Our view: Should Covid restrictions be loosened in Sussex?

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Good afternoon,

At yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, longtime Associated Press Delaware reporter Randall Chase asked whether restrictions would be tightened if cases continue to rise.

Gov. John Carney did not rule anything out but expressed the hope that Delaware is near the end of what he called a mini-surge.

The question came as something of a surprise, given the reluctance of governors to tighten restrictions. Even Michigan, which has a full-blown outbreak, has not moved in that direction.

Delaware remains one of the three most restrictive states, according to a recent WalletHub report. It is worth noting that the report does not consider restrictions in large urban areas that have been slower to reopen.

Delaware remains in the “red zone” among states with the highest number of cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Covid-19 Case Mapper.

Based on a couple of weeks of data, it appears that case numbers have plateaued in much of New Castle and Kent counties.

One could make a case for loosening restrictions in Sussex County.

Cases per 100,000 residents are running at around half the rate of hotspots in the two other counties. One factor could be the county’s large population of elderly residents getting vaccinations.

The numbers are a sharp contrast from the early days of the pandemic when Sussex endured outbreaks tied to the poultry industry and a senior week at the beach.

As for northern and central Delaware, increased economic activity, including travel and smaller holiday-spring get-togethers, are likely factors.

An outbreak tied to the University of Delaware has been tamped down. Still, cases remain at an elevated level in the Newark area.

Not to be ignored are faster spreading variants of the virus from New York and the UK. It was reported at the Tuesday briefing that the percentage of cases tied to variants had risen sharply.

Another week that shows a plateauing or a reduced number of cases would strengthen the case for further easing restrictions that include a 50 percent cap on restaurant capacity.

Widespread compliance with the state’s mask mandate that the state’s mayors have observed is another reason to move toward fewer restrictions.

I hope you had a chance to enjoy the recent spring weather, which of course, can change in a heartbeat. This newsletter returns tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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