DHSS to Launch Toll-Free Number for Eligible Delawareans Who Are Homebound to Access COVID-19 Vaccinations

Agency Also Kicks off Marketing Campaign to Encourage Seniors, Individuals with Disabilities to Get Vaccinated

WILMINGTON (Dec. 14, 2021) – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced a new toll-free number for Delawareans to request COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible seniors and people with disabilities who cannot access a vaccination location because of disability, age or severe illness. DHSS also kicked off a marketing campaign aimed at supporting seniors and individuals with disabilities to get answers to questions they have about the vaccine and boosters.

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In the Homebound Vaccination Program, DHSS is partnering with independent pharmacies in each county to deliver the vaccinations to eligible Delawareans 5 and older. Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik and others announced the new vaccination program during an event Tuesday at one of the independent pharmacies, Ivira Pharmacy in Wilmington. Other participating pharmacies are Ivira Pharmacy’s location in Milford, Camden Pharmacy, Seaford Pharmacy, and Express Pharmacy in Laurel.

“Nothing is more important than getting more Delawareans vaccinated,” Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long said. “As a state, we are committed to removing as many barriers to access as possible. A toll-free line that older Delawareans and others who are homebound can call to be assessed for an at-home vaccination is an important step. So, too, is a new marketing campaign featuring older Delawareans, caregivers and individuals with disabilities.”

Starting Dec. 15, all requests for a homebound vaccination or booster will be filtered through a toll-free number – 1-888-491-4988 – to be assessed and scheduled. Live operators will staff the toll-free line from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. To learn more, visit DHSS’ website at VaccineAccessDE.com.

“One of the many lessons we’ve learned during the 21 months of this pandemic is that we have to meet communities where they are,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “Today’s announcement is about meeting seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers where they are. It’s about supporting them in getting access to the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, and it’s about ensuring that we can answer the unique questions that seniors and people with disabilities have about the vaccine.”

Earlier this year, in the first phase of its Homebound Vaccination Program, community nurses with DHSS’ Division of Public Health and Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, along with contract nurses with the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, worked with community partners, including DART Paratransit, to identify and vaccinate more than 500 Delawareans who are homebound.

In connection with this new phase, DHSS is launching a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging individuals with disabilities, their families and seniors to call the Division of Public Health at 1-833-643-1715 if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or to visit DHSS’ webpage for information and resources at VaccineAccessDE.com. As part of the campaign, seniors, individuals with disabilities and their family members talked about what getting the COVID-19 vaccine has meant to them. The campaign is funded through grants from the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

“It is important for us to launch this campaign that specifically addresses the questions and concerns that older Delawareans and individuals with disabilities and their families may have,” said Melissa Smith, Director of DHSS’ Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. “We are excited because it features Delawareans telling their own stories in print and video messages in order to help others feel comfortable about reaching out with questions and any accommodations they might need to get the vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that people with disabilities and seniors are at high risk for serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. In Delaware, about 80% of the 2,218 people who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older.

To help protect people in vulnerable groups, it’s important that everyone get vaccinated, practice social distancing, wear face masks indoors in public, get tested as needed, and wash their hands. In Delaware, almost 63% of all Delawareans are fully vaccinated, including more than 91% of those age 65 or older. But only 55% of seniors 65 or older have gotten their boosters.

While Delaware does not have data on the percentage of people with disabilities who are vaccinated, about 79% of American adults with disabilities have reported receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 84% of adults without a disability, according to a U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey. The Census Bureau survey, which was conducted among more than 100,000 adults in two phases from June to August of this year, found that the disparities among individuals with disabilities persisted across all age groups, in most race and ethnicity categories, and across all types of disability, even though adults with a disability reported less hesitancy to getting vaccinated.

A CDC study, published in October, found that adults with a disability anticipate or experience more difficulty getting COVID-19 vaccinations than adults without a disability. To help improve vaccination rates, the CDC recommended reducing barriers to vaccination scheduling and making vaccination sites more accessible.


Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long Announce Community-Based Mental Health Services Fund

ARPA-funded program will provide support for community-level mental health services

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long on Wednesday announced the creation of a Community-Based Mental Health Services Fund to support the delivery of mental health services in Delaware communities.

The program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The federal legislation was supported in Congress by Delaware’s congressional delegation – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester – and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.

Visit de.gov/rescueplan to learn more about how Delaware is investing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. 

“Now more than ever, we know the importance of providing access to quality mental health services for Delawareans in need,” said Governor Carney. “This Community-based Mental Health Services Fund will help community health care providers, nonprofits, and faith-based institutions provide those services, and strengthen the communities they serve. Thank you to members of our federal delegation and President Joe Biden for providing these important resources.”

Nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, and for-profit providers that provide community-based mental health services in Delaware may apply for funding through the program. Applicants should review Delaware’s Developmental Framework to make Delaware a trauma-informed state.

Click here to view the Community-Based Mental Health Services Fund application.

Applications must be submitted electronically by 6:00 p.m. on January 15, 2022 to be considered for funding.

“This fund provides much needed resources for persons with behavioral health challenges in order to give families access to early intervention and quality treatment to support their loved ones. As a nurse and Chair of the Behavioral Health Consortium, I am committed to making Delaware a leader in providing access to quality behavioral health services to truly help people. This investment is a critical support for our healthcare providers, non-profits and faith-based institutions to deliver services and breakdown stigma,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “Thank you to our federal delegation and President Joe Biden for their commitment to get Delawareans the help they deserve, and a behavioral health system that works for everyone.”

“Access to affordable, quality mental health services should be available to everyone – no matter their income or zip code,” said Carper, Coons and Blunt Rochester. “Far too often, we focus on the physical symptoms of the pandemic; however, we must not overlook the mental health challenges faced by so many during difficult times. As the pandemic continues to take its toll on our nation and here in Delaware, we are proud of Governor Carney’s commitment to helping all Delawareans get the help that they need.”

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Governor Carney Launches Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative (TEDI)

Public invited to enter trees they plant in new TEDI tracker

NEW CASTLE, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday launched a new program that aims to plant a tree for every Delawarean as part of the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This initiative was originally announced in Governor Carney’s 2020 State of the State Address and discussed in Delaware’s Climate Action Plan as a strategy to support local communities’ enhancement of urban greenspaces.

Click here for photos from the event.

“Last week, when I announced Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, I said that as the country’s lowest-lying state, climate change is a very real threat to Delaware’s future,” said Governor Carney. “Reducing emissions is essential to our efforts to deal with climate change, and the Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative – TEDI – helps us move forward on accomplishing one of the strategies outlined in the Climate Action Plan.”

“We all have a stake in improving our environmental health to ensure a stronger and healthier Delaware,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “By involving the community and encouraging Delawareans across the state to plant trees, we are taking steps to mitigate carbon emissions and their impact on our state, our children and future generations.”

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn M. Garvin and Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) Secretary Michael T. Scuse joined Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long, state and county officials, and stakeholders at a tree planting at Lieutenant Szczerba Memorial Park in New Castle to help launch the program. The two state agencies are partnering on the initiative.

DNREC and the Delaware Department of Agriculture partnered to develop a new website where residents can access information on selecting, planting, and caring for their trees. In addition, residents, non-profit organizations, and municipalities can visit de.gov/tedi to enter information and photos of their tree plantings to help count the trees planted throughout the state.

Healthy and resilient forests are a vital part of the efforts to combat the negative impacts of climate change. As part of a comprehensive approach in Delaware’s Climate Action Plan that includes energy efficiency, clean transportation and transitioning to clean energy sources. Planting and nurturing trees is a nature-based solution to reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“Along with our programs that help Delawareans reduce their energy use, TEDI provides an opportunity for everyone to contribute to our statewide effort to improve air and water quality, preserve soil, and support wildlife – all while reducing the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

Urban trees and forests help decrease energy use and emissions by providing shade, cooling temperatures and changing wind speeds. Studies have shown trees can reduce temperatures by 9 degrees and energy and heating costs by $7.8 billion a year in the United States.

Encompassing 1.25 million acres, Delaware has nearly 360,000 forested acres. With 78 percent of the state’s forests privately owned, the Delaware Forest Service provides technical assistance, funding and education to serve as a foundation for tree planting, conservation, reforestation, forest management and wildlife protection throughout Delaware.

“We are proud to have the Delaware Forest Service as part of the Department of Agriculture. With fewer than 25 staff, the Forest Service continually works with communities and private landowners all over Delaware to harness the power of trees to transform communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “The Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative is an important investment in our state’s forestland that will help improve our economy and public health. Every $1 million invested in tree planting and reforestation efforts creates 40 forest-related jobs. And from a health perspective, research has shown that trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants a year, helping to prevent 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually.”

DDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program works to increase tree canopy in communities statewide. The Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program has provided more than $1.86 million in matching tree grants for more than 588 projects in the First State – with more than 16,000 trees planted. Municipalities, communities and organizations can assess their current level of tree cover as a starting point to explore opportunities to plant new trees using the Delaware Forest Service’s online tree canopy tool at de.gov/treecanopy

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Insurance Commissioner Navarro, Lt. Governor Hall-Long to Host Dover COVID Vaccine and Flu Shot Clinic

Local independent pharmacy to administer important immunizations

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, in collaboration with Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long and Kevin Musto, R.Ph., FAPhA, independent pharmacist with Atlantic Apothecary, has announced a COVID Vaccination and Flu Shot Clinic on Thursday, November 18 from 1:00 to 4:00PM at the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Dover Office, 1351 West North Street. Weather permitting, the event will take place outdoors.

“Both the COVID-19 vaccines and the flu shot are safe and effective, and I’m proud to be able to offer them at our Dover office. Each are vital in helping to avoid significant illness, including hospitalization and death, and can be received during the same visit – including at our November 18 event,” said Commissioner Navarro, who will be getting his next dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the event.Be A Virus Fighter Flyer

All three types of COVID-19 vaccines – Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer – will be available. Pfizer will be provided to eligible residents 5 years and older, Moderna is available for those 12 and older, and Johnson & Johnson for those 18 and older. All levels of vaccination will be offered, including first, second, third and booster doses. Flu shots are available and recommended for those 6 months and older. High-dose flu shots for those 65+ will also be administered at no charge with a Medicare card. Minors must have a guardian’s consent to receive their immunization.

Residents should bring their photo ID or other identification, insurance information or Medicare card, and their prescription or pharmacy card if applicable. Those who have previously received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should bring their vaccine card or other documentation if possible. Vaccinations records can be obtained via the DelVAX system. For a faster registration, flu shot recipients can download and complete their Influenza Fluzone form in advance. There is a separate Influenza Fluzone form for those 65+  who wish to receive the high-dose flu vaccine. Participants will be asked to wear a mask and observe social distancing protocols.

Commissioner Navarro also expressed his gratitude to the pharmacists who have been providing these important immunizations throughout the state, saying “This event, and so many others, wouldn’t be possible without local pharmacies and their dedicated staff. We are grateful for their service to our communities.”

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672. For information about where to get the COVID-19 vaccine, visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/where-can-i-get-my-vaccine/ or call 1-833-643-1715.

COVID-19 vaccination eligibility for Johnson and Johnson second dose, third and booster doses of Moderna and Pfizer, and age-based eligibility for vaccination are all subject to change prior to the event. More information on COVID-19 vaccine doses is available through the Delaware Division of Health.

View event flyer or email Christina.Haas@Delaware.gov  for a full-size flyer.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Media availability will be at 3PM. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Christina.Haas@Delaware.gov.


Statements on the Passing of Former Governor Ruth Ann Minner

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long on Thursday released the following statements on the passing of former Governor Ruth Ann Minner:

Governor Carney’s statement:

Tracey and I learned the sad news today of the passing of former Governor Ruth Ann Minner. I served alongside Governor Minner as her Lieutenant Governor from 2001-2009. She was a leader who had a real common touch. Governor Minner focused on raising up the working families of our state because she knew what it meant to struggle. Having grown up poor in Slaughter Beach, she brought that perspective to her job every day, and she never lost her attachment to those roots.

Governor Minner was also a trailblazer, becoming Delaware’s first female Governor when she was elected in 2000 and paving the way for women and girls in our state to seek out leadership roles. Her path to the Governor’s office was a unique one. Widowed in her early 30s, Governor Minner served as a legislative aide in the General Assembly, and a receptionist to Governor Sherman Tribbitt, before beginning her own political career. She was elected to her first of four terms in the Delaware House of Representatives in 1974. Governor Minner went on to serve three terms in the Delaware Senate, and two as Lieutenant Governor, before winning two terms as Governor.

During her time in office, Governor Minner worked with legislators of both parties to improve health care and fight cancer, strengthen our education system, and attract good jobs to our state. She will be greatly missed. Tracey and I are praying for Governor Minner’s family, and her many friends across our state, during this difficult time.

 

Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long’s statement:

Today, we in Delaware collectively mourn the loss of one of our great leaders, Governor Ruth Ann Minner. She was a role model to so many women in our state and her life story and political career was one of a kind. As our first female Governor, she was a trailblazer and worked tirelessly in a bipartisan manner to uplift all of our families up and down the state. From her grassroots down-to-earth upbringing, she put in place policies that continue to affect our families today. It was a pleasure and one of my greatest honors to work with her as a legislator and now as Lieutenant Governor. We all have her family in our thoughts and prayers.

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