Gov. John Carney, at his press briefing on Tuesday, June 23, said he has commissioned a Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee because he is “very concerned” about a rebound of COVID-19.
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and Secretary of State Jeff Bullock will be co-chairs of the committee and its subcommittees focusing on health, equity and business.
“It’s a concern, because wintertime is influenza time as well. Influenza and COVID-19 together, for health-system capacity, is concerning,” Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, added during the June 23 event.
Rattay said healthcare specialists know how to enhance hospital capacity if there is a surge in the number of cases but that she is pleased Advisory Committee members will “look at the issues, learn from the last three months and prepare for what could be more viral activity in the winter.”
Carney said some Delaware residents are becoming complacent about the virus, not wearing masks or staying safe distances from each other. The State will issue reminders and practice enforcement, he said.
“We’re going to have to get out there and do more of that. We’re going to see more reminders, then we’ll see cease-and-desist orders if folks continue to ignore this,” he said.
In case of a resurgence, there will likely be more testing and contact tracing statewide, instead of another shutdown, because the latter is “a very blunt instrument,” Carney said.
“We are well into Phase 2 and there has been concern about folks not wearing face masks, indoor gatherings and social distancing, folks being a little less concerned about that. This is not the time to let our guard down. It’s not the time to be complacent. It’s the time to cash in all those investments in the health of our community,” he said.
He again urged everyone to get tested for the coronavirus, even those without symptoms.
“Wanting you to wear a mask and practice social distancing isn’t the heavy hand of the government — it’s the helping hand of a neighbor to urge wearing masks. We rely on the public to come out and be tested. I know it’s not at the top of the mind if you’re not having symptoms, but it’s important,” he said.
“There’s been a high price that’s been paid by businesses and organizations because of shutdowns, and it would be a shame to now have to change the direction we’re going because folks have gotten complacent. The science is very clear. The virus still exists in our community. People have been tested and found to be positive,” Carney warned.
As of Monday, June 24, at 6 p.m., there had been 10,847 positive coronavirus tests in Delaware, 504 deaths from the virus and 6,554 people recovered. There has been an increase in the number of hospitalizations, with 91 on Monday compared to a little more than 70 in recent weeks.
Sussex County has had 4,509 cases.
“Things are leveling off in Sussex County. There is good news in downstate,” the governor said.
Rattay said there were coronavirus exposures during high school seniors’ beach week.
“As we continue to learn about this virus, there is a much higher risk of being indoors than outdoors. If you are mingling with strangers in large group gatherings, especially indoors, or if you are living with several others, especially who are not your family, and if you participated in senior week activities, you are putting yourself at risk,” she said.
Rattay also said there has been an increase in the total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Delaware, with 67 more deaths that were discovered after review of death certificate data, including comparing positive COVID-19 tests with death certificate data, as well as deaths deemed as “probable” COVID-19-related deaths per CDC guidelines.