After 8 months of dealing with coronavirus there may be a significant change later this week. The first vaccine – from Pfizer – will go before the FDA advisory group for an emergency use authorization Thursday. If approved – the vaccine could be here in Delaware by next week. The Delaware Vaccination task force has been working on how the doses will be given to start. The first phase is the only one so far that has been approved. Those first doses will go to healthcare workers, long-term care workers and residents and first responders who provide front line care to coronavirus patients. The Pfizer vaccine is the one that needs to be kept in the deep, deep freeze, however during this week’s coronavirus update, Public Health Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay said they now have the ultra cold storage units to store the Pfizer vaccine. Each unit can hold nearly 300,000 doses. She did not say how may of the units they received. She adds that the vaccine is safe – and more effective that expected. For the general public – it will likely be available in the spring – and you will need two doses – 3 weeks apart.
The numbers in Delaware are still on the rise – with over 41,400 Delawareans testing positive for coronavirus since March 11 – another 753 people on Monday. Dr. Rattay says that the greatest increases in both positive tests and hospitalizations is in Kent County, which has seen less testing for the virus since the beginning. She also said that after months – Sussex County seems to be subsiding – with lower numbers – especially in hospitalizations. On Monday the number of hospitalizations surpassed April’s high of 337 – and public health officials say there were 10 deaths – 6 of them in Kent County, 3 in New Castle and 1 in Sussex County. All were aged 60s to 90s and all had underlying health conditions. Four were residents of long-term care facilities.
While the numbers in Sussex County are better than in past months – there are still areas of concern – specifically Greenwood, Lincoln and Frankford. Dr. Rattay says that the entire state shows spread of the virus – but the most intense areas currently are between Dover and the C & D Canal.
For the holidays – Governor John Carney still has surge restrictions that will go in place next Monday. That includes a household stay-at-home advisory – and to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside your household. This does NOT include workplaces, traveling to and from work or if you’re seeking medical care. If you are indoors with anyone outside of your immediate household – you are required to wear a face covering.
During this week’s update, Governor Carney announced a one-million dollar Covid-19 Support Fund for Kent and Sussex County Volunteer Fire Companies. This is funding that was made available by the federal government.
The deadline for the Delaware Relief Grants was last week – over 2600 grants were approved – for $110.4-million. Over $40-million went to restaurants. More than half of the grants approved went to businesses with fewer than 5 employees. More than a third went to women-owned businesses and over a quarter to minority-owned businesses.