Issue 522 – August 9, 2021
Delaware State House of Representatives, Republican Caucus
“Fueled by anxiety over the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Carney administration is again considering executive actions that could potentially impact citizens, schools, and state workers.
At his press briefing on Thursday (8/5), Gov. Carney pointed the finger at Delawareans who have been hesitant to be vaccinated as the reason for the state’s present challenges. “Those folks that are unvaccinated are prolonging the pandemic,” he told reporters. “They’re bringing us to a place where we have to reconsider mitigation efforts.”
The governor’s COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration was allowed to expire on July 13th, after 16 months of continuous renewals. The declaration empowered to the governor to issue orders during that period that carried the weight of law.
On Thursday, the governor indicated the executive branch would be taking new steps targeted at certain state workers. “Our focus will be on groups where there is the greatest amount of risk – correctional facilities, juvenile detention centers, health care facilities – places where state employees come into contact with the public where you don’t know whether folks are vaccinated or not,” he said.
Presently, employee vaccine mandates are accepted as legal. On July 6th, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicated that private businesses and public entities can mandate that their workers get a COVID-19 vaccine, even though the vaccines were approved under an “emergency use authorization” issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The governor praised the July 29th announcement by ChristianaCare that all employees, residents, students, volunteers and vendors must get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 21. “We congratulate and thank Christiana Care…for taking that step,” he said. “It’s a leadership step.”
According to Delaware Division of Public Health Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay, the Delta variant is currently the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state and constitutes the majority of confirmed cases.
The Delta variant is widely believed to be more contagious and transmittable than its predecessors. Dr. F. Perry Wilson, a Yale Medical epidemiologist, recently noted the average person infected with the original version of COVID-19 would be expected to infect 2.5 other people, while someone with Delta would be anticipated to spread it to 3.5 or 4 other people.
However, Yale Medicine officials also indicate there is no scientific consensus that the Delta variant is any more dangerous than the original form.
According to Delaware tracking data, those age 50 and over are most likely to have severe health issues if they contract COVID-19. This demographic segment comprises nearly 97% of all fatalities where the virus was a significant factor. People age 65 and older account for 83% of total fatalities related to the virus. Only one-percent of total deaths have been attributed to people under the age of 35.
Children and teens have proven the most resilient. Only two of the 1,835 deaths connected to COVID-19 in Delaware have involved minors.
The demographic groups most at-risk from death and serious illness from the virus are those best protected from it. More than 93% of senior citizens have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 86% are fully vaccinated. In the next most vulnerable age group, 50-64, 65% have been fully vaccinated, as have nearly 60% of all adults (age 18 and over).
These numbers do not include the nearly 105,000 Delawareans who have had confirmed cases of COVID, and acquired some form of natural immunity, but have not been vaccinated. (State health officials do not report this metric.)
While the seven-day average of new positive cases has increased over the last two months (from 44.3 on June 8th to 185.7 on August 8th), there has not been a proportional increase in deaths. Over the same period, COVID-19-related fatalities have remained virtually flat (1,821 on June 8th compared to 1,835 on August 8th).
Additionally, patients hospitalized to treat COVID-19 rose from 33 on June 8th to 101 on August 8th. Delaware hit is pandemic hospitalization peak on January 12 of this year with 474 patients. Commenting Thursday in response to a question on total hospital capacity, the governor told reporters: “Even in the winter surge, when hospitalization numbers hit  …we weren’t bumping up against that limitation. …Even at  we still felt like we had a lot of headroom.”
Dr. Rattay said state health officials are not satisfied that 67% of Delaware adults have been administered at least one dose of vaccine. “We have got to do all we can to drive up our vaccine numbers even more. We will all continue to look at what options are available, and I think put just about anything on the table,” she told reporters, adding that the state must start planning now for the inevitable COVID booster shots.”