WILMINGTON — Gov. John Carney said Delaware needs to administer about 1,500 more COVID-19 vaccinations to reach President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adults vaccinated by Sunday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker, 69.8% of Delawareans 18 years old and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This figure from the CDC includes Delawareans vaccinated out of state and vaccinations done at sites such as Veterans Affairs offices and Dover Air Force Base who do not report their data to the Delaware Division of Public Health.
“We’re right on the doorstep now,” Gov. Carney said at the state’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s briefing was the last weekly briefing for the time being, but the state will hold periodic press conferences as needed. The decision to stop the weekly briefings was made due to Delaware’s lower COVID-19 case rates and the State of Emergency expiring on July 13, according to Gov. Carney.
The briefings began on March 11, 2020 and the state ended up holding 74 of them, which includes several virtual town halls streamed live on Facebook.
But the state’s vaccination efforts will not slow down as the weekly briefings end, the July 4 benchmark passes and the State of Emergency order expires.
Clinics will be focused in schools and neighborhoods where the state feels it needs to make more inroads.
DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the threat of variants of the virus, mentioning the delta variant specifically, is why the state will still be so focused on vaccinations.
“None of us want to go backwards,” Dr. Rattay said. “None of us want to shut anything down and mandate mask-wearing again and put any other restrictions in place. That adds to our plea for people to get vaccinated so we don’t end up in a position where we have to go backwards in the future.”
The DPH lab has identified 13 cases of the delta variant as of Friday. The variant, which originated in India, was recently elevated to the CDC’s list of “Variants of Concern.”
The alpha variant, formally known as the UK variant, is the most prevalent variant in Delaware with 933 confirmed cases as of Friday. But Dr. Rattay said ongoing research has shown the delta variant could be more of a threat than the alpha variant.
“The delta variant appears to be much more contagious, even than the UK variant,” Dr. Rattay said. “While the vaccines that are out there seem to be protective against the delta variant, we have many unvaccinated individuals. It is certainly a significant concern of ours that we may see pockets or clusters of infection in the fall when we have greater potential for a resurgence of the virus.”
Tuesday was also the final day to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to be eligible for prizes as part of Delaware’s vaccine incentive program, DE Wins!
Winners for the grand prizes of $302,000 and two low-digit license plates will be drawn today. Anyone vaccinated in Delaware is eligible for those prizes.
There have been 1,008,063 doses of vaccine administered in Delaware, as of Monday at 11:59 p.m. The DPH reported just nine new positive cases in Tuesday’s update, bringing the overall total to 109,712. No new COVID-19-related deaths were announced as that total remained at 1,694.