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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

House Democrats seek to extend COVID-19 emergency orders

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

Delaware lawmakers hope to extend some of COVID-19 policies enacted by Gov. John Carney’s emergency order.  Five pandemic-related bills were filed by House Democrats Friday and could see votes later this week.  House Bill 346 is among them.

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) said the bills would expire in January, but could be revisited to make them permanent.

“I think we saw with this COVID virus how we can mainstream a lot of things that are going on in our lives.  It’s just amazing how I think that this COVID virus is going to evolve into a way of life for a lot of these bills in legislation.  Because they just seem like no-brainers.  It just pushed us into the next century with a lot of this stuff,” Longhurst said.  

One bill on the agenda to be considered would extend the vote-by-mail process to all elections in 2020.

Longhurst believes it can help prevent long lines at the polls like those seen last week at some locations during the Christina School District referendum vote.

“I can just imagine at a regular election how long the lines would be,” Longhurst said.  “So, this is just a safeguard for COVID because we don’t know what will happen in the Fall.  And, it just makes sense to do this.”

Other bills address doctor’s appointments via telemedicine and the continuation of outdoor seating at restaurants.  

Longhurst anticipates several police reform bills from the Black Legislative Caucus could be considered before the session ends June 30th.  One seeking to amend the State Constitution to explicitly protect against discrimination based on race, color, and national origin is on the State Senate’s agenda Tuesday.