As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise, Gov. John Carney, the state, Delaware courts and Firefly Music Festival made a lot of moves.
Carney said schoolchildren must wear masks indoors and that state employees and workers at long-term care facilities and healthcare facilities must be vaccinated or be tested weekly for the coronvavirus.
Saturday’s press release from the Delaware Division of Public Health also endorsed the Centers for Disease Control announcement that some people may need a third vaccine shot. The third shots should go to recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advance or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, people who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system.
The state said Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could be used, but not Johnson & Johnson because there’s not enough data on that.
Data does suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised, the press release said.
On Thursday, the number of new cases hit 225 a day, on a seven-day average, with 111 people hospitalized.
That’s a huge leap from the Aug. 6 report, which said there were 147 new cases a day and 71 people hospitalized.
The rising numbers, which are said to be hitting younger people and those who are not vaccinated, triggered Carney to require masks in all kindergarten through 12th grade indoor classes — public, private and parochial — to help stop the spread of Delta. So much all children over the age of 2 in child care. Athletes who play indoor sports must wear masks for them, he said.
Carney and health officials have blamed people who had not gotten vaccinated for the recent rise in cases and need for masks.
The move drew a backlash from conservatives. Many moms up and down the state say they will keep their children home.
An online website asks people to sign a “Stop the Mandate Madness in Delaware!” petition to “unmask our kids!”
The director of the Delaware Family Police Council said the petition has no single name or organization attached to it, but is a group of Delaware parents who want to set up a way to allow people a legitimate avenue to be heard.
“Tell Gov. Carney: It should be the right of every parent and family to decide what is best for their children,” the website says.
The state is not alone in telling people to be vaccinated, or be vaccinated or tested.
ChristianaCare, St. Francis and Nemours health systems have all announced their employees must be vaccinated or lose their jobs, except in a few circumstances.
Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. announced that masks will be announced in all state courts starting Monday, Aug. 16, and that starting Sept. 7, any court employee who is not fully vaccinated must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Firefly Music Festival, which is next month in Dover, has announced that ticketholders will need proof of a COVID vaccine or a negative test to enter.
Carney’s announcement Thursday that state, long-term care and and healthcare workers need to be vaccinated or tested once a week starting Sept. 30 listed those who had to adhere. All of them are regulated by the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Health Care Quality.
Long-term care facilities include nursing homes; assisted-living facilities; intermediate-care facilities for persons with developmental or intellectual disabilities; neighborhood homes; group homes for persons with serious and persistent mental illness; group homes for persons with HIV/AIDS; family care homes; rest residential facilities; and intensive behavioral support and educational residences.
Acute and outpatient providers include: adult day cares; free-standing birthing centers; free-standing emergency departments; free-standing surgical centers; home health agencies: aide only (non-skilled)’ skilled home health agencies; hospitals (including psychiatric hospitals); prescribed pediatric extended care centers; hospice; personal assistance service agencies; and office-based surgery.
While Carney and health officials continue to plead with people to get vaccines, 74% of Delawareans who are eligible have had at least one shot, according to the state COVID-19 dashboard.
That translates into 56.6% of the state’s population with one shot.
The dashboard says 478,681 Delawareans are fully vaccinated.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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