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Frequently Asked Questions


General

 

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It is named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

  • We are in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other local, state, and national partners to share information.
  • We have sent information to health care providers around the state with current recommendations for screening and testing for COVID-19, as well as to EMS and home health care providers regarding proper protection procedures.
  • We are holding frequent calls with staff and our state and health care provider partners to stay up to date with the latest updates.
  • We are sharing messaging with partners and the public as it becomes available.
  • This is a rapidly evolving situation, so information and recommendations are likely to change quickly as well. We will continue to learn more in the coming days and share new information as it is available.
  • Through the air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Individuals 60 years of age and older.
  • Individuals with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease.
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised or have medical needs.
  • Individuals with access or functional needs.
  • Individuals who are homeless or experience housing instability.

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms (similar to the common cold) to people being severely ill and dying:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Aches or muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Chills or repeated shaking with chills
  • Headache
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • If you experience all three symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), call your health care provider before you go in-person to the clinic or doctor’s office.
  • Your health care professional will work with the Delaware Division of Public Health to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
  • Stay home, rest, and avoid others. Most people with mild COVID-19 illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications.
  • Fourteen days is the presumed incubation period for this virus, so remaining at home and avoiding groups for this time will ensure that you do not spread the virus in the community if you develop symptoms.
  • If you are unsure what you should do, contact the Division of Public Health Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 to discuss your concerns and next steps.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that Americans should brace for the likelihood that the virus will continue to spread in the U.S.
  • To help protect those who are most vulnerable, adhere to the CDC recommendations for social distancing (6 to 10 feet away from one another) and cancel or reschedule unnecessary travel, gatherings, and community engagement.
  • If you are worried, self-monitor for symptoms. As soon as you experience all three symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), call your health care provider.
  • More information is available at https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vulnerable-populations/.
  • As of June 1, 2020 Delawareans are no longer under stay-at-home orders. We all still need to continue to take precautions like staying at least 6 feet apart from others, wear a face covering, and:
    • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you do not have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands.
    • Avoid touching your face or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Sneeze or cough into your elbow, and if you use a tissue, throw it away immediately.
    • If you are sick, stay isolate from others in your household.
    • Check the “What You Can Do” section of this website for updates.
  • CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel.
  • Check the CDC website for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. There have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • Check the CDC website for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should immediately call ahead to their health care provider before visiting a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital in person.

People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.

You should wear a cloth face covering or mask whenever you are in a public setting, according to the thirteenth modification of the State of Emergency declaration. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. Public settings include grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and public transportation. Businesses and services can refuse entry to individuals who do not have a face covering. Delawareans are urged to use cloth face coverings and reserve medical-grade masks for use by health care workers and first responders. Delawareans wearing a face covering should practice strict hand-washing before and after touching the face covering, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH).

Face coverings are NOT a replacement for washing hands, practicing physical distancing, and staying home. Delawareans who are sick should wear a face covering over their nose and mouth if they must be around other people – even while at home.

Governor Carney’s order does not require children aged 12 or younger to wear a face covering. Any child 2-years-old or younger MUST NOT wear a face covering, due to the risk of suffocation.”

The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). Read more about Guidance for Face Coverings.

All individuals, when in public, (e.g. parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. Social settings of more than 10 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, must be avoided (e.g. receptions, trade shows).

The number of individuals in a particular location will be strictly controlled in order to make sure that safe social distancing is maintained. Some of these limits are addressed for individual industries in the industry guidance, but where it is not otherwise stated, the upper limit is 30% of fire code occupancy (excluding staff) for Phase 1 (starting June 1, 2020).

Fully unenclosed outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people are permitted if public health precautions are in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19 (read the guidance).

Read more about Phase 1 reopening here.

