A few rays of sunshine

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Good afternoon,

Encouraging news emerged from the state briefing-news conference on Tuesday.

The good news comes in the rate of positive cases to hospitalizations remaining below 20 percent. Staying at or below the one in five benchmark will reduce pressure on the state’s hospitals as the number of coronavirus admissions increases in the next couple of weeks.

Far more testing of a cross-section of the population is needed to get a handle on the number of cases and chart a path for an economic recovery. Bit by bit, Delaware is making headway as more kits become available.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency Secretary A.J. Schall – joined at yesterday’s briefing by Gov. John Carney and Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay – noted that hospitals have done a good job of preparing for the expected patient surge.

The number of occupied beds is below the normal figure for this time of year, thanks to steps that included the postponement of elective surgeries.

Still, nothing is being taken for granted and preparations are being made for alternate sites that would take the pressure off hospitals when the surge occurs.

The thoroughness and sheer scale of the preparations are impressive. But even if the best-case scenario emerges our little state will face daunting economic challenges.

One looming problem is a massive deficit in the state budget. In a teleconference with the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Carney said the state budget shortfall could total half a billion dollars and perhaps rise to a staggering $1 billion, the Cape Gazette reported.

Nationally, the Payroll Protection Program, aimed to keep more people from filing for jobless benefits and providing a lifeline for small companies appears to have already exhausted its funds. The PPP offers a textbook example of the difficulty of fast-track fixes in a diverse and complex economy.

As painful as things are now, evidence still suggests the price for doing less, once the virus arrived, would have led to an unimaginable financial and human catastrophe.

Stay safe and let us know your thoughts and experiences. Simply hit reply and type away. The DBNnewsletter returns tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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