Westmoreland County on Tuesday reached 2,900 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in 2021, reporting 207 new cases, according to data on the county website. That brings the county’s case total since the start of the pandemic to 22,233.

The county also had eight new coronavirus deaths reported Tuesday, marking 68 since the start of the new year and bringing the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 491.

There had been 423 coronavirus deaths reported at the start of the new year, with 224 of those coming in December. The first coronavirus deaths for Westmoreland County were reported April 5, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office last updated its listed total of coronavirus deaths last 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 733,429 as of Tuesday’s update to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. That case total includes 650,116 confirmed cases in the state and 83,313 probable cases. Throughout Pennsylvania, 18,080 people have died of coronavirus, according to the state health department.

Of the state’s coronavirus deaths, 9,418 (52.1%) 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 57,724 coronavirus cases among residents and 10,754 cases among staff members at 1,500 long term care facilities throughout the state.

In Westmoreland County, according to the state health department, 48 long-term care facilities have accounted for 1,770 positive COVID-19 cases among residents, 230 cases among staff members and 188 coronavirus deaths as of the state health department’s last update to long term care facility data at noon Tuesday.

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is continuing, and residents and staff of long term care facilities among those being vaccinated in the first phase of the state’s vaccine rollout.

The state health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard indicates there have been 281,305 initial doses of coronavirus vaccinations administered in the state, including 7,826 in Westmoreland County as of Tuesday’s update.

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

As of Tuesday’s update, 30,172 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, 1,064 are in Westmoreland County, according to the site.

Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine shared an update Tuesday on the vaccine, stressing its safety and efficacy.

They were joined at a press conference to provide a COVID-19 update by the director of Testing and Contact Tracing for the state, Michael Huff; and Dr. Cynthia Chuang, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“I am here to tell you that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe to use, and very good at protecting people who are vaccinated,” Wolf said. “If you hear a rumor about COVID-19 from a friend, or see something online that concerns you, take a few minutes to verify the information before you get too worried. Five minutes of fact checking can save you and your loved ones a lot of worry.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the state declined slightly on Tuesday, with, there were 5,204 coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout Pennsylvania, according to the state health department, down from 5,232 Monday. Of those patients, 1,060 were in adult intensive care units and 639 were on ventilators.

In Westmoreland County, as of Tuesday’s update, there were 157 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 — down from 168 Sunday and 159 Monday — with 17 in adult intensive care units and 13 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 Monday, there were 22 adult ICU beds available at Westmoreland County hospitals — 24.4% of total adult ICU beds — 72 medical/surgical beds and 105 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 1,003 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 Tuesday, down from 1,036 Sunday and 1,029 Monday. Of those patients, 249 were on adult intensive care units and 125 were on ventilators.

Overall, 430 of the region’s 1,561 available ventilators were in use as of the update.

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