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Gov. Carney says despite rising cases in Sussex, he won't bring back a mask mandate

Coronavirus cases are rising nationwide. And in Delaware, Sussex County is facing the largest increases, prompting speculation about renewed restrictions.


Despite having the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated in the state, Sussex County is the only part of Delaware considered to have substantial community transmission according to the CDC.


The CDC is recommending that in counties like Sussex, all people should once again wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.


Gov. John Carney puts the blame on the majority of people that are still unvaccinated in Western Sussex County.


“So we are definitely tracking it in terms of those case numbers, the percent positive,” Carney said. “But our main message is, get vaccinated if you’re not — 'cause it’ll protect you, it’ll protect your family and most importantly, it’ll enable us to go more normally through life with open businesses, without mask wearing.”


Delaware’s beaches have some of the highest rates of vaccinations, but Western Sussex sees some of the lowest.


Carney says he’s considering requiring all state employees to get vaccinated — something President Biden is enacting for federal employees and other states are pursuing.


But that decision won’t come as quickly. Carney plans to wait and see how cases trends, and find the best approach for a small state like Delaware.


Carney says the state’s focus remains on vaccinations.


“Our focus is just on getting the message out that we’re gonna be healthier and safer and you’re gonna get healthier and safer if you get vaccinated — and that you’re at risk if you’re not, greater risk now particularly if you’re in an area like Sussex County that’s been identified as lower vaccination rates and higher infection rates,” he says.


Carney adds his office isn’t considering bringing back a mask mandate, not even one limited to Sussex County.


Vaccination rates have slowed significantly statewide, and Carney says it’s difficult to reach those holdouts.


He says the plan is to reach out to individuals and families individually to try and sell them on the benefits of the vaccine.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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.