Delaware Public Media

Governor declares public health emergency to facilitate response to COVID-19 outbreak

Mar 23, 2020

Gov. John Carney has declared a public health emergency in Delaware.

The order designates a Public Health Authority to utilize “all available resources” of state government to address the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Public Health Authority will be Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, or someone she designates with the Governor’s approval. 

Under Carney’s order, the Public Health Authority will assess the state’s need for medical supplies such as masks, ventilators and lab testing supplies as well as hospital bed capacity— and will immediately purchase supplies such as vaccines the Authority “deems advisable.”

The Public Health Authority will also work with the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance to waive applicable state Medicaid program requirements related to telehealth and other services. 

Under the order, all insurers issuing policies regulated by the state are to waive prior authorization requirements for lab testing and treatment of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.

The state Department of Emergency Management and the Division of Public Health released a companion order opening up licensing restrictions to increase access to health care professionals.

Under the order, healthcare professionals licensed in other states or with Delaware licenses that expired in the last five years can provide healthcare services in Delaware. 

Students enrolled in a board-approved nursing school are also authorized to conduct medical exams and tests under supervision. 

As of Monday afternoon when the emergency declaration was announced publicly, Delaware had recorded 87 confirmed cases of the virus. 

The orders went into effect Monday at 5 p.m.

This story has been updated.