INTERVIEW: Delaware Division of Public Health Director talks Coronavirus


Delaware Now with Kyle McMahon

Kyle McMahon interviews the Director of Delaware Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay about how the Coronavirus / COVID-19 is affecting Delaware, Delaware schools and much more on Delaware Now.

For the first episode of Delaware Now, I spoke with the Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, Doctor Karyl Rattay about the coronavirus and what Delaware is doing to combat the virus. We covered a wide range of topics from children and school closures to who can get tested for COVID-19 and how we can stop community spread.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of Delaware Division of Public Health interview on Coronavirus

What Coronavirus and COVID-19 are and the difference between these and the flu

Dr. Rattay explained, "..A lot of viruses fall under coronavirus including the common cold. What makes COVID-19 unique is that it is novel...meaning it is new. That means we don't have immunoprotection. Our immune system doesn't protect us from getting this infection." What this means for us is that we don't yet have any treatments or a vaccine.

Influenza is an infection that recurs every year with many different strains. We have treatments that target the flu and the flu vaccine which protects us from the influenza infection.

Testing Is Now Widely Available In Delaware

While there has been a national shortage of COVID-19 testing kits, Delaware no longer has that problem. Dr. Rattay states, "Primary cares can do the same type of testing they do for influenza for this."

Dr. Rattay says if you are showing symptoms, not to immediately go into your doctors office or the ER, but to give a call to your doctor first. Your doctor will give you guidance on the next steps and if appropriate, will give you a test for the virus. If you are showing symptoms, you want to make sure that you are self isolating until you get guidance from your doctor.

How Are Schools Being Affected By Coronavirus

One topic is that is on a lot of peoples minds is how this will effect their children and the schools in Delaware. "Our public health guidance really comes from the science. This is an evolving situation. This is a new virus and we're learning more and more... School closure isn't really going to be helpful in preventing the spread of the infection and the main reason is because kids just really aren't getting infected. Now that being said, there are kids who are in the high risk groups...and there's certainly staff in our schools who are in the high risk groups....So there very well may come a time when it makes sense to close schools...but right now we're not seeing any community spread in Delaware....The science is telling us hold tight."

Dr. Rattay did mention that there may come a time when community spread happens and schools may need to close, but it would be for a longer period than many of us probably think.

Update: Governor Carney announced that Delaware public schools will now be closed from March 16 - March 27th out of "an abundance of caution".

Should We Be Scared of Coronavirus / COVID-19?

Dr. Rattay says that while the virus can have serious consequences for high risk groups and therefore we should take it very seriously, we don't have to panic that the end of the world is coming. "We don't want people to panic. We want people to make smart choices.", Dr. Rattay told me.

Limiting large gatherings and groups of people, washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, regularly cleaning commonly touched surfaces and staying home if you're feeling sick are some of the smart choices Doctor Rattay said would help prevent community spread of the virus.

What If It Gets Worse?

Dr. Rattay was a wealth of information on COVID-19, Coronavirus and how well Delaware is prepared to handle it. Listen to my interview with her where we discuss all of this, plus how we can prevent community spread, what will happen if it gets worse and more on Delaware Now.

For up to the minute information and resources on Coronavirus and COVID-19 in Delaware, please visit Delaware Division of Health and Services Coronavirus Resource Page

Kyle McMahon is an on-air personality with iHeart Radio. He hosts Pop Culture Weekly and Delaware Now. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Rizzle.