Del. GOP legislative leaders urge caution in ordering Covid-19 restrictions

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Delaware House and Senate Republican leaders are urging caution regarding possible restrictions arising from a spike in coronavirus cases.

In a letter to Gov. John Carney, State Sen. Gerald Hocker and state Rep. Danny Short, both from Sussex County, cited adequate capacity at hospitals in the state as one reason for a go-slow approach.

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Short, left, and Hocker.

During the virus’s peak last spring, hospitals in Sussex did remain below capacity as an outbreak tied to the poultry industry was not as serious as first feared.

Sussex has recently seen an increase in hospitalizations that led to visitation restrictions at two of its hospitals.The past several months have also seen advances in treatment that have increased the chances of survival for those with the most serious cases.

Short and Hocker pointed to past damage to the economy when Carney issued a stay at home order and closed nonessential businesses for a time. They also noted that the state’s percentage of positive tests to total tests remains lower than many parts of the nation.

Earlier this week, Carney warned that he was weighing restrictions due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.

In the past, Carney has noted that the county where the two legislators reside has less hospital capacity than Kent and New Castle and more per 1,000 population cases of Covid-19.

In yesterday’s Covid-19 report, the state Division of Public Health reported eight additional deaths.

Delaware has largely taken a middle ground in restrictions with more similarities to Maryland than New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Carney did draw fire for hotel restrictions over the Memorial Day weekend. Ocean City ended those restrictions. It turned out that beach areas in Delaware and Maryland saw an outbreak of the virus tied to senior week festivities and restaurant workers.

Despite the higher rate of Covid-19 cases and hospital stays, Sussex County has been the center of opposition to restrictions.

President Trump, who pressed for early openings of businesses and schools and has been skeptical of mask-wearing, carried Sussex County.

Neighboring governors in Maryland and New Jersey have ordered restrictions with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan reducing capacity limits at restaurants and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordering 10 p.m. closings for bars and restaurants.

Republican legislators will have less clout going into the next session of the Delaware General Assembly. Two moderate Republicans in New Castle County lost their Senate seats to Democrats in last week’s election.

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