Blog

23 Sep
0

Delaware Relief Grants

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, small businesses and nonprofits throughout our state are facing significant financial challenges as they operate under the new normal. But assistance is on the way.

To help these businesses recover, Governor John Carney, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, and the Delaware Division of Small Business have launched the DE Relief Grants program. This program will provide at least $100 million in grants to assist Delaware small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by COVID-19.

The Division of Small Business is administering the program. Due to significant demand, the Delaware Relief Grant application portal has closed for this round. The second application round will open at Delaware.gov/relief no later than October 1, 2020 with another $30 million available. Sign up for the DSB email list for updates.

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18 Sep
0

State of Delaware Launches COVID Alert DE Mobile App

State of Delaware Launches COVID Alert DE Mobile App

Delaware Governor John Carney

Free app uses Google/Apple platform and protects user privacy; Available for download today in App Store or Google Play

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) on Tuesday launched COVID Alert DE – a mobile app available in the App Store or Google Play that will help Delaware fight community spread of COVID-19. 

The free mobile app – available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in Delaware – uses Bluetooth technology from Google and Apple to securely and anonymously alert users who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  

By downloading COVID Alert DE, Delawareans can use their phones in the fight against COVID-19 without compromising privacy or personal information. COVID Alert DE also allows users to log symptoms and get more information on COVID-19 in Delaware. 

“This app is an important tool to help Delawareans understand the risks of COVID-19, and to help fight community spread of this virus,” said Governor Carney. “Knowing you’ve had a potential exposure and taking the basic precautions is the best way to protect your most vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbors who are at risk of serious illness. I would encourage all Delawareans to download this app and help in our fight against COVID-19.” 

COVID Alert DE was created in partnership with the software developer NearForm. The app will allow for interoperability and exposure notifications across state lines in states that also have exposure notification apps and use the same Bluetooth technology developed by Apple and Google. The app is not a substitute for basic precautionary measures – including mask-wearing, social distancing in public, and frequent handwashing.

“COVID Alert DE is a new and important tool in the fight against COVID-19 because it supplements the work of the Division of Public Health’s contact tracing teams,” said Molly Magarik, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). “Typical contact tracing relies on an individual remembering the names of people they have been in contact with – and for how long. Using the COVID Alert DE app will help to speed up the process of notifying close contacts and identifying close contacts. Because we expect younger people to embrace the app at higher rates, we are especially pleased that the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are prepared to promote the app among their students and staff.”  

Users of COVID Alert DE may receive an exposure notification if they were in close proximity of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and also has the app downloaded on their phone. Close proximity is defined as within six feet for 15 minutes or more. The app uses Bluetooth technology to recognize when other phones nearby are running the application.  

“The COVID Alert DE Mobile App puts power in citizens’ hands to protect each other in the fight against COVID-19,” said Cian O’Maidin, CEO of NearForm. “The open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core. The app exchanges regularly-changing anonymous Bluetooth ID, to break transmission chains. The State of Delaware has taken a great approach, using technology that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and parts of the UK. We look forward to working with them to slow the spread of the virus.”

COVID Alert DE does not collect or share personal information that can identify users. The app also does not use Global Positioning System (GPS) location data to detect the location of users or track movements. The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BTE) technology, which allows phones with the app to recognize when it is near other phones also running the application.

Delawareans identified as close contacts of positive cases may receive an alert from the app, as well as outreach from the Division of Public Health’s (DPH) contact tracing team. An exposure alert on COVID Alert DE alone will not trigger a call from Delaware contact tracers.  

“The State of Delaware takes our obligation to protect your privacy very seriously,” said Jason Clarke, Acting Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI). “We want to reassure app users that your identity and location remain anonymous and that your privacy is protected at all times. The app is a tool that can be leveraged to close the gap and provide awareness for you to act upon. Using the app can help protect you and ensure you are doing your part to help protect others against COVID-19.” 

Visit de.gov/covidalert for additional information about COVID Alert DE.

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27 Jul
0

Open Space and the Environment

Open Space and the Environment

Delaware’s lifestyle is greatly enhanced by our world-class outdoor spaces — and we will now also benefit from a new plastic bag ban, one of my proudest achievements in nearly thirty years of legislative service.  

During my 14 years as a member of the Delaware Open Space Council over 53,000 acres of the Delaware landscape has been protected. These open spaces and natural places include forests, waterways, parks, greenways, wetlands, and otherwise undeveloped lands.

I firmly believe in the preservation of these properties for the benefit of our current citizens as well as all future generations.

Natural open space lands contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to Delaware’s economy each year through tourism, wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing. The diversity of plants, animals and habitats found on these lands also provide invaluable services like cleaning our air, filtering our water, and maintaining the fertility of our soil.  All of it enriches our lives as Delawareans.

Charged with protecting and conserving Delaware’s natural resources, Delaware has taken the lead in preserving a network of open spaces and natural places that support and protect our precious natural resources while also allowing for Delaware’s continued economic growth and development.

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27 Jun
0

Education and Training

Education and Training

Delaware has an opportunity – during and after the pandemic – to eliminate the digital divide by ensuring all students have access to a highly functioning computer and highly functioning internet access.

In today’s high-tech environment, access to computer and the Internet is the equivalent of access to textbooks.

During the pandemic, students must have access to appropriate technology and be required to be in attendance in the classroom when it is in session. There is an opportunity to re-purpose truancy officers to ensure compliance with remote learning attendance.

