Governor John Carney held his weekly coronavirus update Tuesday. On Monday Delaware set a new high in the number of people hospitalized for the virus at 473. While 500 has been considered the breaking point for the state’s hospitals, Gov. Carney said that during a call with the hospital systems, they feel comfortable and able to meet the post-holiday surge of coronavirus cases.
Delaware had 506 positive cases of coronavirus on Monday with over half of them in New Castle County. Sussex County had 119. However DPH Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay says that all of Sussex County is a trouble spot for the virus with nearly every zip code lit up blue on the map. She says the county has seen a case rate increase of 50% in the past week. The hardest hit areas are Georgetown, Ocean View and Frankford. Other areas with higher case rates include northern Kent County and many areas in New Castle County.
In the past week, Delaware has seen little additional vaccine arrive and nearly half of the supply has been used – with 2nd doses still needed for those who have already received the first. Dr. Rattay tells WGMD that they are expecting additional vaccine and are continuing on with the current vaccination program.
Delaware received another 5300 doses of coronavirus vaccine Tuesday. Dr. Rattay says there is a delay in data reporting on the vaccine tracker on My Healthy Communities, but vaccine is getting into the arms of health care workers, EMS agencies and long-term care staff and residents. All of the state’s long-term care facilities are part of the Federal Pharmacy Program – and all have now been scheduled to receive the vaccine – with vaccinations underway at 42 of the facilities – and 4685 doses administered.
In the plans – a “Sprint to Vaccinate Phase 1-A Vaccination Clinics” which will take place at weekend drive-thru events at the state DMV facilities. Six are scheduled along with other vaccination efforts. While Delaware began vaccinations just under a month ago, so far over 28,000 doses have been administered. Dr. Rattay reminds everyone that this is a 2-dose vaccination, so you’re not safe until you’ve had that second vaccine. Not enough people have yet received the vaccine to bring about widespread immunity – so you will have to keep wearing face coverings and social distancing for some time. The vaccine won’t be available for the general public until spring – depending on the supply.
WGMD also asked Dr. Rattay if a third vaccine supplier was any closer to being approved. She says that no others have completed the clinical trials – but there are several in the pipeline. However the federal government has said another supplier likely won’t be moving to approval till spring.
Public Health officials are also screening for the mutated coronavirus that began in England and has been identified in 72 cases in the US. This is the B-117 strain of COVID-19. There have been no instances of this virus in Delaware, but Dr. Rattay says they will not be surprised to see it appear in Delaware. While the B-117 strain is more easily transmitted from person to person, it’s not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other strains. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced that two Baltimore area residents who live in the same household have been found with the B-117 strain. One did travel internationally prior to infection and likely transmitted it to the other. They are both under 65 and neither is hospitalized.