The CDC says early data suggests that people 60 and older are twice as likely to suffer a serious illness from coronavirus disease than younger people. For seniors and people with serious chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer, the CDC recommends that they “avoid crowds as much as possible.” Other suggestions:

  • Stay home as much as possible and avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated space.
  • Stock up on supplies, including medications, food and other household items.
  • When you go out in public, including to doctor appointments or dialysis, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • Have a plan if you get sick, and communicate often with relatives, friends or neighbors.
  • For more information, see the CDC’s recommendations.

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/index.html

For more complete guidance on COVID-19 and pets, please click here.

Individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must maintain home isolation until at least 3 days have passed since recovery began — defined as the end of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., the end of their cough and/or shortness of breath); and, at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

After discontinuation of home isolation, persons must continue to avoid sustained close contact with others, maintain strict social distancing and hand hygiene, and not return to work for an additional 4 days (for a total of 7 days without symptoms) due to the possible risk of continued infectiousness. Persons may return to work after this 7-day period, however, they should continue to recognize the risk of infectiousness and self-monitor for symptoms.

 

Business

 

  • No, it does not, and no such paperwork is needed. A full list of essential industries can be found here. If your business activity is designated as essential, your business is permitted to remain open as long as it follows all necessary CDC guidelines for safety at this time.
  • Staffing questions should be addressed between employers and employees. As long as employers are following applicable guidelines on both leave and on the recent essential designation, then employees should handle any requests directly with employers.
  • The easiest way is to use the four-digit NAICS code associated with the business. If you are the owner of the business, you can locate your NAICS code by a) looking at your unemployment insurance forms, b) looking at your most recent tax returns, or c) searching Google for your industry followed by the term “NAICS code”.
  • If you are not the owner of your business, please contact your manager or other appropriate employment supervisor and ask them for clarification on the business status.
  • Once you have your industry coded, you can use this filterable search to find whether that industry is essential.
  • Failure to follow CDC guidelines will result in closure on an individual firm basis until the State of Emergency is lifted. Businesses who continue to operate even if they have been deemed non-essential will be given an initial grace if their failure to comply was done after a good faith effort to clarify their status, but those who do not comply and knowingly do so will be subject to civil and in some cases criminal penalties.
  • Follow the least restrictive code. If one code is deemed essential while others are not, the business should be considered essential unless further clarification has been given by the state to you directly or through an industry trade group.
  • The NAICS code that should be used is the NAICS code that the business had for their most recent unemployment and/or tax filings prior to the issuance of the State of Emergency. A business classified as non-essential who changes or adds a NAICS code in order to fall under the essential category will be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties as a company that knowingly fails to comply with the order.

 

Unemployment Benefits

 

Workers should file for benefits on the Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance website at https://ui.delawareworks.com/.

The phone lines are extremely busy and the Delaware Department of Labor (DOL) is working to add employees. Email your questions to uiclaims@delaware.gov and please include your name and claim/confirmation number, if you have one.

DOL has a Frequently Asked Questions flyer available via text – text uifacts to 555888, and available on their websites at dol.delaware.gov or ui.delawareworks.com. People can also call   302-761-8446 however, there is a longer than usual wait time to speak with a claims processor.

For more information about the details around eligibility please see the CARES Act FAQ’s sheet provided by Senator Tom Carper’s office.

Sign up for weekly email Unemployment Updates for Delawareans.
The email will also contain:

  • Updates on UI claims processing procedures
  • Links to employment resources
  • Immediate employment opportunities for those affected by job loss due to the global pandemic

Visit DOL on Facebook, where they are posting frequent videos and information about unemployment.

 

Work search requirements will be waived during the state of emergency for claimants filing for benefits as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Unemployment benefits are proportionately charged to each employer based on weeks worked and wages earned in
each individual’s base period. Contributory employers could see an increase in their tax rate, which Could result in higher taxes. Reimbursing employers would be charged dollar for dollar for benefits paid, which could result in higher than expected unemployment costs. Employers are able to apply for a rehire credit.

If the president of the United States declares the coronavirus a national disaster, and if individuals experience a
loss of work as a result, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits and/or Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If Delaware launches the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program the public will be notified.

