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State officials are trying to help hospitals get through COVID surge


A new mask mandate is in place to help mitigate Delaware’s surge in COVID hospitalizations, but state officials are looking for other ways to help hospitals.

The state has hit a high of 734 hospitalizations in the state, and that number includes 72 patients in the ICU and 51 on ventilators.

Statewide hospitals are 117% capacity with ChristianaCare and Beebe both at 130% capacity. Nemours Children's Hospital is not over capacity, but hit its high watermark of 20 children hospitalized with COVID Sunday.

Of those hospitalized, 70% are either not vaccinated or partially vaccinated while 90% haven’t received a booster shot.

These numbers prompted hospitals to start operating under crisis standards of care, which prioritizes care to those who need it most.

That includes some patients waiting for medication as nurses prioritize who can get medication or treatments like monoclonal antibodies

Dr. Ken Silverstein is Chief Physician Executive with Christiana Care, and says the public’s help is needed to help hospitals.

"We just do not have the capacity to do routine testing or treat mild disease," said Silverstein. " Please avoid our emergency departments for less serious issues. We need to marshal our resources to be able to deliver care to patients with the highest needs."

Hospitals in some cases are even treating patients in hallways to deal with the surge, and Gov. John Carney says he’s calling on more help from the Delaware National Guard.

"So I've called up another hundred plus National Guard's men and women to do this, to work with us, work with the hospitals as extra hands," said Carney. "We've dispatch about 70 plus National Guard's men and women to hospitals from Sussex County up through Central Delaware up to the northern part of our state to provide an extra set of hands in emergency rooms and in the hospitals where they're stretched to the limit."

Carney and Silverstein continu to join other officials in asking the public to get vaccinated, boosted, wear a mask, maintain distance, wash hands, get tested and stay home if feeling sick.

Carney, at his weekly COVID news briefing Tuesday, also noted his mask mandate exempts churches because of litigation both locally and nationally over that issue, but he urges churchgoers to wear masks.

And the state announced there will be a two to three week drive-thru mass testing site at the Delaware City DMV that will include hours at nights and weekends.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.