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Gov. Carney brings back an indoor mask mandate

Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney has brought back a universal indoor mask requirement in response to a record-breaking surge in cases of COVID.

The mandate, which takes effect at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, requires all individuals ages 2 and up to wear a face covering in any indoor public setting: including grocery stores, gyms, restaurants and more.

They are not required while eating or drinking in restaurants and bars. And churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the mask requirement. Carney is currently facing a lawsuit from two Delaware pastors over his previous state of emergency impacting church worship.

The average number of new positive cases reported by the state is now over three times what it was at the last peak in January of 2021.

Hospitalizations are also spiking to record levels and Monday, a number of health care systems, including ChristianaCare, implemented crisis standards as the demand for care surpasses their available resources.

“Our hospital systems are facing a crisis-level situation with record numbers of Delawareans seeking emergency care. We need all Delawareans in the fight as we face this winter surge of COVID-19 to make sure our hospitals are not overrun,” said Carney in a statement. “I know we’re all exhausted by this pandemic. But at the level of hospitalizations we’re seeing, Delawareans who need emergency care might not be able to get it. That’s just a fact. It’s time for everyone to pitch in and do what works. Wear your mask indoors. Avoid gatherings or expect to get and spread COVID. Get your vaccine and, if eligible, get boosted. That’s how we’ll get through this surge without endangering more lives.”

Carney has also extended the mask requirements for K-12 schools and childcare facilities, which were set to expire in February.

And to help keep kids in school, Carney is relaxing regulations to encourage retired teachers to return to school to help fill staffing shortages.

Additional members of the National Guard are also being deployed to assist with non-clinical work in Delaware’s hospitals. Carney has already recruited 100 National Guard Members to train up as Certified Nursing Assistants to alleviate the strain on hospitals.

You can read the full order signed by Carney at the state's website.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.