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Delaware Headlines
This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

State officials rush to identify alternate care sites before COVID-19 surge

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Delaware Public Media
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State officials say they plan to select sites for alternate care facilities in the coming days to help deal with the expected surge of COVID-19 patients in Delaware.

 

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) is coordinating with hospitals around the state to identify sites to use in the event Delaware’s available ICU beds reach capacity during the pandemic. State projections show over 500 hospitalizations likely by April 9th.

Sites under consideration include the gymnasium and other areas at Nemours A.I. Dupont Children’s Hospital upstate and the old Milford Hospital downstate. Officials say these could act as locations for emergency care not related to COVID-19. 

DEMA Director A.J. Schall says one challenge is picking a location close enough to existing hospitals.

 

“The farther you get away from the brick and mortar hospitals, the fewer services you have—pharmacies, x-rays, other equipment like that," said Schall. "So over the last few days we’re working with Nanticoke, Beebe, Bayhealth to identify what can they do on their site with state support.”  

Delaware hospitals are setting up mobile tents and using unconventional areas of the hospital to make more room for ICU beds. 

The Delaware National Guard is assisting in the effort to offer “mission planning” expertise and providing medical professionals to staff alternative care sites.

Schall says Guard members have also been assisting with coronavirus testing at the state lab, and the Guard's role may expand in the coming days.

 

“I think we will see them also be used for some social services type needs, whether it is transportation of patients to the surge sites, whether it’s food and medicine delivery to vulnerable populations," he said. "We know this is going to be a bigger strain on our state.”  

There are currently 14 Guard members deployed in Delaware to support the COVID fight. More are expected to be deployed next week.

Schall says the state put in a request to allow Delaware to deploy more Guard members with full reimbursement to the state, but he adds the decision on that request will not affect Delaware’s decision to further deploy the Guard when needed.