Gov. Carney: Phase 3 start will be delayed
WILMINGTON – Delaware will not enter Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan next week, breaking the pattern of loosening regulations every two weeks, according to Gov. John Carney.
The governor confirmed the delay in an official statement Thursday evening, although he had suggested in the past week that he would not allow the state to enter into the last phase of the reopening plan after the minimum wait time.
Many residents had falsely assumed that the state would automatically move to the next level, and some business owners have been lobbying the Carney administration to continue loosening restrictions that are tamping down commerce amid the reopening.
Carney, who said that he would make a decision early next week on the start of Phase 3, explained that he was delaying the start to “get a better handle on what’s going on in Delaware and around the country.”
In an interview with the Delaware Business Times earlier in the day, incoming Secretary of Health and Social Services Molly Magarik said the state needs to make sure that the “tremendous sacrifices that Delawareans have made are not for naught…We are reopening and people expected the numbers to go up. But we have seen a bit of gyration in the data, some of which are lagging indicators and some are more real time [like hospitalizations]. Anecdotes about what people are doing is not on the same level of data [in making decisions] but it gives us some perspective on whether people are being compliant.”
As of Wednesday evening, 93 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the state, 18 of whom were in critical condition. That is a slightly higher level of hospitalized patients than last week, which also correlates to the increasing level of patients testing positive for the virus. The five-day average on Wednesday was about double the average from two weeks prior.
Carney said that he was awaiting the results of a testing event at Rehoboth Beach that would help state officials to determine infection rates in the state’s coastal communities. That data, along with reports of compliance of with public health requirements like mask-wearing and social distancing, will guide the governor’s determination in the changing of phases. He has repeatedly said in recent days that he is not seeing the amount of compliance that he wants.
“Too many Delawareans and visitors are not following basic public health precautions. We’ve heard and seen concerns especially in our beach communities, in restaurants, in gyms, and at sporting events,” the governor said in his statement. “Now’s not the time to let up. You’re required to wear a mask in public settings. Keep your distance from those outside your household. These are common sense steps that, frankly, are not that difficult to follow. And they’re a small price to pay for keeping our friends and relatives out of the hospital. “
Saying that Delaware is “beating this disease,” Carney made clear that he does not want to see a spike in cases.
“We’ve seen what has happened in other states when folks let their guard down. Let’s not be one of those states,” he said.
Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and South Carolina reported their highest single-day totals on Wednesday, but case numbers have been rising in more than 20 states. Meanwhile some states that have been able to get their cases under control, including original hotspots like New York and New Jersey, are now quarantining some out-of-state travelers.
By Jacob Owens