Legislative Session for the Week of March 17 Postponed

 

Future return to session will be re-evaluated weekly

DOVER – In response to growing concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride announced Thursday that the Delaware General Assembly is postponing next week’s legislative session.

The legislature was scheduled to return from its break for Joint Finance Committee hearings on March 17, but the spread of COVID-19 and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and Delaware public health officials prompted this proactive decision.

“After careful consideration and consultation with various state agencies, we believe delaying our return is the right decision to ensure the safety of our staff, fellow lawmakers and members of the public who visit Legislative Hall when we are in session,” Rep. Schwartzkopf and Sen. McBride said in a joint statement.

“At this moment, our postponement will extend until March 24. However, we will carefully monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Delaware and across the country, and we will re-evaluate when to return to session on a weekly basis. As we have said before, this is a rapidly shifting situation and we must remain flexible based on the changing circumstances.”

Effective Friday, Legislative Hall will be closed to the public. There will be no tours, and any meetings scheduled for the following week will also be postponed.

Approximately 600 people – staff, legislators, lobbyists, press and members of the public – visit Legislative Hall on an average session day. This far exceeds the 250-person guideline recommended by public health officials. Experts also are recommending that people practice social distancing, which is a difficult proposition in a building such as Legislative Hall.

Missed session days are not unprecedented. In the past, the General Assembly has canceled a limited number of session days due to inclement weather. These missed days will be treated in a similar fashion. Discussions about how to proceed with the remainder of session will be ongoing and developing as the situation unfolds.


Bill Signing Promotes Savings in the First State

Senate Bill 143, signed today by Governor Carney, will increase savings plans education

 

Treasurer Colleen C. Davis, bill sponsors Sen. Trey Paradee and Rep. Krista Griffith, and children from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy celebrated today as Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 143 into law. This legislation allows the Plans Management Board and the Office of the State Treasurer to increase awareness of the benefits of saving through the 529 Education Savings Plan and through ABLE Plans for those with disabilities.

Also joining the event were Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger, Rep. Mike Smith, Rep. Bryan Shupe, and members of the Delaware Department of Education and the Plans Management Board. The Governor and legislators talked about their own experiences with the savings plans and discussed the importance of the bill. Treasurer Davis asked the kids from Brilliant Little Minds Learning Academy what they want to be when they grow up. “Whatever you want to be when you grow up, you have to work hard in school and save your money to make it happen. I’m so glad that we could have young people here with us as we take this step towards expanding economic opportunity and educational attainment.”

Senate Bill 143 allows the Board to pursue methods of increasing savings plan enrollments outside of the high-income earning households that traditionally participate by allowing for incentive-based marketing. Possible avenues of promotion include a scholarship program or a match plan, as seen in other states. These options will be explored by the Board at future meetings. Additionally, new promotions aimed at increasing awareness of using 529s for adult educational attainment and for non-college costs, such as apprenticeship programs, will be integrated into future marketing efforts.

“The costs of education are skyrocketing, but national enrollments in 529 plans have gone down,” Treasurer Davis said. “In Delaware, we have worked hard to share the benefits of these plans with our residents and are continuing to see new enrollments. Our nearly 22,000 accounts represent growth of 4% over the last three years, and this bill will allow us to continue to expand. Like these savings plans, Senate Bill 143 is an investment in our future.”

“America is facing a crisis when it comes to saving money for the future,” said Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, who works as a financial advisor. “Right now, 40 percent of U.S. adults don’t have enough savings to cover even a $400 emergency – a brutal fact, which is leaving too many families one missed paycheck from a financial nightmare. We need to be doing all we can to encourage people to take advantage of savings plans, particularly the favorable products offered by our state. This bill is aimed at raising awareness of those products and examining how we can better position them to help working families in need.”

“Given the daunting cost of college education, the state of Delaware needs to do everything it can to promote college savings. Delaware has made great strides in creating accounts for those for disabilities, which will allow them to save money without sacrificing services they depend on,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax. “This bill will allow Treasurer Davis to increase outreach about Delaware’s 529 plan and make more Delawareans aware of the benefits so they can invest and plan for their futures. I’m always looking to help improve accessibility to these accounts and I look forward to continued efforts in the General Assembly.”

Both tax-advantaged savings plans are available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings can grow over time until they are used for associated costs. Learn more about our savings plans at 529.Delaware.Gov and ABLE.Delaware.Gov.


DPH Sets Annual Leg Hall Flu Clinic for Jan. 17, 2018 as Flu Cases Rise 48 Percent in One Week

The words Get Flu Shot written on a CalendarDOVER – Lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware have increased significantly over the last few weeks. The week ending Dec. 30, 2017, saw 142 confirmed flu cases, an increase of 48 percent over the previous week. For those who have not yet gotten their flu vaccine this season, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing another opportunity for Delawareans to get a shot at its annual Legislative Hall flu clinic.

