The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised Delaware’s COVID-19 community levels to the High category in all three counties July 28.
As a result, the Delaware Division of Public Health is asking Delawareans to follow the CDC’s key strategies at this level of community spread:
• Wear a well-fitting mask in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status
• Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Go to de.gov/gettested for testing locations
• Get vaccinated and boosted when you are eligible to provide increased protection against severe illness and hospitalization
• If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease, self-test before being around them and wear a mask when indoors with them
• Turn to reliable sources for information and treatment options including de.gov/coronavirus
• If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, contact your healthcare provider to determine any additional precautions or treatments for which you may qualify.
One primary indicator in determining community levels is the number of hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19. Over the past week, Delaware’s COVID-19 hospitalizations rose 22% from 129 to 165 hospitalizations, with 12 patients in critical condition as of July 29. Of significant concern for DPH is the increase in the number of youth (under 18 years of age) who required hospital admission, including at least 16 children under age 5. Vaccines are now available for all persons starting at 6 months of age, and vaccination is highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
In addition, the seven-day average of cases steadily increased with a 20% positivity rate in lab-confirmed tests and 523 new positive cases on July 29. While these reported case numbers are high, at-home test results are not reported to DPH, meaning the incidence of illness in the community is likely much greater.
The CDC believes the emergence of the dominant BA.5 variant in the United States has fueled the rapid rise in cases since June and suggests it spreads more easily than previous lineages of the virus. As of July 5, more than 60% of Delaware’s sequenced test results that were positive for a variant strain of the virus were positive for BA.5. DPH officials say this underscores the need to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.
“Data indicates that while the current vaccines may not be as effective in protecting you from getting infected by this powerful variant, they are highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. “Further, the CDC has indicated that getting a vaccine now will not exclude you from getting the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine in the fall. It’s in your best interest to get any booster for which you are eligible now and the enhanced vaccine in the fall to ensure the best protection both now and then.”
During the week of July 18 to July 24, 66% of Delaware’s total COVID-19 cases, and 75% of its hospitalized persons, had not received booster doses.
You are eligible for a booster dose if you:
- Are 5+ and it has been five months since your second dose of Pfizer
- Are 18+ and it has been five months since your second dose of Moderna
- Are 18+ and it has been two months since your initial dose of Johnson & Johnson
- Qualified for an "additional/third" dose of Pfizer or Moderna because you have certain immunocompromising conditions
- You can get your second booster dose four months after receiving your initial booster if you are 50+ or are immunocompromised.
For more information about COVID-19, go to DPH at de.gov/coronavirus. For details about vaccines and boosters, go to de.gov/getmyvaccine for adults and de.gov/youthvaccinefor children 17 and under. Full Delaware COVID-19 data is available at https://myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov/locations/state. View materials that are available for download or ordering free at covidmaterialsde.com.