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COVID-19 Daily Briefing 3/17

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March 17, 3 p.m.

DNREC waives fees for parks

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is waiving park entrance fees until April 30 to encourage people to get outdoors and exercise during the Coronavirus outbreak.

“Times are challenging and options are few, and this is an opportunity for Delawareans to experience our amazing parks and wildlife areas, to embrace nature while we maintain social distance from each other,”DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said in statement.

All state park campsites and cabins are still open, but park and wildlife area offices and nature centers will close by the end of Tuesday. All programs and tours are canceled.

On Wednesday morning, fishing and hunting licenses, conservation access passes for vehicles and boat regristation are conducted online only or at any third-party vendors that remain open. Purchased park passes will be mailed before April 30.

Commercial fishing license sales will continue at the Department’s main office in Dover by appointment only. Call 302-739-9916 to make an appointment.

Applications and information provided for well, septic, air, water and other permits are being accepted by email, mail and phone, reducing direct interchange of documents.

March 17, noon

Labor Department issues expanded unemployment benefits

The Delaware Department of Labor announced guidelines to assist people who are temporarily laid off or are in isolation as businesses shut down during the coronavirus outbreak.

Benefits now cover workers who are out of a job because their employer has temporarily shut down business due to Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency declaration or those who were forced to quit or take unpaid leave due to Delaware’s emergency school closures.

Other expanded guidelines cover workers who have self-quarantined or forced to quit or take unpaid leave due to care for a loved one that contracted COVID-19.

Workers who fall ill and are unable to work, and part-time workers, may also be eligible.

The department also expanded weekly work search requirements and unemployment insurance deadlines may be modified for mandatory appointments. Applying for training programs or mandatory re-employment service appointments can also be modified as well.

This new policy will be in effect until Carney rescinds the state of emergency.

 By Katie Tabeling


March 17, 10 a.m.

New Beebe President Tam arrives two weeks early

Dr. David Tam has stepped up as Beebe Healthcare’s newest president and CEO on Tuesday, weeks earlier than planned to lead the hospital system through the coronavirus outbreak.

Tam, 57, was selected by Beebe Healthcare’s board of directors on Feb. 3 to replace Jeff Fried, who retired from the post. Tam planned to start in April but decided to come on board to assist Beebe Healthcare’s ongoing preparedness and response to COVID-19.

While all eight coronavirus cases are in New Castle County, Tam noted that Beebe has been incredibly quick and proactive for the southern Delaware community. Beebe held a mobile screening event last Saturday, where it collected 245 swabs and sent them to LabCorp, a private lab for testing.

“[The screening event] was extremely successful and a proud moment for the health care system to offer to our neighbors,” Tam said in a statement. “I felt a sense of duty as a future leader in the community to begin as soon as possible and continue the momentum of Beebe’s great work.”

Tam most recently served as chief operating officer of Providence Saint John’s Health Center, a 266-bed acute care hospital that served the west side of Los Angeles. He is also a retired captain in the U.S. Navy after 24 years of active service.

By Katie Tabeling


March 17, 9:57 a.m.

State applies for economic relief from SBA

Gov. John Carney has submitted an application formally requesting the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Delaware an Economy Injury Declaration, which makes loans available to small businesses and nonprofit organizations in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties.

In his letter to the SBA, Governor Carney said the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on small businesses would likely be significant.

We know that the public health restrictions we put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus will hit Delaware’s small business community especially hard,” said Carney in a prepared press release.

Carney has directed the Delaware Division of Small Business and Delaware Department of State to look for additional opportunities to support the state’s 25,000 small businesses.

Once the state’s application to the SBA is approved, the low-interest loans of up to $2 million per business will be available for many small businesses and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

They are designed to help with the temporary loss of revenue these businesses and nonprofits are experiencing. The loans may be used for working capital expenses such as payroll, fixed debts and accounts payable, as well as other bills the business or nonprofit is currently unable to pay because of the impact of COVID-19.

March 17, 8 a.m.

Community groups assessing COVID-19 impact on nonprofits

The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Management (DANA), the Delaware Community Foundation, Philanthropy Delaware, and the United Way of Delaware are working together to acknowledge and address concerns regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact on Delaware nonprofits as employers, conveners, and service providers.
“We want to hear about the experiences of nonprofits and about the steps that they are taking to prepare for the coronavirus,” DANA President and CEO Sheila Bravo said in a statement. “This will enable our organizations and other partners that support the nonprofit sector to determine what types of resources are needed at this time.
The group is looking for one completed survey per organization. They are encouraging responses to the poll by 9 a.m. Friday, March 20.
All individual answers will be kept confidential. Response data will be shared in the aggregate.
As a side note: DANA published this guide on its website to help nonprofits in responding to the outbreak: https://delawarenonprofit.org/covid-19/. DANA and the United Way are closely monitoring news related to coronavirus and will regularly update nonprofits as the situation develops.

All of Delaware Business Times coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here. 

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