In most cases, yes. However, the agency recognizes the burden placed on the health care industry during this time and will waive this requirement during the state of emergency

Delaware will consider this employee temporarily laid off during the state of emergency. The employee should return
to work as soon as they are released. If work is no longer available after the employee is released for work or the employee fails to return to work the agency will make a new determination.

Delaware would treat this situation as a temporary layoff. The employee should make every reasonable attempt to
preserve their health so they are able to return to work once
released.

Delaware no longer has a waiting week. Claimants should submit a weekly pay authorization the Sunday after a claim is filed and every week thereafter even if they have not yet received a payment.

Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria. Employees who are working reduced hours may be eligible and must report their gross wages at the time they are earned, not paid. Delaware makes no distinction between part time and full time employees who are completely unemployed.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) includes three key programs for workers affected by the Coronavirus.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

Will provide an additional $600 to claimant’s weekly benefits. This added benefit is actively being disbursed for regular unemployment insurance benefit claims.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

Provides workers with up to 13 weeks for claims opened after July 1, 2019. Press Release: Delaware Department of Labor Releases Guidelines on 13 Week Extension of Unemployment Benefits

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Provides unemployment assistance to independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and religious/faith-based organizations affected by the coronavirus. Individuals requesting PUA will be able to apply for benefits beginning the week of May 11th, 2020.

The Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance is currently implementing a new system where claimants will be able to apply the week of May 11, 2020.

DOL will be providing additional information as soon as possible. Visit the DOL website for updates at dol.delaware.gov. In the meantime, collect the following information and get it ready to submit once the system is implemented:

Gather the Proper Documents:

Your Earnings Records for 2019, which include (if applicable):

  • Tax returns
    • Last year’s income tax statement or quarterly earnings statement
  • 1099 forms
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • W2

Gather Information:

  • Social security number or ITIN
  • If you are not a citizen of the United States, your A Number (USCIS Number)
  • Your residential address
  • Your mailing address (if different from residential address)
  • Your telephone number
  • Your email address
  • Your date of birth
  • If you want to use direct deposit for payment, your bank account and routing numbers. All others will receive payment via debit card.

If your benefits exhausted or expired between the dates of July 1, 2019 and Saturday, April 18, 2020, you will need to apply for the 13-week extension after 8:00 AM on Sunday April 19, 2020 by visiting ui.delawareworks.com and completing an application for benefits.

If you are currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits and they will not exhaust or expire until after Sunday April 19, 2020, you do not have to take any action. When your current benefits have been exhausted, your additional 13-week extension will automatically begin.

The maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA) in Delaware is $400 per week. An individual’s benefit amount is determined by wages reported by your employer in the base period. You can make up to 50% of your weekly benefit and still qualify for your full benefit amount. Please refer to the claimant handbook for the Unemployment Insurance benefit amount calculation. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will provide an additional $600 to claimant’s weekly benefits, which is an added benefit disbursement for regular unemployment insurance benefit claims.

The Delaware Department of Labor makes every effort to pay eligible claims within 10-14 days due to the current circumstance. This is pending all information received is accurate and timely. If you have specific questions about your claim, please visit ui.delawareworks.com or send an email to: uiclaims@delaware.gov for more information. To check on the status of your benefits, call the hotline. The hotline will let claimants know if a payment was made. The Information Hotline, at (800) 794-3032 or (302) 761-6576 is available 7 days a week, 24 hours per day.

 

Stay at Home Order

 

The Stay at Home Order started Tuesday morning on March 24, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. and ended on May 31, 2020. Everyone is encouraged to continue to social distance (staying at least 6 feet apart from other people), wear a face covering, wash hands frequently, and avoid touching your face.

