Gov. John Carney’s weekly COVID-19 news conference today took a cue from its timing – Election Day – to devote a lot of time to voting.
And the assessment, as of mid-afternoon, was that voting, in long lines, was going well.
“Delawareans have been safely and peacefully voting,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings said, adding that she does not anticipate civil unrest in the aftermath of results being announced.
“We have seen really peaceful polling places and have no reason to believe that activity is happening here,” she said.
That said, the Department of Justice, which she heads, and other agencies have been “preparing for months for your safety and the safety of the vote.” They’ve also been “preparing for the worst.”
“It was a great day to exercise your right to vote,” Carney said, citing stops at Cape Henlopen High School, the Cheswold Fire Company, Middletown High School and Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. “Every person in line was wearing a face mask.”
Carney noticed long lines everywhere, “unlike any time I have ever seen,” he said, in 20 years of campaigns. “I don’t know what to make of it, other than it’s a good thing, that people are exercising their right to vote. … I sense a positive and determined attitude.”
The start of the 45-minute session began with the latest news about COVID-19.
Carney reported higher positivity rates, mostly in Sussex County. Of Delaware’s current 107 hospitalizations, more than half are in Sussex.
He and Molly Magarik, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, urged Sussex residents to get surveillance testing. Without such testing, officials fear that they’re undercounting cases, Magarik said.
Delaware expects to conduct a record 100,000 tests in October.
“We really need to knuckle down,” Carney said, adding that cases are not as high as other states but “not where we want to be.”
He offered two graphics comparing Delaware to other states. One, from ProPublica, mapped “the trajectory of each state’s positive tests per 100K people, over the past two weeks.” Only Louisiana was trending down. Delaware was trending up (compared to a clock, not quite 3), far better than, say, South Dakota, where the arrow was almost pointing to 12.
Another map, based on Johns Hopkins University data, showed Delaware as part of a green block from New England to the mid-Atlantic, with all the red in the Mountain West.
Carney also expressed concern about the rates seen for young people, which he linked, among other things, to off-campus socializing.
Magarik urged families to rethink large gatherings for Thanksgiving.
Delaware is responding in several ways to COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, Magarik said.
• The state has authorized overtime hours for state workers to conduct background checks for people being hired by long-term care facilities. The pay is coming from the federal CARES Act.
• The state is creating five incident response teams, focused on infection control training, COVID-19 testing and case tracking.
• The state has hired a long-term care medical director. Dr. Susan M. Levy will start next week.