Governor Carney Sworn in for Second Term as 74th Governor of the State of Delaware

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long were sworn in for their second terms on Tuesday, January 19. The 74th Governor of the State of Delaware and 26th Lieutenant Governor took their oaths of office at Legislative Hall in Dover in a livestreamed virtual ceremony due to COVID-19 precautions.

Rewatch the inaugural ceremony at de.gov/inauguration.

Click here to view photos from today’s event.

INAUGURAL ADDRESS—GOVERNOR CARNEY

*As prepared for delivery

The past year brought once in a generation challenges to every single Delawarean. No one has been exempt from the reaches of this pandemic. And too many of our friends and neighbors paid the ultimate price.

It’s a bond we all would’ve chosen to forgo.

But the pain of the pandemic is not the only thing this year gave us.

It also gave us a clear picture of what we could do as a state – with each other, and for each other.

Doctors and nurses worked nights and weekends to treat patients with COVID.

The National Guard staffed testing sites up and down the state – and over half of all Delawareans stepped up and got tested.

Child care providers and correctional officers went to work every single day even while the virus surged.

You sacrificed visits with loved ones, family traditions, the camaraderie of the office or the classroom, a high school sports season, all to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe.

And now the vaccine has arrived – and there is hope on the horizon.

For me, and for so many of you, this year has been a balancing act.

We’ve tried to protect public health, while protecting our economy.

Preparing for the next year, and the next four years, will require this same balancing act.

We’ll continue to deal with the crisis at hand, but we will also plan for the future.

We will march forward with optimism and hope.

2021 is a year of hope and optimism. It won’t be easy. There’s a lot of work ahead. But I’m confident that Delaware will come out of this current crisis stronger than ever.

Four years ago, I promised to get our fiscal house in order. We kept that promise. As a result, unlike so many states around the country, Delaware is not facing budget challenges this year.

That means we’re well-positioned to rebuild. As our President-Elect says, to build back better.

We made promises last year — before the pandemic hit — and I intend to make good on them.

We will create jobs by investing in the largest infrastructure program in our state’s history.

We will make sure every Delaware family has clean drinking water.

We will build a new school on the east side of Wilmington. It’ll the first new school in Delaware’s largest city in more than a generation.

We’ll make historic investments in public schools statewide, focused on students who need our help the most.

We’ll continue strengthening our economy. And we will help those businesses recover that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

My job as Governor is to make sure Delaware comes out on top in a world that’s more connected and competitive than ever.

And to make sure all Delawareans get a fair shot to succeed.

Of all the lessons this past year has taught us, perhaps the most important had nothing to do with the pandemic. The George Floyd protests here in Wilmington and Dover and across the country showed us that we cannot continue to ignore the injustices our brothers and sisters of color endure. We cannot return to the old normal – to the normal of just last year. Here too, we need to build back better. And we will.

For the past two decades, you have trusted me with the responsibility and privilege of representing you.

You’ve given me the opportunity to get to know you and our state, and to understand what’s important to you.

While an inaugural address normally lays out what the next four years will look like, this last year has made crystal clear that none of us knows what the future holds.

But regardless of what lies ahead, I promise to continue working hard, every single day, to support the causes you care about. To fight for what’s important to you. And to make life better for every single Delawarean.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Governor.

God bless you and God bless the State of Delaware and God bless our great United States of America.

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Governor Carney, Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long Announce Virtual Inauguration for January 19, 2021

State of the State Address scheduled for January 26; Governor to present Fiscal Year 2022 Budget on January 28

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long have announced plans for a virtual inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 19. The 74th Governor of the State of Delaware and 26th Lieutenant Governor will be sworn in for their second terms at 10 a.m. at Legislative Hall in Dover.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the inaugural ceremony will be livestreamed at de.gov/inauguration.

“For the past two decades, Delawareans have trusted me with the responsibility and privilege of representing them as Lieutenant Governor, in the U.S. Congress and now as Governor,” said Governor Carney. “In a second term, I promise to continue working hard, every single day, on the issues that are important to the people of our state. Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Governor.”

“I am thankful for the honor to serve as your Lt. Governor for another term,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “2020 was a challenge for our nation, state, communities, and families. I look to 2021 with hope, confidence and optimism knowing we will face the challenges that confront us by working together to build a safer, healthier and stronger Delaware.”

Governor Carney will deliver his 2021 State of the State Address at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26 from the Senate Chamber at Legislative Hall. The Governor will present his recommended Fiscal Year 2022 budget at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 28.

Additional information will follow about the State of the State Address and annual budget presentation. Both events will be held virtually, without an audience. They will be livestreamed at de.gov/live and livestream.com/stateofdelaware.

