"It's not time to let your guard down. It's time to double down on COVID-19 mitigation efforts," said Governor John Carney Tuesday. "Wear your mask, doubled it up, be extra cautious. We want to get to a place where we've reduced the spread."
During his weekly press conference detailing Delaware's response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Carney said while the state works to roll out the vaccination--both first and second doses to those who need them--there's new direction from public health officials that suggests wearing a second mask can help everyone.
"Double-masking...is something that I've tried myself as I get to the gym and I'm out in public gatherings, to make sure that I'm protecting others if I were positive, and vice versa," he said. "So that's a really positive thing."
As the state gets a better grasp on its COVID spread and adjusts its criteria for what marks a problematic area, Director for the Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay said five zip codes saw and average of 400 new positive cases per 100,000 people: Georgetown, Harbeson, Harrington, the Newtown-Stanton area, and Frankford. In January, all Delaware zip codes would have met that criteria, Rattay said.
"We just want to make sure people are cautious, even though we're doing better. There's still a lot of infection around," she said. "This past week, the CDC did come up with some new guidance based on a study that was done around mask wearing. They looked at transmission of of droplets."
If both parties in a setting are wearing masks that fit tightly around the face, transmission of viral droplets is reduced to 95%.
"Double-masking can help because you can get a tighter seal around your face. And of course additional layers are beneficial, but also just using a single mask you can tie the loop close to the mask and that will make it so that you have less gaps and it's tighter," Rattay said. "It's also good to use those kinds of masks that have a wire at the nose, because that also really helps a lot to make it fit more snugly."
Wearing a gator or nylon fitter over a mask also helps with transmission reduction. The doctor reiterated that those who receive the vaccination still need to wear their masks because, while the vaccines are effective at reducing "severe and symptomatic COVID-19," and the associated hospitalizations and possible death, what's still being studies is how effect the vaccines are are decreasing transmission of the virus.
"We know intuitively, it does help with decrease of transmission, but because, with this virus, there is a lot of asymptomatic spread, there's a lot of caution still around," she said. "Once you've been vaccinated, it's not a hall pass to go without a mask and to no longer social distance."
Those who have received two doses of the vaccine no longer, outside of two weeks but inside of three months, don't have to quarantine if they're exposed to COVID-19 in that time.