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Delaware’s Mt. Cuba Center wins recognition as best botanical garden in North America

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[Source: WDEL]

“We are really excited about it,” said Mt. Cuba Center Executive Director Jeff Downing. “It’s a big win for Delaware.”

USA Today announced the Mt. Cuba Center won the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Botanical Garden in North America, beating out other larger, more established destinations in the country for the honor.

“It’s a wonderful labor of love,” Downing said. “Many of the staff here have been here since the Copelands lived in the house…We’re a little lesser known because we have only been open to the public for general admission since 2013, so we’re a very young public garden, compared to others.”

Because of how recent their public opening was, Downing was a bit surprised they’d climbed the ladder of recognition so quickly, but was thankful to all the support the garden has seen since opening up.

“We are not one of the more known gardens,” he said. “We have fewer members than most of the others, but what we do have is a community of support. There’s so many people in the professional community that understand what we’re doing and the importance of it; the conservation community in this area was really amazing; our community of volunteers and guests and members was also very supportive; and in the Delaware community in general, this state really rallies around its own and we felt very much loved.”

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With CARES Act unemployment stipend expiring, Delawareans warned of decreased payments

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[Source: WDEL]

The outgoing payments from Delaware’s Division of Unemployment Insurance are about to decrease significantly as the federal pandemic stipend expires, Director Darryl Scott said.

“Of the $38 million paid for the week ending July 25, $23,445,110 was attributable to the [Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation] stipend,” Scott said. “So, at this time with FPUC benefits expiring, we would expect the total benefits paid to be somewhere in the $15 million range.”

Initial and continuous claims held relatively steady during the final week of the stipend’s availability, and brought the total amount of unemployment benefits paid to Delawareans above the $700 million mark, at $702,989,999. For reference, unemployment insurance paid out during the pandemic now surpasses ten times what the division paid out for the entire previous year, which was roughly $67 million.

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12 Del. Community Organizations Receive COVID-19 Response Funding

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[Source: WRDE]

DOVER, Del.- The Delaware Division of Public Health and the Healthy Communities Delaware initiative has announced collaborations with several communities throughout Delaware that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working with 12 community-based lead organizations, Healthy Communities Delaware is providing more than $720,000 in funding to nine communities across the state to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Delaware’s most vulnerable populations. Officials said this funding will help communities address important fundamental needs by creating neighborhood hubs to serve as food pantries and provide prevention care and resources; hiring bilingual resource navigators; and replacing deteriorating buildings with affordable rental units. Projects will engage residents in identifying the needs of their communities, building trust, and directly providing food, education, and care resources.

“We are seeing the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on vulnerable Delawareans, including low-income households, Black and Hispanic communities, and non-English speakers,” said Rita Landgraf, director of the University of Delaware’s Partnership for Healthy Communities. “These collaborative efforts will support nine communities working with 12 community-based organizations to navigate such challenges under COVID-19 as food security, resource navigation, housing, job creation and workforce development.”

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51K People in Delaware Received Tax Bills in Error

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[Source: WRDE]

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – Nearly 51,000 people in Delaware’s largest county mistakenly received property tax bills, the county announced on Saturday.

New Castle County said the tax bills were sent in error by a vendor to people who pay their property taxes using escrow through their mortgage lender, The News Journal of Wilmington reported.

Officials were alerted to the error late Thursday and the county said it’s “taking actions to alert citizens who received a bill by mistake.”

They’ll receive a letter stating they don’t have to make this payment.

New Castle County sends real estate tax bill files to Rev Springs, its printing vendor for tax bills, the newspaper reported.

The vendor is only supposed to upload images of bills to the county for people who pay their taxes through their mortgage lender – and not mail the bills.

[Source: WRDE]

Delaware ag officials want help spotting (and squashing) the spotted lanternfly

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[Source: WDEL]

There is a quarantine in place for New Castle County that has nothing to do with coronavirus.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture on July 1, 2020, expanded a New Castle County based quarantine for the spotted lanternfly to include the entire county after a population of the invasive pest was found in Odessa.

Stephen Hauss, an environmental scientist with the state department of agriculture, said the first sighting of the insect in Delaware was in late 2017 but since then it has grown exponentially throughout New Castle County.

“2019 was our first year of treating,” said Hauss. “It was all over Wilmington. We started seeing it down a little further south towards the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Half of New Castle County was pretty well covered.”

Officials said due to the mild winter there has been a high hatch rate of spotted lanternfly nymphs in 2020.

