The spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Delaware keeps getting steeper, and once again Gov. John Carney is resorting to what has become a pattern: exhorting residents to follow safety guidelines and restrictions while warning or further “mitigation’’ measures.
Carney held his weekly COVID-19 briefing virtually on Tuesday because Delaware Emergency Management Agency director A.J. Schall has tested positive. The governor, who has been in frequent in-person but not unmasked contact with Schall in recent days, has canceled scheduled public events this week.
But with a pandemic high of 682 new cases reported Tuesday morning, and hospitalizations up to 246 — nearly 150 percent higher than a month ago — Carney said he’s contemplating more steps he can take to get a handle on the situation before hospitals and medical personnel are overwhelmed.
Using State of Emergency powers granted to the governor by the General Assembly, last week the governor limited indoor dining capacity to 30%, and after a picture of what appeared to be a crowded food court at Christiana Mall circulated on social media, the Division of Public Health capped food courts at 100 people.
The governor also restricted indoor gatherings in private homes to 10 people, and outside of homes to 30% of the venue’s fire capacity, but no more than 50 people. This includes events such as weddings, funerals, religious services, performances, political gatherings and events in public spaces.
Outdoor public gatherings are now limited to 50 people, but that cap can be expanded to 250 with the Division of Public Health’s approval.
Carney is also forbidding Delaware youth sports teams from attending out-of-state tournaments or hosting non-Delaware teams.
The governor’s tone was subdued during the 90-minute session. Carney did not specify what measures he is mulling but stressed that he didn’t want to return to the type of lockdown and business closures Delawareans faced this spring.
Instead, he and public health officials implored residents, yet again, to wear masks, keep their distance, and avoid crowded indoor spaces.
At times he sounded like a weary forest ranger who once must caution park visitors about the dangers of playing with matches in the woods.
“We need to do that to protect hospital capacity” and staff members. “We need to stamp it out to keep businesses alive and operating to the extent safely possible. We need to stamp it out to protect our children’s educational opportunities.”