Delaware Public Health Officials Confirm First Two Flu Cases of the 2021-2022 Season, Including First Pediatric Case

DOVER (NOV. 1, 2021) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the state’s first two laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza for the 2021-2022 flu season, including the first pediatric case of the season. The cases involve a Kent County child under the age of 5, infected with influenza strain B, who was hospitalized, as well as a 26-year-old Sussex County woman, with influenza strain A, who was not hospitalized. Neither individual had received the flu vaccine.

“This first case of the flu is an excellent reminder for us to get our flu vaccine as soon as possible,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We must not get lulled into a false sense of security with last year’s unusually low case numbers. With Delawareans resuming pre-pandemic activities, the flu is a definite threat to our health. Because hospitals and physicians’ offices are already taxed with COVID-19 cases, we must do everything we can to prevent adding more to their burden and the flu vaccine is a very good start.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older and can be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine. Since it takes approximately two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season.

During the pre-pandemic 2019-2020 flu season, Delaware recorded more than 7,000 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. Nearly 400 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 11 people died from flu complications.  During the 2020-2021 flu season, there were 26 confirmed cases of the flu, one hospitalization and one death.

DPH is offering flu vaccines when staff are out providing COVID-19 vaccines at community-based events. These events are listed at de.gov/getmyvaccine under the Community-Based events section (indicated by *DPH mobile trailer, flu vaccines also available). Additionally, a schedule for flu vaccines at Public Health clinics for uninsured and underinsured individuals can be found at: https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.  Flu vaccines also are offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter your ZIP code. The flu is easy to transmit, and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

In addition to getting an annual flu shot, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu the same way they can prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • wear a face covering when in public
  • maintain 6 feet of space between others, especially those who reside outside of your own home
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

The flu and COVID-19 have many similar symptoms. They include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue (tiredness), sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, and headaches. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that are different from flu include a change in or loss of taste or smell. If you are sick, the best thing to do is call your health care provider to see if you should get tested for COVID-19 or come in for a visit.

Those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours. People with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with well people in the household – you can give someone the flu 24 hours before you show symptoms and five to seven days after you get sick. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

Today’s flu cases will be reported in the DPH Flu Surveillance Report later this week. For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit [flu.delaware.gov]flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.


Weekly COVID-19 Update – July 16, 2021: Delta Variant Now Predominant Variant Strain in Delaware

DOVER (July 16, 2021) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing an update on the most recent statistics related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Delaware, as of 6 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2021.

A total of 110,270 positive cases of COVID-19 among Delaware residents have been reported to DPH since March 11, 2020. The seven-day average of new positive cases increased to 39 as of Thursday, July 15.

As of Tuesday, July 13, the seven-day average for the percentage of total tests that were positive was 1.8%, a slight increase from 1.7% as of Tuesday, July 6. There is a two-day lag for presenting data related to percent of tests that are positive to account for the time delay between the date of the test and the date that DPH receives the test result.

In addition, 37 individuals are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Delaware, an increase of six from last week. Four of the hospitalized persons are critically ill, down two from last week.

A total of 1,697 Delawareans have passed away due to complications from COVID-19. Two deaths were reported in the last week; both individuals were not fully vaccinated. The total number of individuals who have died from COVID-19 range in age from younger than 5 to 104 years old. Of those who have died, 849 were female and 848 were male. A total of 847 individuals were from New Castle County, 349 were from Kent County, and 501 were from Sussex County.

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 71.1% of Delawareans ages 18+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine. As of 12:01 a.m. July 16, a total of 1,034,119 administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been reported to the state’s immunization information system, DelVAX. Among Delawareans 12+, 516,065 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 460,420 Delawareans are fully vaccinated. Delaware’s latest COVID-19 vaccination statistics can be found under the Vaccine Tracker dashboard at de.gov/healthycommunity.

Vaccines are the best protection we have against COVID-19 and circulating variants. For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccination rollout in Delaware, visit de.gov/covidvaccine.

DPH COVID Vaccine Mobile Units:

DPH in partnership with medical staff from the Delaware National Guard (DNG) have launched mobile units to offer COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities. Medically trained DNG staff are offering the Pfizer vaccine (for ages 12+) and the J&J vaccine (for persons 18+). These mobile units are visiting communities with low vaccination rates in an effort to eliminate potential barriers to access. The mobile units, which utilize trailers to transport the vaccine and provide vaccinations, are scheduled to visit these communities in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties next week.

Monday, July 19
West Center City (8th & Washington Streets), Wilmington, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
P.S. DuPont Middle School, Wilmington, 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 20
Country Farms Store, Dover, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Shoppes at Fieldstone (Redner’s Warehouse Markets), Dover, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 21
Emmanuel Dining Room East, Wilmington, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Adams Four Shopping Center, Wilmington, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 22
Delmar Middle School, Delmar, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Laurel Middle School, Laurel, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Friday, July 23
AMS Fulfillment, New Castle, 12:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

*dates may be rescheduled if there is inclement weather

For a full list of community-based events statewide including those organized by vaccinating partners and community groups at de.gov/getmyvaccine.

