“Fourth wave” of COVID-19 underway in Allegheny County, but new vaccination sites open

Phase 1c of vaccination push to start April 12

by PublicSource Reporters

On Thursday, the Allegheny County Health Department confirmed 379 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The new cases include individuals ranging in age from two weeks to 100 years old, with a median age of 33.

ACHD reported 418 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths from the virus Wednesday. 

To date, Allegheny County Health Department has reported 88,952 cases, 1,797 deaths from the virus and 6,142 past and present hospitalizations. 

Transmission of COVID-19 continues to surge in Allegheny County, with rising daily case counts and tests coming back positive 8.8% of the time in the last week. That’s about a percentage point higher than the previous week.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I report that we are well into our fourth wave of cases here,” said Allegheny County Health Department [ACHD] Director Dr. Debra Bogen in a press briefing Wednesday. “Case counts continue to increase, we’re back where we were in early January, and over the last several days, daily case counts have set records for 2021.”

Hospitalizations have been slowly rising and deaths have started to increase for the first time in months. From mid-December to mid-March, deaths slowly declined in the county but started to increase the week of Mar. 21. 

“I don’t expect cases to decline for at least a couple of weeks, and we know the cause,” Bogen said. “Large gatherings, combined with no physical distancing or masks, mixed with the variant viruses in our community.” 

Starting this week, ACHD and Allegheny County Emergency Services partnered with Allegheny Health Network and UPMC in creating a series of mass vaccination sites, alternating weekly between the two large healthcare providers. AHN will host its first clinics at Next Tier Connect in Monroeville on Apr. 9 and 10 and UPMC will start its clinics at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer Township on Apr. 14 and 15. ACHD estimates about 12,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, which require only one injection, will be administered weekly through this effort. 

ACHD recently launched a vaccination clinic at Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport, which seeks to vaccinate between 100 and 200 people per day. Gov. Tom Wolf visited the site Wednesday along with County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and state Rep. Austin Davis, D-McKeesport.

“Equity means not only identifying which populations are at greatest risk from COVID-19, but proactively working to get vaccine into those communities, and breaking down barriers that make it harder for vulnerable Pennsylvanians to access the vaccine,” Wolf said at the clinic, according to a Wednesday press release. “Local providers – like those right here in Allegheny County – know their communities best and can put in place targeted efforts to ensure vaccine equity. That’s exactly what will happen at this site.”

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“Fourth wave” of COVID-19 underway in Allegheny County, but new vaccination sites open

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