Delaware House Republicans are calling for a reopening of businesses in Delaware on the eve of Friday protests.
A letter from the caucus to Gov. John Carney said that while GOP legislators initially supported the stay at home restrictions under an emergency order from the governor, they pointed to what they view as severe economic damage.
“Today is the 49th day Delawareans are living under the restrictions imposed by your State of Emergency declaration. With the lives and livelihoods of our citizens under threat, we can no longer remain silent,” the representatives wrote. “While COVID-19 poses a significant public health concern, the efforts to curtail its spread have created their own problems that are just as alarming.”
“More than 75,000 Delawareans have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15 . Many have yet to receive their first check. Thousands of additional independent contractors and self-employed individuals will not even be able to apply for such benefits until May 11. Vast numbers of Delaware businesses, even those allowed to operate under the State of Emergency, are struggling to stay viable,” the letter noted.
They also pointed to damage to the health of residents, including “spikes in stress-related problems, such as heart attacks, substance abuse, suicides, and depression.”
The caucus also claimed the governor’s restart plan “lacks any sense of urgency or predictability.”
They also criticized using increased testing as a prerequisite for reopening the state.
“This is a flawed metric on which to base the recovery since a higher case rate is a function of expanded detection, not an increased threat to public health,” legislators wrote.
They also pointed to the high percentage of deaths in “well-defined groups” such as senior citizens with pre-existing conditions and those in nursing homes.
“We need to restart our economy now in a way that responsibly manages risk; allows businesses to resume operations under protocols to curtail the spread of the virus; and provides our citizens and businesses with a predictable path forward that allows them to make plans on which they can act,” legislators wrote. “This need not be a binary decision. We can continue to take action to mitigate the spread of the virus; institute aggressive steps to protect those groups most at risk from severe consequences of infection; and allow citizens and businesses to return to work in a responsible manner”.
Republican legislators are under growing pressure to speak up about what protesters see as a dictatorial stance by Carney and Democrats as the summer tourist season approaches.
At the same time, their letter comes at a time when Sussex County is seeing a coronavirus outbreak in the Georgetown-Millsboro area. The outbreak is affecting Hispanic and Haitian immigrant groups who have family members working in the poultry processing industry.