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Improved COVID numbers lead to mask mandates being lifted

Delaware Public Media

A day after announcing the state’s indoor mask mandates will end Friday and the school mask mandate at the end of March, Gov. John Carney explains those decisions.

With hospitalizations down to 237, and the 7-day averages of new cases and positive tests at 450 and 12.3% respectively, Carney is confident in the direction the state is moving with COVID.

He compared the trajectory to last year when the numbers started to drop at the same time after the holiday winter surge.

As for the decisions on the indoor and school mask mandates, Carney said the decision to move forward is a concerted one - born out of the National Governors Association meeting with the White House.

"I looked to my fellow governors in our region. We just had our National Governors Association meeting in Washington, DC with President Biden and his team and Jeff Zients and we were all looking forward to how do we adapt to changing conditions," said Carney.

With the school mask mandate ending in March, Gov. John Carney is offering help to districts, and hoping parents get their children vaccinated.

Vaccination rates remain low for kids in the 5-to-11 range and booster rates are low for those in the 12-to-17 age group.

As of Tuesday, 30 percent of children 5-to-11 have one dose, and just over 22 percent have two doses. In the 12-to-17 range, 64 percent have one dose, 56 percent have two doses, and only 11 percent have received a booster.

Carney hopes more children get vaccinated before the mask mandate ends, but adds school districts can decide to require masks on their own.

"We'll help our schools and school districts and administrators make those decisions. We still have public health employees who have been assigned to each of the districts and are there to consult with the decision makers about what to be done," said Carney.

Carney notes the next step is to better balance the students’ mental health and population’s physical health - using March to evaluate the circumstances and get more children vaccinated to be better prepared for the phase.

The indoor mask mandate ends Friday morning with the exception being state buildings, certain health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and public transit.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.