The mask mandate is back in Delaware. With cases and hospitalizations soaring as the omicron variant of COVID spreads, the governor's office announced on Monday that Delawareans will now be required to wear masks in indoor public settings like stores, gyms, restaurants and more.
Gov. John Carney signed the revision to the state of emergency on Monday. The mandate goes into effect Tuesday at 8 a.m.
COVID hospitalizations in the state have reached 784, according to the latest data, with 67 people in critical condition.
"I know we're all exhausted by this pandemic," Carney said in a statement. "But at the level of hospitalizations we're seeing, Delawareans who need emergency care might not be able to get it. That's just a fact. It's time for everyone to pitch in and do what works."
On Wednesday, the Delaware State Senate Republican Caucus released a statement disagreeing with the governor's action.
"We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the first state of emergency’s installment and during these two years, the General Assembly has been left out of the decision-making process. We feel strongly that the legislature has a responsibility to provide a balance to the executive branch of government, a balance that has not existed during the pandemic.
"We are not against the use of face-coverings, vaccines, or any other preventative measure against COVID-19. What we are against is the government, specifically one of three supposedly equal branches of government, solely dictating how citizens should live their lives," the caucus said.
The governor's office said masks are not required outdoors or while eating or drinking in restaurants and bars, but otherwise should be worn. Churches and other houses of worship are exempt.
Carney also announced that mask requirements in schools will be extended past February.
The governor deployed 70 more members of the Delaware National Guard on Monday to help in hospitals statewide. Another 110 Guard members are training to serve as certified nursing assistants.