts a good performance in many Covid-19 metrics including hospitalizations and the percentage of positives to total tests. It is now clear that Covid likes summer and beach houses with lots of occupants.

As more positives were reported to the south, the Division of Health and its partners sprung into action with stepped-up testing while transitioning over to what will hopefully be a more robust contract tracing effort.

Late week drive-ups found more than 100 people testing positive as a few restaurants and night spots closed for the weekend.

More testing will be done today, tomorrow and on Thursday at the beach. Anyone who has visited, worked, dined, or spent time in the area is advised to get tested. This is especially true if you shunned a mask.

We could find that the outbreak is confined to a small area and is under control thanks to measures such as contact tracing and self-isolation.

The worst-case scenario is that it is so widespread that other restrictions will be temporarily imposed. We will know more in the next day or so.

Either way, the damage some damage has been inflicted on beach businesses of all sorts, thanks in part to the thoughtlessness we have seen of late.

Many family decision-makers have been waiting on the sidelines to see if even short stays make sense.

The conduct also undercuts the argument that businesses alone can police the situation.If a high percentage of customers refuse to wear masks and practice social distancing, all businesses will struggle with enforcement.

Already waitstaff has faced rude, self-centered customers who yell about their constitutional right to wear a face mask for a few minutes or so while dining or shopping.

For now, all we can do is hope that the strategies put in place to control the virus will make a difference and limit any “super spreading.”

Enjoy your evening. Our newsletter returns tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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