Delaware County Council Provides Friday Update as COVID Cases Continue to Surge


Delaware County and Pennsylvania have seen an alarmingly high spike in COVID-19 cases this week, reported Delaware County Council at a Friday afternoon press conference.

The 7-day incident rate as of Friday showed 318 cases per 100,000 people. On Nov. 6, that incident rate was 149.3. The highest number of daily cases in the early days of the pandemic was 232, said Council President Brian Zidek.

 There has also been a dramatic increase in deaths.

Delaware County is experiencing community spread of the virus, which means it’s in the neighborhoods as opposed to being concentrated in nursing homes and other institutional facilities.

Fair Acres, the county’s geriatric facility, is effectively containing the virus, isolating those that are infected. There are currently 11 patients and 14 staff members infected.

The spike has meant hospitals diverting patients and longer waits in emergency rooms. At the moment, there are no unmet needs at any of Delaware County’s hospitals, reported Tim Boyce, director of Emergency Services.

Quarantining and sick staff has also meant  fewer 911 operators, police, fire and EMS.

“We are going down a road we feared we may go down earlier this fall—higher numbers, more deaths and overwhelming our health care systems and first responders,” Zidek said.

Mitigation efforts

Since Nov. 23, amended COVID-19 mitigation orders from the Pennsylvania Department of Health have been in place in Delaware County and are set to remain in place until Jan. 2, 2021. They are:

  • Individuals in bars, restaurants and other retail food establishments must wear masks except when eating or drinking;
  • Bars, restaurants and other retail food establishments must limit the number of individuals at a table to four;
  • Events or gatherings of more than 10 people indoors are prohibited.

Events mean weddings, indoor parties, festivals, concerts or shows. 

It also includes business meetings or conferences, gatherings in larger, permanent businesses, individual showings of movies on a single screen or auditorium and gatherings in funeral homes.

Religious gatherings and classroom settings are unaffected but places of worship are encouraged to find alternative ways to hold services and to emphasize masks and social distancing. School activities outside the classroom are prohibited.

Winter sports

 Council emphasized that indoor winter sports for schools, youth and adults are suspended under the mitigation guidelines.

“Council revisited the guidance as it pertains to sports after receiving feedback that many parents and children would obviously like to play winter sports,” Zidek said.

It was decided to keep the mitigation guidance in place. Public health experts said the virus spreads more easily indoors person-to-person, Zidek said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania State Police and individual municipalities are empowered to enforce the amended order and other public health orders.

Click here to read the order.

Despite rising cases, there are currently no plans to add any more restrictions.

 Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaeffer acknowledged the struggle businesses are having coping with colder weather, the increase in cases and the amended mitigations.

“There is no way around it. We know you are suffering,” she said. The additional mitigation efforts were put in place to protect the community and still allow businesses to stay open, she said.

She urged those residents not following the guidelines to take personal responsibility.

 “Think about our community as a whole-and not just yourself.”

COVID Testing

Councilwoman Dr. Monica Taylor said anyone with symptoms should be tested. Those who were exposed to someone who tested positive should wait seven days, than be tested with a PCR test to give as accurate a result as possible.

Drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing is offered throughout the county.  Click here for county information on testing and a list of available test sites.

County prison

Councilman Kevin Madden reported that since Nov. 11 the George Hill Correctional Facility has had 18 positive cases of COVID-19 among the inmates and 18 among the staff.  One corrections officer has died.

Inmate movement is being limited to contain the virus at the prison.

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