WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — Delaware now has over 100 coronavirus cases in the state. The statewide total climbed to 104 on Tuesday, a day after Gov. John Carney declared a public health emergency.
The declaration, which took effect at 5 p.m Monday, authorizes state officials to direct vaccination, treatment, isolation, quarantine and other measures to contain the spread of the virus. It also calls for a prompt assessment of emergency medical supplies, capacity needs, and the immediate purchase of all necessary supplies and drugs.
The declaration also waives state Medicaid requirements and orders health insurers to waive all prior authorization requirements for the lab testing and treatment of confirmed or suspected cases and waives and suspends state contracting and procurement requirements for materials or services needed to address the outbreak.
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the Division of Public Health issued a companion order to the governor’s declaration. It allows health care professionals licensed in any other state to provide in-person health care services in Delaware during the emergency. That order also allows Delaware health care professionals whose licenses have expired in the past five years to provide health care services, assuming their licenses were in good standing for the five-year period.
“We’re acting with urgency to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases that could overwhelm our hospital system,” Carney said in a prepared statement.
In a separate move, Carney ordered that all Delaware schools remain closed through at least May 15. On March 13, he had ordered that schools be closed for a two-week period ending Friday.
“This two-week period was intended to help school leaders and educators plan for what came next,” Carney said.
Carney’s emergency declaration and expanded school closure order came one day after he issued a stay-at-home order and directed the closing of “non-essential.” Under that order, which takes effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Delaware residents who otherwise don’t work at the exempted businesses will be allowed to leave their homes only to obtain groceries, medicines or medical treatment.
The Carney administration also said Monday that it is extending this year’s filing deadline for state income tax returns. The moves follows the Trump administration’s decision to extend the federal filing deadline to July.
State Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger said the deadline for state personal income tax returns will match the July 15 deadline for federal returns. Under Delaware law, the deadline for final corporate income tax payments for 2019 was automatically extended when the federal deadline was pushed back, he said.
State officials said previously that extending the filing deadline past June could result in $114 million in personal income tax payments and $68.3 million in estimated payments being pushed from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2021. That prediction assumes that 75 percent of final payments for 2019 and 75 percent of estimated payments for 2020 that have not yet been received this fiscal year move to next fiscal year.
Geisenberger emphasized that state officials are still accepting and processing tax returns for 2019. But the postponement of the filing deadline will likely have a significant impact on preparing a state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.
“It has some significant impacts, but given the circumstances there aren’t a whole lot of options,” Geisenberger said.
Meanwhile, a former Republican congressional candidate filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging that Carney’s mandated restrictions on businesses and public gatherings are unconstitutional and posing a hardship for many Delawareans.
“They’re sitting in their homes under virtual house arrest and they can’t feed their families,” said Scott Walker, a perennial political candidate who won the GOP nomination for U.S. House in 2018 and said he is currently running for U.S. Senate.
“All he’s doing is just closing businesses,” Walker said of Carney. “He’s copying what these other governors are doing. The working guys, … the middle class, we’re the ones who are getting crushed.”
The lawsuit, which was filed even before Carney declared a public health emergency, claims Carney’s edicts restricting movement and commerce are a “naked power grab” to seize control of the state ahead of the November elections.
“Defendant Carney’s heavy handed one size fits all is only producing more panic in Delaware that is unnecessary,” the lawsuit states. “For example, population density should be Carney’s metric for closings and travel bans.”
The lawsuit, which also names Carney’s secretaries of education and health and social services as defendants, said state officials should be working to convert school buildings that are currently vacant because of the virus outbreak into treatment and rehabilitation centers for those who contract COVID-19.
Carney’s office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)