 

Out-of-State Self-Quarantine Order

 

No, the out-of-state self quarantine ended on June 1, 2020. Those traveling to Delaware from out of state no longer need to self quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

 

Testing

 

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19 – even those without symptoms. Immediate testing is highly encouraged for those with symptoms. Testing is also highly encouraged for anyone who was told by a Delaware Contact Tracer, that they may have been exposed to, or were a contact of, someone with COVID-19. Close contacts should only be tested AFTER their recommended 14-day quarantine period has ended, because the test may become positive at any point during the 14 days after exposure.

Lastly, those with frequent or high-risk contact with others including health care workers, first responders, those in the hospitality (food/hotel) industry, and critical infrastructure personnel, are recommended to obtain testing at regular intervals even when they do not have symptoms. We recommend you examine the table below to see if you work in a job which is recommended to undergo routine testing.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a medical provider.

People with symptoms, or those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should contact their primary care provider (PCP) for testing or referral so the provider can coordinate care. They can also visit a State of Delaware community-based testing site; no referral is needed.

Symptomatic persons without a PCP can call DPH at 1-866-408-1699 (text 7-1-1 for deaf or hard of hearing), or the ChristianaCare (1-302-733-1000). Bayhealth (1-302-310-8477), or Beebe (302-645-3200) Call Centers for screening and scheduling.

People with no symptoms (asymptomatic individuals) can visit a State of Delaware community-based testing site.

Visit https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing/ to find a testing location near you.

Some employers may offer their own testing plans or options. Check with your supervisor or Human Resources section if you have questions.

The two general types of COVID-19 tests include an “active infection” test (a PCR test) to look for presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, or an “immune response” test (an antibody test) to look for evidence of previous infection.

Different types of PCR tests include a deep nasal swab, a shallow nasal swab that swabs only at the front of the nostrils, a throat swab, or a swab that captures saliva (used at community-based tests). There are also PCR tests such as the LabCorp pixel test that can be performed by yourself at home. For many people, including those without health insurance, the test may come with no upfront cost. The test is a painless swab of the front of the nose that is mailed to LabCorp, and results are received electronically. More information is available here: https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/at-home-test-kits/covid-19-test.

Antibody tests can be performed with a finger stick or via a tube of blood drawn by a qualified healthcare provider. Antibody tests for COVID-19 are available through healthcare providers and laboratories. Check with your healthcare provider to see if they offer antibody tests and whether you should get one.

The length of time varies. Test results coming from a community-based testing event, using the Curative oral/saliva swabs will come back within 72 hours for those who provided an e-mail upon registration. Those who did not provide an email can expect a phone call from a DPH representative approximately five days after taking the test. Most tests sent to the DPH State Lab are processed within 24 to 48 hours, however, the length of time can vary depending upon the number of tests being run that day. If a sample is sent to, and processed by, a commercial lab, your results may take longer as they are sent out of state for testing.

Testing run by the State of Delaware at community-based sites are free, however if you have health insurance, you may be asked to provide that information. If your doctor refers you to a hospital testing site, it is also free, but the hospital system bills your insurer, including Medicaid. Tests are free for uninsured persons.

Those with symptoms should get tested immediately and consult with your health care provider to see if, or how frequently, they recommend re-testing. Close contacts of positive cases should get tested once, after the end of their 14-day quarantine period. There are no recommendations on re-testing.

Testing is available for people without symptoms who may just want to know their status. Those who have more frequent interactions with friends or strangers, especially if you or they are not using face coverings or social distancing, may wish to get tested once a month. Additionally, it’s a good idea to know your status if you plan to have close contact with someone who is older or has a chronic health condition. Frequent, recurring testing is not recommended for the general public at this time. However, the Division of Public Health (DPH) may advise you of the need for testing if ongoing monitoring suggests that COVID-19 disease rates are increasing in your area. DPH also recommends testing on a routine basis (at least once a month) be considered for employees in certain occupations, which are listed in the table below.

The chart below has some recommendations on how frequently you should get tested.
 

