After the third full week of February, Westmoreland County’s average new daily coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued a downward trajectory.

The county added 482 coronavirus cases during the period of Feb. 15-21, bringing its total so far this month to 1,622 for an average of 77.24 new cases per day in February.

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.

There have now been 26,325 coronavirus cases in the county since the start of the pandemic — 18,689 confirmed cases and 7,636 probable. So far, there have been 85,489 negative tests in the county.

There have been 6,992 coronavirus cases reported in Westmoreland County so far this year for an average of 134.46 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 19 of the 21 days this month.

Westmoreland County added 45 cases and three new coronavirus-related deaths Friday, followed by 98 cases and three deaths reported Saturday and 50 cases and one death reported Sunday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The new deaths reported over the weekend bring the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 664 and the total in 2021 to 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 Monday 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 913,497 on Sunday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 787,614 confirmed cases in the state and 125,883 probable cases. So far, there have been 3,822,646 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, PA, 15012 would operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Thursday, Feb. 25.

Sunday’s update to the COVID-19 Dashboard showed 184 new coronavirus-related deaths had been reported throughout the state since Thursday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 23,597.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 12,223 (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 Saturday.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there had been 65,992 coronavirus cases among residents and 12,816 cases among staff members at 1,565 long term care facilities throughout the state as of Sunday’s update.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 50 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,970 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 1,447,949 partial coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 42,066 in Westmoreland County as of Sunday’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 Sunday’s update, 528,049 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, 14,503 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. 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 Sunday throughout the state, 421 were in adult intensive care units and 253 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, the coronavirus patient total decreased to 112 as of Sunday’s update. 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 Sunday, 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 Sunday’s update.

According to state figures last updated at noon Sunday, there were 33 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 36.7% of total adult ICU beds — along with 96 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. 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 Sunday, 90 were on adult intensive care units and 41 were on ventilators. Overall, 341 of the region’s 1,564 available ventilators were in use as of Sunday’s update.

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