Breakdown: What Carney’s State Of Emergency Declaration Actually Means

This afternoon Governor John Carney issued a State of Emergency declaration to prepare for the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We have gone through the declaration and posted the key points below.

The State of Emergency directs the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services’ Division of Public Health to mobilize state agency resources to assist with Delaware’s response to the virus.

The declaration becomes effective at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Governor Carney’s emergency declaration :

  • Requires the Delaware National Guard to take precautionary and responsive actions to assist with Delaware’s response to the coronavirus;
            (The Delaware National Guard shall take precautionary or responsive actions directed by the Director of DEMA, in consultation with the Secretary of DSHS, upon request by local authorities.)
  • Advises event organizers in Delaware to cancel non-essential public gatherings of 100 people or more, to prevent community spread of coronavirus;
            (Given that Delaware has evidence of the presence of COVID-19, it is important that social events be held safely to prevent the spread of infection. Proper precautions are essential. Event hosts should review the potential risks and cancel all “non-essential mass gatherings” of 100 people or more. CDC event guidance strongly emphasizes that those at highest risk (over age 60 and with chronic health conditions) not attend large gatherings. Large gatherings, if held, should provide the following: adequate space allowing 6 feet between individuals; adequate air flow; warm water and soap along with hand sanitizer stations; signage that emphasizes that ill individuals not attend; and a process in place to manage an ill individual safely. As of Friday, March 13, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. E.S.T., DPH and DEMA are authorized to cancel gatherings should it be deemed necessary for public health reasons, and such cancellation shall not constitute a taking and shall not entitle the owner or organizer to just compensation.)
  • Allows the State of Delaware to conduct public meetings electronically to prevent unnecessary public gatherings;
            (All public meetings of executive branch public bodies governed by 29 Del. C. SS10001 et. seq. (including boards, commissions, task forces, and any other similar public body) may be conducted electronically, either by means of telephone conference call or video-conference call. The technology used must permit members of the public body to hear the comments of and speak to all those participating, and members of the public to hear the comments of and speak to such members of the public body contemporaneously. Public participants must also be permitted to electronically access presentation materials and submit questions or comments. During any public meeting conducted by electronic means, each member of the public body will identify him or herself before speaking so that members of the public are able to hear the comments of the members of the public body. Notice requirements of public meetings will continue as required by law and will include the electronic information necessary for participation. Meetings already noticed shall be updated as soon as practicable with the information necessary for members and the public to participate electronically.)
  • Prohibits price gouging, or an excessive price increase of goods or services, during the coronavirus outbreak.
         (No entity doing business in this state shall engage in price gouging as a result of this public health emergency, which shall mean an excessive price increase of goods or services offered for sale beyond the sale price in the usual course of business immediately prior to the date of this state of emergency, unless the increase is attributable to additional costs imposed on the supplier of such goods or services, such price not to increase more than 10% from the cost customarily applied in the usual course of business prior to this state of emergency. A violation of this paragraph shall be deemed an unlawful practice under 5 2513 of Title 6 of the Delaware Code and a violation of Subchapter II of Chapter 25 of Title 6.)

“We are taking this situation extremely seriously,” said Governor Carney. “We have been expecting positive cases in Delaware, and for the last two months, we have prepared our state’s response in close coordination with the experts at the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. Today’s emergency declaration will make sure we have the authority and resources necessary to effectively prevent the spread of this virus.

“There are things every Delawarean can do to stay healthy. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Stay home from work or school if you are sick. It’s especially important for at-risk populations, specifically elderly Delawareans, to avoid large gatherings. And we’re advising Delaware organizations to cancel large, non-essential public events to prevent community spread of the coronavirus. We will continue to respond aggressively to this situation in close coordination with state and federal public health experts.”

Governor Carney’s emergency declaration WILL NOT:

  • Require schools or businesses to close their facilities;
    (Schools are encouraged to review activities that bring attendees in close proximity to each other based upon the CDC’s guidance for social events. Schools should have a rigorous cleaning process and emphasize that sick students and staff stay home. DPH is not recommending that school facilities close at this time, but DPH will continue to coordinate closely with school district leadership to prevent community spread of the COVID-19.)
  • Implement any driving restrictions in Delaware;
     (As of Friday, March 13, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. E.S.T., and until further notice, there are no driving restrictions in effect in the State.)
  • Close state office buildings.

On Wednesday, Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Human Resources issued guidance to state employees about coronavirus and potential impacts on the state workforce. Full-time and casual/seasonal state employees may be eligible for 14 or 30 days of Paid Emergency Leave if they are forced to miss work due to a coronavirus impact, or to care for a family member.

Costs related to diagnostic testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be waived for Delaware families who are covered by the state’s health plan.

Facilities Serving Older Adults

  • Facilities serving older adults, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, hospice providers, and rehabilitation facilities with older patients should:
    a. Screen and restrict access by those who meet the following: 1) signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat; 2) in the last 14 days had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or 3) are ill with respiratory illness. All individuals permitted to enter the facility must wash hands upon entry; if soap and water are not available, alcohol-based sanitizer may be used.
    Make online methods of face-to face communication and phone calls available. d. Facility staff should be restricted from international travel and should be monitored if they have travelled out of the country in the last 14 days. e. Staff should be monitored if they have been in contact with someone who is under investigation for COVID-19 or have traveled out of state. Staff should be monitored if they are showing any signs of respiratory infection
    such as fever, cough or sore throat. g. Any staff member who has these signs or symptoms should not go to work. Any staff that develop these signs or symptoms on the job should immediately stop working, put on a face mask, and self-isolate at home. Staff who develop these signs and symptoms should inform the infection preventionist and contact their primary care doctor, as well as the Division of Public Health at 1-866-408-1899 for next steps.
  • Nursing homes should increase availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, no-touch receptacles for disposal, and facemasks at entrances, waiting rooms, and resident check-ins. Signage should be increased for vigilant infection prevention. Properly clean, disinfect, and limit sharing of medical equipment between residents and areas of the facility.
    State employees shall refrain from any business travel out of state. If you are scheduled for business travel that you feel is essential, please notify your supervisor.

Additional Powers Listed In The Declaration

  • The Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are exempted from 29 Del. C. Chap. 69 for purposes of purchasing materials necessary for responding to this public health emergency.
  • The Governor reserve the right to take or direct state or local authorities to take, without issuance of further written order, any other necessary actions authorized by Title 20, Chapter 31 of the Delaware Code to respond to this emergency.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call the Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 or TTY at 1-800-232-5460 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

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