Population Frequency Notes
Community
Symptomatic Persons When symptoms occur Re-testing based on medical guidance of provider
Close Contacts of COVID-19 cases (Asymptomatic) Once At conclusion of quarantine (Day 15)
General Asymptomatic Population When community data indicates an increase in cases Targeted community testing events based on epidemiology data

Maybe. Staff in some occupations work with people at higher risk for contracting the disease, like in health care, or long-term care facilities. Or, they have more frequent contact with members of the general public who may not be social distancing or wearing face coverings, like in the retail or hospitality (food/hotel) industries.

Most health care workers and first responders are recommended to be tested once every 4 weeks, and most other critical infrastructure personnel are recommended to be tested at least once a month, however your employer may decide you should be tested more frequently. Discuss with your employer if they have made any arrangements for scheduled testing.

Testing on a routine basis (at least once a month) should be considered for employees in these occupations. Increased testing may be needed if an outbreak occurs:

  • Retail operations
  • Food Service
  • Cosmetology, tattoo and massage
  • Education, including Early Childhood
  • Dentistry
  • Postmortem care
  • Social services and home visitors
  • Meat and poultry processing
  • Manufacturing
  • Laboratory
  • Airline and other transport operations
  • Volunteers providing frontline services
  • Border protection and transportation security
  • Correctional facility operations
  • Solid waste and wastewater management
  • Environmental (i.e., janitorial) services
Population Frequency Notes
Correctional Facilities
Incarcerated Persons Twice At booking and at conclusion of quarantine (Day 15) prior to release into general population
Post-Acute Care Facilities (non-outbreak conditions)
Asymptomatic Residents Once every 4 weeks Testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 25% of residents each week)
Asymptomatic Staff Once every week Testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 20% of staff daily)
Congregate Settings
Shelters Twice At facility admission, as well as testing on a rotating basis (e.g., 25% of all persons each week)
Custodial Care Sites (such as Group Homes) Twice At facility admission, as well as testing on a rotating basis (25% of all persons each week)
Workforce and Community
Asymptomatic Health care Workers and First Responders Once every 4 weeks Testing on a rotating basis e.g., 25% of staff each week)
Asymptomatic Critical Infrastructure Personnel (non-healthcare/first responder) Once a month minimum Testing can be more frequent, but no more frequent than once every 14 days.

A variety of testing options exist. Employers should encourage workers to get tested through their occupational health services or through primary care providers. Hospital and community testing sites throughout the state are also available.

Employers may choose to provide their own testing events in partnership with commercial laboratories or health system partners. Some employers may be interested in partnering with LabCorp for COVID-19 at-home tests. These kits can be shipped to anyone who meets screening criteria. LabCorp can file a claim with any individual’s insurance or utilize federal funds to cover the cost of the test.

For a list of testing resources available to employers, click here.

For the full guidance on testing for employers, click here.

 

Animals

 

Currently there is no evidence to suggest any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.

Although there have been a few reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, this is a new virus and it is not fully understood. For this reason, it is recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. There is some indication that pets can contract the virus from people in the household who have been sick with COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, persons ill with COVID-19 should have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals, including pets, whenever possible. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, wear a cloth face mask; don’t pet, share food, kiss, or hug them, or allow your pet to lick you; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, service animal, and their supplies. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.

Since there have been a few confirmed reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals. Contact your veterinarian if your pet displays any signs of illness.

Although there have been only a few reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with their animals. If your pet shows any signs of illness, including respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

It is recommended that pets and other animals from different households be prevented from commingling at this time, out of an abundance of caution. If your pet is showing signs of illness, you should isolate it from all other pets in your household. When walking your dog, practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between you and other people. If you cannot maintain social distancing, follow Delaware’s guidance on wearing a face covering. Even though people might not feel sick or show symptoms, they can spread the virus.

A family member, friend, or neighbor should be asked to care for your animals while you are hospitalized and until your isolation period has come to an end. Alternatively, you can contact your veterinarian or an animal boarding facility to coordinate boarding your pet while you are in the hospital.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Similar but different coronavirus species cause several common diseases in domestic animals which are not contagious to people. Many dogs, for example, are vaccinated for another species of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) as puppies. However, this vaccine does not cross protect for COVID-19. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 for animals or humans at this time.

