COVID-19 cases are seeing another winter spike in Delaware, similar to last year and following a seasonal pattern seen in viruses like the flu. Unlike the flu, however, this spike has 307 people in the hospital as of Thursday, with 24 critical, per the state’s statistics. (A bad flu year might see 20 or 30 deaths in an entire season; in the past month, there have been about 47 reported deaths related to COVID in the state.)
Gov. John Carney, appearing with health officials in a live update on Tuesday, said likely contributing factors are the holiday season and people spending more time indoors as the weather gets colder.
Western Sussex and southern Kent County continue to be areas with the lowest vaccination rates. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, highlighted a map of the highest rates of positive COVID tests that also shows many western Sussex and southern Kent zip codes.
“If we increase vaccination rates in these areas, we can naturally expect infection rates to go down as well,” she said.
Despite the spike, Rattay said the death rate is much lower than it was this time last year. Although many in the state have been vaccinated (85.8 percent of the population has at least one dose), 80 percent of deaths and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, she said. Despite recent headlines over the omicron variant, Rattay said the current surge is still being driven by the notorious delta variant among the unvaccinated.
The state is recommending that everyone 18 and older who has already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine get a booster shot, and also that children 5 and up get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe in kids, more than 90 percent effective, and there are no lasting side effects, Rattay said. There have been rumors of myocarditis related to child vaccines, but the Mayo Clinic notes that while this has happened, it's extremely rare. It cited one study of boys ages 12 to 17 that suggested myocarditis happened in about 54 out of a million cases, or 0.0054 percent. The clinic offers a lot of helpful information about the vaccine, and you can also find more information on the CDC website.
When people have concerns about the vaccine, Rattay said, she hopes they look at real science as they’re making a decision and get information from credible sources like health providers.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there that’s really swaying people,” she said.