AJ Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Gov. John Carney to cancel public events this week “out of an abundance of caution,” the governor said in a press release Saturday.
Schall participated in the weekly COVID-19 press conference with Carney and Dr. Karyl Rattay, the director of the Division of Public Health.
Carney is not considered a close contact due to social distancing and mask wearing. But the weekly coronavirus press conference will be held virtually this week out of caution.
Schall, who manages the logistics of the statewide testing program, tested positive on Friday.
“He’s currently at home with mild, cold-like symptoms and we’re all wishing AJ a speedy recovery,” Carney said.
In a press release, DEMA said that Schall tested negative on Monday, but then developed symptoms on Wednesday, prompting the second test. Schall is home “in isolation and remains in contact with the Governor’s Office and DEMA leadership,” DEMA said.
“I am fortunate to have minor symptoms so far and appreciate the well wishes,” Schall said in the press release. “I am following all guidance from the Division of Public Health and encourage you to do the same. Wear a mask, physical distance, and get tested.”
Carney stressed in his statement the importance of following recommended guidance, saying this “only underscores the seriousness of this virus.”
“It’s a real threat – especially for our most vulnerable friends, neighbors and loved ones,” he said. “Let’s all do our part to limit the spread this winter. Wear a mask. Think twice before gathering with friends or family outside your household. We’ll get through this.”
Delaware on Saturday reported 505 new coronavirus cases. The seven-day average of daily cases is up to 470.3. Through Friday at 6 p.m., there were 202 people hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, and 29 people were listed in critical condition.
The hospitalization numbers are the highest the state has seen since May 25. The number of people hospitalized nearly doubled from Oct. 31 to Saturday.
Community spread is so uncontrolled that almost every ZIP code in the state qualifies as an area of concern. Contact tracing efforts around the state are also under significant strain.
Contact Jeff Neiburg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.