Contact your veterinarian to see how they wish to proceed. They may be able to help you by telephone or video conference, or they may require that a healthy person bring the pet in for evaluation. In order to best protect their staff, they will likely have special instructions for you and your pet upon arrival, such as keeping the pet in the car until time of examination; asking you to fill out paperwork from your car; and processing payment for services by telephone.

A very small number of pets, including dogs and cats,  have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. There have been no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.

The first case of an animal testing positive for COVID-19 in the United States was a tiger with a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City. Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus.

Experimental studies conducted in a laboratory setting indicate that cats and ferrets might be able to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and transmit the virus to other animals. In a natural setting, it appears that it is rare that domestic animals are readily infected with SARS-CoV-2; however a few cases have been reported in the United States.

At this time, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets. Normal cleanliness and hygiene should be maintained for your pet. As a general precaution it is recommended that you wash your hands with soap and water after touching animals.

Always practice social (physical) distancing from the ill person, as well as from other persons when you’re on a walk with a dog. Practice handwashing when entering the person’s home. Avoid touching surfaces in the person’s home as much as possible. Do not share food, kiss, or hug the pet, or allow the pet to lick you; and wash your hands before and after any contact with the pet and their supplies. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils with the ill person or pet. After you attend to the pet and go home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and wash your clothes.

Call your veterinary clinic with any questions about your animal’s health. In order to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared to evaluate the animal, the owner should call ahead and arrange the hospital or clinic visit. Make sure to tell your veterinarian if your animal was exposed to a person sick with COVID-19, and if your animal is showing any signs of illness.

At this time, the State of Delaware, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend routine testing of animals for the virus that causes COVID-19 in people. Veterinarians who believe an animal should be tested will contact state animal health officials, who will work with public health and animal health authorities to decide whether samples should be collected and tested.

Essential veterinary care, pet food retail, and animal shelter operations are all deemed essential services in Delaware and therefore remain open to the public. It is recommended to call a facility prior to arrival for special instructions or changes to hours of operation.

Yes. There is no evidence that any companion animals, including shelter animals, are a potential source of COVID-19 infection for people. Many animal shelters and rescues continue to look for foster care and adoption applicants.

Take time now to make plans and prepare your pets in case you can no longer take care of your pets or have to go to the hospital due to COVID-19.

  • Designate a trusted pet caregiver (family, friend, neighbor, colleague), who has a set of keys to your home, is familiar with your home and pet, knows your emergency plan, and has your contact information.
  • Prepare pet care instruction documents for each of your pets with information on feeding, watering, health conditions, medications, etc.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped, the microchip is registered, and information is up to date. Your pet should always be wearing a collar or harness with identification.
  • Make sure your pet’s veterinary care and vaccines are up to date. Organize your veterinary records so they are readily accessible.
  • In addition to making sure you have a supply of your own medication, be certain you have at least 2-4 weeks of your pet’s medication.
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of pet food, litter, and other consumable supplies.
  • Have leashes and crates/carriers available in case your pets need to be transported.

If you are seeking help for your pet, there are organizations in Delaware that may be able to help with low-cost veterinary care and vaccinations, spay and neuter, pet food bank, and sheltering. The Office of Animal Welfare has a listing of community resources online for pet owners.

 

Face Masks

 

A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. Research has shown that certain more densely-woven fabrics may be more effective. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

The primary role of cloth face coverings are to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but may not show symptoms. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for washing hands, physical distancing while performing essential activities, and staying home, but they may be helpful when combined with these actions.

You are required to wear a face covering in public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and on public transportation. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others. If you are sick, you should wear a cloth face covering, over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people — even while at home.

