Early state mandates curbed COVID-19 outbreak in Delaware, study concludes
The state’s efforts to curtail the coronavirus this spring worked, according to a new study by the CDC.
The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state public health officials came out Friday. It found Delaware’s stay-at-home order, mask mandate and contact tracing prevented deaths—and reduced COVID cases and hospitalizations this spring.
These efforts contributed to an 82 percent reduction in COVID-19 incidence, an 88 percent reduction in hospitalizations, and a 100 percent reduction in mortality in late April through June, according to the study.
“A stay-at-home order and case investigations instituted weeks before the peak in COVID-19 cases (week of April 13) in Delaware likely contributed to the subsequent decline observed in COVID-19 incidence and associated hospitalization and deaths,” the researchers wrote. “As expected, the impact on incidence was not immediate but occurred weeks after measures were implemented, as new cases represented exposure that occurred during previous weeks.”
"There was some criticism of [Gov.] John Carney’s early steps, particularly with the mask mandate, the closing of businesses and determining what was essential and non-essential,” said Donna Patterson, a professor at Delaware State University who studies global health and was not involved in the CDC study. “That’s quite understandable. But at the same time, imagine if these sorts of measures were not taken.”
Patterson says Delaware has fared better than most states.
“Definitely in terms of early response, our numbers were quite good,” she said. “The testing was fantastic, for what was available at the time. Of course there could have been more testing, but compared to most states in the country, we were ahead of the curve.”
But some of Delaware’s early restrictions are no longer in place.
Delaware’s stay-at-home order ended June 1. Delaware entered Phase 2 of reopening in mid-June, and restrictions were loosened on bars in beach towns last week.
Cases are currently surging across the country.
Delaware saw over 600 new cases this past weekend alone. The per capita rate of new cases in Delaware this past week indicated “significant” community spread—according to the state Division of Public Health.
Patterson says COVID-19 testing in Delaware remains accessible. She urges Delawareans to reassess plans for holiday gatherings, and recommit to wearing masks and social distancing.