The clinic, which is also open to the public, will be held Jan. 17, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Legislative Hall Library. DPH staff will administer flu shots to Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Adults should bring photo identification for admittance to Legislative Hall and do not need appointments. Persons with Medicaid or Medicare should bring insurance cards. Legislative Hall is located at 411 Legislative Ave., Dover, DE 19901. Free street and lot parking is available.

“With a 48 percent increase in flu cases during this past week, I urge Delawareans to take the flu seriously, and if you have not already done so, to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “January is not too late to get a flu shot, and in fact, as long as flu is still circulating in the community, those who have not received a shot can still get one.”

Delaware is one of 46 states reporting widespread influenza activity, according to the DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been 370 laboratory-confirmed flu cases so far during the 2017-2018 flu season, with 95 hospitalizations and two deaths.

DPH asks people who have flu symptoms, and especially those at high risk for complications, to contact their primary care provider immediately to begin treatment. DPH also asks medical providers to begin antiviral treatment for all hospitalized patients and all high-risk patients with suspected influenza. Antiviral medications are prescribed by health care providers to lessen the symptoms, shorten the illness, and prevent complications of flu illnesses. Antivirals work best when administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms and are particularly important for pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.

In addition to getting a flu shot and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends:

  • Keeping your distance from others if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Covering sneezes and coughs with a tissue, and disposing of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available sneezing or coughing into your inner elbow.
  • Staying home if you are sick until you are free of fever for 24 hours – with a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.

Flu vaccines continue to be available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your zip code in the CDC flu vaccine finder at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/. For more information about the flu, visit http://flu.delaware.gov or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers:

  • Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.
  • Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m.to 3:30 p.m.
  • Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Call 302-424-7130 to make an appointment on Mondays only, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Fridays only, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information, call 302-628-6772.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the Week 52 flu report at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Delaware First Responders and Hospitals Recognized for 20 Years of Saving Lives

Trauma System Leaders honored for 20 years of continuous service
Trauma System Leaders honored for 20 years of continuous service

DOVER, DE – When someone is seriously injured, seconds or moments can make the difference between life and death. To increase the chance of survival and reduce the chance of permanent disability, Delaware created an integrated, statewide trauma system 20 years ago that begins with a 9-1-1 call and does not end until after the patient receives high quality hospital care.

The Delaware Trauma System members include 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centers, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers of Basic and Advanced Life Support, fire and police agencies, air medical transport, hospital emergency trauma teams, operating rooms, and intensive care units. The system includes the helicopters you might see in the sky, the ambulance you might see on the road, and the emergency room medical personnel and surgeons that could save someone close to you.

To celebrate the men and women of the trauma system, dozens of medical professionals, and first responders filled the House of Representatives chambers at Legislative Hall on Tuesday, joined by state and local officials to mark the 20th anniversary of the Delaware Trauma System.

Delaware has one of the nation’s few inclusive statewide trauma systems in which every acute care hospital participates. The state’s trauma system is credited with saving 1,319 lives and caring for 101,000 seriously injured people since 2000; an almost 50 percent decrease in the mortality rate in that time. The Delaware mortality rate is now consistently lower than the national rate reported by the federal National Trauma Data Bank.

“No matter where people are injured in Delaware, they enter a system of care with a goal of ensuring that trauma patients are treated using the most up-to-date standard of care and in the facility best equipped to manage their injuries,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Rita Landgraf at the Legislative Hall press conference held October 11, 2016.

The DHSS Division of Public Health Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) oversees the system from the time traumatic incidents occur through the full continuum of care. OEMS has played a critical role in building one coordinated system of care that functions as a statewide team of caregivers. The Delaware General Assembly and then-Governor Thomas Carper created the Delaware Statewide Trauma System via legislation in July 1996.

Governor Jack Markell and U.S. Senator Carper offered their best wishes in prepared statements:

“Delaware has a vast network of prepared, highly trained professionals to ensure that injured patients receive fast, efficient, and life-saving care,” said Governor Markell. “The men and women of the Delaware trauma system are heroes every day as they work to save lives and reduce the impact of serious injuries.”

“Twenty years later, I am thrilled to celebrate a system we started to help save the lives of countless Delawareans,” said U.S. Senator Carper. “To all the people that deliver the continuity of care in Delaware’s Trauma System: thank you for all that you do to make Delaware a better place to live and work.”

