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Delaware's COVID-19 hospitalization numbers are lowest since November

Jeff Neiburg
Delaware News Journal

The number of people hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19 dropped this weekend to a level not seen since the end of November as the rapid decline in cases and hospitalizations over the last month continues in Delaware.

As of Saturday at 6 p.m., 263 people were hospitalized with symptoms of the disease. That is the lowest number of people since Nov. 30. The state said 33 of those hospitalized were in critical condition.

Delaware continues to see declining rates in hospitalizations, cases, percentage of tests that are positive and emergency room visits due to COVID-19-like illnesses.

STATE OF THE VIRUS: Where we're at and where we're going

Hospitalizations peaked in Delaware on Jan. 12, when 474 people were in the hospital. That number has plummeted by more than 40% since then.

The seven-day average of daily positive case counts is 368.3, the lowest since Nov. 17.

The state on Sunday adjusted some daily figures to account for a technical issue that delayed reporting. The data reported Sunday shows about 260 additional cases that were reported to the state on Friday. The new cases are shown in the state's reporting on the date they should have been reported.

A vial of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Bayhealth's Kent County Campus COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Dover. The hospital began giving vaccinations to fontline employees early Tuesday morning.

The number of people being tested is also dropping. Because of that, the percentage of tests coming back positive has not declined at the same rapid rate as the number of positive cases.

That number as of Feb. 4 (there's a two-day lag) was at 6.6% over the last seven days.

VACCINE: How people 65 and older, health care workers and teachers in Delaware can get in line for COVID-19 vaccines

The state reported 17 new deaths this weekend, bringing the pandemic total to 1,208. That number grew by 56 on Friday, the result of a recent data quality review performed by the Division of Public Health's epidemiology staff. That review identified an additional 54 deaths that occurred in December and January that had not yet been included in the state’s COVID-19 death statistics. 

"While the deaths were reported to DPH, the reports were not received by the appropriate personnel who process COVID-19 deaths for statistical reporting," the Division of Public Health said.

Fourteen of the latest deaths were residents of a Delaware long-term care facility, bringing the death tally at those facilities to 623, more than half of the state's total deaths.

Delaware continued its vaccination rollout this weekend. As of midday Sunday, more than 125,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered and another nearly 1,000 doses were on hand as the state, like others, continues to see supply problems.

Cases and hospitalizations are down nationwide and some states are easing restrictions as those numbers wane. Daily death counts are still elevated, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project. But according to its data, only New York and Arizona have more than 400 people hospitalized with COVID-19 per 1 million residents. A month ago, 19 states exceeded that level.

Beware of a scam

People have reported receiving calls claiming to be from the state of Delaware offering a COVID-19 vaccine for a cost of $75, the Division of Public Health said. 

"As a reminder, the vaccine is free and there are no out-of-pocket costs associated with receiving the vaccine," officials said. "The public should be advised that anyone calling to offer COVID-19 vaccination for money is not legitimate."

If you receive a call like described above, the state is asking you to report it to the Delaware Department of Justice’s Fraud and Consumer Protection Unit at (302) 577-8600.

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Contact Jeff Neiburg at jneiburg@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.