Delaware shelter in place to begin Tuesday, statewide testing to begin Monday
Assistant Mosaic Editor
Gov. John Carney released an official statement Sunday instituting a “shelter-in-place” order for all of Delaware in response to the growing threat of coronavirus.
The order will begin Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and extend through May 15, or “until [coronavirus] is eliminated,” according to the official statement.
There are currently 56 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus, as reported by the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). Of these cases, 39 of them are from New Castle County, where the university campus now lies empty.
Carney’s order follows in the footsteps of eight states that have shut down out-of-home travel to slow the spread of the virus. He said he does not want Delaware to become a destination for other residents seeking a more permissive environment. New York and New Jersey also announced travel restrictions that will begin this weekend.
“I don’t want Delaware to be the example of what not to do in response to this crisis,” Carney said. “I understand that these restrictions will have real consequences for real people but the consequences of not imposing these restrictions are way too serious.”
The order came after Carney’s state of emergency declaration and mandates that all non-essential businesses close and that the people of Delaware remain inside as much as possible.
“Not enough people have taken our previous guidance seriously,” Carney said in a press conference on Sunday. “I’ve seen way too many people in groups and gatherings of more than a handful of people as I’ve traveled across our state.”
The vast majority of businesses will be closed, with only those “essential to health” to remain open. This includes grocery stores and pharmacies. Information on specific businesses that will and will not be shuttered can be found at the coronavirus.delaware.gov website. Carney said the businesses that remain open are accountable for providing a safe working environment for all of their employees.
“If you don’t follow the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, we will have no choice but to shut you down too,” Carney said. “The more seriously we all take this now the sooner we can get to the other side of this crisis.”
Leaving home is allowed for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping, seeing a doctor, and participating in activities essential to the health of the individual, their families or their pets. Delawareans are allowed to continue outdoor activities but must follow social distancing guidelines. The state expanded options for commodities, with restaurants gaining permission to do take-out orders without a license, aiding the process.
At the conference, Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, announced that Delaware will begin statewide testing programs beginning Monday. To be tested, residents first need a referral from a primary care or telemedicine service associated with a personal health plan. Those that do not have a doctor can call the public health call center where an operator will connect them with someone to evaluate their symptoms.
Odom Walker instructed those with symptoms to not go to the emergency room.
“If you have symptoms you could infect others,” Odom Walker said. “It’s important that the emergency departments are as free as possible to care for the sickest people.”
Odom Walker said the Division of Public Health and health systems within the state expect infections and hospitalizations to increase even more in the coming days.
Delawareans with general questions about coronavirus or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899, or 711 for individuals who are hearing-impaired, from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Questions can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.