Westmoreland County has seen its average daily new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases decline over recent weeks.

Monday’s total for new cases — the lowest single-day increase for the county since Oct. 1 — could help that trend continue.

There were just 26 new coronavirus cases reported in the county Monday, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, and no new virus-related deaths.

There have now been 26,351 coronavirus cases in the county since the start of the pandemic — 18,706 confirmed cases and 7,645 probable. So far, there have been 85,590 negative tests in the county.

There have been 7,018 coronavirus cases reported in Westmoreland County so far this year for an average of 132.41 reported per day in 2021.

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 10 of the 22 days this month.

The county’s daily average for cases has decreased each week in February, from 82.42 cases per day the first week to 80.42 in the week of Feb. 8-14 and 68.85 in the most recent week.

For comparison, the county averaged 238.57 new cases per day in the first full week of 2021 and 406.57 new cases daily during the period of Dec. 8-15.

With no new coronavirus-related deaths reported Monday, the county’s total since the start of the pandemic remained steady at 664 and the total in 2021 stayed at 241.

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 as of Tuesday morning showed no increase in its coronavirus death total since its last update at 11 p.m. Feb. 15. 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 915,018 on Monday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 788,714 confirmed cases in the state and 126,304 probable cases. So far, there have been 3,827,159 negative tests in the state.

The state health department recently announced a free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Rostraver Ice Garden, 111 Gallitin Road and Route 51, Belle Vernon, would operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Thursday, Feb. 25.

Monday’s update to the COVID-19 Dashboard showed just 17 new coronavirus-related deaths had been reported throughout the state since Sunday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 23,614.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 12,228 (51.78%) 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 Monday.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there had been 66,067 coronavirus cases among residents and 12,822 cases among staff members at 1,567 long term care facilities throughout the state as of Monday’s update.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 50 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,975 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 275 cases among staff members and 259 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 1,458,241 partial coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 42,310 in Westmoreland County as of Monday’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 Monday’s update, 541,091 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, 14,994 were administered in Westmoreland County, according to the site.

COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state dropped below 2,000 over the weekend, with 1,959 patients hospitalized statewide for coronavirus as of Sunday’s update to the state health department data before increasing slightly to 1,963 on Monday. There were 2,124 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide as of noon on Thursday.

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 Monday throughout the state, 418 were in adult intensive care units and 240 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, the coronavirus patient total decreased to 112 as of Sunday’s update before increasing to 113 on Monday. 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 last Monday.

Of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county Monday, four were in adult intensive care units and five were on ventilators, according to the state health department. Of the 96 ventilators available in Westmoreland County, according to state data, a total of 15 were in use by COVID and non-COVID patients as of Monday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Monday, there were 31 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 34.4% of total adult ICU beds — along with 93 medical/surgical beds and 104 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 to 427 as of Sunday’s update and fell to 420 on Monday. 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 Monday, 88 were on adult intensive care units and 37 were on ventilators. Overall, 325 of the region’s 1,537 available ventilators were in use as of Monday’s update.

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