It was a tough week for the state government in Delaware as the Omicron-fueled spike in Covid-19 cases took hold.
A reluctant Gov. John Carney ordered masking in most public indoor settings while his counterparts in neighboring states stood by and made few changes.
Carney saw the need to act as hospitals reported crisis conditions with all beds filled and some patients ending up in hallways.
Carney said he hoped that businesses and other organizations would voluntarily require masks in their establishments. That did not happen.
Owners and managers knew that confrontations from unhappy customers would occur, and up until late fall, community spread was moderate.
Curiously, an interim step of requiring frontline retail workers to wear masks was never mandated. While some stores required masking for staff, others did not.
Clearly, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is driving the surge, with 3,000 or more a day testing positive.
Most do not end up in the hospital. Still, the damage to the economy is apparent with worsening staff shortages and more than a few businesses cutting hours or temporarily closing.
Early reports out of the UK and South Africa and promoted on 24-hour cable channels indicated that the new variant was not as severe as the Delta strain lulled some into a sense of false security and reportedly led a few common sense-challenged people to attempt to contact the virus and “get it over with.”
Closer to home, one Delaware hospital worker said that those now facing a tough battle with the virus were sometimes shocked at the severity of their symptoms. The bulk of those fighting for their lives (about 50 now on ventilators) are unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, social media comments from anti-maskers ignored the situation in hospitals and instead focused on everything from criticism of a dictatorial governor to illegal immigrants and the use of horse dewormer as a treatment option
Some Republican legislators in southern Delaware found themselves in a tough spot after earlier taking actions that were cheered on by mask opponents.
At the end of the session last year, a few GOP caucus members introduced largely symbolic legislation barring mask mandates for a year. The bill is gathering dust.
After being silent for a couple of days after the governor’s order was announced, the Senate Republican caucus criticized the governor for not giving them a seat at the table for a discussion of the mandate.
They stopped short of criticizing the reason for the mandate, perhaps realizing that hospitals in and around their districts are struggling.
The Carney Administration declined to comment on the criticism.
There are signs that Covid-19 cases are beginning to peak in large cities. It is equally clear that we are far from being out of the woods and that vaccines work.
Know a friend or loved one ready to receive the vaccine? Despite difficulties in getting tests, doses are in ample supply.
One option, widely shared by restaurants and other businesses this week, is a Sunday vaccination pop-up in Bear at Wilbur Elementary School on Wrangle Hill Road from 11 a.m. to five p.m. All approved vaccines will be available. Registration is preferred, but walk-ups will be accepted. Register at willeypharmacy.com.– Doug Rainey, chief content officer.