“Seriously injured people have a much better chance of surviving now than they did 20 years ago because the state, our first responders and hospitals are synchronized in their care and treatment of trauma patients,” said Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “I am proud of the work of the DPH Office of Emergency Medical Services and grateful to everyone in the entire trauma system for their dedication and commitment to saving lives.” Rattay also led a moment of silence for the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“Decades ago, trauma caregivers statewide realized that if we adopted consistent care and uniform processes, we could prevent deaths and reduce the likelihood of injuries becoming serious disabilities,” said Dr. Glen H. Tinkoff, Trauma Director at Christiana Care Health System’s Wilmington Hospital. “With the 1996 passage of the enabling trauma system legislation, we have significantly reduced trauma-related mortality and morbidity because we developed and implemented a system that is integrated with Delaware’s EMS system.” Dr. Tinkoff served as medical adviser to the state trauma system from 2000 to 2016.

When hospitals meet the rigorous standards for verification by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, they receive state designations as Trauma Centers:

• Christiana Hospital of the Christiana Care Health System is designated a Regional Level 1 Trauma Center. A Regional Resource Trauma Center has the capability of providing leadership and comprehensive, definitive care for every aspect of injury from prevention through rehabilitation.

• Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington assumes a leadership role in caring for injured children. As a Pediatric Regional Level 1 Trauma Center, it has the capability of providing leadership and comprehensive, definitive pediatric trauma care for the most severely injured children within its geographic area.

• Delaware has seven Community Level 3 Trauma Centers: Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital, Beebe Healthcare, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Saint Francis Healthcare (provisional), Wilmington Hospital of Christiana Care Health System (provisional), and Peninsula Regional Medical Center (Salisbury Maryland) via reciprocity. Community Level 3 Trauma Centers provide assessment, resuscitation, stabilization, and triage for all trauma patients. They arrange timely patient transfers for those who need a Regional Trauma or Specialty Center, and deliver care to those patients whose needs can be met by the facility’s resources.

Secretary Landgraf, Dr. Rattay and State Senator Bruce Ennis recognized 14 Trauma System leaders for their 20 years of continuous service:

• Edward L. Alexander III, MD, FACS of Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
• Marilynn K. Bartley, MSN, RN of Christiana Care Health System
• Steven Blessing, MA, Chief, EMS and Preparedness Section, DPH
• Steven D. Carey, MD, FACS of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
• Dean Dobbert, MD, FACEP, Kent County EMS Medical Director
• Deborah Eberly, BSN, RN, CEN, CNML of Bayhealth
• Gerard J. Fulda, MD,FACS of Christiana Care Health System
• Linda Laskowski Jones, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN of Christiana Care Health System
• MarySue Jones, RN, MS, State Trauma System Coordinator, OEMS, DPH
• James P. Marvel, Jr., MD, FACS of Beebe Healthcare
• Ross E. Megargel, DO, FACEP, State EMS Medical Director
• Stephen G. Murphy, MD, FACS of Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
• Lawrence E. Tan, Esq., NRP, Chief of Emergency Medical Services, New Castle County
• Glen H. Tinkoff, MD, FACS of Christiana Care Health System

Additionally, State Senator Bruce C. Ennis (D-Smyrna) read a joint resolution recognizing the trauma system’s anniversary, and trauma survivor Melanie Pertain shared how the trauma system helped her and her family after they were involved in a serious motor vehicle crash.

Trauma can result from intentional as well as unintentional injuries. Unintentional injury, the leading cause of death and disability of Delawareans and visitors between the ages of 1 to 44 years, results from falls, burns, roadway crashes involving motor vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians, and from farm and industrial incidents. Intentional injuries result from violence, assaults, shootings, stabbings, and suicides.

Falls, highway, and assault-related injuries make up more than 77 percent of all injury-related hospitalizations in Delaware.

For more information about the Delaware Trauma System, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/ems/trauma.html or call the Office of Emergency Medical Services at 302-223-1350. For information about the Delaware Coalition for Injury Prevention, visit their web page here.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Delaware Veterans Parade & Gulf War Dedication: Nov. 7th

Dover – The State of Delaware and the Downtown Dover Partnership invite you to attend the Veterans Parade and the dedication of a new monument honoring Delawareans who served in the Wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Handicapped parking for the monument dedication is available directly across the street from Legislative Hall and the Delaware Public Archives parking lot (please enter from Legislative Avenue because MLK Blvd North will be closed for the event). Additional parking is available in the Townsend Building, Tatnall Building and Credit Union parking lots.

For further information:

Dedication Ceremony – Call the Delaware Division of Research at 302-744-4114 or email legislative.council@delaware.gov

Veterans Parade – Call the Downtown Dover Partnership at 302-678-2940 or email info@downtowndoverpartnership.com