 

 

 

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First $700,000 in Opioid Impact Fee Funding Allocated for Treatment of Substance Use Disorder

DOVER – Revenue from a new opioid impact fee created by the Delaware General Assembly in 2019 will be used to prevent overdose deaths and provide new services to those seeking treatment for their substance use disorder, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Sen. Stephanie Hansen announced Wednesday.

DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik this week detailed the department’s plan to spend the first $700,000 raised by the fee as of the third quarter of 2020, as required by Senate Bill 34.

Those funds will be used to bolster Delaware’s supply of naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose; support the expansion of Bridge Clinic services to 24 hours a day in all three counties; and provide grants to people in treatment or recovery for such needs as transportation, housing, or education.

“As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our state continues to respond to an opioid epidemic that is costing the lives of far too many Delawareans,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “The opioid impact fee created by Sen. Stephanie Hansen last year is proving to be a powerful tool in that fight. These funds are helping us to expand our services and reach the people most in need of that support.”

Signed into law by Governor John Carney in June 2019, Delaware’s first-in-the-nation opioid impact fee requires some of the nation’s largest drug makers to address the costs of the opioid crisis they helped to create.

Manufacturers are now charged one penny for every morphine milligram equivalent (MME) of any brand-name opioid dispensed in Delaware and one-quarter of a cent for every MME of their generic opioids sold here. Companies that refuse to pay the fee can be charged a penalty of up to $100 a day or 10 percent of the total impact fee, whichever is greater.

Proceeds from the fee are then held in a special Prescription Opioid Impact Fund that can be used only for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder. According to the law, the fund is administered by DHSS with input from the Behavioral Health Consortium, the Addiction Action Committee, and the Overdose System of Care Committee.

“When we started down this road, we heard from countless naysayers who falsely claimed either that this legislation would hurt pharmacies, negatively impact consumers or fail to make a difference,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, the lead architect and driving force behind Senate Bill 34, along with House prime sponsor Rep. David Bentz. “Fears such as these prevent progress and have allowed this crisis to go on so long. This announcement today proves we can hold drug makers accountable. We can bring innovative, new tools to bear to confront addiction in our communities. And we can do more to break the cycle of abuse, addiction and death that has touched so many families in our state.”

Delaware is one of the top 20 states in opioid prescriptions per capita and currently leads the nation when it comes to the prescription rate for high-dose opioids. Delaware also ranks in the top five for most overdose deaths per capita. Every year since 2009, more Delawareans have died from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes, including 431 in 2019 alone – a record likely to be broken this year.

“The status quo simply will not suffice if we are going to get Delaware’s opioid crisis under control,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, acting director for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “Revenue from the opioid impact fee will support our efforts to build out Delaware’s treatment infrastructure and continue our efforts to reach more people in new ways.”

Funds from the Opioid Impact Fee will be targeted for four main purposes in the coming year:

  • $300,000 will be combined with federal grant funding to help fill a critical gap in the existing system of care for people struggling with addiction issues. Interventions immediately following an overdose or other hospitalization present an effective opportunity to enroll patients in treatment programs. Currently, people discharged from the hospital are brought to a Bridge Clinic, located in each county, for screening and referrals to these programs. However, Bridge Clinics do not operate 24/7. DSAMH is currently working to address this issue through the addition of Stabilization Centers that can house and counsel clients during off-hours and weekends. Funding from the Opioid Impact Fee will help cover capital start-up costs, while the State Opioid Response federal grant will be used to fund programmatic and treatment expenses.
  • $250,000 will be used to help people struggling with addiction issues fill gaps in the social determinants that often present roadblocks in their efforts to enter, continue and complete the treatment and recovery process. These funds will provide DSAMH with the ability to assist clients with transportation costs and transitional housing while they seek treatment, as well as additional supports for people in recovery.   
  • $100,000 will be reserved to cover the Department of State’s administrative expenses associated with the collection of the fee.
  • $50,000 will be used to purchase 925 additional naloxone kits that DSAMH will make available to various community groups. Organizations can acquire these life-saving kits by contacting DSAMH. During the first three quarters of 2020, the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Office of Health Crisis Response distributed nearly 6,300 naloxone kits statewide through its community partners.

“There are no easy solutions when it comes to treating people struggling with substance use disorder,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium. “To be successful, we must take a truly holistic approach. This means supporting both the individual and their family as we attempt to remove the social determinant barriers that hinder an individual on a path to recovery,” she said. “The Opioid Impact Fee is helping Delaware to build that behavioral health system infrastructure. This legislation is doing more than just generating revenue. It will help us to save lives, rebuild families, and restore communities torn apart by addiction. Sen. Hansen, Rep. Bentz, the community advocates, and DHSS deserve a lot of credit for the plan being put forward today.”


