A mandate requiring mask wearing indoors in Delaware will end Friday as COVID numbers in the state continue to decline. The end is also in sight for mandatory masks in schools and child care facilities, set to expire March 31.
Gov. John Carney's office announced the changes Monday.
The indoor mask mandate, which was reinstated during the winter surge in COVID cases that left hospitals over capacity, will end at 8 a.m. Friday.
The school mask mandate runs till 11:59 p.m. March 31. According to the announcement, this extension will give time for parents to get their children vaccinated and for local school districts to consider their own mask requirements.
New Jersey will also end its school mask mandate.
"The overwhelming sentiment on both sides of the aisle,” New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy said recently, “is we want to get to a place where we can live with this thing in as normal a fashion as possible,” the New York Times reported.
"We’re in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the Omicron surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said in a statement. He noted that COVID is still circulating and still poses a risk, but we have tools like vaccines to keep each other safe. "For all the parents out there – the best way to keep your child in school learning, and to prevent them from getting sick, is to get them vaccinated."
Hospitalizations in Delaware of people with COVID had dropped to 271 as of Monday, from a high a few weeks ago of over 700. (That number includes people hospitalized for COVID, and those who tested positive but were hospitalized for another reason.) Twenty-six of those cases were critical.
Sixty-five percent of Delawareans who are eligible are fully vaccinated.
While this latest COVID surge with the omicron variant saw much higher case numbers than last winter, there were fewer deaths, according to state data. The seven-day average for deaths peaked last January at 13.4; this year it peaked at 7.4 and is now down to 2.6 as of Monday.