Gov. John Carney announced May 8 a significant expansion of Delaware’s statewide testing program for COVID-19 as Delaware moves toward Phase I of an economic reopening.
The plan will be implemented in partnership with Delaware’s hospital systems, primary care physicians, Federally Qualified Health Centers and community organizations statewide.
The new testing program will allow the state to conduct 80,000 tests monthly — more than four times the current level of testing statewide. Delaware’s plan is based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For current data on COVID-19 testing in Delaware, visit de.gov/healthycommunity.
“We know that widespread community testing needs to be in place before we can safely reopen our economy,” said Carney. “Finding a reliable supply of reliable tests has been a serious challenge, but we’ve put a plan in place that gets us to the starting line. We’ll be able to diagnose symptomatic Delawareans and detect asymptomatic spread through community testing. I want to thank all of our partners who are stepping up for their fellow Delawareans during this crisis.”
The state has purchased 200,000 saliva-based tests from Curative, a Los Angeles-based testing company that has supplied COVID-19 tests to Los Angeles and Atlanta. The tests are scheduled to start arriving in Delaware on May 8.
Curative, which has received an emergency use authorization for its test, was referred to state officials by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.
“Mass testing is a critical component to understand, identify, and defeat this invisible enemy,” said Meyer. “These new, innovative tests will allow us to increase testing capacity in our communities and Gov. Carney, and his team deserve credit for their leadership and collaboration to help us persevere through this pandemic.”
Delaware will prioritize testing under the new statewide program for any symptomatic individual; anyone with known exposure to COVID-19; vulnerable Delaware populations, including elderly Delawareans and members of low-income communities; and certain front-line essential workers.
“Black and Hispanic communities in our state are experiencing disproportionate rates of coronavirus infection,” said Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, and a practicing family physician. “Increased and targeted community testing by our health care partners will help us identify asymptomatic spread, isolate individuals who are positive for COVID-19 and, ultimately, slow the transmission.”
Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health announced May 5 the launch of a universal COVID-19 testing program for staff and residents in long-term care facilities statewide. Public health experts at DPH also will develop a list of front-line workers who will receive prioritized testing and will work with employers to develop employee testing programs.
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency, led by Director A.J. Schall, will work with Delaware’s hospital systems and other health care partners to operationalize the testing framework and stabilize the supply chain.
Under the new testing program announced May 8, the state plans to supply partner organizations with testing supplies to more effectively reach Delawareans where they need and can easily access tests. Delaware’s list of partners includes primary care physicians, federally qualified health centers, pharmacies and long-term care facilities.
“Our partners in this statewide testing effort will help us quickly identify Delawareans who need COVID-19 testing and prevent the spread of the disease,” said Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “This new testing program is a significant expansion of our current testing efforts, and it’s designed to keep all Delawareans safe and healthy by helping us to understand where and how much viral activity is occurring in our state. Thank you to our partners who are helping us take this important step forward.”
The state also will continue to work with hospitals and county administrators to stand up rotating locations of community testing sites statewide. Hospital systems will continue to administer tests both onsite and in the community.
Delaware’s new testing strategy will be implemented alongside a robust contact tracing program to isolate infected individuals and their close contacts. Details of Delaware’s contact training program will be released early the week of May 11 and will include details on hiring a dedicated workforce to help Delawareans who are positive with COVID-19 to safely self-isolate.
Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 211; individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Questions can also be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit de.gov/coronavirus.