On a day when hundreds of protesters in Wilmington and Dover agitated for a full reopening of Delaware businesses, Governor John Carney said the state was “getting close to defining the criteria” for beginning that multi-phase process.
The governor said that the 14-day decline in new positive COVID-19 cases set forward by the CDC as a key Phase 1 reopening criteria may no longer be a good benchmark “because we’re over-testing in areas where we see outbreaks.”
“We know that we’re going to have to come up with a different measure than day-to-day declining cases,” said Carney.
Carney also noted that while confirmed cases were still on the rise in Delaware – largely as a result of expanded testing in hotspot areas of Sussex County – hospitalizations are still at well below capacity levels.
“We’re still in an increasing number of cases scenario. We are flattening the curve, but we aren’t there yet,” he said.
As of this afternoon, 4918 total confirmed cases are reported, with 159 deaths and 281 hospitalized.
Other key takeaways from the briefing included:
- Carney acknowledged the pain of business owners and employees across the state, saying “I hear the anguish in their voices” and that economic issues would figure into the decision to reopen “in addition to the data.”
- Available hospital capacity is “more than twice” what is needed with current cases.
- The “vast majority” of deaths continue to be among seniors and those living in assisted care facilities (accounting for 102 of the 159 deaths).
- Public health director Karyl Rattay said Delaware, with 1.7% of its population tested, is one of the top 15 states in the country in conducting tests.
- The Delaware Division of Public Health has begun testing asymptomatic people in COVID-19 hot spots, and DPH has been “surprised” at the number of test-positives among asymptomatic Delawareans tested thus far. More than 1000 people in the Georgetown “hotspot” area were tested this week.
- DEMA has set up alternate housing arrangements – in hotels – in each of the three counties to isolate people who have tested positive for COVID-19
- Carney said he does not favor a county-by-county approach to reopening non-essential businesses, as has been proposed by some businesses and legislators.
- The governor said he finds himself “praying for rain” going into nice weekends for concern about people breaching social distancing guidelines in public spaces.
- Hospitalizations have fallen for three consecutive days