Update on COVID-19 Variant Cases in Delaware

As of Friday, July 16, the Division of Public Health has identified the following COVID-19 variants in Delaware through routine surveillance of test specimens. These variants are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of Variants of Concern and Variants of Interest. This is the second week in a row that Delaware saw the number of Delta variant cases increase by eight.  For the week ending July 16, Delta was the predominant variant strain in Delaware.

Variants of Concern
Variant Origin # of cases
Alpha/B.1.1.7 United Kingdom 962
Beta/B.1.351 South Africa 1
Gamma/P.1 Brazil 56
Delta/B.1.617.2 India 31

 

Variants of Interest
Variant Origin # of cases
Eta/B.1.525 UK/Nigeria (formerly New York, US) 2
Iota/B.1.526/B.1526.1 New York, US 318
Epsilon/B.1.427 California, US 10
Epsilon/B.1.429 California, US 11

The Delaware Public Health Laboratory has sequenced 3,317 specimens for COVID-19 variant strains to date, including 35 within the past week.

Virus mutation is common. Public health approach and treatments are currently not any different, but as these variants may be more contagious, it is even more important that individuals who are not fully vaccinated remain vigilant and continue taking the necessary steps to avoid spreading the virus – wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid gatherings.

The science is clear that the vaccines are extremely safe and effective – and Delawareans who are fully vaccinated have significant protection from COVID-19 infection and serious illness. We would encourage all Delawareans to get vaccinated – de.gov/getmyvaccine.

For more information regarding CDC variant classifications, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/variant-surveillance/variant-info.html.

Breakthrough Cases

Vaccination significantly reduces the chance to developing COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill from it. To date, 460,420 Delawareans have been fully vaccinated. Of those, there have been 456 breakthrough cases of COVID-19, less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

A breakthrough case is defined as testing positive for COVID-19 after an individual has been fully vaccinated for two weeks or more – although it does not mean that the infection actually occurred after vaccination. Twenty-two of the reported breakthrough cases involved hospitalizations, six individuals passed away, although it does not mean COVID was the cause of death. Breakthrough cases are extremely rare, and the science is clear, the best way to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.                                                            

Long-term Care Statistics

As of 6:00 p.m. Thursday, July 15, there have been a total of 2,759 positive COVID-19 cases involving long-term care residents, and 760 residents of Delaware long-term care facilities have died from complications related to COVID-19.

Symptoms and Testing

It’s especially important for unvaccinated persons, to be aware of, and self-monitor for, the symptoms of COVID-19.  Even fully vaccinated persons should get tested if they develop symptoms.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or headache or congestion or runny nose without a known cause such as allergies. Other symptoms such as abdominal pain or lack of appetite have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation by a primary care provider.

Information about testing events, including community testing sites, permanent fixed testing sites, and free-standing sites operated by the health care systems and hospitals, are listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at de.gov/gettested

DPH reminds Delawareans that if you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Individuals with general questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211, or email delaware211@uwde.org. Hours of operation are:

Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.

Delawareans 18 or older are encouraged to download COVID Alert DE, Delaware’s free exposure notification app to help protect your neighbors while ensuring your privacy. Download on the App Store or Google Play

Questions related to business re-openings or operations as businesses re-open should go to COVID19FAQ@delaware.gov. Questions regarding unemployment claims should be emailed to: UIClaims@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.


Delaware COVID-19 Vaccination “Waiting List” Ends

With vaccinations and vaccine availability entering a new phase, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) will close the COVID-19 vaccination wait list to new sign-ups on Friday, May 7, by 3:00 p.m., and instead will focus on providing the public with information about available vaccination opportunities throughout the state.

The wait list, which opened on Jan. 20, was a necessary and useful way or getting then-scarce vaccine to those who needed it most based on an assessment of age and health conditions. It allowed appointment invitations to be prioritized first among those 65 and over starting in January, then those 50 and over in March, and lastly those 16 and over in April as each new phase of eligibility opened.

From Jan. 20 to May 6 more than 200,000 individuals signed up on the wait list. Utilizing the list, DPH’s Office of Emergency Medical Services, which coordinated the drive-through and other large vaccination events, has administered almost 100,000 vaccinations. Curative, a state vaccinating partner operating at Delaware Technical Community College campuses, also used the wait list to send email invitations, and has administered more than 55,000 vaccines, with other types of opportunities being offered to wait list individuals as well.

Recent multiple communication of vaccination events to those remaining on the wait list have resulted in few appointments being made, indicating that those remaining likely have been vaccinated elsewhere.

“The wait list was a critical tool for allowing us to assess demand for vaccine and to match limited doses with those most at risk from COVID-19,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “Now that we are in a situation of more plentiful vaccine and open eligibility, we no longer need to screen and prioritize invitations to appointments, and we can focus on letting people know the multiple ways they can get vaccinated with or without an appointment.”

