Frustrated Carney calls yet another Delaware inclusion on travel quarantine list ‘stupid’

Delaware Gov. John Carney

Delaware Gov. John Carney (Office of Gov. John Carney)

Are you on the front lines of the coronavirus? Help us report on the pandemic.

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Delaware has reported a total of 18,308 coronavirus cases and 609 related deaths. There are 53 patients currently hospitalized, with 12 in critical condition.

Back on the N.J.-N.Y.-Conn. quarantine list — again

Gov. John Carney has tried, over and over, to persuade Delawareans to wear masks, keep their distance and avoid large crowds so the coronavirus curve of positive cases starts heading downward again.

But with Delaware in a monthslong state of extended flattening — not plummeting — he can’t move to Phase 3 and a fuller reopening of the economy and full-time in-school learning.

So on the day when most public schools in the state began the academic year with remote learning only, Carney spent much of his weekly briefing Tuesday reminding people that more work needs to be done.

He also spent time railing once again against the inflexible criteria that — yet again — put Delaware on the 14-day travel quarantine list for neighboring New Jersey as well as New York and Connecticut. Those three states put another state on their quarantine list if it exceeds either of two standards: a seven-day daily average of 10 cases per 100,000 of population, or a 10% test positivity rate.

Delaware’s positivity rate  — roughly 4.5% in the last week and often much lower in recent weeks and months  — is well below the cutoff.

Delaware needs fewer than 97 new cases a day to stay off the list. But it’s sometimes lower, sometimes higher.

So sometimes Delaware is off the list and now, for at least the fourth time, it is on.

“It’s stupid,’’ a miffed Carney said as he explained the criteria again. “I guess the answer is that you’ve got to have a cutoff somewhere. It should be both. You have to fail both” benchmarks.

Carney stopped short of his typical response that he’s “mad as hell’’ about his state’s inclusion, but his frustration was evident.

The governor said his administration has talked to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office in New Jersey about the criteria, but said officials in New York decide which states get on the list.

He even suggested that Delaware could curtail widespread testing but said that won’t occur.

Regardless, Carney said, including Delaware “gives a false impression of what’s happening in our state.”

He acknowledged, however, that the state has seen an “uptick over the two or three weeks. We’re in a kind of in-between zone, as I’ve been saying. In-between really good and bad, not so good.”

So being on the quarantine list yet again “should be another signal to all of us that we’ve got to really lean into these protections and restrictions” his nearly six-month-old state of emergency requires, Carney said.

Fourth man dies from outbreak at Sussex County prison

A fourth man has died from coronavirus-related causes from the outbreak that infected 382 prisoners at Delaware’s Sussex Correctional Institution.

Charles R.J. Patterson, 55, was the last remaining incarcerated man at SCI and in Delaware’s entire prison population with COVID-19, officials said.

He was already suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and hypertension when he tested positive for the coronavirus on July 6. Patterson had been hospitalized since July 12 at Bayhealth Hospital in Dover, where his condition steadily deteriorated. He died Monday morning.

While four of the incarcerated men infected during the SCI outbreak died, the other 378 have recovered, prisons spokesman Jason Miller said.

Seven prisoners at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna died from coronavirus-related causes earlier in the pandemic.

As of Monday, 10 employees of Delaware prisons have active infections.

Get the WHYY app!

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal