Governor John Carney today laid out the factors that will guide his decision to begin reopening the state’s economy.
At a press conference this afternoon, Carney said the state will need to see 28 days of declining cases of patients who test positive for COVID-19 and related hospitalizations before he would give the green light to re-opening segments of the workplace and Delaware’s beaches.
“The guideline is 14 days of declining cases of patients who present with flu-like symptoms before you can start thinking about [having] all the infrastructure in place to move to Phase One. And then another 14 days of declining cases. And so you add them up together, you get 28 days of declining cases before you start really ramping things up and reopening the economy. So that’s going to be our approach,” he said.
Based on the daily number of COVID-19 test-positive cases announced by the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Delaware could already be experiencing declining cases.
The highest number of new test-positive cases were reported on Friday, April 17th. Each day since then, the number of new cases has been slightly lower:
April 17 – 248 new cases
April 18 – 215 new cases
April 20 – 207 new cases (combined number with April 19)
April 21 – 186 new cases
Delaware beaches reopening by Memorial Day: “A lot of things would have to fall in our favor”
Carney also outlined a best-case scenario for opening the state’s beaches.
Using a 28-day calculation beginning tomorrow, the Governor said May the 20th would be the earliest beaches could open.
“Twenty-eight days takes us to May 20th. I know that date because it’s my birthday. May the 20th is just a couple of days before Memorial Day weekend. So a lot of things are going to have to fall in our favor in order to get there.”
The Governor continued, “I would like nothing more than to be able to do that. But it’s really hard to see. Given the guidance that we have where that’ll be a reality. But we’ll see,” he said. He also stated that having a testing program in place with twice the current capacity will be key to the reopening.
New projections show Delaware with a growing hospitalization rate. The new trend data shows that as many as 656 Delawareans could be hospitalized by April 25th and 4,372 people could test positive by that date.
Pressure mounts as other states announce plans to reopen their economies
Asked about other states like Georgia who planned to begin reopening their economies, Carney acknowledged the pressure of making the right decision.
“I think that’s going to be the hardest decision we’ll have to make. As I said, we need a healthy community before we can start reopening the economy. And I don’t want to open the economy a day too soon. And I don’t want to delay it a day longer if I can avoid it.”
State continues to see onslaught in unemployment claims
Unemployment claims at record highs continue to put pressure on the Department of Labor (DOL). According to DOL, as of today 61,842 Delawareans have filed for unemployment claims. And eligible workers have received $30 million in benefits — that’s twenty times the typical payout in a given week of unemployment claims.
“This is a staggering number I know,” said Labor Secretary Cerron Cade. “To give you some context, the average amount that we would pay in unemployment on a weekly basis would fall typically between $1.5 to $3 million as a high for a week.”
Secretary Cade said the figure of 61,842 represents people eligible and ineligible for benefits. Those ineligible would include the self-employed and independent contractors.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also putting significant stress on the state’s budget planning, with revenue estimates falling hundreds of millions of dollars short of original projections.