Coronavirus claims life of 66-year-old male from Sussex County

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With up to 130 infected Delawareans and it’s third day of sheltering in place, this nasty and highly contagious Coronavirus/COVID-19 disease claims the life of it’s first Delawarean. 

Kent County (DE): The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) related fatality in the State of Delaware early this afternoon.

According to Jen Brestel, spokeswoman for the Department of Health, “The deceased is an 66-year-old male from Sussex County who passed away while hospitalized out of state. The individual had underlying health conditions and was critically ill. The source of his exposure is not confirmed.”

There have been 130 total laboratory-confirmed cases in the state since March 11. This includes 11 additional cases since yesterday. Of the Delawareans diagnosed with COVID-19, 86 are from New Castle County, 17 are from Kent County, and 27 are from Sussex County. The total number of positive cases represents a cumulative total of cases, including individuals who are currently ill and those who are considered “recovered.”

Of the 130 cases, 63 are male and 67 are female. The individuals range in age from 1 to 90. Thirteen individuals are currently hospitalized within Delaware; seven are critically ill. An additional two Delaware residents are hospitalized out of state.

The source of exposure for many of these positive cases is unknown, which indicates community spread of the virus is occurring in the state.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the gentleman who died, as well as to all who have been diagnosed with coronavirus disease,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “This is a tragic reminder that that this disease can be fatal. We need to make sure that we are protecting vulnerable persons from this disease, particularly older individuals and those with chronic health conditions. This reinforces why it’s so important for everyone to stay home – especially those who are ill with any symptoms including fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath and even stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea.”

Monday, Governor John Carney declared a Public Health Emergency in Delaware. On Sunday March 22, Governor Carney issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his State of Emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in the state to help stop community spread of COVID-19. The orders went into effect at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday. The Governor’s order does allow Delawareans who need to see a doctor, pick up a prescription, or engage in other activities essential to their health to leave their residences.

If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, which may include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, body aches and sore throat, to make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. This includes people 60 years of age and older; people with serious chronic health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease; or those who are immunocompromised.

For individuals who are sick, stay home and contact your primary care provider for guidance regarding symptoms and next steps. DPH recommends that individuals who are sick, even with mild symptoms that would be present with a cold or flu, are strongly advised to stay home to help prevent the spread of illness to others.

“We implore anyone with symptoms – particularly health care providers, and those caring for children – to stay home. Working while sick is spreading the disease and endangering others,” said Dr. Rattay.

Statewide testing at standing health care facility testing sites began on Monday, March 23. These are not walk-in testing sites. A physician’s order or prescription is required for testing at one of the standing test sites (* Bayhealth patients will be pre-screened via phone without needing to see a provider first). Those without a primary care provider can call the DPH Call Center Line at 1-866-408-1899. Individuals awaiting test results, should wait to hear back from their medical provider. The DPH Call Center does not have test results.

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899, or 711 for individuals who are hearing-impaired, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Questions can also be submitted by email at


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