Hispanic virus outbreak

Coming out of the Memorial Day weekend, Delaware's COVID-19 numbers are low as vaccinations inch closer to 1 million.

Delaware has administered 939,050 vaccinations to date and has a goal of 70% of the population receiving at least one dose of vaccine by July 4, 2021, in line with President Joe Biden's goals. Right now, 66.4% of Delawareans 18 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

"That means 17,000 more people must be vaccinated by July 4th. That's less than 1,000 per day, and less than 5,000 per week," said Gov. John Carney.

To get there, Delaware is pushing its vaccine incentive program called DE WINS! 

The first drawings by the Delaware Lottery on Monday, May 31, led to a $5,000 cash prize as well as two Delaware State Parks Passes and a Wilmington Blue Rocks luxury suite prize pack. Those eligible included those who were vaccinated in the past week, when the incentive program was announced. The process is randomized using DelVAX numbers with winners being able to remain anonymous if they so choose. 

The next raffle is Friday, June 4, for Firefly passes and camping accommodations as well as a $5,000 cash prize for those 18 and older. To qualify, you must have been vaccinated between May 25 - June 3. 

Anyone who was vaccinated in the state, since vaccines became available, will be eligible for the grand prize drawings of $302,000 and two low-digit license plates on June 30.

Cases of COVID-19 reach low point

For the second week in a row, Delaware has no areas of concern when it comes to COVID-19.

This week, new cases on a seven-day moving average are down to 60, a decrease of 33% from last week.

"That's the lowest since mid-August of 2020," noted Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.

Children ages 5 to 17 and young adults 18 to 34 have the highest COVID-19 case rates right now, said Rattay.

The state's positivity rate is 2.2%, with the state testing just over 18,000 people last week, down approximately 4,000 from the week prior.

Hospitalizations are down over the month from 180 to 48. In April of 2020, hospitalizations were at 337.

"Everything's headed in the right direction," said Rattay. "But it is critical that we continue our efforts to promote vaccination, especially among our youngest eligible Delawareans."

In Delaware, the number of UK, Brazil, and India variant cases continue to rise. In a week, Delaware added three cases of the India variant for a total of four. Delaware's Public Health Lab in Smyrna has sequenced nearly 2,700 COVID specimens for variants to date.

"This past week 69% of the specimen that we tested were positive for a variant strain, which was up from 49% the week before. Vaccination remains effective against the variants that we are seeing; these variants, again, tend to be more contagious so please protect yourself from these circulating variant strains. If you have not already get vaccinated as soon as you're eligible. If you are not vaccinated, please continue to wear face covering and social distance 6 ft. or more from others, if you are not," said Rattay.

Vaccination rates vary by age group

Ninety percent or more of seniors have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 81% are fully vaccinated.

"...which is really great and a big reason why our death and hospitalization numbers have decreased so significantly," said Rattay.

Among younger age groups, vaccinations decline steadily. Those ages 50 to 64 are 55% fully vaccinated.

Just one-third of the 35 to 49 year olds are fully vaccinated while those 18 to 34 years old just one-quarter are fully vaccinated. Among 12 to 17 year olds, just 8.5% are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means it's been two weeks since a person received his or her second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"These last two groups have been eligible for vaccination for the shortest period of time, so it's not surprising that less are vaccinated, and of course, for those under age 18, they're only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine," said Rattay. "I just want to emphasize our highest case rates, right now, are among those children and young adults 18 to 34, where we have the lowest vaccine rates."