Westmoreland County followed up back-to-back days of fewer than 60 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases with a single-day jump of 164 new cases and two new coronavirus-related deaths reported Tuesday, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data.

There were 57 new coronavirus cases reported in the county in Monday’s update to the state health department’s COVID-19 Dashboard after the county added 56 new cases Sunday.

Tuesday’s new cases bring the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 29,886. Of the county’s case total, 20,631 are classified as confirmed cases and 9,255 are considered probable cases. There have been 91,970 negative tests so far in the county, according to the state health department. Since the start of 2021, there have been 10,553 new cases reported in Westmoreland County, an average of 109.92 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 31 through April 6) the county has added 834 new coronavirus cases, an average of 119.14 per day.

With two new coronavirus-related deaths reported in the county in Tuesday’s update to the state health department data, Westmoreland County’s total since the start of the pandemic climbed to 709 and the total in 2021 rose to 286.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office updated its COVID-19 death total for the county at 5 a.m. Tuesday, April 6, increasing the total from 427 to 431. The coroner’s count of coronavirus-related deaths in the county had remained unchanged since 11 p.m. March 18, when the last previous update increased the total 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 1,049,655 as of Tuesday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 891,908 confirmed cases in the state and 157,747 probable cases. So far, 4,183,437 people in the state have tested negative for coronavirus.

According to Tuesday’s update to the state health department figures, there have been 25,237 coronavirus-related deaths throughout the state since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 37 from Monday’s update.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 12,945 (51.29%) 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 Tuesday.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there had been 69,494 coronavirus cases among residents and 14,351 cases among staff members at 1,577 long-term care facilities throughout the state as of Tuesday’s update.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 52 long-term care facilities have accounted for 2,120 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 339 cases among staff members and 294 coronavirus deaths.

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 were eligible to start scheduling appointments Monday, April 5. Those in Phase 1C will become eligible 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.

More than 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 Tuesday’s update, 2,037,055 people statewide were considered full vaccinations while another 1,766,216 were considered partially covered. In Westmoreland County, according to the dashboard, 62,756 people are considered fully vaccinated while another 52,835 are considered partially covered.

Despite the vaccination push gaining steam, COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state continued to climb Tuesday, according to the state health department. As of Tuesday’s update, there were 2,384 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide, up from 2,247 on Monday. Of the coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout the state as of Tuesday’s update, 446 were in adult intensive care units and 224 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 2,005.9 as of Tuesday’s update.

Westmoreland County’s coronavirus hospitalization total increased from 33 on Monday to 38 as of Tuesday’s update. Of COVID-19 patients in Westmoreland County hospitals on Tuesday, six were in adult intensive care units and five were on ventilators, according to the state health department.

Of the 96 ventilators available in the county, according to Department of Health data, 19 were in use by COVID-19 and non-COVID patients as of Tuesday’s update.

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