The mask mandate requires all Delaware residents to wear cloth face coverings anytime they are indoors with anyone outside their immediate home. Delaware has had a public mask mandate since April 28, requiring Delaware residents and visitors to wear a cloth face covering in public places where social distancing is not possible.
It is not clear how the mandate for the new mask will be implemented.
“We rely primarily on voluntary compliance,” said Carney spokesman Jonathan Starkey. “We believe that the people of Delaware will continue to work together and protect lives this winter.
Carney’s office said the stay-at-home advice does not apply to Delaware residents to work and travel to and from their jobs. He plans to formalize advisory mandate and global masking in an upcoming review of the COVID-19 emergency order he first issued in March.
Earlier this week, Carney continued to emphasize that schools are “safe places” and should continue to use a hybrid approach of in-person teaching and virtual classrooms.
On Thursday, he indicated that the risk of virus transmission in schools when social distancing protocols are followed is “not great”, while the harm of keeping students out of school is real.
“Given these facts, there is no real public health reason to close schools at the moment,” said Carney, who advised local school districts to do so.
“We live in a complex world and a complex time, and it is clear to me that there are operational needs that make it a good idea to think about a short pause,” he said. “Teachers, school nurses and officials need an opportunity to learn about these challenges and regroup. The Public Health Department can use this time to re-equip and simplify school-related procedures.”
Under school reopening guidelines issued earlier this year, state officials are looking at the number of new COVID-19 cases, the average daily hospitalization and the percentage of positive tests in determining whether schools should use in-person education, online classes, or a combination of both together.
Some school districts in central Delaware have moved into online classrooms only in recent days as the rate of case and test-positive rates has increased. Statewide, the number of new cases per 100,000 people has also been in the “red” for the past five weeks, indicating a significant spread of the virus in the community, but the other two indicators have remained below the threshold of only online classes. That changed on Thursday, when officials said a 7-day average in positive tests was 8% on Monday.
“School staff are not immune to the effects of a growing community, and as more school personnel are forced into quarantine, it becomes increasingly difficult for schools to operate,” Carney said.
Carney’s decision came after the state’s teachers union praised school district officials in central Delaware for their return to distance learning and urged officials in other counties to consider doing the same.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union called on correctional officials in Delaware to release hundreds of prisoners and take other measures to help stem the spike in coronavirus cases among prison inmates and staff. The organization said that state officials should expedite the release of prisoners who are medically at risk and those over the age of 60 whose sentences will expire in the next two years.
According to the ACLU, any prisoner whose sentence will expire in the next six months, and anyone held for a technical offense or detained because they were unable to pay bail, should also be seen as an urgent release.
Correctional Department officials continue to advocate for the steps they have taken to protect inmates and staff from the virus.
“Today’s ACLU’s repeated call for the mass release of prisoners before court-ordered prison sentences expire reflects the organization’s long-term political and political goals but does not provide protection for prisoners or support public safety,” said DOC spokesman Jason Miller. It also cites false and misleading accusations as the basis for this extreme and unprecedented move.
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