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Carney partners with health providers, Sussex employers on testing sites, outreach, education

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Gov. John Carney announced April 22 a partnership with the Delaware Division of Public Health, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Westside Family Healthcare, local hospital systems, poultry industry employers, Federally Qualified Health Centers and trusted community partners to stand up community testing sites in Sussex County and increase outreach and distribution of educational materials about COVID-19 in southern Delaware.

“We’ve seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases in communities across Sussex County,” said Carney. “This new testing program is designed to save lives. Over the next week, we will be partnering with local hospitals, the Delaware Division of Public Health, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and others to offer free, rapid coronavirus testing at community testing sites in Sussex County. As the largest employers in Sussex County, we are partnering with the poultry industry to ensure that workers and their families get all of the information they need to be safe and healthy.”

The community testing plan is a three-pronged effort. It includes testing through the use of rapid test kits and ensuring access to care; guidance on isolation and assistance when it is not possible to isolate safely; and education and outreach through the assistance of trusted community partners. Individuals will receive “care kits” with essential materials including hand sanitizer, bandanas, thermometers and educational materials. Educational materials are being translated into Spanish and Haitian Creole to reach those who do not read English as their first language. These tests are not mandatory.

“We are grateful for the partnership of everyone involved in bringing this massive effort together,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “In addition to testing sites at poultry plants, there will also be community testing sites, which we expect will reach workers in other industries and their families. We believe this community-based testing strategy will be critical in identifying the extent of the spread of COVID-19 and of mitigating it, by providing guidance and support for those with positive test results and educational materials for everyone tested.”

“The efforts of all these partners to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our rural communities here in Sussex County is a testament to working towards a common goal to re-open our state. From the farmers to the workers in the plants to employees in agribusinesses, our workforce is the backbone that makes agriculture so successful in Delaware,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We want to ensure that every employee gets the care they need, and to make sure if a staff member does have COVID-19 that we can stop it from spreading to others. We appreciate the efforts that the poultry companies are taking to protect their employees, including implementing physical barriers and social distancing protocols, daily health screenings and, now, onsite testing."

Partners in the community testing efforts include Bayhealth; Beebe Healthcare; ChristianaCare Health System; Nanticoke Health Services; Westside Family Healthcare; Allen Harim; Mountaire Farms;Perdue Farms; local community partners and organizations; municipal and county government; Delaware Technical Community College Georgetown; and community health centers and providers.

Carney, Rattay and DEMA Director A.J. Schall will discuss the community testing and outreach partnership during their 1:45 p.m. press briefing April 24.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19, related to medical or social service needs, should call 211; or 711 for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Questions may also be submitted by email at dphcall@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For more on Delaware’s response, visit de.gov/coronavirus.