Corrected: Emergency declaration widens use of National Guard in combating Covid surge

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Governor John Carney Thursday announced a new State of Emergency declaration – effective Monday. Cited was a surge in Covid-19 cases that will require National Guard assistance.

The declaration did not include indoor masking requirements, vaccination checks at restaurants, business capacity limits, or other restrictions. The governor has ruled out further restrictions, citing further damage to businesses that went through such measures in the earlier days of the pandemic.

He previously noted that local governments with restrictions, such as New York City, have high population densities that further contribute to the spread. The city is carrying on with the New Year’s Eve celebration but is limiting attendance and requiring proof of vaccination.

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The Delaware Division of Public Health reported nearly 2,000 new daily cases of Covid-19 in its Thursday report, with hospitalizations approaching the record 474 reported in early 2021. The hospitalizations come on top of increases in other illnesses and accidents.

At a press briefing announcing the declaration, state Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik said the Omicron variant is believed to be responsible for the surge, with the possibility of further spread during indoor get-togethers and even one on one meetings where people are unmasked while eating.

The declaration will:

• Allow the State additional flexibility to respond to the winter surge of COVID-19.
• Enable members of the Delaware National Guard to work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in skilled nursing facilities to care for patients currently in Delaware hospitals.

About 100 members of the Delaware National Guard are currently being trained to become CNAs.

“Members of our Guard and frontline health care workers continue to step up time and time again. We need all Delawareans and Delaware businesses to step up and help us get through this winter surge,” said  Carney. “At the state level, we are focused on reducing the strain on our hospitals this winter, and getting, even more, Delawareans vaccinated.

“I especially want to thank all of Delaware’s health care workers who continue to work on the front lines of this crisis. The best thing we can do to support them is to remain vigilant – and do what works. After two years of this pandemic, we all know what to do. Mask up in public places to protect yourself and vulnerable family members. Get your vaccine. And get a booster if you’re eligible. That’s the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization.”

Carney and the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Thursday also formally extended the Public Health Emergency order another 30 days to allow the State of Delaware and medical providers to continue Covid-19 vaccination and testing programs.

Under Delaware law, Public Health Emergency declarations must be renewed every 30 days.

(Corrected An earlier version of the story indicated that 1,000 National Guard members had training as nursing assistance).

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