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Carney to end mask mandate, looks at booster shots

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Gov. Carney will end the indoor mask mandate, but will keep it in place for child care facilities and schools.| PHOTO COURTESY OF UNSPLASHED

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney will lift the indoor mask mandate for many businesses early Friday morning, but it will remain in place for schools and child care facilities until the end of March.

The mask mandate for many indoor settings will expire at 8 a.m. Feb. 11, after hospitalization rates in Delaware hospitals have continued to drop. Since the omicron variant of COVID-19 arrived in Delaware in late December, several hospitals were operating at “crisis standards of care,” essentially triaging the most severe cases and adjusting resources to meet the surge.

On Feb. 4, the state recorded 442 new COVID-19 cases and 218 hospitalizations – the lowest rate since early December. 

Hospitalizations peaked at 759 people on Jan. 12. During that week, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services reported that the omicron varian represented 96.5% of COVID-19 cases in the state.

“We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a prepared statement. “I want to be clear about this point – COVID is still circulating in our communities. And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations. But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe.”

Amid the winter surge, Carney had mobilized the Delaware National Guard to train and work as trained certified nursing assistants at hospitals across the state. Weeks later, he and the Delaware Healthcare Association called upon volunteers including college students studying at University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical Community College to lend their time at hospitals.

The Carney administration has since turned its attention to getting more shots in arms, as numbers for booster shots and vaccines in children remain low.

In total, 61.4% of all Delawareans are considered fully vaccinated and 29% have received a booster shot. The First State ranks 26th out of 50 states in overall booster shots administered, according to state health officials.

Looking at children aged 5 and older, 65.1% are fully vaccinated and 31% have received a booster shot, according to state COVID data.

“Get vaccinated. Get your booster. That’s especially important for children, where we continue to see low rates of vaccination,” Carney said. “For all the parents out there the best way to keep your child in school learning, and to prevent them from getting sick, is to get them vaccinated. It’s that simple. I want to thank all Delawareans for taking this threat seriously.” 

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