As Delaware gets closer to reaching its goal of 70% of the population being vaccinated by July 4, the state's COVID-19 numbers are among the lowest they've been in an entire year.
Over a seven-day moving average, the state added 42 new cases. Hospitalizations are up to 40. Hospitalizations saw their all-time low of 29 over the weekend, matching a low recorded last summer.
"Our overall case rate has decreased by 41% last week, which is even a greater decrease than what we saw the prior week," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). "So exciting news on the front of how we're doing with infection in our state right now."
The percent of tests conducted that are positive is 2%. COVID-19 testing numbers dropped by 4,500 tests from 18,000, to around 13,500 last week.
"Our percent positive is the lowest it's been in over a year, so even with the fewer people getting tested, we still see the percent positive stays low," said Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director A.J. Schall.
After at least two weeks of no COVID-19 "hot spots" or areas of concern, Delaware has identified one area, where a cluster of cases exists -- Houston, zip code 19954.
"It just points to the fact that COVID is still out there...and your best form of protection is to get vaccinated," said Rattay.
Dr. Rattay has a message for those who've already had COVID-19.
"This is one of the, I think there's confusion out there. People who've had COVID often think, or sometimes think, that they have immunity and they don't need to get the vaccine, but the reality is what we know about that immunity after disease is that it looks like it may be temporary, it does wane over time, which could leave you at risk. So whether or not you've had the COVID infection, make sure you do get vaccinated," she said.
Variants of concern continue to circulate in the state with the United Kingdom variant strain being the most prevalent in Delaware with 850 cases identified, followed by the Brazil variant with 37 cases identified in the First State.
Delaware saw its first case of the India variant two weeks ago. Now, cases of that strain stand at seven, according to DPH.
The state's public health lab tested 182 specimens last week, and 50% were positive for a variant strain.
"We're keeping a close eye on it because it is contagious, and scientists are looking at it, thinking that there are more significant health consequences."
Experts have said the vaccine does provide protection against variant strains of the virus.
"So again, vaccination is your best protection against all of these forms of COVID," said Rattay.
There's still no word yet on whether those who've been fully vaccinated will need a "booster" shot to continue to protect against COVID-19.
"We are thinking about is that might be necessary, we have to be ready," said Gov. John Carney. "What I do know is we can't afford to ho through this again, just the economic damage, the emotional damage, the damage to communities, the damage to families, the damage to individuals, so we've got to be ready, and we've got to do everything we can to prevent it from happening again."
"Initial studies are showing that this vaccine has pretty good longevity, but again, it hasn't been a long period of time, and for this type of virus, it is suspected, especially with the variants that we will need some booster doses at some point in the future. What we don't know at this point is--when will that happen," said Rattay. "We are prepared to get booster shots into individuals as soon as that happens."
A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study also revealed encouraging news about the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
"That followed 4,000 people who've been vaccinated in December, it followed them through mid-April, and found that these mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are 91% effective in reducing the risk of infection for fully vaccinated people. But also importantly, 81 percent effective for reducing effective in partially vaccinated people."
Partially vaccinated people include those who only received one dose of vaccine or those who aren't yet two weeks away from their second dose of vaccine.
"These estimates apply to both symptomatic and asymptomatic infection," said Rattay.
Break-through cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated persons remain rare with 344 reported in Delaware as of June 4, 2021. Of those, DPH said 15 persons were hospitalized and four died.
"They're going to have shorter and milder illnesses, they're going to be less likely to develop symptoms, and less likely to spread the virus to others," Rattay said.