Delaware is averaging an all-time high for COVID-19 infections as cases surge nationwide
Delaware reported 465 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its seven-day average to 279.4 — an all-time high for the state.
The latest number represents cases as of Thursday. It breaks the record reported earlier this week of 258.6 average cases, and the new number of positive cases in a single day is significantly higher than what the state has reported throughout the week.
Thursday's new cases are closing in on the highest day of positive cases on record in Delaware – May 10, when the state reported 488 new cases.
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In a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal about the latest report, Gov. John Carney's spokesman Jonathan Starkey warned that the data may be affected by "dramatic differences in testing."
"In all of April, we did 25,000 tests," Starkey wrote. "Last month, we did more than 130,000. So we are identifying a lot more cases through testing.
"But our numbers, including hospitalizations, are going in the wrong direction as we head into the winter," he added. "This is happening all across the country and to date, Delaware has been spared the worst of it."
It's the latest in a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 infections that is sweeping through Delaware and much of the nation as temperatures get colder and the holidays near.
Over the past two weeks, the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in Delaware has increased to levels considered to indicate "significant community spread."
On Nov. 2, the state reported that the average number of daily cases had increased to 111.3, which is the first time since the state began tracking this information in July that the daily average had gone from the "yellow" zone to the "red" zone, per the state's tracking methods.
That number jumped again to 135.9 average daily cases one week later.
Average daily cases is one of three criteria the state looks at when deciding to reopen schools.
Hospitalizations are also rising and have climbed in the triple digits. The state reported 28 new hospitalizations on Thursday, totaling 130.
Average daily hospitalizations are another of the three criteria used by the state to determine school reopening. For now, that figure is in the yellow zone.
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Delaware on Friday also reported two new deaths related to COVID-19. Of the 28,016 Delawareans who have tested positive, 734 have died.
Gov. John Carney is considering putting more restrictions on daily life to mitigate the spread of the virus, though it's unclear what is on the horizon for Delaware. During his coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, he said he may follow suit of neighboring states as they impose their own restrictions.
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"We’re concerned now with smaller gatherings among family and friends, especially around the holidays, where people tend to let their guard down," Starkey wrote in his statement. "That’s a real threat. Delawareans should take it seriously and do what works. Wear masks. Celebrate with immediate family only. Avoid gatherings and wash your hands frequently. That’s what works to prevent the spread."
The same afternoon that Delaware reported another broken record for the virus, hundreds of people in the state were on their way to get tested for it.
Around 4 p.m. Friday at the Riverfront, scores of cars inched their way through a testing site in the parking lot outside Frawley Stadium and the Chase Center. While the seemingly unending line was moving, it only seemed to keep growing as more people showed up to get tested.
It's unclear when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available, but wide availability is at least several months away.
Health officials estimate that a limited number could be available as soon as late December and would be prioritized for front-line workers and high-risk groups. Other Delawareans can expect to get the vaccine in the spring or summer at the earliest.
Carney's administration is urging Delawareans to get tested in the meantime, whether they have symptoms or not. Delawareans can find a testing location at de.gov/getttested.
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.