Newark was a major area of focus in Delaware Governor John Carney’s COVID-19 briefing on Sept. 8. Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, identified Newark as one of four areas of concern in Delaware.
“In the Newark area, 19711 and 19713 zip codes are two zip codes where we are seeing increases where we do have a lot of UD students living off campus,” Rattay said.
Rattay said Wilmington, New Castle and Dover are the other three concerning areas for Delaware.
Rattay also said that the City of Newark is doing a great job of enforcement, and that the Newark Police Department is really “out and about” and working to enforce the gathering limits that the city has set. She also said enforcement will be increased.
“Enforcement has been heightened, stepped up, and we are going to continue to step up enforcement in Newark; and in any of these areas, especially where we’re seeing increases,” Rattay said.
However, Carney said that enforcement is still difficult in some cases.
“We’ve worked hard with Newark police and University of Delaware campus police on enforcement,” Carney said. “The most difficult part of that, of course, is in the private homes and parties in those neighborhoods and homes and the jurisdiction of the Newark police.”
Carney said that the increase in cases in Delaware is a sign that the community needs to really follow the protections and the restrictions put in place, as well as wear a mask when in public and around others. He said Delaware’s COVID-19 statistics need to get better in order to move into phase three.
Additionally, Carney said one of the best things you can do is get tested. Rattay said that Newark Urgent Care has 24/7 testing available to anyone residing in Delaware.
Carney also said that they now know that the focus of the outbreaks in Delaware is found in a young adult demographic.
“The hardest demographic, I think, to reach is where their spread is the highest,” Carney said. “That young adult, college age, just after college population that feels invincible, that feels like they’ll never get sick, but they will, and they can if they’re exposed to COVID-19, and so they’re not taking the precautionary measures necessary.”
As of Sept. 15 , the number of positive cases per 10,000 people for the 18 to 34 age group is higher than all other age groups in Delaware but specifically, in area codes 19711 and 19713.
Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton said he agrees that the increase in cases in Newark is concerning.
“We are the home of the University of Delaware, and I think the concern is you have people coming from, certainly the tri-state area, and the four-or-five-state area to include New York [and] Connecticut, who’ve not had a stellar record for the virus,” Clifton said. “Now, we’re all congregating in Newark, and I think the concern is well-placed.”
Clifton also said that some of the student population do not understand the severity of the situation.
“I think from a student perspective, some students get it, and they understand that even for a younger person, it can be deadly, to say nothing about carrying it to other family members, where it could certainly be deadly,” Clifton said. “Some people, I think, don’t see this as serious of an issue that it’s being made out to be.”
Clifton said that it will require everyone’s help to control COVID-19 in Newark.
“I think between the governor’s office and city government and university administration; everyone’s working hand-in-hand,” Clifton said. “But it still, nonetheless, takes the efforts of everyone to do the right thing, whether social distancing or wearing a mask, to really stem the tide of the virus.”