Westmoreland County on Thursday saw increases in both new daily coronavirus (COVID-19) case figures and coronavirus-related deaths reported, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, but maintained fewer than 100 new cases and single-digit deaths for a 15th straight day.

With 92 new coronavirus cases reported in Thursday’s update to the state health department’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there have now been 26,132 coronavirus cases in the county since the start of the pandemic — 18,586 confirmed cases and 7,546 probable. So far, there have been 84,986 negative tests in the county.

There have been 6,799 coronavirus cases reported in Westmoreland County so far this year for an average of 138.75 reported per day in 2021.

The county is averaging 79.39 new cases per day so far in February.

Westmoreland County has added fewer than 200 new coronavirus cases each day since Jan. 14, and has had fewer than 175 new cases in all but one of those days. Since the start of February, the county has had fewer than 120 new cases each day, and has been below 100 new cases in 16 of the 18 days this month.

There were five new coronavirus-related deaths reported in the county Thursday, according to the state health department, increasing the county’s COVID-19 death total since the start of the pandemic to 657 and the total in 2021 increased to 234.

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.

The county coroner’s office on Thursday showed no increase in its coronavirus death total since its last update at 11 p.m. Monday. Prior to that update, which saw the total increase to 408, the coroner’s count had remained steady at 404 since its previous update at 11 p.m. Feb. 8.

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.

Statewide, coronavirus cases reached 905,995 on Thursday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 781,888 confirmed cases in the state and 124,107 probable cases. So far, there have been 3,799,916 negative tests in the state. Nearly a million PCR tests have been administered throughout the state since the start of the pandemic. That total can include multiple tests for the same individual.

Thursday’s update showed fewer than 100 new coronavirus-related deaths (94) reported throughout the state, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 23,413. There were only seven new deaths reported in the state on Tuesday, marking the second day this month in which the statewide total for coronavirus deaths increased by single-digits. There were four COVID-19 deaths reported statewide on Feb. 8, according to the state health department.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 12,127 (51.79%) are associated with long term care facilities, which have been virus hotspots throughout the pandemic. Data for long term care facilities on the state health department’s site was last updated at noon on Thursday.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there had been 65,817 coronavirus cases among residents and 12,755 cases among staff members at 1,560 long term care facilities throughout the state as of Thursday’s update.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 50 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,965 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 275 cases among staff members and 256 coronavirus deaths.

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is continuing, and residents and staff of long term care facilities are among those being vaccinated in the first phase of the state’s vaccine rollout. Westmoreland County recently added a COVID-19 vaccination information page to its county website, available at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/2934/29523/Vaccine-Info.

Vaccine availability and logistical challenges have kept the state in Phase 1A of the state health department’s vaccine rollout plan.

Phase 1A focuses 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.

Excela Health Chief Mecial Officer Dr. Carol Fox recommended those in Phase 1A still seeking to be vaccinated visit the health system’s website, www.excelahealth.org, frequently for updates regarding vaccine availability.

The state health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard indicates there have been 1,365,523 partial coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 38,496 in Westmoreland County as of Thursday’s update.

Currently, both COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use require two doses spread out several weeks apart. Those vaccines are produced by Pfizer and Moderna, Inc. A third — a single-dose vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson — is set to be reviewed for possible emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this month.

As of Thursday’s update, 467,115 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, 12,793 were administered in Westmoreland County, according to the site.

COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state declined again Thursday, with 2,124 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide as of noon on Thursday, down from 2,174 on Thursday, 2,356 on Tuesday and 2,447 on Monday.

Statewide, the moving 14-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations reached a peak of 6,105.6 on Christmas Day and has steadily declined since. Of coronavirus patients hospitalized Thursday throughout the state, 467 were in adult intensive care units and 255 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, the coronavirus patient total remained steady Thursday. There were 118 coronavirus patients in county hospitals as of Thursday’s update, the same number as Wednesday and down from 121 on Tuesday and 123 on Monday.

Of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county Wednesday, seven were in adult intensive care units and eight were on ventilators, according to the state health department. Of the 96 ventilators available in Westmoreland County, according to state data, a total of 22 were in use by COVID and non-COVID patients as of Thursday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Thursday, there were 26 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 28.9% of total adult ICU beds — along with 53 medical/surgical beds and 71 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 saw its COVID-19 patient total decrease as of Thursday’s update following an increase Wednesday. There were 464 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the region Thursday, according to the state health department, down from 483 on Wednesday. Of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the region Thursday, 99 were on adult intensive care units and 45 were on ventilators. Overall, 353 of the region’s 1,565 available ventilators were in use as of Thursday’s update.

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