What number of Delaware companies have been penalized for COVID violations?
Here are some of the top stories we’re following for Wednesday, September 2, 2020.
For almost the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic in Delaware, an email address has been posted on the state’s website, actively taking noncompliance reports from the public.
Many people have participated, reporting businesses up and down the state for not following guidelines. Through Wednesday, more than 1,500 complaints had been sent to HSPcontact@delaware.gov.
Not every complaint results in a visit from state health officials. About half involve a phone call to “ensure the business is aware of the requirements and discuss any issues,” said Jen Brestel, spokeswoman for the Division of Public Health.
Socially distant music fans in masks watch the return of Lower Case Blues to The Pond in Rehoboth Beach earlier this summer. (Photo: Special to the Delaware News Journal/Chuck Snyder)
Through Wednesday, just three Delaware businesses have been penalized for their actions, with one restaurant temporarily closing for a day.
That restaurant was Newark’s Mad Mac’s. An inspection report from a site visit on Friday, Aug. 28, listed the following violations:
- Staff not wearing face coverings; customers not wearing face coverings when not seated.
- Guests not seated 6 feet apart.
- Over-occupancy indoors during inclement weather.
- No disinfectant in the establishment.
- No markings on the floor or signage to indicate social distancing.
- Lack of hand-washing among staff.
Brestel said Mad Mac’s closed voluntarily for the day and reopened the following day. No fine was issued, but a repeated violation could result in fines and/or closure.
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Two other Delaware businesses were hit with fines.
In an enforcement letter dated Aug. 14, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, issued a $5,000 fine to BPG Sports after multiple violations at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington.
Rattay, in the letter, said DPH provided approval for a safety plan at the Fieldhouse on July 2 and followed up a week later to address additional concerns. Later that month, DPH warned the business that a July 23 basketball event was in violation of the approved safety plan, specifically centered on facial coverings and social distancing.
“At that time the facility was provided a final warning that continued non-compliance could result in fines of up to $1,000.00 per violation, closure or other actions,” Rattay wrote in the letter.
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On July 31, DPH received information about a football event – the First State Preps College Exposure Showcase II – at the 76ers Fieldhouse that took place on July 30.
Photos and video of that event showed a lack of face coverings and social distancing by athletes when not engaged in activity; a lack of face coverings by coaches and staff; a lack of social distancing by spectators; and a lack of disinfection of equipment.
BPG Sports was issued a $5,000 fine for its five violations.
A restaurant in Woodside, the Green Stinger, was also issued a $1,000 fine for “continued non-compliance of COVID-19 requirements,” Brestel said.
DPH conducted more than 400 inspections in August alone, Brestel said. Those inspections are a mix between complaint-based visits and routine, unannounced compliance checks.
SEE THE DATA: Tracking coronavirus cases in Delaware
“Face coverings continue to be the most common complaint and the most common violation,” said Jamie Mack, DPH’s Health Systems Protection chief, during a Tuesday press conference with Gov. John Carney.
During that weekly COVID-19 press conference, Carney talked about beach bars and Labor Day. The state is allowing beach bars to reopen for the holiday weekend under strict social distancing guidelines.
“This is going to be a big test,” Carney said.
The governor also mentioned the Newark party that was broken up by police and resulted in three University of Delaware students being cited for violating the city’s emergency ordinance restricting the size of private gatherings.
“We’re just going to have to be a little harder on enforcement,” he said.
Delaware has seen a spike in cases and hospitalizations over the last few weeks. Through Wednesday, 60 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 29 on Aug. 16. Twelve of those hospitalizations are listed as critical.
Through Wednesday, the rolling, seven-day average of positive tests was 102.1, the highest it has been since July 30. The average percentage of tests that are positive over a seven-day period is 4.6% through Wednesday.
Contact Jeff Neiburg at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.
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