Gov. John Carney, at a meeting with members of the Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee, during which he received their report, thanked the 46-member panel for planning for “a potentially dangerous resurgence of COVID-19 in fall 2020.”
“We don’t know what to expect in the fall. Your work to get us to focus on the things we need to do to get better is very much appreciated. We’ve been successful in pushing down that curve and standing up testing comprehensively across our state. I don’t want to go back to the place where we are shutting things down again. I don’t think we can afford to,” the governor told committee members during the Friday, July 31, meeting, livestreamed at www.delaware.gov.
“We’ve got to find that right spot because, as Lt. Gov. (Bethany) Hall-Long said, and what is in all our minds is, we’ve got to have both a healthy community and a healthy economy. Sending our children back to school in a safe way, where they need to be, is one of the biggest challenges. Your work couldn’t be more important at this crucial time,” Carney said.
Hall-Long and Secretary of State Jeff Bullock were co-chairwoman and co-chairman of the committee. There were three subcommittees whose members addressed health, equity and business.
With Carney, Hall-Long and Bullock were Dr. Nancy Fan, Chairwoman of the Delaware Health Care Commission; Eugene Young, President of the Metropolitan Urban League of Wilmington; and Katie Wilkinson, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.
Bullock said the coronavirus pandemic is “still very much with us and shows no signs of going away.”
“With it we’ve seen a growing economic crisis that I think is only going to get worse in time. This thing is bigger than the government, bigger than the business community, bigger than the busines sector … and our success is ultimately going to be dictated by how well we work together in these weeks and months ahead and how we build this model of joint accountability,” he said.
Fan stressed the importance of having a plan in place, using what officials learned from the time the pandemic first affected Delaware in the spring, and to have adequate personal protective equipment.
She said one lesson learned was the negative consequences of having closed general healthcare access to patients. It will be necessary as the flu season begins and to treat other health matters, including mental health, she said.
“Data is what is driving our recommendations. We are looking for useful and meaningful recommendations that will help us,” Fan said.
Wilkinson focused on improving economic health and the importance of communication.
She talked about training and offering new skills to employees so they can go back to work or find new jobs if necessary.
“It’s also important to build a culture of compliance for businesses and consumers … This needs to be consistent. It needs to be shared. It needs to be something we are proud of. Enforcement will be challenging but we’ve made some recommendations around that, as well,” she said.
Young said recommendations within his sub-committee included expanding emergency financial assistance for low-income employees.
“Unemployment benefits have ceased as of the 25th of July. We have a lot of families up and down our state that have various needs and we want to be sure to meet them where they are,” he said.
He recommended continuing the rental subsidy process, saying many Delaware residents will struggle to pay rent or mortgages and need help. He said it's important to work with non-profit organizations and community agencies to be sure Delaware residents “are getting what they need."
Carney said all of the committee recommendations will be read and taken into consideration as fall, and the annual flu season, approach.