Washing your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily is strongly recommended. Use a bag or bin to store cloth face coverings until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on or adjusting the mask, and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • No longer cover the mouth and nose
  • Don’t stay on the face
  • Have any rips or holes in the fabric

 

Vaccine

 

A vaccine is a substance that teaches your body to recognize that a foreign invader such as a virus or bacteria has entered the body. Once the body recognizes the invader, the body’s immune system is activated, and fighter cells and proteins fight the virus or the bacteria. A vaccine is much like a decoy, it tricks the body into thinking it is the virus, but it does not actually cause the disease. It helps your body fend off the virus.

It is expected that a limited amount of the vaccine will be available in early December to high-risk groups including health care workers, first responders, and long-term care staff. The second round of the vaccine will be most likely available for vaccinating primary care providers, urgent care staff, those with underlying health conditions and those living in certain congregate settings. It is likely going to take until spring of 2021 for the vaccine to be more widely available to the general public. The vaccine has only widely been tested on non-pregnant adults, so at first, it is not likely to be recommended to be given to children or pregnant women.

Delaware vaccine planning effort is led by the Division of Public Health in partnership with the state’s COVID Vaccine Task Force.  First DPH staff met internally to develop a response to the CDC’s request for information. The response, called The Playbook, can be found at https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/

In addition, the Task Force has met weekly to ensure partners and stakeholders are getting the most up-to-date information; subcommittees have formed and been meeting; the State’s Ethics Committee has met to provide initial recommendations on priority groups to receive the vaccine, DPH held a tabletop exercise to identify gaps in planning, medical provider recruitment to administer the vaccine once it’s widely available was conducted, and the Immunizations Program staff has been trained to utilize the national vaccine tracking system (Tiberius) to forecast vaccine allocation, track vaccine orders, asset allocations etc.

The vaccine will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge an office visit fee and will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the vaccine. Vaccine providers can be reimbursed for this fee.

At first when the vaccine is available only to targeted groups, hospital systems and EMS agencies will vaccinate staff.  When the vaccine is more widely available to the public, the vaccine will be available from Primary Care Providers, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and from Public Health.  A web-based locator called Vaccine Finder: https://vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine will list locations as soon as they are available.

Currently all but one of the four COVID-19 vaccines in the final stages of clinical trials in the United States require two shots to be effective. The other one requires one shot.

The two leading vaccine candidates are reporting over 90% efficacy (how well it works), with few, and minor side effects. In comparison, the annual flu vaccine is typically between 40% and 60% effective in preventing influenza. It is unknown how long the COVID vaccine’s effectiveness will last, so an annual vaccine (much like the flu) may be required.

Yes. According to the CDC, experts are still learning how a vaccine will provide protection under real-life conditions. For that reason, everyone will need to continue following CDC guidelines such as wearing a mask over your mouth and nose, frequent hand washing and staying fix feet away from others.

There is a five-step process for vaccine approval in the U.S.: 1) Clinical trials 2) FDA Review and approval or Emergency Use Authorization 3) Manufacturing 4) Distribution and 5) Post vaccine safety monitoring.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States. A company that wants to bring a new vaccine to market first needs to file an application with the FDA, describing its vaccine, its method for manufacturing and its quality control tests. Vaccine approvals follow the same process that other drugs follow.

Vaccine clinical trials are generally done in three phases.

  • Phase 1: This phase tests the safety of the vaccine. It is given to small numbers of people to identify side effects and to see whether the body can handle the vaccine. Sme in the study group receive a placebo, which has no active ingredients.
  • Phase 2: In this phase, the vaccine is given to more people. This phase looks at obtaining additional information on common short-term side effects and how the size of the dose relates to how the immune system responds.
  • Phase 3: The vaccine is given to large numbers of people and involves thorough testing. This phase looks at whether the vaccine really works and prevents new infections, or if it helps people do become infected control the infection so that it does not turn into a serious form of the disease. More people are randomly assigned to receive the vaccine or a placebo.

