The words many people have been waiting to hear for over a year were spoken June 15 when Gov. John Carney announced that he intends to lift the COVID-19 State of Emergency Order on July 13.
Ending the state of emergency comes as the number of hospitalizations and COVID-19 infection rates have dropped while the number of people vaccinated has increased, Carney said.
“We now have the tools to prevent COVID-19 infection, serious illness and hospitalization,” he said.
As of June 14, 68.3 percent of Delaware adults had received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Since March 12, 2020, Delaware has been under a state of emergency; Carney has signed a 30-day extension each month since then, the last on June 13.
Delaware is about 13,000 vaccinated people shy of meeting the 70 percent population officials are seeking by July 4. Even though about 110,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and presumably have some antibodies, Carney said there are no plans to include those numbers in the total because of uncertainty over antibodies in those who have contracted COVID.
While the mask mandate will end in most places, private venues can continue to require masks, and they will still be required on public transportation and in prisons.
The decision on whether students will be required to wear face coverings when they return to school this fall will be left up to local school districts. Carney's latest modification, however, allows educators and staff in schools and child care centers to go maskless when children are not present. Students and staff also are not required to wear masks outdoors.Those who are unvaccinated are still strongly encouraged to wear masks in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the mask mandate with still be in force to some degree for this year's Fourth of July celebrations, Carney said he looks forward to a day of parades and festivities.
“It's usually one of my most favorite and busiest days of the year,” he said. “I can't wait to celebrate independence in a special kind of way this year.”