The following letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker and House Minority Leader Danny Short, and sent to Governor Carney yesterday, Thursday, November 12, 2020.
We are contacting you to express our apprehensions relating to statements made at Tuesday's COVID-19 press briefing regarding the possibility of new restrictions.
While we share your concerns regarding the latest trends reflecting an increased prevalence of the virus, we believe this information needs to be interpreted in context.
Your administration has repeatedly said its approach to the virus is to "flatten the curve" of case growth to prevent a rapid spike of cases that could overwhelm the capacity of our medical system. Thus far, that goal has been successfully achieved, and it should remain a focus.
Even during the peak of this crisis, Delaware's health care system has never approached its capacity. The state's COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked at 337 in late April – a small fraction of the more than 2,000 permanent acute care beds the American Hospital Association credits our state with having. Delaware presently has 126 COVID- 19 hospitalizations.
Only 4.3% of all the tests administered in the first week of this month have been positive. As you noted on Tuesday, the largest increase in COVID-19 cases has been among those between the ages of 18-to-34 – a demographic segment well-positioned to weather the virus without severe consequences. More than 98% of all Delaware COVID-19 fatalities have occurred outside this group.
Deaths where COVID-19 has been cited as a factor have, thankfully, grown only at a modest rate in recent months. Nearly 86% of our state's 732 virus-related fatalities were recorded more than two months ago.
Additionally, both you and Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay noted that the biggest driver of COVID-19 spread in our state appears to be social gatherings, often in private homes, where participants are not observing proper protocols.
We support the administration's efforts to convince citizens to wear face masks, practice safe social distancing, and take other appropriate precautions to deter the spread of the contagion. However, we caution you from taking any action that will further damage the prospects of Delaware's working families and small businesses.
As you are aware, the Phase I restrictions that you put into place earlier this year resulted in tens-of-thousands of Delawareans losing their jobs and causing untold numbers of small enterprises to close their doors – many of them for the last time. Our economy is only now beginning to recover. New restrictions leading to more lost jobs and foregone small business income will be devastating, not only to our economy but the fate of thousands of Delawareans.
As our state's chief executive, you should be taking a comprehensive approach to protecting the public welfare – not only safeguarding public health, but citizens' livelihoods, the security of their homes and businesses, and the well-being of the entire community.
COVID-19 is, unfortunately, loose in our world. While we cannot eliminate it, we can manage the risk it poses. We respectfully urge you to weigh all factors when taking any future actions, avoiding the imposition of any new mandates that will further degrade employment and opportunity.