At any stage of the clinical trial, if data shows there are safety or effectiveness concerns, the FDA can halt the clinical trials or ask for more information and studies. If all three phases are passed successfully, the company can apply for a Biologics License, which is reviewed by a team that includes medial officers, microbiologists, biostatisticians and others. Following the review, the pharmaceutical company and the FDA will present their findings to the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Another option is for the developer to request an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The EUA process was established by Congress after the 9/11 attacks, allowing vaccine developers to make a product available to the public sooner under emergency conditions, when the known benefits outweigh any potential risks.

Recognizing the importance of testing within minority populations, vaccine developers worked with community engagement partners to enroll a diverse pool of volunteers in the clinical trials.  Thirty-seven percent of volunteers from one manufacturer’s clinical trials alone were from racial and ethnic minority groups. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

DPH, with recommendations from the Delaware Public Health and Medical Ethics Advisory Group (Ethics Group) will review the CDC list of prioritized population groups and determine allocation and distribution of vaccine(s). The Ethics Group recommendations will be made based on which groups are most at risk due to how the virus is transmitted (close contact, indoor facilities), the severity rate of the virus in the community, and based on the prioritized population groups.  Persons of color work in many of the industries identified for Tier 1 and Tier 2 vaccination.  Additionally, both Delaware’s COVID Vaccine Task Force and the Communications subcommittee, include representation from organizations representing communities of color and incorporate their feedback into planning.

Of two developers who are likely to be the first to produce a COVID-19 vaccine for use, both have indicated there are very few side effects, and no serious side effects.  Injections site soreness, fatigue, body aches, and headaches were the most common and were generally short-lived.  The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified.

Yes. Once a vaccine is approved, the FDA continues to oversee the production and manufacturing of it to ensure continued safety, according to the FDA. Once a vaccine is released to the general public, the FDA relies on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to identify any problems after marketing and distribution begins.

The vaccine was developed in a much shorter period of time, due to the obvious need to address the public health threat the pandemic posed to the nation. A shorter development and review time does not mean the vaccine is unsafe.

The shorter development time is the result of technology advances to map the virus’s DNA and using vaccine platforms developed for other diseases that were in place to both develop and test the vaccine. The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is part of a broader family of coronaviruses. It is related to the severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Researches have been engaged in searching for vaccines for those closely related viruses for several years, so they are not starting from scratch, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The clinical trial process was accelerated by enrolling more people in trials to enhance rapid data collection and earlier analysis of safety data for demographically diverse populations.  This also sped up the FDA review process as they have been monitoring the data all along.  Delivery/distribution time was shortened by allowing manufacturing to occur at the same time as instead of after, vaccine approval.

Experts and scientists from the Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices review the vaccine development data. Extensive post-monitoring efforts will be implemented to safeguard those immunized.

Additional actions that U.S. government has taken to expedite the development and manufacturing of the vaccine include:

  • Larger studies: The federal government is allowing manufacturers to conduct larger studies that allow it to reach objectives sooner than it would conducting smaller studies.
  • Financial Investment: The U.S. government has made a financial commitment, making it possible for companies to manufacture large amounts of a vaccine without taking on all of the financial risks.
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration: The FDA has expedited clinical trials and is providing timely advice and interactions with vaccine developers.

 

Those actions have been taken under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed which is the coordinated federal effort to produce a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.

No. Information about the studies and the candidates can be found on the following website https://coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/understanding-clinical-studies/ or by visiting the manufactures websites.

  • Johnson and Johnson: Genetically engineered. Does not contain the virus.
  • Moderna: Genetically engineered. Does not contain the virus.
  • AstraZeneca: It contains a weakened version of the virus.
  • Pfizer: It contains a small part of the genetic code but does not contain the live virus.

 

It is too soon to tell. In general, vaccines prevent or reduce the seriousness of various diseases.  Vaccines have been used successfully for decades to control and contain diseases such as polio, chicken pox, measles, mumps and the seasonal flu, but did not eliminate them altogether. However, a vaccine, did eliminate smallpox.

It is still unknown at this time, how long that would take, but the more people who choose to get the vaccine, the greater chance of reaching herd immunity there will be.






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