As Delaware mask mandate ends Friday, Carney urges holdouts to get vaccinated, boosted

The governor says people need to protect themselves with the mask mandate for businesses ending Friday, and for schools on April 1.

Delaware Gov. John Carney, wearing a face mask, speaks at a podium

File photo: Delaware Gov. John Carney gives the State of State Address in the Senate Chambers at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del on Jan. 28, 2021. (Jason Minto/State of Delaware)

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With Delaware’s indoor mask mandate ending Friday morning, the Carney administration is doubling down on urging those who are reluctant, hesitant or resistant to finally get vaccinated and if eligible, boosted.

As of Tuesday, the weekly average for new daily cases stood at 451 —  69% below the record high of 3,382 on Jan. 12. Hospitalizations now stand 237 — 67% lower than the peak number of 759 on the same day. A total of 21 COVID-19 patients are currently in critical condition.

But with customers and employees at supermarkets, salons, gyms, casinos and other businesses no longer required to mask up and schools to follow suit on April 1, Gov. John Carney says the best way to keep the numbers falling and avoid another serious spike is to get the shots that greatly reduce the risk of infection, hospitalization and death.

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“We still need to do a lot of work there. We shouldn’t just say, ‘OK, things are getting better,’’’ Carney said during his weekly COVID-19 briefing. “We still need to lean into getting people fully vaccinated. We just need to do better because it’s going to give you so much additional protection.”

Anyone age 12 and above can get the booster dose five months after being fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

While nearly 93% of Delaware residents are at least partly vaccinated, only 70% are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s coronavirus page.

The numbers are far worse for younger Delawareans, though. Barely half of residents ages 12 to 34 are fully vaccinated, according to state data. For ages 5 to 11, the rate is only 23%.

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While the number of fully vaccinated people is now 588,046, only 278,744 (47.4%) have received the booster shot, state data show.

One recent study shows that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines provide 35 and 27 times more antibody levels, respectively, against the omicron variant, said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the state Division of Public.

Rattay also noted that in Delaware, 9 in 10 residents who have been infected, hospitalized or died were not boosted.

“So clearly, our recent experiences demonstrate how important it is to be up to date and to have that booster,’’ Rattay said.

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