It took a day to announce it, but Delawareans can now go outside without face coverings in most socially distanced activities.
Piggybacking off the Centers for Disease Control recommendation to lift most outdoor face covering requirements, and President Joe Biden's visible support of it April 27, Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said vaccinated residents can drop their masks when outside and socially distanced.
But there are still restrictions depending on the size of the venue. Large sports events will still require everyone to wear face coverings, she said.
“This pertains only to those who have been fully vaccinated,” she said during a virtual town hall meeting April 28. “I know guidance can be a little confusing. You will see events where the expectation or requirement is to have your mask on.”
Gov. John Carney already lifted face mask requirements for some sports April 27, leaving boys’ lacrosse the only spring sport still requiring athletes to wear face coverings when on the field. Carney said they approached it in a smart way, figuring out where the risks are.
Nothing was said about whether people outdoors would be required to show that they have been vaccinated.
Walk-in vaccinations open
Getting vaccinated just got easier, with walk-in hours offered by the Delaware Division of Public Health. All state clinics are open to people 16 and older who want the Pfizer vaccine, Carney said. This includes the Adams Public Health Clinic, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown; the Riverwalk Public Health Clinic, 253 NE Front St., Milford; and the Shipley Public Health Clinic, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford.
“We're really hopeful that communities will embrace this idea, whether it's our clinic or others that are available, and really get the word out there that this is an easy way to get vaccinated,” Rattay said.
After a brief pause, Delaware is again offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC paused the vaccine after several women experienced blood clots, but reapproved the vaccination for use earlier this week. A mass vaccination event this weekend at Dover International Speedway will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Rattay said.
Dr. David Tam, president and chief executive officer for Beebe Healthcare, said Beebe Healthcare has provided 35,000 vaccines in Sussex County, and has worked with partners such as La Esperanza and La Red.
“COVID-19 is still out there,” Tam said. “We have seen lots of reduction in the number of people hospitalized as well as the number of people who have died ... but it still happens, and it's happening in young people out there.”
Carney said he expects it will be a big beach year, and he welcomed the work Beebe has done to vaccinate the community.
“We appreciate your partnership,” Carney said.