Delaware’s First Mental Health Parity Examinations Complete

Regulated health insurers found to be in violation laws of that prohibit discrimination in mental healthcare, $597K in fees assessed

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has announced the completion of the first in a series of Mental Health Parity examinations on health insurers in Delaware. Investigations conducted by the Delaware Department of Insurance uncovered thousands of mental health parity violations, resulting in $597,000 in fines thus far. The exams are ongoing and include each of the four major insurers. The department works with each insurer to correct issues and create a less discriminatory environment in the future. The 2018 passage of SB 230 required companies to submit an initial analysis of mental and behavioral health coverage to the department in 2019, after which the department would include compliance reviews in their annual market conduct exams. A high number of violations was expected due to this being the first assessment by the department.

“After an incredibly thorough review, our team identified many changes that needed to be made to improve parity. Today’s announcement shows that there is more work to do to ensure those seeking mental health care can do so without undue expense or difficulty. I will continue to hold insurers accountable to meet our state’s standards,” said Commissioner Navarro. “Each violation incurred a fine, but it also brought about important conversations that will result in action, and insurers have been cooperative throughout the process and are already making improvements. We will be following up with insurers frequently and expecting substantial progress.”

Mental Health Parity laws, which exist both at the state and federal levels, aim to eliminate coverage discrimination between policyholders seeking mental illness or substance abuse care and those seeking physical care. A lack of parity can prevent a person from pursuing needed care due to cost or limited access, or otherwise make it more expensive or more time intensive than medical visits. Department examinations are critical to uncovering parity issues as consumers may not be aware if they are experiencing disparate treatment when seeking substance abuse or mental health care.

“Everyone deserves equal access to equal treatment. Mental Health Parity has been a priority of mine and the Behavioral Health Consortium. I want to thank Commissioner Navarro and his department for conducting these examinations and advocating for persons suffering with mental health and substance use disorder,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “Everyone should be able to access the level of care required for the duration and intensity of their behavioral health needs. Persons should be able to access treatment based on the acuity and severity of their health condition or recovery needs and should never be denied treatment due to insurance practices driven by cost and quotas. This practice has adversely impacted outcomes for persons suffering with mental health and addiction.”

“Making progress on mental health parity has been a priority for our office for several years,” said Navarro, “but this year has emphasized the importance of this task. COVID-19, and all the stress, isolation, anxiety, and grief that has come with it has amplified the need for mental health care access, while also in many ways destigmatizing utilization of services.”

In general, the violations found in policies and practices revolved around a lack of parity between mental health and medical/surgical procedures, medications and procedure preauthorization requirements. Mental health patients often had to meet higher standards for Non-Quantitative Treatment Limitation (limits on the scope or duration of benefits) than other patients, and pharmacy requirements appeared to differ as well. The companies are working to resolve these differences.


Delaware Public Health Officials Confirm First Flu Case of the 2019-2020 Season

DOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the state’s first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2019-2020 flu season. The case, which also marks Delaware’s first pediatric case of the season, involves an 8-year-old from New Castle County.

“The flu is here,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Now that we have lab-confirmation of our first case, we hope this further motivates individuals who have not yet gotten their annual flu shot to do so right away. Getting a flu shot is quick, easy, and not only protects you, but also those around you. Most of us frequently spend time around someone who is likely to have more severe consequences from influenza. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, Delaware recorded 6,387 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 1,000 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 24 people died from flu complications.

Governor John Carney rolled up his sleeve and received his flu shot during Tuesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Clinic, held by DPH on the main campus of the DelDOT Administrative Building in Dover. He asked Delawareans to get their flu vaccines early, preferably by the end of October, to protect against influenza and its complications. 

“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best thing you can do to keep from getting and spreading the flu, and from missing work, school, and important family events,” said Governor Carney. “This is something you can do to protect your own health as well as the health of your grandparents, your children, co-workers or friends.”

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long also drove through in her vehicle to get her flu vaccine. She reminded everyone that getting the flu vaccine is important for people of all ages, and not just those in high-risk groups such as those who are older or with compromised immune systems. She said the vaccine is also the best way to prevent not only flu illness, but also serious flu complications that may lead to hospitalization or death.

“The flu is unpredictable,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long. “That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year, since we never know what kind of flu season we will see. Remember that a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Your arm may feel achy where the vaccine was given, but that usually only lasts one or two days and is far less painful than a bout with the flu.”

DPH nurses, joined by nurses from the Division’s partners at Bayhealth and the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, administered free intramuscular flu vaccines to drivers, their passengers and even pedestrians age 9 years and older. By noon, 615 vaccinations had been administered during the drive-thru clinic. In addition, DPH administered 151 vaccinations during its walk-up flu clinic held at Porter State Service Center in Wilmington on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. The clinics are DPH’s two primary public events. DPH will also offer various other flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. Flu vaccines are also offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at-risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

In addition to getting an annual flu shot, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – 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.

People with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with well people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.

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.

The Delaware Department of 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.