Carney sees hopeful signs but won’t ‘flip the switch’ on business reopenings

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Governor cites the need for a flattened curve and sound data

Gov. John Carney says the state will move cautiously when it comes to reopening businesses that were closed under an executive order.

The governor says signs point to progress in “flattening the curve” of coronavirus, but added that it is far too soon to declare victory.

Carney noted that traffic counts on key Delaware routes are down by 70 percent in Delaware during. the state’s stay at home order.

The state now requires visitors to stay in quarantine for 14 days or return to their homes. This includes second homes in Delaware. He pointed to the traffic numbers as a sign that Delaware’s stay at home order is helping to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens from coronavirus.

Carney’s is cautiously optimistic about the ability of the state’s hospitals to handle any surge in patients

So far, the percentage of people diagnosed COVID-19 and in the hospital remains around 15 percent, well below the 20-percent plus level that would put a strain on hospitals.

The state continues to make plans for back-up facilities in the event that a spike in serious cases occurs.

One piece of encouraging news, according to Carney, is the lower average age for people testing positive for COVID-19. A higher average age could mean a higher percentage of the population vulnerable to complications.

The state has an adequate supply of ventilators and took note of a recent shipment from California that will more than likely not be needed. California has the right to take the breathing machines back.

A key to reopening employers and stores in the state will be a sharp expansion of testing, Carney said.

Any reopenings will not be a “flick of the switch,” but will instead resemble a “dimmer light,” driven by science and good data that can provide through wider testing.

State Division of Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said 13,414 tests have been performed in Delaware. That number of tests is too low to determine whether Delaware has “flattened the curve,” Carney added.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s statements about having ultimate power over reopening states, Carney said it is “no time to pick a fight with anybody,” but added that governors have a better idea of what is going on within the states than the federal government.

The governor noted that the federal government uses information from states in the decision-making process.

Carney acknowledged that the state faces the loss of $500 million in revenue, due to business closes and other factors. He also said that the Delaware Department of Labor has been overwhelmed by unemployment claims, but is working through the backlog.

Conversations with small business representatives have been heartbreaking, Carney said as he recalled a conversation with a longtime owner whose establishment is struggling

Carney hoped that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan would join the Northeast coalition, but heard The Free State has joined Virginia and perhaps West Virginia in a separate coalition. Hogan also heads the National Governors Association and serves as a spokesman for the group.

The briefing touched on coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities, with Carney indicating that an amended executive order will provide further guidance. A sizable percentage of deaths has come in long-term care facilities here and around the nation.

Rattay praised the efforts of nursing home staff in working with patients.

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