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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 concerned about increase in cases among Sussex County Hispanic communities

Delaware Public Media

State public health officials are bracing for what could be an outbreak of coronavirus cases in certain Sussex County communities. Public health officials say they are ramping up outreach efforts there.

Lab-confirmed cases in Sussex County have more than doubled in the past week. Cases there stood at 336 April 9, and as of Friday, had passed 800.  

Gov. John Carney says the state is concerned about what seems to be an increase in cases particularly in Sussex County’s Hispanic community. 

A Division of Public Health mapshows that as of April 17 the zip code that includes Georgetown has the most cases of any in Sussex County, and is tied with the zip code including New Castle. The map also shows many cases in Millsboro and Milford. 

“I’m always concerned about underrepresented communities,”said Gov. John Carney, “And communities that we know start with certain health disparities in terms of a greater burden of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, which put anyone at greater risk to a virus like this, as well as communities that have relative to other communities limited access to transportation.”

Information on race or ethnicity for Delaware’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 is not yet publicly available. The State Division of Public Health said it would begin requiring medical providers that order tests to include race and ethnicity information April 9. 

State officials said during a press briefing Friday the state is coordinating with Sussex County hospitals and large essential employers, including chicken producers, to increase access to testing for those essential workers. Public health and emergency management officials are also working to increase options and supplies for safe self-quarantining in those communities. 

“Quarantine and isolation is really important, and that’s especially important when it’s challenging for individuals to be able to isolate at home,” said public health director Dr. Karyl Rattay. 

“We’re working hard to ensure individuals can be connected to medical resources in the community,” Rattay added, “so that they’re getting care early when they need it instead of waiting ‘til they are more ill and it's more challenging to help control their illness.”

She mentions the state will work to ensure those who need to isolate have the food and pharmaceuticals to do so. The state also plans to increase education and outreach through trusted community members. 

A Millsboro-based chicken producer has reportedly experienced a dramatic decrease in attendance at its processing plants in the last few weeks. 

This story has been updated.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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