Concerns raised over out-of-staters in Sussex County amid coronavirus outbreak


A topic of concern continues to be out-of-state visitors traveling to Sussex County, specifically the beaches, and how it could put a strain on local hospitals and resources as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Delaware.

There have been countless reports of residents from states such as New York and New Jersey traveling to communities in and around Rehoboth, Lewes, Milton to either stay at their second home or visit family, all the while not really knowing if they have the coronavirus (COVID-19).

State Senator Brian Pettyjohn appeared on WGMD LIVE with Mike Bradley and expressed concerns over visitors navigating to Delaware from states across the East Coast that are facing increased challenges dealing with a rapid increase in coronavirus cases.

Senator Brian Pettyjohn appears on WGMD and tells our Mike Bradley…

“In Sussex County, we’re the destination for a lot of the individuals who are coming from these hot-spots,” Sen. Pettyjohn explained. “They have second homes here, they have campsites here, they have family here, and a lot of them are coming here to escape the city but the concern is whether or not they’re affected.”

Weeks can go by after contracting the virus before symptoms even appear.

“You can be affected, you can be spreading that infection, and not show one sign of being ill whatsoever,” Sen. Pettyjohn said. “That is what is most concerning about this.”

Over the weekend, the Governor modified his State of Emergency declaration to order all out-of-state travelers coming into Delaware to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

State Representative Ruth Briggs-King also raised concerns over out-of-state visitors coming from states like New York and New Jersey, epicenters for the virus outbreak currently.

In an interview with WGMD’s Mike Bradley, Rep. Ruth Briggs-King explains…

“You have people coming that aren’t anticipated that are going to be using grocery stores or other resources,” Rep. Briggs-King said. “They’re seeking their medical assistance here which means that’s using more of our valuable supplies, the PPE’s and stuff like that, Personal Protective Equipment, and if they do get sick then that’s just an additional drain. We see a lot of New Jersey and New York plates coming in and we know that an epicenter in the U.S. was New York and that proximity was very concerning.”

Many state lawmakers are concerned over how an influx in local populations could affect operations at our local hospitals, according to Sen. Pettyjohn who said beds are limited and so is federal funding.

Sen. Pettyjohn tells our Mike Bradley…

“That’s the concern that we have as local elected officials,” Sen. Pettyjohn said. “We have a finite number of beds available to our residents. When we receive the federal funding to help our hospitals out, they don’t take in account non-permanent residents, they don’t take into account second homeowners, they take into account the census numbers here.”

Governor Carney ordered a modifcation to his State of Emergency declaration earlier this month to close the beaches after thousands from out-of-state took to the beaches despite social distancing orders.

“We need everyone to take this situation seriously. We saw too many people on the beaches,” Governor Carney said at the time. “This was a difficult decision, but we need folks to follow the rules to keep all Delawareans safe. Don’t go out in public unnecessarily. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently.”