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Proactive Legal Steps to Consider and Legislative Things to Watch as Delaware Sees its First COVID-19 Case Confirmed

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March 11, 2020
By: Kimberly Hoffman
Healthcare Alert

Today, Delaware lost its status as the only state on the east coast without a COVID-19 case. Even before the public announcement was made, the University of Delaware moved all of its classes online, the Health Law section of the Delaware State Bar Association postponed its CLE, businesses made contingency plans to move its workforce remote, and the state set up an online resource center for all the latest and greatest information and a hotline (1-866-408-1899). The Speaker and Pro Tem put out guidance that changes to the legislative session calendar may be necessary as well, noting, “Since this is a shifting situation, we must remain flexible and our response could change depending on the circumstances. The most important thing we can do now is prepare for a variety of possibilities, up to and including the potential postponement of session. To that end, we are currently discussing the logistics of implementing such a decision and how staff could work from home, if necessary.”

“The legislative session is currently scheduled to resume on March 17. Any change to that schedule is a decision that we will make after carefully reviewing the most current information and consulting with the experts in the executive branch and our state agencies. Our primary concern is the health and safety of our staff, our fellow lawmakers and the hundreds of Delaware residents who visit Legislative Hall when we are in session. We are prepared to take whatever steps are recommended to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus and protect residents’ health.” 

While it is not yet known what this will mean for the broader legislative landscape, there are silver linings of change baked into the responses so far that could be helpful for patients in this crisis and long-term;  notably, in telemedicine.

For instance, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Navarro released a bulletin stating that “ensuring testing and expanding telemed options may be the biggest thing we can do to prevent the escalation of new transmissions.”

This is consistent with the Medicare telemedicine changes. “The coronavirus legislation signed by President Donald Trump on Friday would let Medicare expand the use of telemedicine in outbreak areas, potentially reducing infection risks for vulnerable seniors. Coverage of telemedicine is now limited primarily to residents of rural areas facing long road trips for treatment from specialists. The bill would allow the government to waive those restrictions to help deal with the public health emergency created by the coronavirus outbreak.”

If you are a practice or practitioner who has been unsure about telemedicine in the past, the potential to reach an infected patient in their home is a huge boon both to them and to the broader public health. It is clear that governments at all level are creating the space for you to expand your practice. We strongly encourage you take them up on this opportunity!

On the more routine legal front, now is a good time to consult with legal counsel on the following:

  1. Existing contracts for events, delivery of goods and services, or other obligations that could be impacted.
  2. Review of employee contracts and policies to assure compliance as your business responds.
  3. Update or creation of personal healthcare directives in the event of widespread illness.
  4. Review of existing insurance coverages, including business interruption insurance.
  5. Check-in on pending litigation matters, as the Delaware Courts have also issued directives regarding how upcoming hearings will be handled.
  6. Discuss timelines for pending transactions, as large numbers of bankers, title company employees, and government employees who play a crucial part in the culmination of closings may be working remotely soon if they are not already doing so. 

At the time of publication, Morris James LLP’s offices remain open. Click here for our full statement.

In these trying times, we are fully committed to protecting our clients' interests and well-being. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Healthcare Law Group of Morris James LLP. 



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