This article has been updated to reflect the correct number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Delaware.
New Castle County is now a substantial transmission area for COVID-19, according to parameters outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. Sussex County is also a substantial transmission area and Kent County is moderate based on those guidelines.
The CDC recommends assessing the level of community transmission using at least two measures: new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons in the last seven days and percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the last seven days. If one level is higher than another, the higher of the two should be used to determine transmission level in the county.
In the last seven days, 300 new cases were reported in New Castle County, a 61% increase from last week.
Delaware reported two new deaths Friday, according to the Division of Public Health, and 130 deaths from a review of Delaware Vital Events Registration System (DelVERS) records from mid-May 2020 through late June 2021. That brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,830.
Of the 130 deaths, 128 were not fully vaccinated, and of the two newly reported deaths, both were not fully vaccinated. The total number of individuals who have died from COVID-19 range in age from younger than 5 to 104 years old. Of those who have died, 927 were female and 903 were male. A total of 903 individuals were from New Castle County, 382 were from Kent County, and 545 were from Sussex County.
The CDC suggests wearing a mask indoors in substantial or high transmission areas. Governor John Carney said this week he does not yet plan to re-implement a statewide mask mandate, but some corporations nationwide are voluntarily reinstating mask wearing.
AP News reported that Walmart is requiring that all employees wear masks in areas with high infection rates, regardless of their vaccination status. There is no mention of new mandates for their customers.
Walmart will also require all corporate workers and managers who travel within the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 4.
The Walmart in Milford began requiring their employees to start wearing masks Friday, according to an employee, Millie Dill. She said she never stopped wearing her mask at work, but some of her coworkers are reluctant to put their masks back on.
“I saw people coming in today without a mask even though they knew that you’re supposed to wear a mask,” Ms. Dill said. “A manager would tell them to [put on a mask] and then as soon as he walked away I would see them without a mask again.”
Ms. Dill mentioned that a lot of employees and customers that don’t want to wear masks aren’t willing to get vaccinated either. She said that in Sussex County, she thinks there is a lot of misinformation and uncertainty about the vaccine.
“[My store] wants the greeter to start handing out masks to customers that don’t have them, too, but I think a lot of customers were getting really angry about it,” Ms. Dill said.
Another of Walmart’s policy updates includes a doubling in their employee vaccine incentive. Workers in stores, as well as other facilities like distribution centers, will receive $150 if they get the vaccine. Those who already received the $75 incentive will receive another $75 in their paycheck.
Kent County has the lowest vaccination rate, at 42.1%, according to CDC data. Sussex County’s data is largely offset by high vaccination rates in the beach areas. The county’s total is 56.1%, but some areas in western Sussex have vaccination rates as low as 30.5%.