Moments before Delaware Governor John Carney announced stronger gathering limits and other restrictions, a group of protesters were attempting to persuade him to eliminate them completely.
Lisa McCulley runs the Facebook group Stand Up Delaware, and about 25 supporters stood on the steps of the Carvel State Office Building through a drizzle and sleet shower to make their voices heard.
"I don't think the governor needs to be in our business, shutting our business, restricting our businesses or our schools," McCulley told WDEL. “We cannot shut down our schools again. We are on a path right now with hybrid; we need to move forward with that."
Carney did reduce indoor dining capacity to 30% from 60%, although he did not change the status of schools.
Delaware's current rolling percent positive is 5.5%. It would need to cross 8% in order to trigger the closing of schools based on the state's metric.
Kelly Boettcher co-leads the Delaware HS Athletes Parent Group, which helped lobby the DIAA to resume sports competition this fall back when COVID cases and rates were lower. She said she is aware the percentages and rates are rising, but isn't as alarmed as some state leaders.
"I am not ignoring it, I do see it. What I look at is the death rates, and the death rate has gone down tremendously since the beginning, thank goodness. We're appreciating that the science is letting the doctors know how to treat the patients; there's medicines now, hopefully, there will be a vaccine soon enough."
Boettcher added she was pleased Carney didn't make any change to the schools or the fall sports season, which has seen over a dozen individual teams go into two-week quarantines due to COVID cases, and that they should stand pat with that response.
"I think just what they're doing. They're finding the schools, they're pinpointing the issues, and they're stopping the play for two weeks. If they keep going into those areas and pockets just like businesses, I feel like we should be staying the course."
McCulley took a stronger stance against Carney's decision-making, saying his decisions overtake individual decision-making.
"We don't believe our governor is following the science. We believe that our freedoms have been stripped from us. We are responsible adults; we believe we can take care of ourselves during this time of COVID-19 virus. We do not deny there is a virus; we are not anti-maskers. If you feel you need a mask, if you are immunocompromised or elderly, you should choose to do that, but we are not going to force anyone."
Boettcher sympathized with the challenges decision-makers are dealing with, but thinks there's room for a conversation on how to better handle restrctions.
"They're in a bad spot because 50% of the people went one way, and 50% of the people went the other way. I think you have to compromise. I feel like that's what we did, as parents of athletes, we compromised with a shortened season and masks, and they need to meet us halfway in the middle, and I feel like that's what he did today by keeping the schools hybrid."
McCulley also said more attention should be placed on public health measures that could limit virus spread, besides masks and social distancing.
"I get bronchitis every year, so I'm cautious every year even before COVID-19. I've been a frequent hand-washer and use hand sanitizer. If I go to the supermarket, I will take one of the wipes and wipe my cart down. These are all good practices, and I think education is key—not additional mandates."
Stand Up Delaware is planning at rally at 2 p.m. Sunday at Legislative Hall to further protest COVID restrictions.