Governor John Carney began this week’s coronavirus update with good news. Delaware’s numbers have been dropping in recent weeks. The number of new positive coronavirus tests is lower, hospitalizations are lower and the percent positive for all positive tests has also dropped from a 10.3% on January 5th to 6.9% Monday.
Second doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been restarted for those in the Phase 1-A group and first doses continue to finish 1-A and 1-B, which is those aged 65 and older. Over the past few weeks, with several large vaccination events completed, the Governor said they had a few bumps along the way – but have learned more about what works and what doesn’t with each event. They have also learned that many minority residents are not turning out, so the state will begin specifically reaching under-served communities using DPH Community Health Services, local pharmacies, medical practices, hospital outreach and federally qualified health centers. All Delawareans also need to fully fill out the questionnaire when they register for an appointment for the vaccine.
There was more good news – Delaware is in the top 10 of states where the vaccine rollout is going well. The Governor learned during his conference with the White House that Delaware will be getting 22% more vaccine supply over the next three weeks. This will allow more First Responders to receive their needed second dose – but get more first vaccinations into more of the 1-B group. And with help from Curative and Vault, who are also helping with vaccinations – more people on the waiting list will be receiving vaccine appointments.
While much of the news was good, DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said that just a month ago most of Delaware was lit up blue with high rates of coronavirus- 500 cases per 100,000 people or higher, now there are 7 pockets where the rate of virus is still high – 6 are in Sussex County and Townsend in New Castle County.
Dr. Rattay says that the possible addition of a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson may be just around the corner. Governor Carney called that a game changer, and could cut out some of the difficulty we’re already seeing with the timing of second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The state is working on a 28-day schedule for both companies second doses.
Overall Governor Carney says he’s happy with where Delaware is with lower numbers of the virus and the ramping up of the vaccine allocation. Dr. Rattay says that while the numbers are lower, we have seen one of the new variants of the virus in Delaware, so masking and social distancing are more important as these new variants may spread more easily and quickly but it is not clear if they may cause more severe illness than the more common coronavirus. The UK variant has been found in both Delaware and Maryland. Maryland has also confirmed the South African variant in the state as well.