DPHD makes changes to COVID-19 guidelines


By Gary Budzak - [email protected]



The Delaware Public Health District announced Tuesday it is updating its guidelines related to COVID-19, based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Community spread of COVID-19 is currently at a high level, and residents should assume they have been exposed to COVID-19 during this current surge,” the health district said in its announcement. “Wearing a mask wherever possible will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Receiving the vaccine and booster as well as keeping 6 feet away from others will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

“For those who can, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated greatly helps protect those around us,” said Shelia Hiddleson, health commissioner, in a news release.

The CDC had been recommending an isolation period of 10 days, but that has now been reduced to five days.

“People who are sick with COVID-19 should stay home for five days and can end isolation after those five days if there is no fever for 24 hours and symptoms are improving but should wear a mask in public for an additional five days,” the health district said. “DPHD will still send out isolation letters to those who test positive for COVID-19. However, as soon as a person knows they have COVID-19, they should notify the people they had close contact with while infectious. The infectious period begins up to 48 hours before the symptoms and/or positive test and continues until isolation ends.”

The DPHD added, “People who are experiencing symptoms and are unsure if those symptoms are related to COVID-19, should also stay at home until being fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving.”

As the new year approaches, the DPHD is again reporting four out of five failed critical factors on its weekly COVID-19 report card.

“Remember during this upcoming holiday, please stay home if you’re sick, you’re positive, you’re waiting on test results, you’ve been exposed or someone in your home is sick!” the health district has previously posted.

The failed factors are new cases of COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2), new cases in the schools, positivity rate, and percent of intensive care unit patients with coronavirus. The only positive factor is in the percentage of residents who are vaccinated, 71.3%. The critical factors were developed by the CDC to help local agencies provide community guidance.

This week’s critical factors are 573 new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days (it was 374 last week); and 90 new cases per 100,000 staff and students in the past seven days (it was 301 last week). Both totals are well over the 50 or less needed for a satisfactory grade. The positivity rate is nearly 16.5%, above the 8% or less satisfactory mark; and the health care capacity is 25%, greater than the 20% satisfactory mark.

The DPHD’s weekly report said there have been an average of 74 new cases per day per 100,000 population (the county’s population is more than 200,000). Last week’s average was 53. There have been 27,841 total cases (over a thousand more than last week), and 3,366 people have been placed in isolation within the last 10 days (up more than 700 in the past week).

Starting next year, there will no longer be a weekly report from the district. However, the data from the weekly report will be included in the district’s monthly COVID-19 reports.

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By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.