COVID in the County: Better. Not Good.
MONROE COUNTY Mar 19 2021 - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania is second in the nation in percent of the population which has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. The CDC reports that nearly a quarter of Pennsylvanians have received at least one shot and about 12% are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows that Monroe County lags the state and surrounding counties, with about 13.5% of its 0ver 170,000 residents having received at least one dose.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health categorizes Monroe County as presenting a “very high risk” of infection with the coronavirus. That’s the second-highest classification and certainly better than the “extremely high risk” level the county sustained from November through February. But it is still not good. The next level down from where we are now is still “high risk”.
Unfortunately, since the beginning of March, the trend has been up. An average of 42 cases per day were reported in Monroe County over the last two weeks, a 27 percent increase from the average two weeks ago.
After dipping below 10% briefly, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Monroe’s positivity rate - the percent of COVID tests which came back positive over a seven-day period - is over 11%. That is very high and the DOH says it suggests that cases in the county are under-counted.
Hospitalizations are down, but ICU occupancy has been high, with 80-90% of the available ICU beds in use over the last two weeks. Deaths have remained at about the same level. Deaths tend to lag weeks behind reported cases. Since cases have recently increased here, that could mean a rise in deaths will follow.
Pre-COVID an average of 15,000 people commuted daily to New York City. Most have resumed their commute and that is concerning for the county because cases in the city are on the rise.
According to city health department data, most of the new cases are being caused by variants, with 45% coming from the exceptionally contagious new one known as B.1.526. Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, has expressed concern over indications that the new variant may be more resistant to current vaccines.
National and state health officials have cautioned that, as the vaccine program continues to ramp up, to avoid a ‘fourth wave’ it is vital to remain vigilant and continue to follow mitigation practices, including masks and social distancing.