COVID-19 infections have slowed in Allegheny County over the past month, keeping the rate of new cases of coronavirus below the national average and lower than in most metropolitan areas.
However, the encouraging decline in new infections after the New Year holiday is being mitigated by frustration over the slow roll-out of the two available vaccines and concerns about variants of the virus that are blamed for an increase in cases outside of US borders.
Only Seattle, Washington and Austin, Texas counties have fewer COVID cases per 100,000 residents than Allegheny among the 16 subway counties recorded by Pittsburgh Today. Milwaukee County has the highest new hire rate, more than double that of Allegheny.
The rates are part of a monthly regional COVID case analysis conducted by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development based on data from the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, the Allegheny County Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Coronavirus case rates dropped nearly 12 percent in Allegheny Country January 6-20. In Fayette County, cases fell 32 percent, the steepest drop in southwest Pennsylvania. Only in Washington County did the case rate increase. Nationwide, the case rate fell by less than 3 percent.
No cases of the variant COVID causing outbreaks in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in southwest Pennsylvania. The variant first reported in the UK is considered more contagious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned it could become the dominant strain in the United States by March.
“As encouraged as I am by the numbers, I’m still cautious,” said Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County’s Department of Health, last week. “If these variants become the dominant burden in our region, it could undo all the hard work we have done to reduce the number of cases.”
Slow rolling vaccine
Meanwhile, local vaccination campaigns have been slow to develop over the past month, leading to complaints from residents unable to schedule shots and frustrating officials trying to cope with the large-scale effort with shortages of doses and irregular deliveries.
About a third of Allegheny County’s 1.2 million residents will be eligible for one of two state-approved COVID-19 vaccines in the first phase of the vaccination campaign, said Dr. Bow. Phase 1A vaccination is limited to healthcare workers and other frontline workers, e.g. B. on the nursing staff. People over 65 years of age; and those aged 16 to 64 years with conditions that increase the risk of developing serious illness from the virus.
“I know there is a lot of frustration out there,” said Dr. Arch last week. “Clinics fill up quickly. The government registration system is confusing and sometimes doesn’t work. You are wondering when you can get a vaccine and how you will get a vaccine. We’re frustrated too. “
The offer was the central theme. Until recently, the county was only receiving about 20,000 doses of the vaccines each week, each of which requires two shots to complete the vaccination.
“We don’t have enough vaccines for so many who want them,” she said. “Part of our frustration is our inability to schedule a known amount of vaccines. We don’t know how much we’re getting each week, so we can’t plan far in advance. We don’t know how much we’re getting in Allegheny County because the state doesn’t know how much it is getting from the federal government. “
But there is good news. Last week, she said, the county received a shipment of 50,000 cans, more than twice the weekly amount.