Public health officials on Friday reported the first COVID-19-related death of a child in Delaware.
Officials said the death involved a child under the age of 5 from New Castle County who had a significant number of underlying health problems.
“While each life lost as a result of this virus is tragic, the loss of a child is felt across our entire community,” Delaware Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “We send our deepest condolences to this child’s family and all of those who have lost a loved one during this pandemic. We are urging everyone in our state to come together, take this current winter surge seriously, remain vigilant about mitigation measures, and keep each other safe.”
Also Friday, Gov. John Carney signed a revised emergency order lifting a 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars starting Friday night. Those establishments must still require patrons to wear masks and post signs on each table stating that only people from the same household can share a table.
The revised order also allows all sports contests and competitions to resume, with a maximum occupancy of 30 percent. That includes athletes, coaches, and other employees or staff. Each athlete may be accompanied by one person, who would not be included in the 30 percent capacity limit, but additional spectators are not permitted.
As of Thursday evening, officials reported 957 confirmed and probable COVID-19-related deaths in Delaware, an increase of 31 from the previous week. The number of current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased by 39 over the same time period, to 451.
Meanwhile, officials continue to investigate outbreaks among residents and staff at more than two dozen long-term care facilities throughout Delaware. Residents of those facilities account for 512, or more than half, of reported COVID-19-related fatalities, but represent only about 3 percent of positive cases and less than 1 percent of Delaware's population.
Health officials are tracking a major outbreak at Churchman Village, a nursing home on Ogletown-Stanton Road, east of Newark. A total of 63 residents and 47 staff members have tested positive, and seven residents have died.
Additionally, there were two recent deaths at Somerford House and Place, also on Ogletown-Stanton Road.
The outbreak at Churchman Village is the first in a Newark-area nursing home since Little Sisters of the Poor and Newark Manor both lost 11 residents due to complications from COVID-19 in the spring. Millcroft also reported two deaths earlier this year.
Statewide, a record number of new positive cases, 1,241, were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total since March 11 to 63,503.
The seven-day average for the percentage of total tests showing positive results also continues to rise, climbing to 10.4 percent as of Tuesday, while the seven-day average of the percentage of people testing positive climbed to 27.3 percent as of Thursday, compared to 25.1 percent a week earlier.
As of midnight Thursday, the state had received 53,650 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but only 21,814 had been administered.
Meanwhile, the Department of Correction is offering incentives to prison inmates who get vaccinated. They note that prisoners who have tested positive must be recovered and wait 90 days after the positive test before they can receive the vaccine.
DOC officials said inmates who get both doses of the vaccine will receive five days of "good time" sentence-reduction credits, if they are eligible, along with one free video visit of up to 30 minutes and a free commissary snack bag or special meal. Also, when officials resume allowing in-person visitation, appointments for vaccinated inmates will be scheduled first.
Correction officials said they administered an initial 200 vaccine doses this week to contract health care workers and to a limited number of correctional officers who are in direct contact with inmates, with priority given to those who work in COVID-19 treatment centers, prison infirmaries, and housing units for inmates with chronic health conditions.
Inmates with end-stage pulmonary or cardiac disease and with compromised immune systems or multiple high-risk medical conditions will be given top priority for the vaccination. They will be followed, in order, by inmates age 60 and older with chronic medical conditions; inmates under 60 with chronic health conditions; other inmates age 60 and older, and all other inmates not included in the other categories.
The priority for staff is similar, starting with those 60 and older with chronic health conditions, followed by those under 60 with chronic health conditions, others age 60 and older, workers under age 60 whose primary duty involves direct contact with inmates and probationers, and other staff not included in the other categories.
Newark Post Editor Josh Shannon contributed to this article.