Associate News Editor
Associate News Editor
A universal indoor mask mandate in Delaware is set to be lifted on Friday, while the state’s school mask requirements are set to be lifted late next month, Governor John Carney announced on Monday, Feb. 7.
The previous provisions of the state of emergency declaration that required mask wearing in indoor settings will expire at 8 a.m. on Feb. 11, according to the governor. The revision states that masks are still to be required in schools for kindergarten through twelfth grade students until March 31. Schools will have the option of setting requirements themselves beyond that date.
Since the omicron variant of COVID-19 arrived in Delaware in late December, several hospitals were operating at “crisis standards of care” and adjusting resources to meet the surge.
Hospitalization rates in Delaware hospitals have continued to drop since the governor enacted the previous mask mandate on Jan. 10. On Feb. 4, the state recorded 442 new COVID-19 cases and 218 hospitalizations — the lowest rate since early December. During that week, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services reported that the omicron variant represented 96.5% of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a statement. “I want to be clear about this point — COVID is still circulating in our communities. And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations. But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe.”
Some public buildings, such as court facilities and other state buildings, will still require masks beyond Friday’s expiration.
This mandate revision comes at a time when other states are beginning to lift restrictions on businesses and schools. On the morning of Feb. 7, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that students and school employees would no longer be required to wear masks in schools.
“The best way to keep your child in school learning, and to prevent them from getting sick, is to get them vaccinated,” Carney said. “I want to thank all Delawareans for taking this threat seriously.”