Pa. coronavirus update: Most Philly residents could be vaccinated by July

A person wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks during a winter storm in Philadelphia

A person wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks during a winter storm in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the current surge?

Philadelphia officials identified 103 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 110,836 since the beginning of the pandemic.

During the week that ended on Feb. 13, the city averaged 242 cases per day, down from an average of 323 cases per day the previous week. That amounts to a positivity rate of 3.8% for this past week, compared with 5.3% for the week ending on Feb. 6. (Numbers for that week have been lowered thanks to previously unidentified negatives being factored into the data.)

No new deaths have been recorded since Monday, when the city marked its 3,001st death. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the number of deaths per week fell throughout January, starting at 92 in the first week, and dipping to 37 by the end of the month.

Philly COVID deaths surpass 3,000

Philadelphia marked more than 3,000 deaths Monday due to COVID-19, city officials announced on Tuesday.

“We hope we’re nearing the end of this, but the epidemic certainly has been difficult as we mark in that milestone,” Farley said.

Despite the grim milestone, officials say the city’s infection and fatality rates are on the decline.

“These numbers overall are showing a significant decrease in the past few weeks,” Farley said, adding that case counts have also been falling in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the United States as a whole. “It’s really good to see this continued downward trend.”

Farley: Vaccines should reach all Philadelphians by the end of July

Any Philadelphian who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by the end of July, Health Commissioner Farley said on Tuesday — with the caveat that that timeline depends heavily on supply.

The new projection is based on President Joe Biden’s announcement that the federal government has secured 600 million vaccine doses, enough to inoculate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer.

“This all depends on the ability of Pfizer and Moderna to deliver the doses that they promised the federal government and for Philadelphia to get its share,” Farley said. “But that gives people a rough sense of timing here. And again, don’t hold me to this because there’s so much unknowns here.”

City officials have been reluctant to offer vaccination timelines, thanks to uncertainty about vaccine supplies and other unknowns, like the possibility of other vaccines being released.

If the timeline unfolds according to the current tentative plan, Farley said, Philadelphia will stay in phase 1B until around the end of April, finish 1C by the end of May and move into phase 2 in June. (Phase 1B includes people who live and work in congregate care settings, first responders, teachers, incarcerated people, agricultural workers, critical workers, and people with high-risk conditions, among others; phase 1C covers other essential workers, spanning food service, transportation, public safety, government, and other areas; and phase 2 expands distribution to the general public.)

“We’ve had a very tough winter — it’ll still be tough,” Farley said. “Things will be improving in the spring, but there’s real hope for the summer.”

Bucks reschedules some vaccine appointments

COVID-19 vaccinations were slated to start in Bucks County Tuesday, but not everyone’s getting their shot as planned.

An unknown number of residents who were scheduled to be vaccinated as early as today say they’ve received emails informing them that their appointments were being rescheduled, according to the Bucks County Courier Times.

The email said the link to vaccine registration was widely shared on social media, leaving out an important part of the registration process, and that the people contacted would need to confirm that they meet the county’s criteria for receiving vaccinations.

A spokesman for the county did not respond to a request for comment.

County spokesman Larry King said the problem stemmed from people inappropriately sharing individualized links for scheduling their vaccinations, and an error by an IT vendor led to hundreds of more bookings than the county could handle.

County officials are currently rescheduling those who are eligible for the next two weeks and telling people who are not eligible yet but had made appointments to sit tight until they’re contacted again.

Weather delays this week’s vaccine supply in Philly

Nearly 72,000 people in Philadelphia have been fully vaccinated as of this past weekend, city officials announced.

As of midnight Sunday, 151,946 have received their first dose, and 71,949 have received their second dose. (Officials say these numbers are likely an undercount, thanks to delays in reporting due to President’s Day.)

The city will also begin tracking the number of doses administered by week. For the week ending Feb. 7, Philadelphia delivered 35,668 doses. That number rose to at least 44,000 doses for the week ending Feb. 14, with more doses expected to be reported.

The rise in vaccinations tracks with an increase in supply. Philadelphia has been allocated 10,700 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine for this week, and 15,600 first doses of the Moderna vaccine (plus an additional 4,900 doses of the latter that were shipped directly to Rite Aid and Shop Rite).

However, this week’s supply has been delayed by several days, thanks to the weather.

Officials say the federal government has guaranteed that Philadelphia will receive no less than the current week’s number of doses for at least the next three weeks.

The federal government estimates that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will arrive around March 1, but the number of doses is currently unclear.

“With these increases, it does mean that the limiting factor now is shifting from how many doses come into the city to how quickly we can deliver those doses,” Farley said.

Philly to open mass vaccine clinics next week

Philadelphia is currently in phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers, people over the age of 75, and people with high-risk medical conditions, especially cancer, chronic kidney disease, organ transplants, and diabetes.

This Friday and Saturday, the city will be running vaccination clinics at the Convention Center.

Next week (beginning Feb. 22), Philadelphia will open community-based mass vaccination clinics. Information about the clinics will be released tomorrow or Thursday, including specific dates and locations. Three sites have been chosen so far: the Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School in Harrowgate; the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center in North Philadelphia; and the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. (Community clinics are not open, but will service eligible people who’ve been invited from the vaccine interest database.)

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will begin vaccinating teachers, support staff, and childcare staff next week, with invitations going out this week.

Anyone who believes they’re eligible due to the nature of their work should talk with their employer. Employers can register with the Health Department at www.phila.gov/businessvaccine.

Those eligible due to their age (over 75) or health status can check with the clinic or health system where they receive their care. (People over 75 can also check with participating pharmacies, or visit www.phila.gov/vaccineinterest to register. Those without internet access can dial 311.)

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