Delaware and a coalition of surrounding states are working out a plan to gradually reopen regional economies when it is safe to do so. On April 13, Gov. John Carney joined other governors to announce a multistate council to restore the economy while protecting public health.
In a conference call with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Carney said a regional approach makes sense since Mid-Atlantic states are connected by I-95 and other major roadways.
“We still have a situation in Delaware that is getting worse. Infections of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are rising. Delawareans should stay home. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. Don’t visit Delaware unless you need to see a doctor or care for a family member. You’ll only increase everyone’s risk,” Carney said.
“At the same time,” Carney said, “we need to look forward. We need a consistent approach for moving our states out of this crisis, when that day comes. I’m grateful for the partnership of my fellow governors in the region. They are all working around the clock to prevent surges in COVID-19 cases, protect hospital capacity for the most critically ill patients, and save lives. We’ll get through this by working together.”
The multistate council will include one health expert, one economic development expert and one chief of staff from each state. Delaware's representatives are Sheila Grant, Carney's chief of staff; Dr. Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services; and Kurt Foreman, president and chief executive officer for the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.
In a press conference April 14, Carney said he remains in touch with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who Carney understands will be part of a coalition that includes Washington, D.C., Baltimore and possibly Virginia. Carney also rebuffed a question about whether the coalition was a retaliation against President Donald Trump’s recent assertion that he has authority to reopen the government.
“This is no time to pick a fight with anybody,” Carney said, echoing a similar sentiment expressed by New York’s Cuomo.
On April 10, Carney extended his first state of emergency, declared March 12, for another 30 days. By law, each order can last 30 days at the most. He said the May 15 date that has been floated as a possible reopening for Delaware business and activities is not a target date, but one chosen because of the time limitations imposed under an emergency order.
When Delaware's limitations are lifted, Carney said, it will be a gradual reopening, a rolling recovery.
“It's not going to be like turning a switch back on. It is more like a dimmer switch where gradually the light comes on,” he said. “Our message today is stay the course. It seems to be working ... We want to have a healthy community and a healthy economy. You have to have them both.”