Gov. John Carney, at his weekly press briefing, said he was pleased to report 107,597 Delaware residents have received vaccinations against COVID-19, as of Tuesday, Feb. 2.
“People are going out and getting tested, meaning they are thinking about whether or not they have been exposed. I’m really happy. We’re doing as well as anybody in the country. We are poised perfectly to administer as many vaccines as the federal government can give to us. They have made a commitment to ramp it up by 20 percent. All we need is supply. If we get supply, we’ll get vaccines in people’s arms. If we get vaccines in people’s arms, we will get healthier. It’s going to get better,” the governor said.
“It shows we know how to get these vaccines into the arms of Delawareans,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, at the press briefing. “We are learning a lot and have made a lot of progress in knowing and understanding, even in cold weather, how to administer larger amounts of vaccine."
In time, as the state receives more vaccine, local pharmacists and physicians will also administer the shots.
Rattay said state officials are concerned about not reaching all Delawareans “in an equitable way.”
A national study indicated 50 percent of vaccines don’t have associated race or ethnicity data, a lapse she called “unacceptable.”
“What we see now from our data is only about 5 percent of black Delaware residents and 2 percent of Hispanic residents have been vaccinated. These numbers are not OK with us,” she said, adding minority and low-income populations will be targeted.
In a news release issued from his office this week, Carney stated the state piloted a series of efforts “aimed at vaccinating the hardest-to-reach senior citizens.”
“Despite state and partner efforts, just 4 percent of those vaccinated are black, according to Delaware’s vaccine tracker … just 2 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino,” the news release stated.
The Community Health Services unit at Delaware Public Health will begin partnering with the Wilmington Housing Authority this week to vaccinate those 65 and older, according to the release.
“We have a lot of people who are saying they don’t want to get vaccinated. That’s not really a good thing. We want to get everybody vaccinated and to get protected,” Carney said.
He expressed sympathy for the 1,108 people in Delaware who have died from the virus since the pandemic began, saying each life is precious.
About 1.2 million tests have been administered so far, indicating many repeat tests, since the population of Delaware is about 962,000. Rattay said she’s excited the number of hospitalizations is decreasing statewide. Currently, the highest areas of virus incidence are Ocean View, Selbyville, Dagsboro, Delmar, Laurel, Georgetown and Townsend, “but as a state there are higher rates now than there had been last summer,” Rattay said.
“So, it is really important, especially now that we are seeing some of the variants of this virus, that we double down on mask wearing and not gathering,” she said.
A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, said at the briefing that the state has received Federal Emergency Management Agency funding of about $28 million. It will be used to purchase personal protective and sanitizing equipment and for feeding programs to help those who can’t afford to buy food.
The week of Jan. 22, a total of 49,274 tests were administered. This week, the number will be lower because testing events were canceled due to snowy weather, Schall said, adding results are available in about 48 hours.
Replying to a question from a reporter who asked about Curative testing — using a saliva sample — returning many false positives, Rattay said the test is effective in determining if someone is positive as well as contagious and that it has been successful.
“Delawareans like the convenience and non-invasiveness of the curative test, so we plan on continuing to make it available,” she said.