Pa. coronavirus update: Philly to open new clinics Feb. 22; state releases vaccine numbers

A person jogs by a COVID-19 testing site in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A person jogs by a COVID-19 testing site in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Pennsylvania officials announced 4,410 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 850,488. As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, the state recorded 125 new deaths from COVID-19  bringing the number of total fatalities to 21,812.

There are 3,280 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, near double the peak in the spring. Of those patients, 650 are in the intensive care unit. The statewide percent positivity rate — the number of people tested with positive results — is currently 9.3% statewide.

Philadelphia reported 382 additional confirmed cases on Tuesday, for a total of 106,976 since the beginning of the pandemic. The city’s Department of Public Health confirmed an additional 12 fatalities Tuesday, which brings the total number of deaths attributable to the virus in Philadelphia to 2,886.

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Pennsylvania releases vaccine numbers, doses given

It’s been more than a month since Pennsylvania hospitals first began receiving shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines, with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine distribution starting the week of Dec. 14 and Moderna vaccine distribution starting the week of Dec. 21.

As of Monday, Feb. 1, the state reports, 1,024,615 doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 621,021 people who have received one dose and 201,797 people who have received the complete two doses, for a total of 822,818 people vaccinated.

By Saturday, Feb 6, the state projects that 2,121,100 doses of the vaccine will have been allocated and received by providers. All the locations that have received vaccine doses, and how much they have received, can be found on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution webpage.

Those numbers include vaccines allotted to CVS as part of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, but do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process are welcome to call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

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Philadelphia announces new vaccine clinics, to open Feb 22

The city continues to vaccinate those in priority groups 1A and 1B. Currently, the vaccine is being made available through local hospitals and health centers, visiting vaccination teams in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, Rite Aid pharmacies throughout the city that are vaccinating health care workers, and mass clinics run by the city or by organizations like the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.

Beginning the week of Feb. 22, Philadelphia will open and operate a new set of mass vaccine clinics — three first-dose vaccination sites and three second-dose sites — with plans to vaccinate 500 people per day, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said Tuesday. Residents in Phase 1B who are currently eligible will be invited to get the doses, based on their sign-up on the city’s vaccine interest website.

Philadelphia will also be expanding vaccine access at local pharmacies for people over the age of 75, using the same contacts from the vaccine interest form. Those eligible will receive information from the city on how they can sign up to get shots from their local pharmacy.

City residents interested in getting the vaccine, but who do not have internet access to sign up on the online form, can call the city’s general COVID call center hotline, 215-685-5488, to be put into Philadelphia’s vaccine interest database.

Currently, the city is receiving 20,000 doses of the vaccine per week, and will continue to receive that number for at least the next three weeks. “The federal government is only giving us projections for the next three weeks … beyond that, we have no idea,” Farley said.

Road and weather disruptions from the recent winter storm have not delayed vaccine shipments to Philadelphia, he added.

Despite increased vaccine distribution efforts, city officials are continuing restrictions on indoor catered events, multiple-household indoor gatherings, and other indoor events.

“As much as this is a discouraging fact, it is true — the vaccine will not help us get through the winter wave. We simply don’t have enough doses for enough people,” Farley said Tuesday. “If you do get together, do it outside wearing masks.”

Farley says city has work to do on distribution, racial equity

Philadelphia prioritizes three things in vaccine distribution, Farley said: speed, saving lives, and racial equity. But so far, both national and local data show a clear racial gap among those who have received the vaccine, with a majority of white vaccine recipients and some demographic data simply missing from the tally.

In a pandemic that disproportionately affects Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, and a city where 44% of all residents are Black, that’s a concern.

“A little more than 15% of the people vaccinated were African American … that’s up from 8% when I first saw it, so it’s moving in the right direction, [but] it is still far too low, and it’s not moving up fast enough,” Farley said at Tuesday’s press briefing. “We clearly need to redouble our efforts to make sure that it’s made available, and in a way that’s acceptable to African Americans and other minorities in the city.”

The city increased the amount of vaccines provided to the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium this week, and officials say they have plans to increase vaccine access and equity.

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