Gov. Carney delays Delaware’s next phase of reopening the state

Wilmington, Delaware, during the coronavirus shutdown

A jogger can be seen in the distance running in Wilmington during the coronavirus shutdown Thursday March 26, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

As numbers of new coronavirus cases skyrocket in dozens of states across the country, Gov. John Carney announced Thursday that Delaware will not move into its next phase of reopening the economy on Monday.

Delaware’s phase three plan would allow visits to senior living facilities and hospitals.

“We are delaying that decision so we can get a better handle on what’s going on in Delaware and around the country,” Carney said in a release.

The governor said officials plan to release an updated plan for phase three early next week. Carney added that the decision also stems from some Delawareans not following coronavirus mitigation protocols and public health precautions  — particularly at beach towns, restaurants and sporting events.

In his weekly briefing on Tuesday, Carney said there were some violations of social distancing and mask requirements at amateur baseball games in the past week. And less than a week after Delaware Park reopened to the public for horse-racing spectators, track officials announced they’d limit attendance from 3,000 people to 1,000 people.

“Now’s not the time to let up,” Carney said. “You’re required to wear a mask in public settings. Keep your distance from those outside your household. These are common-sense steps that, frankly, are not that difficult to follow. And they’re a small price to pay for keeping our friends and relatives out of the hospital.”

Health officials held a COVID-19 testing event in Rehoboth Beach on Thursday, which Carney said may help the state determine infection rates in its coastal communities.

Monitoring this data — as well as the public’s compliance with wearing a mask and social distancing — will help Delaware officials decide when phase three should begin, Carney said.

On Thursday, Delaware officials reported 91 new coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 10,980. The new cases reported Thursday more than doubled from Wednesday’s count.

Across the country, clusters of outbreaks in states are pushing officials to delay their reopening plans. Oregon announced last week they would hold off on any decisions regarding moving forward. North Carolina, Louisiana and Kansas have delayed their timelines in recent days.

Texas — which saw a record-high of nearly 6,000 cases reported on Thursday — also announced it’s pausing any further reopening.

“In Delaware, we are beating this disease,” Carney said. “We have flattened the curve. But that’s because Delawareans stayed home and made significant sacrifices to keep others safe. Make no mistake: COVID-19 has not gone away. We’ve seen what has happened in other states when folks let their guard down. Let’s not be one of those states.”

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