A spike in COVID-19 cases reported last week in Bucks County is being attributed to backlogged antigen test data from urgent care centers that inflated numbers statewide.
On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that of 6,036 additional positive cases received statewide, 1,214 were from specimens collected more than a week earlier, and that backlogged data from urgent care centers would continue to be reported for the next few days.
As a result, Bucks County’s case numbers increased by 25 percent last week. The state reported 2,168 positive COVID cases in the county from Jan. 24-30, an increase of 438 cases from the previous week. The county’s pandemic total passed 40,000 last week, reaching 40,193 cases through Saturday.
Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, said the backlogged cases were entirely responsible for last week’s spike. The same day the state announced the backlog, it reported 660 new cases in Bucks – a daily total not seen since shortly after Thanksgiving. Some of the cases reported last week dated to late December.
The county’s test positivity rate, after multiple weeks of decline, increased last week from 9.2 percent to 10.4 percent. The state also reported last week the deaths of 27 Bucks County residents who were infected with COVID, for a total of 105 deaths in January and a pandemic total of 1,037.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID continued to drop significantly. A total of 112 patients with COVID are hospitalized in Bucks County, down from 136 a week ago. Twenty-four are in intensive care and 15 of those on ventilators. Thirty percent of the county’s adult ICU beds and 25 percent of adult medical surgical beds are available.
Public attention remained focused on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which continued to be slowed across Pennsylvania by inadequate amounts of vaccine arriving to the state from the federal government.
In Bucks County, 10,761 total doses were administered last week – 8,288 of them first-round injections, and 2,473 second injections. The first injections included 1,661 administered last week at a limited, appointment-only vaccination clinic run by the Bucks County Health Department for EMS workers and healthcare providers who are not affiliated with hospitals and are unable to obtain vaccines elsewhere.
About 5,000 first injections have been given over the past three weeks at the county-run clinic, including 1,661 last week. The clinic this week will turn its focus to administering second doses to those it already has partially vaccinated. The county is working to set up additional public vaccine clinic sites, but has not yet received sufficient vaccine from the state to open them.
Countywide, 26,236 people have been partially vaccinated in Bucks, the sixth-highest county total in the state. An additional 8,243 people have been fully vaccinated with two shots, the fifth-highest total in Pennsylvania.
The state health department reported last week that vaccine allocations from the federal government are fluctuating each week, but will continue to be relatively low over the next few weeks. Fewer than 9,000 doses were sent by the state to Bucks County last week.
Statewide, more than 600,000 people have received partial vaccinations and more than 190,000 have received full vaccinations in counties other than Philadelphia, which has its own reporting system.
Medical facilities in Bucks and across the state continue to receive doses of the Pfizer and Modern vaccines as Pennsylvania remains in the 1A phase of the vaccine rollout, which 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-registration for vaccinations continues to be offered on the county’s Coronavirus Vaccine Information Page. More than 200,000 Bucks County residents and business owners have already pre-registered. Those who pre-register will receive an email from the county health department with further information and instructions.
The amount of vaccine being sent to each county continues to be reserved for Phase 1A recipients. According to state reports, 65,250 doses have been distributed by the state health department to 24 approved providers in Bucks County, with the largest amounts going to hospitals.
The county health department has received slightly fewer than 6,000 doses from the state. The department is working to secure additional vaccine, as well as to coordinate locations and staffing for vaccine clinics.
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