Delaware is seeing its highest rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 since mid-July
Here are some of the top stories we're following for Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Wochit
Delaware is experiencing its highest rate of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-July, which state officials attribute to an increase of cases among college students.
Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that the state is seeing a seven-day average of 7.1% for the percent of positive cases, when just weeks ago it was hovering around 4%. Health officials consider percent positive to be a key indicator when looking to further reopen the economy and schools.
This is the highest this figure has been since July 12, when the average percent positive was 8.1%.
Anything over 5% is considered to be concerning, state officials have said. When looking to allow students fully back into the classroom, the state's percent positive rate will have to be lower than 3%.
"We really need to do a better job," Carney said at his weekly press briefing. "It's a young adult crowd, it ought to be a responsible crowd. It's a lot of folks that are in our colleges and universities that need to be more attentive to following the rules and protecting one another, frankly."
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: This app could let Delawareans know if they have been exposed to COVID-19
The state has also seen a recent increase in hospitalizations and the average number of cases confirmed each day.
As of Sept. 15, there have been 19,137 cases and 618 deaths, according to state data. The young adult demographic – people between the ages of 18-34 – continues to see the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Heading into the new school year, University of Delaware officials knew off-campus behaviors would be one of the biggest concerns when it comes to managing the spread of COVID-19.
Since the school year started, 124 students and 12 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at UD.
The university changed course from its hybrid plans over the summer, pushing most classes online after realizing it was an “untenable situation to have that many people on our campus,” university spokesperson Andrea Boyle Tippett said.
Right now, about 1,300 students are living on campus because some have needed special accommodations or had classes that required them to be in-person. But even with most classes happening virtually, many students have still returned to Newark, tied to their off-campus leases.
Boyle Tippett estimated “several thousand” students have returned to Newark, and that most student rental properties in the city are occupied.
“We expected the numbers to go up as the students returned to campus, we had an influx of thousands of people into Newark," she said. "Now that it’s been a little period of time, and there’s an incubation period to the virus as well, we did expect the numbers to go up a bit.”
The university has started offering testing to asymptomatic students twice a week, but students are not required to get tested regularly, Boyle Tippett said.
Students and staff visiting campus are required to fill out a daily health questionnaire. As the school year progresses, students and faculty will have to show those questionnaires in order to get into major buildings like the gym, library, student centers, dining hall and ice rink.
On average, about 5,000 individuals complete the questionnaire daily, Boyle Tippett said.
Carney attributes the increase in cases to off-campus parties, which has been an issue for colleges and states across the country. While Delaware is looking to improve its messaging to students about social distancing, it also plans to work with colleges and local law enforcement on more effective consequences.
"The students care more about university sanctions," Carney said, "which end up in their parents' hands, as opposed to a citation from the city of Newark that their parent never sees."
The governor referenced how some universities have suspended students for violating COVID-19 protocols. This messaging might be needed, Carney said.
"It's not just about you and your party," he said. "It's about the community. It's about getting children back into schools by pushing those numbers down."
Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 324-2386 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @merenewman.