The Westmoreland County Clerk of Courts Office is taking added precautions as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases within the department and in the county as a whole continue to surge.

Clerk of Courts Bryan L. Kline announced that beginning Monday, Jan. 11, his department will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. daily to allow county Public Works staff to sanitize the office.

“We have had another surge of COVID in the office with staff,” Kline said in a statement. “We will continue to operate by appointment only and will be closed daily from 12 to 1 p.m. for cleaning for the foreseeable future. I encourage everyone to download the new mobile application in the Apple and Android store for Clerk of Courts services.”

According to data on the county website, there were 346 new coronavirus cases and seven COVID-19 deaths reported in Westmoreland County on Friday. Based on Sunday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the county added 504 cases and nine more deaths over the weekend, bringing its total cases since the start of the pandemic to 21,853.

The 15 new coronavirus deaths reported since Thursday — marking 58 since the start of the new year — bring the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 481. There had been 423 coronavirus deaths reported at the start of the new year, with 224 of those coming in December. The first coronavirus deaths for Westmoreland County were reported April 5, according to the state health department.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office updated its listed total of coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, increasing its count from 293 to 328. Of those deaths, 321 were confirmed by testing and another seven are presumed cases based on symptoms.

The youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Westmoreland County was 36, according to the coroner’s office, and the oldest 109.

The coroner’s COVID-19 death total includes any individual whose death occurred in Westmoreland County, regardless of their county of residence.

Statewide, coronavirus cases reached 720,816 as of Sunday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 639,513 confirmed cases in the state and 81,303 probable cases. Throughout Pennsylvania, 17,770 people have died of coronavirus, according to the state health department. Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 9,365 (52.7%) are associated with long term care facilities, which have been virus hotspots throughout the pandemic.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been 56,791 coronavirus cases among residents and 10,543 cases among staff members at 1,492 long term care facilities throughout the state.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 48 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,741 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 226 cases among staff members and 185 coronavirus deaths as of the state health department’s last update to long term care facility data at noon Saturday.

The state health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard indicates there have been 227,617 initial doses of coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 6,873 in Westmoreland County as of Sunday’s update.

Currently, all COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use require two doses spread out several weeks apart.

As of Sunday’s update, 18,787 people had received a second dose of their COVID-19 vaccination in Pennsylvania and were considered “full vaccinations” according to the vaccine dashboard. Of those full vaccinations, 669 are in Westmoreland County, according to the site.

As of Sunday, there were 5,201 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout Pennsylvania, according to the state health department — down from 5,491 on Thursday. Of those patients, 1,062 were in adult intensive care units and 640 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, as of Sunday’s update, there were 168 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 22 in adult intensive care units and 12 on ventilators according to the state health department. Of the 100 ventilators available in Westmoreland County, according to state data, a total of 24 were in use by COVID and non-COVID patients as of Sunday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Sunday, there were 20 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 22.2% of total adult ICU beds — 69 medical/surgical beds and 99 airborne isolation beds.

The state years ago established seven regional Health Care Coalitions, or HCCs, as part of its emergency preparedness plan. Westmoreland County is part of the HCC of Southwest PA, or the Southwest region, which also includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset and Washington counties.

The Southwest region had 1,036 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 Sunday, down from 1,189 on Thursday. Of those patients, 264 were on adult intensive care units and 142 were on ventilators. Overall, 461 of the region’s 1,560 available ventilators were in use as of the update.

Citing concerns an influx of COVID-19 hospitalizations could stretch health systems thin on staff, Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Nov. 23 issued an order directing hospitals to reduce “elective procedures” by half if their region meets at least two of the following criteria:

  • 33% or more of hospitals in the region anticipate staffing shortages in the next week;
  • 50% or more increase in the moving average of COVID-19 admissions in the previous 48 hours;
  • 10% or fewer of the medical and surgical beds in a region are projected to be available in the next 72 hours.

As of the most recent update to the state’s COVID-19 Reduction of Elective Procedures Dashboard update 25.6% of hospitals in the Southwest region anticipated staffing shortages. The Keystone HCC was the only region in the state to meet any of the criteria as of the update, as 40.9% of hospitals in that region reported anticipated staffing shortages.

According to the state data, the Southwest region had experienced a 2.8% decrease in coronavirus hospitalizations over the most recent 48-hour period prior to the site’s last update and 46.1% of medical and surgical beds in the region were projected to be available for patient care in the next 72 hours.

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