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State officials on Tuesday issued new recommendations for unvaccinated individuals in the state of Delaware. 

Governor John Carney, the Delaware Division of Public Health, and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency issued a statement encouraging those who are unvaccinated to undergo weekly testing as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread.

"That is the best way, and again it's no substitute to getting the vaccine," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the DPH. "We've got extremely effective vaccines out there, and we strongly urge anyone who has not gotten vaccinated and is eligible to please get their vaccine." 

After not adding any cases for two weeks, cases of the Delta variant rose from 31 to 55 in Delaware as of Friday, July 30, 2021.

"We are seeing significant increases in cases, and almost all of this is being driven by unvaccinated individuals," Rattay said.

Rattay told WDEL the state conducted nearly 15,000 COVID-19 tests this past week.

"In the late winter, there were many weeks where we had about 150,000 people getting tested, so we're no where near the numbers, the testing rates that we had during the winter surge," she said. "While we have seen an increase, in order to get control of this, we need to see a much more significant increase in testing."

Regardless of vaccination status, those who develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested. In the last five days, there have been more than 100 new cases each day, officials said. 

According to the CDC, now all three Delaware counties have "substantial" virus transmission, triggering a recommended indoor mask mandate. Neither Carney nor Rattay, however, have reinstated a mask mandate or recommendation.

"It's not at the case level that we were last winter, so while we are seeing more infection, and we are seeing a more contagious infection, we're not eager to mandate masks at this point in time," said Rattay. "What we're really focused is on getting people vaccinated. That is really the way to get out of this pandemic."

Nearly 73% of the state's eligible adult population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

While a small percentage of vaccinated people contract the virus, their symptoms tend to be mild, while a majority of cases occur among the unvaccinated population. So far, according to data made available Friday, July 30, of the 469,873 Delawareans who have been fully vaccinated, there have been 567 breakthrough cases of COVID-19. That represents 1/10th of one percent of all vaccinated individuals.  

"The CDC has presented some data that do show that vaccinated individuals can transmit infection, previous data appeared that that was not very likely, but the Delta variant is a very different strain of this virus, and it appears that vaccinated people--when they get infected--can spread the virus, and because now we have more virus in the community and when you're out and about--you don't know who has been vaccinated or not. You look around and you see many people without masks, but you don't know which of those people have been vaccinated or not."

Unvaccinated individuals should also undergo testing five to seven days after exposure to someone confirmed to have COVID, and should isolate at home and quarantine under such circumstances, especially if they develop symptoms. 

Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to get tested three to five days after exposure to someone with the virus, but do not need to quarantine unless they test positive for the virus, officials said. Rattay also advises those individuals to wear a mask for 14 days in indoor settings.

"You need to quarantine for the full time whether you're vaccinated or not," Rattay told WDEL. 

A full list of testing locations can be found at de.gov/gettested. For more on the CDC's recommendations, click here