Virtual Halloween Costume Contest

Show off your costumes from home during Delaware’s virtual costume contest!

  • Share your Halloween costumes on social media with #SafeHalloweenDE through October 31st.
  • We’ll share some of our favorites on social media! Follow @JohnCarneyDE on Facebook and Instagram.

 

If your family plans to go trick-or-treating, please remember:
  • Keep a 6-foot distance from anyone not from your household
  • Wear a mask (costume masks don’t count)
Check out the Division of Public Health’s suggestions for families and communities to stay safe this Halloween: de.gov/halloween2020
 


Cleanup Operation Extends from Upper Delaware Bay to Ocean City, Md.

Officials Warn Beachgoers to Avoid Oily Debris

The Maryland Department of the Environment has joined the U.S. Coast Guard and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in a joint response, Wednesday, overseeing the cleanup operation of weathered oil called tar balls and oiled debris scattered along the shoreline from Bowers Beach, Delaware to Ocean City, Maryland.

As crews under the unified command continue to pick up the coin- to pancake-sized tar balls, beachgoers are strongly advised to stay out of the water and avoid walking along the wrack line, where oily debris is deposited by each high tide. The oily debris that has come ashore has forced the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach to close their beaches until further notice. The 4-wheel drive surf fishing crossing at Delaware Beach Plum Island Preserve, managed by Delaware State Parks, also remains closed so cleanup operations will not be hampered by vehicles tracking oil onto the sand.

“We’re not sure how long oily debris will continue to wash up with the tide,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, who was on scene today surveying oil on the Delaware beaches. “Unfortunately, oil can be very persistent in the marine environment, but our environmental professionals are persistent too. They’re out there, working up and down the coastline, getting it out of the sand as much as possible. I have put out a call for additional resources from within DNREC this week and the response has been outstanding – with their help and the effort from our federal partner the Coast Guard, we’re making progress on this incident.”

As of late Tuesday, cleanup crews of more than 100 personnel had successfully recovered 65 tons of oily debris and sand from Delaware beaches.

“At this point in the response, we’re critically examining our resources, looking at the big picture and seeing where the greatest needs lie,” said Lt. Cmdr Fredrick Pugh, federal incident commander for the response. “We’ll continue to assess the situation, across all impacted coastlines through our on-the-ground experts and through the diligence of our local partners in the affected municipalities.”

The unified command dispatched the cleanup crews to South Bethany yesterday, ahead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which started a planned beach replenishment. DNREC Secretary Garvin also dispatched an advance crew of 15 DNREC personnel to comb the beach at South Bethany for tar balls and oil patties before new sand was pumped onto the beach there. DNREC established a line of communication with the Army Corps of Engineers’ replenishment contractor to ensure that any significant deposits of oil sighted on the beach can be removed before sand pumped ashore could cover it over.

Crews have surveyed the stretch of coastline by air, land and sea. This week, officials say the oily material that has been spreading along the coast is all from the original amount discovered last week that has been moved repeatedly by the waves and tide, being broken into smaller and smaller pieces. Response officials do not believe there is an ongoing or undiscovered patch of oil out in the bay or ocean.

The Coast Guard has not ruled out any possible sources. The Coast Guard has sent samples of the oil to be analyzed by its Marine Safety Laboratory for a “petroleum fingerprint” that might help determine the source of the spill. If a source is identified, the responsible party would be required to reimburse the federal government for the cleanup operation.

With Tropical Storm Zeta likely to make working conditions difficult later in the week, the unified command may suspend the cleanup operation temporarily while the storm passes through before resuming it over the weekend and continuing into next week.

The public is asked to continue reporting any findings of oil patties or oiled wildlife. For reports concerning the Delaware coastline, call DNREC’s environmental hotline at 800-662-8802. For reports concerning the Maryland coastline, call the Maryland Department of the Environment at 866-633-4686.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Expanded eligibility and increased funding for hardest-hit industries now part of DE Relief Grants

Dover, DE – More Delaware small businesses and nonprofits are eligible to apply for DE Relief Grants under changes made to the program.

With the third application round getting under way, small businesses will no longer need to demonstrate a revenue decline of at least 7.5 percent from 2019 to 2020. Instead, they will only need to prove they experienced a decrease in revenue, regardless of size.

This change also applies to businesses that have already received a grant. (Note: Nonprofits are not required to demonstrate a revenue decrease.)

Additionally, companies that meet the federal definition of a small business and received a Payroll Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration of more than $1 million, are also now able to apply.

Finally, approved applicants in disproportionately impacted industries will be receiving a 15% bonus allocation to be used on any valid business expense from the date of the business’s acceptance of its grant award through the end of 2020. This applies to new applicants, as well as those awarded grants in Rounds 1 and 2.

