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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

DOC expands COVID-19 precautions, including masks, after advocates criticize response

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Department of Correction says it is embarking on an “intensive” two-week operation to combat COVID-19 in the two facilities where inmates have tested positive.  

Advocates have pushed for widespread proactive testing within Delaware’s prison system and for a policy to allow all inmates the choice to wear masks. 

Department of Correction (DOC) says it is starting twice-daily temperature checks, expanded proactive testing of inmates and optional testing of all officers as well as increased cleaning in the buildings at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna and the Sussex Community Corrections Center, where inmate cases of the virus have been found. 

DOC says it is also distributing face masks to an additional 360 inmates at Vaughn, bringing the total number of inmates supplied with face masks to nearly 900 across all facilities. There roughly 4,200 inmates currently in DOC custody.

DOC commissioner Claire DeMatteis said Monday that masks are restricted for inmates because they pose a security risk and could help inmates hide contraband. 

So far a total of 67 inmates, staff and contractors in the DOC system have tested positive for the virus. DOC says some of the inmates that have tested positive are asymptomatic.

The Delaware NAACP requested Sunday that DOC reverse the decision to disallow inmates to wear masks and disallow early release of medically vulnerable, elderly, and non-violent offenders

Delaware announced 269 new COVID-19 cases statewide Wednesday with the biggest jump in Sussex County. 

State officials also announced 7 new deaths related to COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 89.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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