Delaware reports its first 2 coronavirus deaths
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Officials on Thursday announced Delaware's first two coronavirus deaths, including one that occurred after the first known outbreak at a long-term care facility in the state.
The death of an 86-year-old man who had lived at Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark was announced Thursday night in a news release from state health officials. The man had underlying medical conditions, officials said. Six residents of the nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of this individual’s death,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker. “Unfortunately, this death and the confirmed cases at this facility underscore the need for all long-term care facilities in Delaware to follow strict screening protocols for anyone entering their facilities."
Earlier in the day, a 66-year-old man from southern Delaware had been announced as the state's first coronavirus death. The Sussex County man with underlying health conditions died while hospitalized out of state.
Officials did not provide further details, including where the man was hospitalized, what day he died or whether he contracted the virus in Delaware.
"We just learned of this death late last night. Our epidemiologists are still investigating the circumstances," said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.
Officials reported that four Delawareans who tested positive for the virus have recovered.
Delaware officials also reported Thursday that the number of unemployment claims filed for the week ending March 21 shattered the previous record for claims filed in an entire month.
Officials said 10,790 Delawareans filed claims last week after state-mandated closures and restrictions on many businesses because of the coronavirus outbreak. The number of claims easily exceeded the monthly record of 9,632 set in January 2002. It also represented an increase of more than 2,100% from the previous week.
Hundreds of Delaware businesses including restaurants, bars, theaters and fitness centers have been forced to close or severely restrict operations under an emergency declaration by Gov. John Carney.
Among the businesses ordered to cease operations were firearms dealers, some of whom defied the closure order. In response, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency issued cease-and-desist letters this week to several gun shop owners.
The ban on firearms sales elicited a torrent of online criticism from gun owners, many of whom complained to Carney's office. On Thursday, Carney lifted the ban, allowing firearms and ammunition sales by appointment only. No more than two appointments per half-hour are allowed, and sellers are limited to their normal, pre-emergency operating hours.
Carney similarly modified a restriction on automobile dealerships, which were considered “nonessential businesses” that must remain closed during the state of emergency. Dealers are now allowed to sell at showrooms by appointment only, with no more than two appointments per half-hour.
As of Thursday, more than 140 coronavirus cases had been reported in Delaware, including 91 in New Castle County, 33 in Sussex County and 19 in Kent County. The individuals range in age from 1 to 90. Fifteen are hospitalized in Delaware, with nine reported to be critically ill. Two other Delaware residents are hospitalized out of state.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.