Coronavirus update: Face masks now mandatory at Delaware parks

Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes

The campground at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. (Courtesy of Delaware State Parks)

Are you on the front lines of the coronavirus? Help us report on the pandemic. 

For the second day in a row, Delaware coronavirus cases have increased by a smaller amount than the day before. The state Division of Public Health says there are 4,734 cases statewide, an increase of 79. Cases increased by 80 on Wednesday.

Deaths were up 8 to 152, but the number of people hospitalized for coronavirus was down 30 to 296.

Face masks must be carried in state parks

Starting Friday, visitors to Delaware state parks and wildlife areas must carry a face mask. The masks only have to be worn when social distancing is not possible. That includes areas like boat ramps and narrow trails.

“In order to keep our outdoor public spaces for all members of the public to enjoy, visitors to state parks, wildlife areas and reserves must heed social distancing and mask requirements,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We need our visitors to do their part to help keep these areas safe for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Garvin suggests visiting parks before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid larger crowds.

Earlier this month, common areas including restrooms were locked to the public. Park officials say visitors should plan accordingly.

Hacker interrupts Delaware Legislative Black Caucus virtual meeting

A racial slur and pornography was posted in a Zoom meeting hosted by Black state lawmakers Wednesday night. The forum was set up to help Black-owned businesses that get federal assistance.

The hacker scribbled a swastika on the screen and briefly posted pornography on the screen before being forced out.

“The Zoom call was pre-empted by somebody who thought they were doing something big and special by bombing our call,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. Rochester is the first woman and first African American to represent Delaware in Congress. “It was racist, it was sexist, it was immature. My first reaction was not to be upset – my first reaction was that we will not let hate take us down. I think that that is the message right now for this whole epidemic.”

Following the interruption, the forum continued as planned.

Pet food giveaway for those in need

Brandywine Valley SPCA is hosting pet food distribution events for those having a hard time. The first drive-thru pet food pantry event is being held today at Sussex Academy in Georgetown. A similar event will be held Friday at the Kent County Administrative Complex in Dover from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“The number of families suddenly without jobs is staggering,” said Adam Lamb, BVSPCA CEO. “They need their pets by their side now more than ever, and we’re going to make sure they don’t have to give them up to a shelter simply because they can’t afford food.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the shelter group has handed out more 38,000 pounds of pet food to families in need and sent five truckloads of pet food to other shelters for their pantries.

Regular hours at its brick and mortar food pantry have also been extended. Pet owners needing help can get food anytime the shelter is open: Tuesday – Friday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Camp Barnes canceled

For more than 50 years, young people from around the state have been able to spend a free week at Camp Barnes located on Miller’s Creek, a tributary of Little Assawoman Bay, in southern Delaware.

The camp is run by the Delaware State Police and was founded as part of an effort to combat juvenile delinquency. For six weeks every summer, about 60 campers per week attend the camp and take part in adventure based outdoor learning experiences.

But this year, there will be no Camp Barnes experience.

State police announced Wednesday that day that all camp sessions have been canceled for this summer. “The health and safety of the campers as well as our staff have led us to make this unfortunate but necessary decision,” police said in a statement posted online.

Applications for Camp Barnes 2021 will reopen in March.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal