Westmoreland County set a new single-day high for coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths with 16 reported on Wednesday, according to data on the county website, and added 331 new coronavirus cases.

The 16 new coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday — marking 36 so far in 2021 — bring the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 459. There had been 423 coronavirus deaths reported at the start of the new year, with 224 of those coming in December.

The county had 15 coronavirus deaths reported in a single day three times last month — on Dec. 2, 9 and 30.

With Wednesday’s update, there have been 1,391 new cases this year and 20,724 total coronavirus cases in Westmoreland County since March — 15,390 confirmed cases and 5,334 probable cases, according to data on the county site. There have been 74,817 negative coronavirus tests in the county since the start of the pandemic.

Westmoreland County closed out 2020 by adding 10,072 new coronavirus cases and 224 coronavirus deaths in the month of December, according to figures on the county website.

More than 52% of the county’s total cases and more than 52.95% of the county’s COVID-19 deaths in 2020 came in the final month of the year.

The first coronavirus deaths for Westmoreland County were reported April 5, according to the state health department.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office updated its listed total of coronavirus deaths at 5 a.m. Tuesday, increasing its count from 293 to 328. Of those deaths, 321 were confirmed by testing and another seven are presumed cases based on symptoms.

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

The coroner’s COVID-19 death total includes any individual whose death occurred in Westmoreland County, regardless of their county of residence.

Statewide, coronavirus cases reached 683,389 as of Wednesday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 609,905 confirmed cases in the state and 73,484 probable cases. Throughout Pennsylvania, 16,914 people have died of coronavirus, according to the state health department, an increase of 368 from Tuesday.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 9,262 (54.76%) are associated with long term care facilities, which have been virus hotspots throughout the pandemic.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been 55,480 coronavirus cases among residents and 10,186 cases among staff members at 1,488 long term care facilities throughout the state.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 48 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,710 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 212 cases among staff members and 183 coronavirus deaths as of the state health department’s last update at noon Wednesday.

Help is on the way for long term care facilities as COVID-19 vaccinations have begun making their way to residents and employees. Residents and staff at Westmoreland Manor, the county-owned personal care home in Hempfield Township, began receiving inoculations last week, according to officials there.

The state health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard indicates there have been 159,216 initial doses of coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 4,914 in Westmoreland County as of Wednesday’s update.

Currently, all COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use require two doses spread out several weeks apart.

As of Tuesday, there were 5,613 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout Pennsylvania, according to the state health department — down from 5,684 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 1,120 were in adult intensive care units and 673 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, as of Wednesday’s update, there were 179 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 16 in adult intensive care units and 11 on ventilators according to the state health department. Of the 100 ventilators available in Westmoreland County, according to state data, a total of 23 were in use by COVID and non-COVID patients as of Tuesday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Wednesday, there were 22 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 24.4% of total adult ICU beds — 44 medical/surgical beds and 86 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 had 1,280 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 290 were on adult intensive care units and 129 were on ventilators. Overall, 457 of the region’s 1,552 available ventilators were in use as of the update.

Citing concerns an influx of COVID-19 hospitalizations could stretch health systems thin on staff, Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Nov. 23 issued an order directing hospitals to reduce “elective procedures” by half if their region meets at least two of the following criteria:

  • 33% or more of hospitals in the region anticipate staffing shortages in the next week;
  • 50% or more increase in the moving average of COVID-19 admissions in the previous 48 hours;
  • 10% or fewer of the medical and surgical beds in a region are projected to be available in the next 72 hours.

The Southwest region for weeks had exceeded the anticipated staffing shortage mark, but since last week, the region has fallen below the 33% figure. As of Wednesday’s update 25.6% of hospitals in the Southwest region anticipated staffing shortages. The Keystone HCC was the only region in the state to meet any of the criteria Wednesday, as 40.9% of hospitals in that region reported anticipated staffing shortages.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Reduction of Elective Procedures Dashboard, the Southwest region had experienced a 7.8% increase in coronavirus hospitalizations over the most recent 48-hour period prior to the site’s last update on Wednesday and 45.7% of medical and surgical beds in the region were projected to be available for patient care in the next 72 hours.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.