Thousands more doses of covid-19 vaccines are set to arrive in Pennsylvania this week, with more than half reserved for health workers awaiting their second dose of the two-dose vaccination, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday.
So far, 135,044 people across the state have received the vaccine in the first phase. A federal partnership with Walgreens and CVS saw the companies go into 115 skilled nursing facilities to vaccinate staff and residents. Levine said the department is awaiting a report indicating exactly how many people were vaccinated in that process.
Levine said 166,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are set to arrive this week, of which 97,500 are reserved for health care workers awaiting their second shot. She said 80,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are also expected.
For now, the vaccines remain reserved for those covered in phase “1A” of the state’s vaccination plan — mainly health care workers and long-term care employees and residents.
Levine said there is no way to predict when the state will move into phase “1B,” which includes a slew of workers deemed essential employees and people over the age of 75.
“Phase 1A just started a few weeks ago, and we’re just working to ramp up 1A,” she said. “I can’t tell you when 1B will start. It will totally depend on how much vaccine we get.”
And that, she said, can vary, as states are at the mercy of Operation Warp Speed when it comes to the allocations, their timing, and their delivery.
“This does make planning challenging (and) it also increases the time it takes to administer the vaccine,” Levine said. She noted that the health care workers charged with administering the vaccine are also caring for patients.
Commonwealth Media Services
Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine at the virtual media briefing on Monday, Jan. 4.
What’s clear, she said, is that it will likely be months before any vaccine is available to the general public, meaning many mitigation measures will be in place for some time. That includes a stay-at-home advisory and the order to wear masks when outside the house or with anyone beyond one’s household.
A host of temporary restrictions expired Monday morning, ending a three-week shutdown of gyms, casinos, entertainment venues and indoor dining.
Levine said there is no particular case count or benchmark the state is eyeing in regard to lifting further mitigation measures.
“We certainly don’t have a specific metric,” she said, noting that a surge in cases could be coming after weeks of holiday travel.
Across the state, more than 665,000 covid-19 cases have been reported, and more than 16,000 people have died. While the two-day new case total appeared low on Monday – 7,805 over 48 hours – it’s likely not an accurate representation, Levine said. She pointed to holiday lags and technical maintenance to the state’s reporting system.
“We believe they may be somewhat higher than normal tomorrow,” she said of the case counts. She said they also suspect that the number of deaths reported in the coming days will see a bump because of lags in reporting during the holidays.
Locally, new case counts also appeared low on Monday, with Allegheny County reporting 852 new cases over the past two days. Officials with the Allegheny County Health Department, citing the limited availability of testing in the past week, said the number “likely does not reflect a decrease in the spread of the virus.” Officials said they anticipate a surge in cases because of people traveling and gathering over the holiday.
In Allegheny County, 56,262 cases of the virus have been reported since the pandemic began, and 982 people have died.
State health officials reported Monday that 359 new coronavirus were reported over the last two days in Westmoreland County. Since March, more than 20,000 cases have been diagnosed in the county.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, email@example.com or via Twitter .
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