While Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest temporary coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation measures expired on Monday, Westmoreland County officials have announced that the county courthouse located in Greensburg will remain closed to the public except by appointment as a precautionary measure.

The county on Monday announced the courthouse closure put in place Dec. 14 would be extended indefinitely. Westmoreland County recorded 232 new coronavirus cases Monday, according to the county website, pushing its total since the start of the pandemic past 20,000.

With Monday’s new cases, there have been 20,165 total coronavirus cases in Westmoreland County since March —15,045 confirmed cases and 5,120 probable cases, according to data on the county site.

While the courthouse will remain closed to walk-in business, members of the public can contact individual row offices and departments at the courthouse to make an appointment. Phone numbers of each row office and department are available on the county’s website at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/1340/Contact-Us.

The Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds have also placed drop boxes in the main lobby of the courthouse for the convenience of the public, according to the county’s news release. The temporary courthouse closure does not affect individuals that have scheduled court appearances.

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.

Since the start of 2021, there have been 12 new coronavirus deaths added to the county’s COVID-19 death total, which increased to 435 as of Monday’s update to the data on the county website.

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.

To start off 2021, the county added 118 new coronavirus cases Friday and 355 Saturday before seeing an increase of 127 cases Sunday and adding 232 new cases Monday.

Statewide, coronavirus cases reached 665,097 as of Monday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 595,596 confirmed cases in the state and 69,501 probable cases. Throughout Pennsylvania, 16,361 people have died of coronavirus, according to the state health department.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 9,023 (55.15%) 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 54,465 coronavirus cases among residents and 9,827 cases among staff members at 1,479 long term care facilities throughout the state.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 48 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,694 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 204 cases among staff members and 182 coronavirus deaths as of the state health department’s last update at noon Monday.

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 135,044 initial doses of coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 4,071 in Westmoreland County as of Monday’s update.

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

As of Monday, there were 5,630 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout Pennsylvania, according to the state health department — down from 5,962 as of the Dec. 30 update but up from 5,529 on Sunday. Of those patients, 1,182 were in adult intensive care units and 678 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, as of Monday’s update there were 173 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 17 in adult intensive care units and 12 on ventilators according to the state health department. Of the 100 ventilators available in Westmoreland County, according to state data, a total of 18 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 28 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 31.1% of total adult ICU beds — 61 medical/surgical beds and 100 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 1,287 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Monday, down from 1,421 as of Wednesday. Of those patients, 329 were on adult intensive care units and 139 were on ventilators. Overall, 425 of the region’s 1,550 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 Wednesday, the region has fallen below the 33% figure. As of Monday’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 Monday, as 36.4% 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 0.2% increase in coronavirus hospitalizations over the most recent 48-hour period prior to the site’s last update on Monday and 54.1% of medical and surgical beds in the region were projected to be available for patient care in the next 72 hours.

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