“Hundreds of Delaware small businesses and nonprofits have already been approved for DE Relief Grants. Now we want even more to benefit from the program,” said Division of Small Business Director Damian DeStefano. “It is our hope that these changes will help those who need it most and further bolster the state’s economy as we continue to fight COVID-19 and work to protect the health and welfare of Delawareans.”

Gov. Carney this month set aside an additional $50 million for the grant program, growing the available funds from $100 million to $150 million. The money come from federal CARES Act dollars contributed by the State and New Castle County.

As a reminder, businesses and nonprofits that are applying should make sure to:

  • Provide their entire federal 2019 tax return (requirement may be different for nonprofits)
  • Submit their current State of Delaware business license
  • Confirm their expenses are eligible
  • Triple check their application for accuracy before submitting

Numerous resources can be found at delbiz.com/relief, including an extensive Q&A document, demonstration videos and a full explanation of eligible expenses. Applicants in need of additional assistance should contact the Regional Business Manager for their area at delbiz.com/contact.

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Media Contact
Michael Chesney
Division of Small Business
(302) 943-9508
Michael.Chesney@delaware.gov

 


Ahead of Election Day, Attorney General Jennings reminds voters of rights and responsibilities

Delaware DOJ outlines coordination on Election Protection

With Delaware’s general election one week away, Attorney General Kathy Jennings is reminding the public that the Delaware Department of Justice, state and local law enforcement, and the Department of Elections will strictly enforce Delaware’s voter intimidation laws in order to ensure that Delawareans are able to vote safely, fairly, and peacefully.

“Let me be crystal clear: Delawareans should feel safe exercising their voting rights now and on Election Day,” said Attorney General Jennings. “The Department of Justice is the people’s law firm, and we will not tolerate voter intimidation, election tampering, or interference with anyone’s rights. For months, we’ve devoted our resources and the full authority of this office to ensuring that Delawareans are able to vote fairly, peacefully, and safely. That will continue beyond 8pm next Tuesday if prosecutions are necessary.”

Voters who are concerned about a perceived threat to their safety should call 911; voters who are concerned about any other problem can contact the Department of Elections’ voter hotline at (302) 739-4277.

The DOJ’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust (DCRPT) has provided law enforcement with written guidance listing possible Title 11 and Title 15 offenses that could be encountered on Election Day. DOJ inspectors in all three counties will staff a hotline for law enforcement to contact in the event of illegal activity, including:

  • Voter intimidation, whether armed or unarmed:
    • Menacing (placing someone in fear of imminent physical injury)
    • Reckless Endangering 2nd (risk of injury) and Reckless Endangering 1st (risk of death)
    • Improper Influence (threatening harm to a public servant, party officer, or any other person to influence their decision)
    • Harassment and/or Terroristic Threatening (threatening to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious injury, or making a false statement that could cause evacuation of a building/facility or cause serious inconvenience)
    • Criminal Nuisance (endangering the health or safety of others)
    • Loitering and Obstructing Public Passage or Access
    • Breach of Peace or Threat of Violence with intent to impede lawful election proceedings
    • Entering a voting room for a reason other than voting, including to disrupt the election, or attempting to take charge of a voting room
    • Impersonating law enforcement
    • Persons other than duly-appointed election officers questioning voters about their credentials
    • Impeding or delaying voters by asking for identification, videotaping, photographing, or otherwise making visual records of voters or their vehicles
    • Crimes committed while armed on school property may be aggravated to higher-level offenses
  • Fraudulent voting:
    • Impersonating another voter
    • Knowingly voting more than once. (Please note that this includes voting in person after voting by mail – voters can check the status of a mailed ballot at ivote.de.gov)
    • Voting out of district
    • Interfering with election officers in the discharge of their duties
    • Stealing, breaking, concealing, or removing a ballot box
    • Defacing, altering, destroying or concealing any submitted ballot
    • Bribery, persuasion, or intimidation of voters by an election officer
  • Illegal electioneering:
    • Advocating for candidates or partisan topics/issues; displaying or distributing materials referring to candidates or partisan topics/issues on the ballot; or projecting sound referring to said candidates from loudspeakers or otherwise into the polling place or the area within 50 feet of the entrance to the building in which the voting room is located.

