Allegheny County reports 55 COVID-19 deaths Thursday; Bogen urges vaccination when available

by PublicSource Reporters

The Allegheny County Health Department [ACHD] reported 850 new COVID-19 infections Thursday and 55 new COVID-related fatalities. The newly reported cases bring the total count since March 14 to 43,857 infections. 

The case tally, which includes 606 confirmed cases, came from 1,933 tests conducted from Nov. 18 through Dec. 16. The new infections were among patients aged 11 months to 97 years, with the median age being 45. The date of deaths ranged from Nov. 24 to Dec. 16. 

To date, the county has had 743 deaths and 2,709 people hospitalized because of the virus.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said Wednesday the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out signals “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic, though she also said December will likely be the deadliest month of the pandemic so far.

Bogen said she expects the general public to begin to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines in early summer. She encouraged everyone to get the vaccine, characterizing it as safe and rejecting the notion that it was rushed. It’s already been given to tens of thousands of people around the world and has not had adverse effects, she said. 

“Although the vaccines were developed quickly, they were developed using existing technology that has been used to develop other vaccines,” Bogen said. “[Vaccine makers] were also given unprecedented financial support that allowed them to be developed quickly without cutting corners.” 

The virus does not give anyone COVID-19, but it can give you symptoms for one or two days, Bogen said. She said she participated in a Moderna vaccine trial that required her to get two doses and felt sick after the second shot. 

“I was really glad about that because it showed me that my immune system was responding to the vaccine,” Bogen said. “And it also told me that I likely got the vaccine and not placebo.”

Bogen said that her department, local police, the liquor control board and the department of agriculture are working on enforcing the latest state orders restricting certain business operations but noted enforcement still provides challenges. 

“We rely on you residents to patronize and support businesses that follow the rules and shun those that do not,” Bogen said. 

JA’RAY GAMBLE, 29, was among the first UPMC employees to receive the first part of the new COVID-19 vaccine, which arrived Monday morning, Dec. 14, at UPMC Children’s Hospital. (Photo courtesy UPMC)


Allegheny County reports 55 COVID-19 deaths Thursday; Bogen urges vaccination when available

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