Carney urges social distancing to save lives

Death toll continues to rise
March 27, 2020

With the rising number of COVID-19 fatalities in Delaware, state officials are urging strict adherence to social distancing in order to save lives.

In a March 27 virtual Q&A session viewed by about 2,800 people, Gov. John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Health and Social Services Kara Odom Walker answered submitted questions about Delaware’s response to coronavirus. Carney announced Delaware is expected to receive $1.25 billion from the federal stimulus bill, which he said will provide needed assistance to unemployed workers and to assist small businesses that have shut down or reduced staff.

Carney said the state has an adequate supply of protective gear for healthcare workers, but is reaching out to secure additional sources of equipment as Delaware prepares for a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Carney said the focus is on redoubling efforts to encourage everyone to observe social distancing and the stay-at-home order except for essential activities such as grocery shopping, doctor visits and permitted work.

“If everybody follows the rules individually, we can make a difference,” Carney said. “It will take all of us working together to stop activity outside of the home to the greatest extent possible to save lives.”

Walker said pregnant women are particularly at risk, considering they need more doctor visits later in their pregnancies. Babies born with COVID-19 are doing well, she said, and hospitals have changed visitor policies and limited the number of people in the delivery room.

“It’s a big change culturally,” she said.

Walker said people with symptoms should not take Advil or ibuprofen, as they are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that could accelerate the body’s response to COVID-19 and cause kidney failure in people with diabetes or improperly functioning kidneys.

Carney explained why liquor stores are remaining open, saying without the stores, Delawareans with substance-abuse disorders would go into withdrawal and end up in emergency rooms.

“Healthcare personnel have asked to keep liquor stores open to prevent a surge in the hospital,” he said. “The reason is to preserve ER capacity.”

Carney said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long is working with social services outreach agencies to ensure homeless people and those with substance abuse disorders are receiving support. Carney and Walker both urged everyone to stay in frequent contact with elderly relatives using phones and other technology, but warned personal visits may pose a risk to older people. He also said traveling to help a relative does not violate the stay-at-home order.

Regarding the influx of visitors to Delaware beaches March 20, Carney said he is looking at legally enforceable ways to keep out-of-state visitors from traveling to Delaware.  

Walker said everyone needs to help flatten the curve by practicing social distancing, washing hands and looking after the elderly. If the median age of people with COVID-19 is lower, there will be fewer hospitalizations, which tax available resources.

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