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Sunday, March 7, 2021

COVID numbers improve, more kids in classrooms, but vaccine supply remains issue

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State to ramp up vaccines for teachers, has given 253,535 doses of vaccine

253,535 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered as of Friday, the state said.

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The state will ramp up second doses events starting Saturday.
The state will ramp up vaccine second doses events starting Saturday.

 

Delaware’s COVID-19 statistics continue to improve and more students are retuning to in-person classes, but the state still faces the hurdles of vaccination, state officials said Tuesday during the weekly COVID-19 press conference.

They also passed on information about the best ways to wear masks and whether someone who has gotten both doses of a vaccine must quarantine if exposed to the virus.

“It’s not time to let your guard down,” Gov. John Carney said, slamming his hand down on his desk. “It’s time to double down on COVID-19 mitigation efforts.”

The numbers

Among other things, he said, Delaware is currently seeing 318.1 cases per day over a 7-day moving average, well below the 800-plus it was seeing in early January, and 5.5% of tests are positive over a 7-day moving average, closer to the state goal of 5%.

There are now 186 hospitalizations, down from nearly 500 at the holiday surge peak, but the state is nearing another milestone with 1,291 lives been lost.

So far, about 1.3 million COVID-19 tests have been administered and 154,483 total vaccines have been administered. About 30,000 Delawareans have gotten both doses of the vaccine.

 

Hotspots

While the virus is circulating less freely than it has before, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, said the state has set a new criteria of 400 cases per 100,000 people. Under that new formula, she said Newport/Stanton, Harrington, Harbeson, Frankford and Georgetown are all areas of concern this week.

While the state is pleased at the drop in new cases and hospitalizations, it continues to warn people to wear masks and social distance to help blunt the spread of any cases of the many variants that have popped up in the U.S. and around the world which are expected to be more infectious.

Schools

Gov. John Carney said more and more children are returning to classrooms and that state statistics show a very small number of new cases within schools.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is getting children back in school,” he said. “Every school district across our state now has children back for in-person instruction.”

He said the state had worked with schools during a winter break that was extended because of fears about a holiday surge.

As a result, he said, about 65,000 public school children and 10,000 private school are now learning in classrooms at least part of the week. 

 

Vaccines

Out of the 154,483 vaccinations administered, nearly 120,000 have been first doses while the rest have been for second doses.

The state currently holds 7,565 doses in stock while waiting for additional deliveries. 

“We’re really really eager to get more vaccine,” Rattay said, “and to get more vaccine quick, in our state.”

She said 43,000 people above the age of 65 have been vaccinated. 

People who received their first vaccine at the Salesianum High School, Dover DMV, Georgetown DMV or Delaware City DMV can register Wednesday starting at 11 a.m. for a six-day second-dose drive-thru clinic that will start Friday — weather permitting — at Dover International Speedway. The state expects to vaccinate about 3,000 people per day for a total of about 18,000 people.

The main issue with Delaware vaccinations is the supply, which is determined by the feds, Carney said. They have upped Delaware’s share, but there’s no huge supply anywhere, he said.

Carney and Rattay both talked about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to be approved during the next few weeks. It only requires one shot, and should speed up the vaccine process, both said.

 

Get second dose where you got first

Rattay and Carney tried to calm some of the worry about second doses by saying the state has told vaccine provided that they have an obligation to provide a second dose if they give someone their first dose. That means people should seek their second dose at their original site, she said.

That decision was made after ChristianaCare sent notes to those it had vaccinated telling them to look elsewhere, Rattay said, but the hospital system has now been assured the state will provide vaccine for second shots.

Carney and Rattay both talked about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to be approved during the next few weeks. It only requires one shot, and should speed up the vaccine process, both said.

 

New CDC info

The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines for masks and for what a fully vaccinated person should do if exposed to the virus, Rattay said.

The CDC now suggests that the transmission of droplets is reduced by 95% if both people are wearing tightly fitted masks. If a mask doesn’t fit tightly, the CDC suggests wearing two masks can help reduce transmission, too.

“The main point we want people to be thinking about,” Rattay said, “is if you’re mask is big and there are gaps around it, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.” 

The CDC also there are circumstances in which a fully vaccinated person does not have to quarantine if exposed to someone with coronavirus. If it’s been at least two weeks since a person received his or her last dose but less than three months and that person had now symptoms, that person does not have to quarantine if exposed to someone with the virus.

No one yet has studied how well people who are vaccinated do beyond that three months because longer periods have not yet been studied, Rattay said.

“So of course this guidance may change as we learn more,” she said.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have proven to be highly effective at preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-19 cases as well as death and hospitalization from the virus. However, she said, effects on the transmission of the virus is so far unknown. 

 

When will Carney get a shot?

The governor said again that he had not yet had a shot.

“I’m not 65 yet,” he said. “I’ll be 65 in May, I don’t know whether that changes my status or not.”

He said he didn’t want to knock anyone who needs a vaccine out of a slot, and that he will be happy to take any of the vaccines when it’s his turn, but that the Johnson & Johnson sounded pretty good to him since it’s just one jab.

“I know this is difficult for all of us and it seems to me as an opportunity to lead by example,” he said. “To not cut in line and to wait my turn, as we’re asking everyone else in our state to do.”

  

 

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