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Can hospitals handle more patients?

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

Governor John Carney joined Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, and A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, for a coronavirus press briefing this afternoon, April 7.

Here are three topics covered and key takeaways.

Hospital capacity

Using a chart of predicted hospitalizations over the next five days, Schall said hospitals have enough capacity to take care of patients.

The predictions are based on an assumption that 20% of all positive cases tested will need hospitalization. Carney said that is a conservative estimate.

On Tuesday, April 7, there are about 140 people in hospitals with coronavirus. By Sunday, April 12, there are projected to be 650, Schall said.

“At that point, the hospitals will still be managing within their walls, with their staff, very comfortably,” he said. He explained that many hospitals are using rooms that aren’t typically used for patient care.

The state is identifying alternate care sites for patients who are not being treated for coronavirus and have not tested positive.

In New Castle County, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children has already made room for more beds. Some residents at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City are moving to the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna to make room for patients there.

No new patients will move into Bacon until the building is cleaned and prepared, Schall said.

In Kent and Sussex County, the state plans a mobile hospital that can care for 50 to 60 people at Bayhealth, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital or Beebe as needed.

“After talking to the leadership of the hospitals in Kent and Sussex County, having something that has the services right across the street is a lot better than right down the road,” Schall said.

Masks

The state is developing guidance for when Delawareans should wear masks, Carney said.

“It’s been recommended as an extra measure to protect the spread,” he said, referring to changes in CDC guidance. “It’s not for everybody. It’s really for people when going out to the grocery store.”

Rattay said people should wear masks when in areas, especially indoor settings, where it’s difficult to stay six feet away from another person.

“We also want to make sure people know that wearing masks is not a substitute for social distancing and [proper] hygiene,” she said.

Police action

Police have recently conducted more checkpoints at the state’s borders and enforced the state’s emergency order when businesses and individuals fail to comply.

Carney said law enforcement is an important next step.

“Going forward, I think what we can lean into more than anything is the enforcement side,” he said. “We have a lot of reconnaissance out there. I think some of our law enforcement actions on the border are sending a message that’s sinking in.”

He clarified that the travel restrictions only apply to nonresidents coming into Delaware. To prevent a Delawarean from going into a neighboring state like Pennsylvania, that state must enact a similar order, he said.

The full briefing presentation can be viewed here

https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2020/04/4.7.2020-Press-Briefing.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1MLDarNjfl4g6fxvs2ldc5A908DaMzEqGCtai0zlbuAgLF5lYFAKDMDS4