Reliable data needed to open Delaware safely

From the beginning of the health crisis that has enveloped our state and the nation, I have been consistent in requesting data and a more specific identification of the totals of tests administered, positives recorded, hospitalizations, and fatalities connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. I intended to use some of that information to alert my constituents to potential hot-spots or contacts that they might choose to avoid. The closing of businesses and the self-quarantining and social distancing recommendations certainly was instrumental in slowing the onslaught of the virus. My repeated requests to DHSS and DPH for reliable data as to numbers and status of infected individuals and locations (where the spread might be more prevalent) were not addressed to my satisfaction. I still felt inadequately informed but also understood the complexity of mapping this unknown and invisible threat.

Now we have arrived at a new and more challenging juncture in this battle. The Governor has announced different phases for restarting businesses and the economy. This, however, entails a new set of challenges in measuring a legitimate flattening of the curve while still being able to recognize as quickly as possible any new flare-ups of the virus. We must have a clear picture of the statistical changes and measures we are employing in planning our progress. We must be able to identify as quickly as possible any threatening trends as we move forward. This will certainly demand full attention to our steps forward and basing that planning on reliable metrics.

As we gradually reopen Delaware businesses and activities that have potential for close quarters and density of people, such as child care centers, we must be assured that our planning and paths forward are based on many factors prominently featuring a reasonable interpretation of “flattening the curve.” That calculation must consider the number of tests administered, the percentage of positives, a reflection of hospitalizations and an accurate recording of all deaths due to the virus.

Today’s acknowledgment that the total Delaware deaths resulting from COVID19 have been underreported or misreported by 67 (13% of the total) is a cause for concern. Additionally as reported in the News Journal, “The news came on a day when the state’s hospitalization numbers continued a modest climb. There are now 91 people hospitalized, up from 75 on June 18. Fifteen people are listed as ‘critically ill.'”

“It’s a little bit concerning,” Gov. John Carney said at his latest coronavirus press briefing. “We’re going to keep our eye on that number. But we’re still comfortably below our ability and hospital capacity to treat COVID-19.”

Moving forward with reopening Delaware answers some compelling needs but it must be done responsibly and with complete and accurate recordings of data to avoid a setback that would be more devastating than the initial onslaught of the pandemic.

John Kowalko
State Representative
25th District

Click here for Delaware COVID-19 resources

Coronavirus CDC website

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