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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.

'Holding our breath': officials beg Delawareans to stay home on New Year's to prevent virus spread

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Signs thank healthcare workers outside ChristianaCare's Wilmington Hospital

State public health officials urge Delawareans not to go out or gather with others on New Year’s Eve to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

State officials have been warning of the possibility of a surge on top of the COVID-19 surge they say the state is already experiencing from Thanksgiving. 

It’s not yet clear how many ignored the stay-at-home advisory around Christmas. But state officials are even more worried about New Year’s Eve — when people traditionally gather and drink alcohol, which can impair people’s ability to make responsible choices about virus safety.

State public health director Dr. Karyl Rattay recommends getting creative about celebrating remotely.

“Ordering special dinners from your favorite local restaurants to celebrate with your immediate family,” she said. “Holding Zoom parties to try to guess each others’ New Year's resolutions, or having video chats to watch the ball drop together.”

Rattay says any increase in cases from exposures around Christmas should become apparent in the next few days — and a surge from New Year’s would come about a week after that. 

“We’re going to be holding our breath until we get probably three weeks from now to see what our numbers look like,” she said. “Then of course as always it’s quite predictable, you see an increase in cases and then several weeks later, you see an increase in hospitalizations.”

Delaware hospitals were able to manage the record levels of COVID-related hospitalizations earlier this month. 

COVID-related hospitalizations have been hovering in the low- to mid-400s. Officials have estimated the total statewide capacity for COVID patients is between 400 and 500 beds—but say hospitals are managing the current surge. 

Gov. John Carney said Tuesday the state is hoping to avoid a situation in which hospitals need to ration care.


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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