In light of the tremendous increase in mental health problems caused by the pandemic, several practices become imperative in delivering an equitable educational experience:

-Mental health workers should visit remote learning students to ensure their mental health needs caused by social isolation are being met.

– Districts should provide mental assessments of in-class students whenever indicated in their teacher’s opinion.

– Ensure a routine and accessible mental hygiene program is available for teachers, teaching staff, paraprofessionals and associated members of the educational community.

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27 May
0

Recovering From COVID-19’s Economic Impact

Recovering From COVID-19’s Economic Impact

Once we’ve tackled COVID-19, we will still face a period of significant economic recovery.  Meeting that challenge will require innovation, workplace development, and new jobs.

I will continue to advocate for the provisions of additive manufacturing, the new generation 3-D printing that will allow us to bring high paying manufacturing and technical jobs back to Delaware quickly and cheaply throughout the state, in Wilmington and New Castle County while not harming the environment traditional factories did.

Continued to investment in our Workforce Development Programs will be a critical component of our recovery — identifying areas of need, developing and implementing a training curriculum, and direct job placement. Another component is to strengthen our Prosperity Partnership and the ability of our Small Business Development Programs. Delaware has a long history in the Research and Development fields, particularly with pharmaceuticals, energy, and technology. We can build on this history to construct out future.

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27 Apr
0

Living Now to Prepare for the Future

Living Now to Prepare for the Future

Individuals, households, neighborhoods, schools, institutions, businesses, communities and government, need to unite to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Before we have a long-term solution to the virus, we need constant and meaningful Illustration that any one of us or those we love can either be a recipient or transmitter of Coronavirus.  We cannot just preach this message, but must practice it by ensuring to the greatest extent possible that all people have the capacity to participate in this by providing PPE and enabling all to join in to doing so by making reasonable accommodations throughout our daily experiences in the workplace, public spaces, and private places such as the home. The motivation for all of us to do so, by showing the long-term value in Health and Wealth preservation by the short-term sacrifices of Covid-19.

In short, we need leadership and a demonstrated discipline. In the wake of this Pandemic, national, state, county and municipal agencies should be tasked with assessing our experiences, thus creating an “After Action Report”. An SOP should be developed in anticipation that such disasters may occur again, especially in our global economy. Former President Barrack Obama warnred in a April 2014 speech, “There may and likely will come a time in which we have both an airborne disease (and) that is deadly, and in order for us to deal with that effectively we have to put in place an infrastructure, not just here at home but globally, that allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly, so that if and when a new strain of flu like the Spanish flu crops up five years from now or a decade from now, we’ve made the investment and we’re further along to be able to catch it.”

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27 Mar
0

Keeping Our Streets Safe

Keeping Our Streets Safe

An essential part of keeping our streets safe is innovating effective reforms in law enforcement – changes that honor and respect the hard-working servants of the law while restoring trust in the police by addressing issues of racial bias and police brutality.

Narrow the focus of police deployment so officers are not relentlessly called upon for all types of problems — only those that involve criminal complaints. This will require increasing the use of mental health response teams to defuse volatile noncriminal incidents.  In domestic violence cases, merging police officers and social service workers to supervise and assist both victims and defendants has proven to be effective. This team approach will protect the safety of victims and help keep families stabilized whether they live together or apart.

Recognize that while almost all police officers are good individuals, the police institution does not have the wide acceptance and trust required to provide for the utmost safety of all citizens. Several initiatives could be introduced which may restore trust in police.

Reduce potentially fatal police motor vehicle and pedestrian confrontations by eliminating unnecessary motor vehicle stops. This can be accomplished by the increased use of ticketing technology to reduce the need for police stops of motor vehicles.

Pedestrian and outdoor socializing can be made safer and more comfortable by reevaluating the use of jump out squads and similar trust-busting tactics in the effort restore trust in police.

Modernize and increase community policing with the underlying principle that trust will only come at the neighborhood level and it will be a two-way street between the community and the police, so both sides must earn each other’s trust.

Put citizens first in the legal system.  Reduce the excessive use of qualified immunity by insurance companies and defense attorneys. This can best be accomplished by leaving that question to the jury after consideration of all the evidence as to whether the police were acting lawfully and in compliance with the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Police officers and as well as citizens are also entitled to their day in court when accused of police brutality. Qualified Immunity should not be a defense attorney and insurance company’s legal tool.

Address issues of racial bias and police brutality. Diversity Training alone will not change attitudes, attitudes are formed at early age. Civics classes need to be restored and modernized to enable all citizens — including future police officers — to learn to value and respect each other in all our interactions. To address racial bias, we as individuals, communities and institutions must look at the issue directly and admit that bias of all kinds exists in all individuals.  Bias is something we should strive to eliminate in our interactions with others particularly when one set of individuals holds the balance of power such as police officers, teachers, and potential employers. To address police brutality, we must require that the least amount of force needed be used in every police encounter. The exercise of power with bias, whether known or unknown, causes dramatically unfair and even fatal consequences. To meaningfully address the issue of racial bias which exists the world over does not mean to solve it. But it is important to do regularly. It is a building block of true civilization.

As a nation of immigrants, various prejudices were inherent with the formation of a new society. Based on the bias in those beliefs, we developed a cultural environment that features systemic biases, including racism.  As each generation greets new circumstances, our education system, professional development intuitions, recreational programs and workplace incentives, could all be programmed to retool our nurturing process.

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