Delaware reports most COVID-19 cases in a single day as other key indicators climb
The spread of COVID-19 in Delaware is continuing to increase, with several key indicators reaching or eclipsing spring records.
Delaware on Thursday reported 754 new cases, the most ever in a single day. The greatest single day case count in the spring was 487 on May 10. Delaware has surpassed that number nine times this fall.
To account for the unevenness in how data is reported, state officials average the daily case counts for the past week on a rolling basis and use that number to monitor how cases are trending. The average has set a record in each of the past five days, climbing to 555.7 on Thursday.
The numbers reported Thursday represent the state of the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The recent spike cannot be solely attributed to increased testing. Although Delaware has administered about 7,000 tests per day over the past week, a dramatic increase over the roughly 1,500 tests performed daily in May, the percentage of tests that are positive is rising too.
The state reported on Thursday a seven-day average of 8% of tests that are positive as of Nov. 30, the highest it's been this fall. (There is a two-day lag on testing data reported by the state.) A week earlier, the figure was 6.1%.
There are currently 277 people hospitalized in Delaware due to COVID-19, the most since May 12. The state has estimated its hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients is between 400 and 500.
Nearby Pennsylvania – which reported more than 11,000 new cases Thusday – is seeing a surge in hospitalizations that is threatening ICU capacities in some counties. The state's health secretary, Rachel Levine, said in a press conference Thursday that there are counties in Pennsylvania, mostly in the north and southwest portions of the state, with few ICU beds available and some with none and there is "significant concern" about the statewide capacities.
Pennsylvania counties that border Delaware are seeing strain. In Delaware County, where 183 patients (34 in ICUs) are being treated for COVID-19, as of Thursday there were eight ICU beds available, and just 8.3% of the county's ICU beds were unused. In Chester County, 30 ICU beds are available as of Thursday, though the county is at a less dangerous number of 68% of ICU beds in use.
At his weekly COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. John Carney said the state is considering implementing new restrictions in its efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the state's hospital capacity.
Delaware has taken other measures, including increased testing and contact tracing, in addition to restrictions issued last month, which limited restaurant and event venue capacity and private gatherings, but none have curbed the virus' spread.
According to public health experts, the fall and winter months make for prime conditions for the virus to spread: cool temperatures make it easier for the virus to incubate, while encouraging more indoor gatherings which are less safe than outdoor events.
In recent days, national health officials, including the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned of a "surge upon a surge" after the Thanksgiving holiday. In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, local officials feared the holiday would exacerbate the spread of the virus if family and friends gathered indoors without masks to celebrate.
Carney on Tuesday did not indicate what types of restrictions he is considering, only saying the state has "big decisions to make this week."
This week, some neighboring states have taken action, including further limiting the size of outdoor gatherings and banning indoor youth sports. None have implemented a wide-ranging shutdown like those this spring.