The flu epidemic is setting records in Delaware and across the nation. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush looks at the impact and the reasons for the serious of this year's season. (Donavan Mack provided reportial assistance for this story.)


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware public health officials say the death toll from the flu has risen to 18.

Officials are reporting eight new deaths, six in the past week and two others that occurred earlier in the flu season but were just recently reported.

All of the six individuals who died last week were from New Castle County, and none had gotten the flu vaccine.  All but one had underlying health conditions. The two previous deaths involved Kent County residents, both with multiple underlying health conditions and neither having been vaccinated.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Nearly 1,000 cases of influenza have been confirmed in Delaware in a single week, the most the state has ever recorded.

On a conference call with reporters Monday, officials said 995 lab-confirmed flu cases were recorded during the week ending Feb. 3. The previous high of 671 came during the 2009-2010 flu season.

Six flu deaths were reported during the week, bringing Delaware's total this season to 10.

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It is now legal to bring firearms into Delaware state parks and forests.

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that the state’s ban on such weapons was unconstitutional.

The vote on the court was 3-to-2.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the high court ruled that state agencies did not have the authority to impose regulations that violate rights under the state constitution.

The majority wrote this includes the right to bear arms to protect one's self and family outside the home.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Summer may be over, but state environmental officials are reminding Delawareans that the bugs are still biting.

Officials say the recent detection of West Nile virus in caged chickens that are monitored for mosquito-borne diseases serves notice that mosquitoes remain active, especially during unseasonably warm weather.

William Meredith, Delaware's Mosquito Control Section administrator, says concerns about mosquito-borne diseases could continue for several more weeks, with the peak period for transmission lasting into mid-October.

Delaware Tourism Office

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - State officials are touting a record-breaking year for Delaware's tourism industry.

The Delaware Tourism Office released a report Tuesday showing 8.5 million visitors came to Delaware in 2015.

In January 2015, began using a new slogan: "Delaware: Endless Discoveries."

Officials say tourism accounted for $3.1 billion of Delaware's gross domestic product and is responsible for 42,000 jobs.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware lawmakers are ready to start delving into the state's budget challenges with a series of committee hearings.

The legislature's Joint Finance Committee convenes Tuesday for the start of several weeks of agency budget hearings.

After an overview and orientation, the committee will hear a presentation from the Office of Management and Budget.

Other agencies to be considered Tuesday are the Department of Technology and Information and the Department of State.

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland members of the Electoral College are meeting in Annapolis to cast their votes.

State Board of Elections spokeswoman Donna Duncan says the 10 electors are meeting at 1 p.m. Monday in the Maryland State House.

They're required by law to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates who received the plurality of votes cast in the state in the Nov. 8 general election.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Flu season has arrived, with cases of the virus having now been confirmed in all three of Delaware's counties.

The Delaware Division of Public Health said in a statement Monday that a new case has been lab-confirmed recently in Sussex County involving an infant who is now recovering at home. In New Castle County, a 64-year-old male has contracted the flu, as well as a 77-year-old woman who was hospitalized.

State health officials had previously confirmed that two men from Kent County had come down with the bug.

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A taskforce has been formed to investigate recent allegations of fraud, mismanagement and embezzlement at Delaware volunteer fire companies.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that state officials believe the limited reporting by the volunteer fire companies has led to corruption.

The paper reports that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been simply vanished.

And high level officials have been involved in those cases that have come to light.

The volunteer fire companies only have to submit an annual report to the State Fire Commission.