More testing, outreach planned
Governor John Carney has declared Sussex County a COVID-19 hot spot. The state will conduct testing and outreach along the Route 113 corridor this week, with bilingual staff on site.
The state and its partners tested more than 750 individuals last week in Sussex, during the first expansion of COVID-19 community testing. More than 35% of the results were positive for the coronavirus.
“Sussex County has become a hot spot for COVID-19, especially in areas along the Route 113 corridor,” said Carney. “We are working with community partners to expand testing sites and share educational information in those communities. It's critical to protect your family and yourself by following the guidance from the CDC and the Delaware Division of Public Health. Most importantly, stay home. If you have questions, don't be afraid to call 2-1-1 for more information and assistance. Dial 9-1-1 for an emergency. It's critical we all work together to get through this.”
Late last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an epidemiology team to Delaware at Carney's request.
“This Epi Aid team will approach the issue from an epidemiological perspective and work to quantify the extent of the spread of the disease in Sussex, identify the transmission routes and provide recommendations for us to consider in mitigating the spread," said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.
The community testing sites are geared toward individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, employees of essential businesses, family members or housemates of those working in the poultry industry, those exposed to someone with COVID-19 and individuals with chronic medical conditions. A doctor's note or referral is not required.
The testing sites involve both rapid and nasal swab testing, immediate case investigation for positive cases and connection to resource coordinators for services like food and housing. Care kits will be given to people who have a high risk of household transmission and do not have the means to purchase supplies themselves.
The efforts are being conducted in coordination with the Delaware Division of Public Health, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, hospital systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, community organizations and Sussex County employers.
Each of the health care systems in Sussex is participating in the community testing effort, with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford likely beginning testing within the week. Details will be shared once their plans have been finalized.
Residents of Sussex County will begin receiving hot spot-related emergency alerts on their phones through the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, as well as messages in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education and local school districts. They will also see printed educational materials at testing sites and within food delivery services, increased billboard placements and social media and digital advertising stressing the urgency of the COVID-19 epidemic in Sussex.
“The Delaware Hispanic Commission wants to thank the leadership of the governor and his staff for identifying the immediate needs related to COVID-19, specifically in Sussex County where it has impacted the Latino community,” said Delaware Hispanic Commission Chairman Javier G. Torrijos. “These community care sites are important to provide the education and resources immediately to help curve the pandemic in our community. Without the resources and the multilingual education material, the impact of COVID-19 would be much worse.”