Covid-19 update: Emergency declaration extended; Beefed up school testing; Halloween guidance; DSU grant targets minority communities; Focus remains on nursing home outbreaks

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Emergency declaration extended; school testing expands

Gov. John Carney extended the emergency declaration by another month.Carney and fellow governors in the region have taken heat overextending the orders, with critics believing that risks are now minimal.

The state Republican Party has called for a full reopening of schools.

Critics on the left claim Carney was too quick to lessen restrictions on bars, restaurants, and retailers.

Meanwhile, rate of coronavirus cases has edged upward to the eight percent mark, with scattered outbreaks in long-term care facilities. (See below).

Moving above the 10 percent threshold could lead to further restrictions. States bordering the New York metro area already advise travelers to and from Delaware to quarantine. That has reduced the chances of a fall uptick in short term rental (Airbnb-hotel) business.

The State of Delaware has announced expanded testing for public schools as more districts make plans to add more in-school classes.

Click here for pop-up testing sites and other options.

DSU gets a $1.15 million grant focusing on Covid-19 and disadvantaged communities

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General and Medical Sciences has awarded Delaware State University a two-year $1.15 million exploratory grant to research social and behavioral factors related to coronavirus in minority communities.

As part of the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program supports research that aims to better understand COVID-19 testing patterns, attitudes, and risk reduction behaviors among underserved and vulnerable populations.

The university’s research project – one of 32 institutions that received the NIH grant through the RADx-UP program — will work to develop communications strategies to increase the acceptance of testing and a future vaccine.

Community partners – the Sussex County Health Coalition and the Wilmington Community Advisory Council – will assist the researchers in recruiting participants from communities that score poorly on Delaware’s Community Health Index – also Delaware communities that have been the hardest hit by Covid-19.

The project will focus on the following Delaware communities:

  • New Castle County – NE Prices Run, Westside, and Riverside.
  • Kent County – W. Camden, W. Dover and Harrington.
  • Sussex County – Bridgeville, Seaford and Georgetown.

The project’s goal is to identify strategies to reduce Covid-19 transmission and to increase the use and utility of test results among underserved populations. It will also prepare and position underserved communities for vaccinations once a vaccine becomes available.

Health officials advise multiple tests at nursing homes after false positives, negatives

The Division of Public Health continues to investigate Covid-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities throughout the state. Facilities where significant ongoing outbreaks are occurring, as of Oct. 1, 2020:Those facilities are:

  • Kentmere Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Wilmington; 46 residents and 27 staff members
  • Cadia Healthcare Silverside in Wilmington; 41 residents and less than 20 staff members
  • Country Rest Home in Greenwood; 26 residents and 15 staff members

Staff members may include health care and non-healthcare personnel, such as facility vendors or other individuals working in the long-term care facility who may not be full-time facility employees.

Some long-term care facilities are utilizing point-of-care antigen testing to test residents. DPH has become aware of occurrences of false-positive results from some antigen tests and is requesting that any patient (staff member or resident) from a long-term care facility who has a positive result with antigen testing have an additional specimen collected and sent for priority processing at the Delaware Public Health Laboratory.

If confirmatory testing leads to a decrease in the total number of positive cases identified at facilities with significant outbreaks, DPH will provide an update on the above statistics.

“It is important to note, however, this does not change the fact that significant outbreaks are occurring in these facilities, nor does it change the additional infection control measures the facilities have implemented, after consultation with DPH, as part of the outbreak response,” a release from the division stated.

Guidance for Halloween

The Delaware Division of Public Health has issued guidance for marking Halloween.The state advises lower risk activities such as pumpkin carving. Trick or treating has more risks. (The exchange of candy and other treats comes with risks, especially if children are reaching into containers.

Also discouraged are large costume parties that are popular with adults.

Gov. John Carney was not canceling Halloween, taking note of the flack the Irish-American took in canceling St. Patrick’s Day festivities during the dangerous early stage of the pandemic.

Click here for the full release.

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