State working on after action reports to assess pandemic response
Delaware’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Order comes to an end next week and state agencies are evaluating their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Officials with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the state Division of Public Health (DPH) are working on after action reports to assess the state’s management of the pandemic.
“We will make sure that we refine, define and improve these plans and I think there’s good stuff and there’s going to be bad stuff,” said DEMA Director AJ Schall at the state’s final weekly COVID-19 press conference last Tuesday.
The two state agencies were afforded special emergency powers under Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency declaration. These have included the ability to shut down events, inspect businesses and require individuals to quarantine.
Officials say an outside consultant will be brought in for the after action assessment and the process is expected to take months to complete.
Carney, Schall and DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay each say Delaware was learning as it went during much of the past 15 months. Carney notes the creation of a vaccine registry in response to long lines at an April vaccination event at Salesianum High School as an example.
“I think about the experience that we had at Salesianum School where we learned when the demand was that great, at an uncontrollable level, and with social media being so important in people’s lives now, that we had to have a registration system,” said Carney. “We couldn’t just open the doors and say vaccines were available. And there were a lot of examples of that kind of learning.”
Carney lists the state’s response to the outbreak among the Hispanic and Hatian Creole workers in poultry plants as a high mark in government action during the pandemic.
"A very coordinated effort on the ground, in communities, in the plants ..." Carney said. "In the end I think the numbers speak for themselves in terms of hospitalizations, fatalities anad the number of people tested. I think community outreach was particularily impressive during that."
Delaware also deployed the National Guard to assist in setting up emergency medical infrastructure that was ultimately never used, and set up mass vaccination events in coordination with FEMA.
The state ultimately was able to at least partially vaccinate 70 percent of its population before July 4th—a goal set by President Joe Biden for the nation earlier this year.
“I could not be more proud of the people at Public Health who have made just extraordinary sacrifices over the past year and have just done such a superb job in responding to this pandemic,” said Rattay.
Delaware’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Order comes to an end July 13.