As the number of COVID-19 cases rise dramatically, Delaware officials on Thursday asked the unvaccinated to be immunized to protect themselves and others.
Gov. John Carney said he is considering requiring state employees to be vaccinated and mulling options to implement mandatory face masks in schools.
Carney and Rattay held a public briefing on COVID-19 in Delaware. The Delta variant has pushed Delaware’s new daily cases from 20 on June 20, a low point among declines from winter-spring highs, to 135 on Thursday.
The number of new cases had risen 80% in just the last week, Rattay said. Last week, she said, 50% of the positives samples that the state chose to randomly test came back as the Delta variant.
Since January 99% of the cases have been among the unvaccinated, 99.4 hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated and 98.7 deaths have been among the unvaccinated.
Carney said the state’s main concern about schools is that students 12 and younger are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Masking students could prevent the spread of the infectious disease between students and staff, keeping more children attending in-person classes and allow schools to stay open.
The governor said a decision will be made soon.
Rattay predicted that children 12 and under could become eligible for the vaccine between September and December of this year.
The officials said a state employee vaccination mandate would cover workers in jobs where contact with the unvaccinated is likely, such as state correction facilities.
Carney and Rattay flashed a slide that said since Jan. 1 99% of the cases have been among the unvaccinated, 99.4 hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated and 98.7 deaths have been among the unvaccinated.
The state officials talked about how there’s a huge disparity in vaccination rates between those older than 65 and those who are younger. Not enough young adults are getting vaccinated, but that’s who is ending up in the hospitals now, Carney and Rattay said.
There’s also a disparity between upstate and downstate residents, they said.
Western Sussex County in particular is an area of concern as Harrington, Greenwood, Bridgeville, Seaford, Laurel, Lincoln and Georgetown all match the current requirements of 100 cases per 100,000 or a 10% positivity rate with at least five cases to be named an official area of concern.
Rattay said that people who choose to not get the vaccine still have a responsibility, and that’s to mask up and get tested at least once a week.
“What would be ideal for all of us in Delaware and across states is to have a consistent approach,” Rattay said. “ That doesn’t look like it’s shaping up to be right yet.”
Among other things:
- Carney said that while “vaccination passport” kind of system, such as the mandates currently in place in New York and California would be helpful to the state in curbing the spread of the virus, no such thing is currently planned in the state of Delaware. Carney said the state has no infrastructure in place that could handle it.
- The state is still recommending people keep their vaccine cards. Last week the state has opened up a public portal through the Delvax system for people to access their own vaccination information and store it on their phone.
- Rattay said that the need for a booster shot for those already vaccinated remains current uncertain and that there is no immediate plan to provide them for everyone. However, she said, federal officials are expected to say that the immunocompromised will need one.
“That being said I don’t think any of us will be surprised if or when booster shots come around,” Rattay said. “Especially given the mutating strains in the community, it is likely that we will see a booster in the not so distance future. While we don’t know when that will happen, we are planning for it to ensure that as soon as it does happen, Delawareans have access to a booster shot.”
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