Sarah Gamard Via Delaware New Journal
Delaware broke another pandemic record Friday when it reported 916 new cases, bringing the state's seven-day average to an all-time high of 607.7.
It's the latest of a series of continuous all-time highs in COVID-19 cases reported by the state. While daily reports of positive cases have fluctuated, the overall surge has broken records nearly every day since mid-November for the state's average weekly case count and has now skyrocketed to levels never seen before during the pandemic.
Before last month, the highest daily count of cases on record in Delaware was May 10, when the state reported 488 new cases.
While Delaware is administering more tests now than during the spring, the seven-day average of tests reported positive has reached 8%, a number not seen since June 5.
The state announced three new coronavirus-related deaths from Thursday – numbers released actually reflect totals from the previous day. In total, 782 people in Delaware have reportedly died from the virus.
The latest data reported by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services comes less than 24 hours after Gov. John Carney announced the state's latest round of restrictions set to go into effect in 10 days.
Delaware will require residents to wear a mask when gathering with people from outside their household, including in private settings. The state is also urging residents to stay home unless traveling for work. Businesses and restaurants are allowed to remain open.
Hospitalizations also continue to rise. Delaware reported 42 new hospitalizations as of Thursday, totaling 288 people in Delaware who are either confirmed or suspected to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
The state has estimated its hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients is somewhere between 400 and 500. Carney said on Tuesday that hospitals in the state are not as concerned about having enough beds for the expected wintertime surge in cases as they are about having enough staff, who may have to quarantine if they contract the virus.
Carney has issued an emergency executive order to allow out-of-state health care workers, heath care workers who have retired in the past five years, recent graduates and some health professional students to help hospitals with the surge.
Those workers would work in hospitals under appropriate supervision, according to a spokesman for Carney's administration.
Carney also announced Thursday that he is recommending that schools pause in-person learning from Dec. 14 to Jan. 8, with plans to return to hybrid learning on Jan. 11. However, school districts that wish to remain in hybrid learning may do so.
Public health officials warned that the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays could lead to a spike in cases if people did not follow social distancing guidelines, avoid travel and limit interactions with people outside their household. Because the virus can take up to 14 days to incubate after exposure, the full effect of last week's holiday likely won't be known until another week.