Westmoreland County added 400 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases since Thursday, including the county’s largest single-day increase since January, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data.

There were 130 new cases reported Friday and 214 reported Saturday — the most in one day since the county added 277 new cases on Jan. 13 — followed by 56 new cases Sunday. The 400 new cases since Thursday bring the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 29,665. Of the county’s case total, 20,525 are classified as confirmed cases and 9,140 are considered probable cases. There have been 91,699 negative tests so far in the county, according to the state health department.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 10,332 new cases reported in Westmoreland County, an average of 109.91 per day this year.

The seven-day average daily case total for the county increased each week in March after shrinking through most of January and the entire month of February.

In the fourth full week of March, the county’s case total increased by 645, according to the state health department, an average of 92.14 new cases per day. Over the past seven days (March 29 through April 4), the county has added 849 new cases, or 121.28 per day.

With one new coronavirus-related death reported in the county since Thursday’s update to the state health department data, Westmoreland County’s total since the start of the pandemic increased to 707 and the total in 2021 grew to 284.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office last updated its COVID-19 death total for the county on the county’s website at 11 p.m. March 18, increasing the total by two, from 425 to 427.

The coroner’s total includes coronavirus deaths that occur in Westmoreland County, regardless of the deceased person’s county of residence, while the state health department’s coronavirus death figures include any person considered a resident of Westmoreland County, regardless of where their death occurred.

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

The virus-related death rate in Westmoreland County has slowed since December, which was the county’s worst month of the pandemic with 224 deaths reported (7.2 per day) and more than 10,000 new cases. The first coronavirus deaths for Westmoreland County were reported April 5, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Statewide, coronavirus cases reached 1,042,682 as of Sunday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 886,446 confirmed cases in the state and 156,236 probable cases. So far, 4,169,730 people in the state have tested negative for coronavirus.

According to Sunday’s update to the state health department figures, there have been 25,195 coronavirus-related deaths throughout the state since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 75 since Thursday’s update.

The recent rise in coronavirus cases comes as the state has begun a push to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations by April 19.

Phase 1A of the rollout focused on getting vaccines to those most at-risk of illness, according to the state health department, such as health care workers and Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities, persons age 65 and older, and those age 16-64 with high-risk conditions. State officials set a goal of having a vaccination appointment set by the end of March for all members of Phase 1A who wanted to be vaccinated.

The state health department last week announced the start of a special initiative to vaccinate targeted industry workers and to accelerate the vaccination timetable for those the remaining phases to make all Pennsylvanians eligible to schedule vaccination appointments beginning April 19.

As of March 31, law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store workers and food and agriculture workers were eligible to make vaccination appointments.

Based on the Department of Health’s updated vaccination eligibility timeline, Pennsylvanians in Phase 1B will be eligible to start scheduling appointments today, April 5. Those in Phase 1C will become eligible a week later, on April 12, and on April 19, eligibility will be open for all Pennsylvanians 16 and older to schedule vaccination appointments.

Westmoreland County added a COVID-19 vaccination information page to its county website, available at https://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/2934/Vaccine-Info.

Excela Health announced the addition of a new vaccine registry to collect information for all individuals interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine administered through the health system, allowing anyone to join Excela’s waiting list regardless of current eligibility.

Individuals can access the vaccine registry and sign up online at vaccinate.excelahealth.org or call the Excela Health vaccine information line at 724-689-1690 to register. Those who register online will be contacted by email when it’s their turn to schedule a vaccination appointment, while those who call in to join the registry will be contacted by phone to schedule an appointment.

Nearly two million people in the state are considered fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, according to the state health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

As of Sunday’s update, 1,993,722 people statewide were considered full vaccinations while another 1,741,948 were considered partially covered. In Westmoreland County, according to the dashboard, 61,380 people are considered fully vaccinated while another 52,595 are considered partially covered.

Despite the vaccination push gaining steam, COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state continued to climb over the weekend, according to the state health department. As of Sunday’s update, there were 2,202 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide, up from 2,127 on Thursday. Of the coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout the state as of Sunday’s update, 432 were in adult intensive care units and 221 were on ventilators.

The moving 14-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide reached a peak of 6,105.6 on Christmas Day and had steadily declined until March 19 (1,496.9).

The 14-day average for statewide coronavirus hospitalizations had increased to 1,904.3 as of Sunday’s update.

Westmoreland County’s coronavirus hospitalization total increased from 23 on Thursday to 30 as of Sunday’s update. Of COVID-19 patients in Westmoreland County hospitals on Thursday, three were in adult intensive care units and three were on ventilators, according to the state health department. Of the 96 ventilators available in the county, according to Department of Health data, 11 were in use by COVID-19 and non-COVID patients as of Sunday’s update.

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