May 30, 2021
PublicSource has been tracking the spread of COVID-19 on a daily basis since March 2020. More than a year later, we’ll be covering the Allegheny County’s Department of Health weekly briefing to direct our resources into corporate reporting on the pandemic and other major issues on Wednesdays and update the numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We can adapt as the coronavirus prevalence subsides. If you have any questions or comments, please email the Managing Editor of PublicSource, email@example.com.
Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said Pennsylvania expects to lift its mask mandate on or before June 28, citing the great successes in vaccinating adults.
The state had previously announced that the mandate would be lifted when 70% of adults are fully vaccinated. According to Beam, 70% of adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 26. Currently, 53% of adults in the state are fully vaccinated, and anyone 12 years or older is entitled to a shot.
In time for Pennsylvania’s near-full reopening on Memorial Day, COVID-19 transmission in Allegheny County has fallen to fewer than 100 new cases per day for the past week – the first time since September.
“This is an exciting time,” said the Allegheny County Health Department [ACHD] Director Dr. Debra Bogen in a press conference on Wednesday. “As more and more people are vaccinated, the number of new cases continues to decline.”
At least half of every eligible age group in the district was at least partially vaccinated, with the exception of 15 to 19 year olds and 12 to 14 year olds. The county only recently started vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 15. The percentage of county residents who received at least one dose of vaccine varies by age group:
In late April and early May 2021, 636 doses of Pfizer vaccines allocated to the ACHD were tainted, according to a report by Spotlight PA on Tuesday. It did so because those Pfizer vaccine doses – which must be kept in extremely cold temperatures – were thawed, which gave the county only five days to use them according to guidelines from the concurrent Food and Drug Administration. That five-day period struck as cancellations and missed appointments increased, spoiling the cans.
“Again, this was a very small number of the 129,000 vaccines we gave,” said Bogen. “It was very unfortunate and we’re working very hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Since then, the FDA has updated its guidelines to allow the use of thawed Pfizer vaccines for up to 30 days.
During the briefing, Bogen spoke more optimistically than at other briefings in the pandemic. With cases dropping to such a low point while vaccination rates continue to rise, Bogen and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will only be briefing every two weeks from now on. The next briefing will take place on June 2nd and then on June 16th.
ACHD will also reduce its daily written updates on the pandemic from six days a week to just three, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, she said.
“If everyone is vaccinated by the end of summer,” said Bogen, “this could be our final phase of the pandemic.”
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor spaces. The new masking guidelines were adopted by Pennsylvania and are in effect immediately.
“Today’s guidance from the CDC only affects people who are fully vaccinated,” said Alison Beam, acting secretary for Pennsylvania. “This is another incentive to get the vaccine, which is now easily and conveniently available. Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated, we can remove the masking order entirely.”
More information about the CDC guides can be found here.
COVID Vaccine Resources in the Pittsburgh Area
Housing and Mental Health Assistance amid Allegheny County’s COVID
Allegheny County’s COVID-19 resource page with links to information on vaccines, test sites, and quarantine basics
Allegheny County Map of Vaccination Centers
(Residents can call for more information or help scheduling an appointment with the Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging 412-350-4234.)
Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Page
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