Pennsylvania announces new plan for vaccine rollout

A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London

A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday issued an updated vaccination plan for the state that lays out who is eligible and when for the inoculations.

After the health care personnel and the nursing home residents and staff who are currently getting vaccines, people 75 and older, adults with high-risk health issues and frontline workers will receive the protection.

The frontline workers eligible for the vaccine in that second stage of the first phase of the rollout include first responders, correctional officers, U.S. postal service workers, grocery store workers, and transit workers.

The next stage of the vaccine rollout will cover people aged 65 to 74-years-old and people with high-risk conditions including pregnant women. Public safety workers, transportation workers, finance and banking workers, federal, state, county government workers, elected officials, and people who work in media will also be eligible for the inoculations at that point. After those groups receive vaccinations, adult members of the general public will be eligible. That should happen by early summer, according to state estimates.

“We must have patience because the amount of vaccine available to Pennsylvanians is limited,” said Levine. “It will take several months before there is vaccine available for everyone.”

The state now has 827,300 doses of two approved vaccines, Levine said, and more than 235,000 Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated to date.

Levine encouraged residents to continue following COVID-19 safety protocols such as hand washing, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask.

With 10,178 new reported cases, Levine said Pennsylvania is seeing the beginning of an increase in new cases because of travel over Christmas and New Years, and gatherings attended.

“We cannot let our guard down now,” said Levine. “We must follow through in our personal and collective responsibility to each other, to our community, to our commonwealth to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Levine also addressed the one reported case of the COVID-19 UK variant in the state and assured there is no evidence of community spread of the strain in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, the city health department announced today 629 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, which brings the number of confirmed cases to 96,088. Also, the department announced 21 new probable cases from rapid antigen tests.

The health department confirmed 23 additional fatalities in Philadelphia, bringing the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to 2,596. Of the 2,596 total deaths, 1,029, or 40%, were long-term care facility residents.

Furthermore, the department reports 651 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Philadelphia hospitals, with a total of 81 on ventilators.

Mayor Jim Kenney said via Twitter “assuming we don’t have a spike in COVID-19 cases between now and Jan. 15, we plan to allow limited indoor dining to resume on Jan. 16.” More details will be provided at next Tuesday’s COVID-19 press conference, along with guidance added to the City’s website.

Kenney’s administration banned indoor dining in November as new COVID-19 cases surged.

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