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The Delaware Department of Labor Issues Guidelines for Employers and Employees Regarding Returning to Work.

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(Wilmington, DE) –  PHASE 2 of Governor John Carney’s Economic Reopening plan began on June 15, 2020. During this rolling reopening of the state’s economy, the restrictions put in place by Governor Carney in March 2020 to reduce the spread of COVID-19, will begin to be lifted incrementally.

The Delaware Department of Labor has released guidelines along with a frequently asked questions document addressing the concerns for both employees and employers regarding returning to work during COVID-19.

For Employees, the issued guidance and FAQ document addresses concerns regarding the following;

  • Disqualification for unemployment benefits if I refuse to return to work after receiving notice from my employer.
  • What if I cannot return to work due to a medical condition or age?
  • What if I am being called back to work with reduced hours and or pay?
  • What actions should I take if I have concerns about my safety from COVID-19 at the workplace?

For Employers, the DOL’s has also issued guidance that addresses concerns Delaware employers have regarding the following;

  • How do I respond to an employee’s refusal to work?
  • What must I do to adhere to workplace safety guidelines as directed by DPH and the CDC?
  • What are Employer reopening best practices?

The complete list of issued guidelines and return to work FAQ’s during COVID-19 for both employees and employers can be downloaded by visiting the link below.

During PHASE 2 of the state’s reopening employers are encouraged to continue to have employees Telework where applicable. Employers who call employees back to work must enforce strict social distancing protocols and follow the responsibilities for all businesses, set forth in the Governor’s State of Emergency Order.


State of Delaware Announces Guidance for Reopening of Schools for 2020-21 Academic Year

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WILMINGTON, Del. – Secretary of Education Susan Bunting today released the state’s guidance for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 academic year. Districts and charter schools will use this guidance to formulate plans for the upcoming school year.

In August, Governor John Carney, in consultation with the Delaware Division of Public Health, will announce his decision on whether or not schools will start the year in person. Districts and charters will then implement their plans based on the scenario that aligns with current health conditions, understanding there may be some regional variability.

Click here to read the full guidance.

“Since the day we closed school buildings, our goal has been to return students and educators to their classrooms as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Governor Carney. “When we do return to our school buildings, we know our daily routines will look different than they did in March. Important safety measures, such as wearing face coverings and socially distancing, will help protect our children and educators and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19 so we can stay in our classrooms, where our students learn best.”

Developed in collaboration with the three school reopening workgroups and DPH, today’s document outlines what schools need to do prior to re-opening and after instruction resumes under three scenarios: if minimal community spread exists in Delaware (and school buildings re-open), if minimal-to-moderate community spread exists in Delaware (situation dependent) and if significant community spread exists in Delaware (and school buildings remain closed).

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State aims to keep COVID cases down, plan for school reopening

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Recommendations for the reopening of schools are currently being reviewed by Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, after groups appointed to study effective ways to reopen were presented this week. The goal, Gov. John Carney said at a press briefing on Tuesday, is providing “as much in-person instruction as possible in a way that is safe.”

Several areas are being explored, including health and wellness of children who must be kept safe from the virus, academics, equity and transporting students in buses while keeping them proper distances apart, Carney said.

“We’re working with the school districts to see how we are going to educate our children,” he added.

Also during the press briefing, the governor said that during the past two weeks, more than 4,000 coronavirus tests have been administered.

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The 2020 Summer in the Parks Program to Offer Arts Programs at William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center and Evening Concerts

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Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, City Parks and Recreation Director Kevin F. Kelley, Sr., and The Grand Executive Director Mark Fields today announced the 2020 Summer in the Parks program. This is the seventh year that the City and The Grand have partnered on the program.

Throughout the month of July, the newly renovated William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center (WHACC) at 501 North Madison Street in West Center City will host free arts experiences for youth, ages 6 to 12. These recreational opportunities are provided with all necessary COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place in accordance with State of Delaware Phase 2 guidelines. Should any activity offered by the City result in COVID-related health concerns for participants or staff, the activity will be halted immediately for further review.

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FDA adds to list warning of potentially toxic hand sanitizers

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned of a recent increase in hand sanitizers labeled as containing ethanol but instead have methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested.

The FDA updated an earlier advisory, adding more products it recommended people not use. It said the investigation is ongoing and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

The agency said it is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol, or wood alcohol, that led to recent adverse events including death. Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects, the FDA said.

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