The DOJ also reminds the public of its voting rights and First Amendment rights, including:

  • If you are registered to vote, you are entitled to vote.
  • You can’t be coerced, threatened, hindered or intimidated by any person or corporation when voting.
  • You can vote if you are in line when polls close at 8 p.m. on November 3.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can ask a poll worker for a new one.
  • If voting machines are down at your polling place, you can ask for a paper ballot.
  • If your name isn’t in the poll book, you can still vote with a provisional ballot. You’ll be notified in writing when you vote as to how you can find out whether your vote was counted, and if not, why not.
  • If you are blind or physically disabled, you can bring up to two people to help you vote.
  • If you moved or changed your name without telling the Department of Elections, you can vote at the polling place of your address on Election Day by correcting your address on Election Day before you vote.
  • If you need help in the voting booth, two elections officers from different parties have to help at the same time. They cannot influence your decision, and they must leave the voting booth before you cast your vote.
  • Electioneering laws specifically pertain to advocacy for candidates, partisan topics, and “issues on the ballot”; voters are free to enter voting rooms while wearing t-shirts or slogans relating to non-partisan issues (e.g., “Black Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”).
  • All polling places should be physically accessible. Voters with disabilities, including voters who are blind, are entitled to at least one accessible voting machine at the polling place under the Help America Vote Act.
  • Voter who are blind, sick, and temporarily or physically disabled can request electronic delivery of an accessible absentee ballot via Democracy Live.
  • Campaign staff and volunteers are allowed to contact voters in person or by phone, irrespective of “No Soliciting” signs, but are also prohibited from doing so within 50 feet of the entrance to a polling location.

The DOJ is one of several State agencies – including the Department of Elections, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Information & Analysis Center, the National Guard, and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, among others – that is coordinating a robust election protection strategy.

Finally, the DOJ reminds voters to exercise patience, both on Election Day toward poll workers and other voters, and with potential delays in the subsequent days as the results of national elections are tallied across the country.

A previous version of this release incorrectly cited a federal consent decree that identified the distribution of literature outlining the fact that voter fraud is a crime as potential Election Day voter intimidation. That consent decree has lapsed.


State of Delaware Announces Early Childhood Education Updates

Changes include new Associate Secretary for Early Learning Support, new grant funding, doubling of ECAP

WILMINGTON, Del.—Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education on Monday announced a few notable early childhood education updates, ranging from governance updates to additional CARES Act funding to the state’s commitment to double Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) funding.

The state is pleased to announce that Yvette Sanchez Fuentes has been hired as the first Associate Secretary for Early Childhood Support.  This position, created by reallocating existing roles, will oversee both the Office of Early Learning (OEL) and the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL), the latter of which recently moved to the department.  This effort to consolidate early childhood governance has been a priority of the administration’s and has been supported by numerous early childhood advocates and leaders.  Ms. Sanchez Fuentes served as the director for the Office of Head Start in the Obama Administration and served for two years as the President of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families.  She will start Nov. 9.

The state is also announcing the creation of the Child Care Remote Learning Grant to support licensed child care facilities that are supporting school-age students’ remote learning.  Licensed child care centers and homes are going above and beyond to help care for school-age children during remote learning, often times incurring additional costs to do so.  The state has set aside $1 million in federal CARES Act funds for the grants, which will range between $500 and $7,500 depending on the need of the child care provider.

This grant is in addition to the Enhanced Reimbursement Program Delaware created in April.  The Enhanced Reimbursement Program provides additional funding to hundreds of child care homes and centers each month. Through September, child care centers and homes received more than $75 million in Enhanced Reimbursement funding.  This funding helps keep staff paid, helps child care providers meet strict health guidance, and assists with increased operating costs child cares face due to the pandemic.

“Providers have stepped up to fill an important need for Delaware families, and this grant funding will help them with the additional costs they face to expand their operations to support school age students,” said Governor Carney.  “I’ve seen firsthand the challenge these child care providers are dealing with to support remote learning.  Our state is grateful for our remarkable early childhood workforce, and we are excited to offer these grants to support our providers who are serving school age children.”

The Child Care Remote Learning Grants can be used to pay or reimburse providers for specific expenditures they’ve made or are making necessary to assist remote learning for school age children.  Many child care providers are serving children from more than one district/charter, making their work doubly hard.  The application will be available on www.de.gov/coronavirus by the end of the week.

“The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at the University of Delaware is excited to partner with the state on this important initiative and to administer the grant,” said Rena Hallam, DIEEC director.  “These funds will help early childhood professionals support effective remote learning for school-age children in early care and education programs.”

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting noted that whether districts and charters opened for some in-person instruction or full remote learning, the need for a safe place for children to complete their remote learning is critical.

“These centers and homes are providing students a safe environment in which to engage in remote learning while their parents work in order to provide for their families,” said Secretary Bunting. “We appreciate how they have supported our students during this time and need to support their efforts.  Many child care providers have been working through this pandemic to provide care to children of essential personnel, and we are grateful for their contributions to our state and our children every single day.”

Finally, the state recently announced a settlement in the ongoing education funding lawsuit.  Among the provisions of the settlement, Delaware commits to doubling the funding dedicated to the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP).  The ECAP program is Delaware’s state-funded pre-k for disadvantaged children.  Beginning in FY 2024, funding for ECAP will have a new floor of $12.2 million.

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