Gov. Carney to issue stay-at-home advisory, indoor mask policy
WILMINGTON — Hours after Delaware reported its highest coronavirus case count in a single day on Thursday, Gov. John Carney issued a stay-at-home advisory and urged all Delawareans to avoid indoor gatherings with anyone outside their household.
The advisory goes into effect on Dec. 14 and lasts until Jan. 11, aiming to stem the dangerous winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state. On Thursday, the state reported 754 new cases, the greatest in a single day since the pandemic started in March. Previously, the state recorded its highest single-day case count in early May at 487.
This advisory does not apply for workplaces or traveling to and from work.
Carney is also instituting a statewide universal mask mandate, requiring residents to wear a cloth face mask any time they are indoors with anyone outside their household. The state has instituted a public mask mandate since April 28, which applies to public settings when social distancing is not possible.
Even though there is the promise of at least two vaccine candidates headed for United States approval, Carney urged Delawareans to not let their guard down after months of social distancing and wearing masks.
“A vaccine is on the way but, make no mistake, we are facing the most difficult few months of this crisis,” Carney said in a press announcement on Thursday. “I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, but it’s not tired of us.”
In addition, Carney recommended that all Delaware schools stop in-person learning, starting on Dec. 14 through Jan. 8, although some districts throughout the state have already returned to an online format as the coronavirus caseload rose. Hybrid learning could continue after Jan. 11, and the break will allow school districts to plan ahead for the 2020-2021 year.
Carney praised teachers and parents for their diligence in continuing education in a safe way, and said he did believe that students learned better in person. But he also had to consider the dangerous implications of “ignoring the science.”
“School personnel are not immune to the effects of rising community spread, and as more school personnel are forced to quarantine, it becomes increasingly difficult for schools to operate,” he wrote in a message to Delawareans. “These are still local decisions. Some districts may choose to stay open, and we will support them in doing so.”
These recommendations do not include child care centers, and schools that do not face significant operational challenges may remain in hybrid learning, with a mix of remote and in-person instruction.
Youth winter sports competitions will also be prohibited from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11, but practices may continue under strict COVID-19 masking and social distancing guidelines.
Carney warned that if Delawareans do not take the advisory seriously, it could lead to greater consequences down the road. Additional restrictions are under consideration, according to the press announcement.
“Wear a mask. It’s a simple sacrifice to protect others, and to make sure that Delaware’s children get an education. Do not gather with anyone outside your household. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently,” he said.
By Katie Tabeling