As the United States COVID-19 death toll pushed past 400,000 last week, Bucks County also passed an unwanted milestone, exceeding 1,000 COVID deaths for the first time on Thursday. The county ended the week with a pandemic total of 1,010 deaths, 78 of them so far in January.
“As a county we share collective grief for those lost and their loved ones,” said Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, chair of the Bucks County Commissioners. “It is now our duty to remember them by taking all the steps necessary to prevent and halt this suffering.”
Vice chair Bob Harvie echoed Marseglia’s words, urging county residents to remain careful and safe despite the hope inspired by the vaccinations that have begun to be administered nationwide.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in some way, but especially those who have lost loved ones and friends,” Harvie said. “Now that vaccines have been developed there are many who feel the crisis is over, but we have to keep following the science and the protocols. We need to keep protecting the most vulnerable around us.”
Bucks County’s rate of new COVID infections continued to slow for the second straight week. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 1,730 new cases in Bucks from Jan. 17-23, for a pandemic total of 38,025. The increase was 18 percent lower than that of the previous week. The rolling seven-day average of new cases dropped on Saturday to 246 per day, the lowest since Nov. 13.
The test positivity rate also continued to decrease in Bucks, decreasing to 9.2 percent from 12.6 percent the week before. The county’s highest positivity rate, 17.7 percent, came in early December as part of the post-Thanksgiving surge. A rate of more than 5 percent is considered concerning, according to the World Health Organization.
A total of 136 patients with COVID are hospitalized in Bucks County, 33 in intensive care and 18 of those on ventilators. Twenty-three percent of the county’s adult ICU beds and 27 percent of adult medical surgical beds are available.
“Cases and hospitalizations are declining to levels we haven’t seen in a couple of months, and our positivity rate has dropped below 10 percent this week,” said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department. “These trends are very good, and if everyone does their part, they will continue in the same direction.”
The county continues to offer free COVID testing at three Bucks County Community College sites seven days a week through Jan. 31. The testing sites, offered through a partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, have a capacity of testing up to 350 persons per day at each site, with results expected within 48 to 72 hours. Vaccinations are not currently being administered at the testing sites, but the county intends to convert them to vaccination sites in February.
The county continued to operate a limited, appointment-only vaccination clinic last week for EMS workers and healthcare providers who are not affiliated with hospitals and are unable to obtain vaccines elsewhere. More than 1,800 doses were administered at the clinic from Tuesday through Friday, adding to the more than 1,500 doses that were administered during the clinic’s first week.
Countywide, 17,948 partial vaccinations have been given, the state’s seventh-highest county total, and 5,770 people have been fully vaccinated, fourth-most in the state.
Statewide, more than 425,000 partial vaccinations and more than 108,000 full vaccinations have been administered outside of Philadelphia, which has its own reporting system. Medical facilities in Bucks and across the state continue to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as Pennsylvania remains in the newly-expanded 1A phase of the vaccine rollout, which now includes healthcare providers, long-term care residents and staff, EMS workers, anyone age 16 and over with a serious medical condition, and all adults age 65 and over.
Pre-registrations for vaccinations continue to be offered on the county’s Coronavirus Vaccine Information page. Approximately 150,000 Bucks County residents and business owners have already pre-registered. Those who pre-register will receive an email from the Bucks County Health Department with further information and instructions.
The amount of vaccine being sent to each county continues to be limited and reserved for Phase 1A recipients. According to state reports, more than 56,000 doses have been distributed by the state health department to 18 different providers in Bucks County, with the largest amount going to hospitals.
The county health department has received slightly less than 4,000 doses from the state. The department is working to secure additional vaccine, as well as to coordinate locations and staffing for vaccine clinics.
Visit covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com/ for more information.