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Carney lifts state of emergency

Katie Tabeling

Gov. John Carney, speaking at the DSU Riverfront ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 25, will lift the state of emergency.

WILMINGTON — Gov. John Carney has signed an order that will lift the state of emergency at 6 p.m. today, nearly three months to the day that Delaware re-entered it due to dire hospitalization numbers and a rapid-spreading new COVID-19 variant.

Carney’s decision comes a day after he announced he would end the school mask mandate on March 1, a full month before it was originally expected to end. School districts can still require teachers, staff and students at their respective schools to wear a mask. Face masks are still required inside Delaware’s hospitals, per individual hospital mandates.

He also revised the public health emergency order to allow hospitals and long-term care facilities more flexibility to respond to COVID-19 cases, including waving the staffing ratios for long-term care facilities. However, long-term care facilities must continue to provide 3.28 hours of direct care per resident every day.

The governor pointed to hospitalization cases trending down, and the daily positive case count falling below 200 in the last two weeks. The last time Delaware recorded 217 new cases was Feb. 18, when it was also reported that 35 people died.

As of Feb. 28, Delaware reports 73 new COVID-19 cases and a seven-day positivity rate of 4.3%. Ninety people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 related ailments, and 11 people are in critical condition.

“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed,” Carney said in a press statement yesterday. “Over the last month, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically, and we are clearly moving into a new phase of this pandemic.”

He also pointed out that the new guidance falls in line with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which announced three days ago new metrics to drop mask mandates. 

The latest CDC guidance indicates that more than 70% of the nation’s population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19 community levels. That guidance is based on three pieces of metrics: new hospitalizations, hospital capacity and new COVID-19 cases.

“Delawareans who want to continue wearing a mask – including children in our schools – should be supported and encouraged to do so, even as we move into this new phase,” Carney added. “We’ll also continue to encourage all eligible Delawareans to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.” 

At the end of December, Delaware and the rest of the country were faced with the highly-contagious but potentially less lethal omicron variant and the case count continued to rise. By the end of that month, the state averaged 1,072.3 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last seven days.

With hospitals facing a labor shortage, Carney mobilized 100 Delaware National Guard members to be trained as nursing assistants to help out at various hospitals throughout the state. Carney and various college and university officials also worked to get students to lend a hand.

The Delaware Healthcare Association reminds Delawareans that hospitals are still requiring visitors and patients to wear face masks, as it remains an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining, protecting immunocompromised and severely ill patients from COVID-19 exposure continues to be a priority for Delaware hospitals,” Delaware Healthcare Association President and CEO Wayne Smith said in a prepared statement. “For the safety of our patients, and in line with CDC recommendations for universal masking in the health care setting, wearing a face mask continues to be required in Delaware hospitals. We encourage everyone to be kind and respectful to the health care workers enforcing these policies within the health care setting.”

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