Westmoreland County has gone two full weeks without seeing new daily coronavirus (COVID-19) case figures reach triple digits, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, and on Wednesday saw its smallest case total increase of the month.

With 47 new coronavirus cases reported in Wednesday’s update to the state health department’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there have now been 26,040 coronavirus cases in the county since the start of the pandemic — 18,524 confirmed cases and 7,516 probable. So far, there have been 84,736 negative tests in the county. Wednesday’s new cases represented the smallest daily increase in reported cases the county has experienced since Jan. 31, when 42 new cases were reported.

There have been 6,707 coronavirus cases reported in Westmoreland County so far this year for an average of 139.73 reported per day in 2021.

The county is averaging 78.65 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 15 of the 17 days this month.

There were four new coronavirus-related deaths reported in the county Wednesday, according to the state health department, snapping a streak of back-to-back days without an increase.

With Wednesday’s increase, the county’s COVID-19 death total since the start of the pandemic climbed to 652 and the total in 2021 increased to 229.

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 Wednesday 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 surpassed 900,000 on Wednesday, reaching 902,650 according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 779,638 confirmed cases in the state and 123,012 probable cases. So far, there have been 3,791,021 negative tests in the state.

Wednesday’s update showed 193 new coronavirus-related deaths reported throughout the state, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 23,319. 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, 12,118 (51.96%) 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 Wednesday.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there had been 65,713 coronavirus cases among residents and 12,729 cases among staff members at 1,556 long term care facilities throughout the state as of Wednesday’s update.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 50 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,963 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 274 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 1,313,538 partial coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 37,185 in Westmoreland County as of Wednesday’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 Wednesday’s update, 436,411 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, 12,448 were administered in Westmoreland County, according to the site.

COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state declined again Wednesday, with 2,174 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide as of noon on Wednesday, down from 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 Wednesday throughout the state, 465 were in adult intensive care units and 255 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, the coronavirus patient total decreased again Wednesday. There were 118 coronavirus patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday’s update, 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 Wednesday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Wednesday, 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 increase as of Wednesday’s update. After dropping below 500 over the weekend, with 460 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout the region as of Sunday’s update, the region’s total climbed to 475 on Monday and decreased to 468 on Tuesday before increasing to 483 as of Wednesday’s update. Of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the region Wednesday, 104 were on adult intensive care units and 44 were on ventilators. Overall, 361 of the region’s 1,564 available ventilators were in use as of Wednesday’s update.

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