Delaware panel calls for ‘culture of compliance’ to handle COVID-19 resurgence

Delaware’s fight against an expected resurgence of the coronavirus this fall needs to be a cooperative effort, a state panel told Gov. John Carney Friday.

Delaware health officials have ramped up testing at the Delaware beaches. (Courtesy of Delaware National Guard)

Delaware health officials have ramped up testing at the Delaware beaches. (Courtesy of Delaware National Guard)

The Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee was formed by an executive order signed by Gov. John Carney on June 1 to help the state prepare for the likely possibility that COVID-19 makes a dangerous return alongside the regular flu in the fall.

“I like to call it the pandemic playbook,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who co-chaired the committee. “It is a playbook for us to look to the future with.”

In the past two months, the committee held meetings focused on various aspects of how Delaware should respond to a virus spike. The committee was divided into three separate groups, one focused on health, another on the economy, and a third exploring how to protect vulnerable populations and other groups who may be disproportionately affected by a resurgence of the virus.

As the group has worked, the way the virus has been impacting the state and the country has been shifting. “It’s still very much with us,” said co-chair Sec. of State Jeff Bullock. “It’s gotten a little bit younger, it’s gotten a little bit more serious in some states where it wasn’t serious a couple months ago. But it shows no signs of going away.”

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Bullock said for the response this fall to be successful, everyone needs to be held accountable for keeping the virus from spreading further. “This thing is bigger than the government, it’s bigger than the business community, it’s bigger than the not-for-profit sector, it’s bigger than our health care organizations. It’s bigger than any of them individually,” he said. “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.”

That idea was echoed by Katie Wilkinson, who chairs the board of directors at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and also headed up the business subcommittee for the advisory group. “How do we build a culture of compliance at the state level for businesses and for consumers and communities?” Wilkinson asked. “This needs to be consistent, it needs to be shared, it needs to be something that we’re proud of.”

The July 31 report to Carney is just an interim step. The group’s final recommendations will be presented by September 30.

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