Last week, DPH revamped de.gov/getmyvaccine to include appointment and walk-in information for pharmacies, medical providers, hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, public health clinics, and Curative clinics. Individuals may also call the DPH Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715 (option 3) for assistance in locating vaccine.

As of May 6, more than 785,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state. Approximately 54% of Delaware residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 40% have been fully vaccinated.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

 


Governor Carney Honors Division of Public Health Director as Longest-Serving State Public Health Official in U.S.

Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay was recently honored as the longest-serving state public health official in the United States. Governor John Carney surprised Dr. Rattay with an award on April 13 during the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium’s Summit.

Dr. Rattay has served as DPH director since May 2009, leading nearly 700 employees who uphold the vision, “healthy people in healthy communities.”

“It’s more than just a long tenure. It’s the incredible service and leadership she has provided, particularly over the last year, to keep the people of Delaware healthy, safe and alive,” Governor Carney said. “She has been called on to demonstrate her incredible leadership over the last several months, and she has done so with compassion and professionalism, reaching the people of Delaware where they are and translating the public health science in a way that is understandable for average Delawareans.”

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay Under Dr. Rattay’s 12 years of leadership, DPH achieved national accreditation in 2016, completed Delaware’s first State Health Improvement Plan, and distributed guidance to improve health equity in Delaware. Dr. Rattay directs DPH’s response to public health emergencies, including the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as past events including the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic, Superstorm Sandy, Ebola virus, Zika virus and Tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks. Since 2012, she also has helped to guide Delaware’s response to the opioid epidemic. Dr. Rattay is a staunch supporter of the state’s healthy mothers and babies initiative, partners with communities to improve health, and promotes healthy lifestyles and the availability of health services such as cancer screenings and immunizations. She enjoys working with statewide health partners to improve population health and health equity.

Dr. Rattay is board-certified in Pediatrics. At Nemours Health & Prevention Services, she led a statewide initiative to prevent childhood obesity. She has widely published articles on childhood obesity and substance use disorders. Between September 2001 and June 2004, she served as a senior public health advisor to the U.S. Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary of Health in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Department of Health and Human Services, where she had a leadership role in the President’s Healthier U.S. Initiative.

Dr. Rattay earned a Medical Doctorate from the Medical University of Ohio in 1992 and a Master’s of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Maryland in 2001. She completed her Pediatric Residency at Georgetown University and a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Residency training program at the University of Maryland.

In 2019, Dr. Rattay was presented the McCormack Award, which is presented each year to a current, or in some cases, a former, public health official who has served in public health for at least ten years, been a chief state or territorial health official for at least five years, demonstrated excellence and has made a significant contribution to the knowledge and practice of the field.

In addition, she holds licenses and certifications from the American Board of Pediatrics, State of Delaware Board of Physicians, and National Board of Medical Examiners. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chairs the Healthy Babies Subcommittee for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and is a former ASTHO board member. Dr. Rattay is the chair of the Addiction Action Committee, a founding partner of Healthy Communities Delaware, and a former president of the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

To view the video of Dr. Rattay receiving her award from Governor Carney, visit https://youtu.be/2956WFsgZew

###

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


FEMA Second Dose Clinic at Dover International Speedway To Begin Sunday Due To Weather

DOVER, DE (Feb. 17, 2021) –  The second dose clinic operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and by the State of Delaware will begin Sunday, Feb. 21, rather than Saturday as originally announced. Appointments will still be available starting this morning at 11 a.m. at de.gov/fema.

The one-day delay is due to inclement weather in other parts of the country and expected in our area that is affecting travel for federal personnel over the next several days.

When scheduling for the vaccination event opens, individuals will be able to choose an appointment from Sunday, Feb. 21 through Thursday, Feb. 25.  Additional appointments for Friday, Feb. 26 may be opened later based on demand.

These second-dose appointments will only be available for those who received a first-dose from the Delaware Division of Public Health at one of the following events:

  • Dover Division of Motor Vehicles on January 16th through January 18th
  • Salesianum School in Wilmington on January 18th
  • Delaware City Division of Motor Vehicles on January 22nd through 24th
  • Georgetown Division of Motor Vehicles on January 23rd and January 24th

For more details, please see the original announcement at https://news.delaware.gov/2021/02/16/news-from-fema-fema-and-delaware-officials-opening-covid-19-vaccination-center-in-dover/

###

DPH reminds Delawareans that if you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Information about testing events, including community testing sites, permanent fixed testing sites, and free-standing sites operated by the health care systems and hospitals, will be listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at de.gov/gettested.

Delawareans over the age of 18 are encouraged to download COVID Alert DE, Delaware’s free exposure notification app to help protect your neighbors while ensuring your privacy. Download on the App Store or Google Play.

Individuals with general questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211, or email delaware211@uwde.org. Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.