Pike cases hit all-time high as vaccinations get underway

Milford. Pike County is in the initial phase of vaccine distribution focusing on vaccinating healthcare personnel, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities.

06 Jan 2021 | 03:58

COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed in Pike County in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s phased approach, which follows Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

The vaccinations are starting as coronavirus cases in Pike County have hit an all-time high (see chart). On Tuesday, the state health department reported 48 new cases in the Pike County, exceeding the one-day high point of 37 new cases reported on April 13 during the spring phase. In the past 14 days there were five fatalities from COVID-19 in the county, and 10 since Nov. 20.

Meanwhile, the numbers have been going down statewide. Pennsylvania saw an all-time high of new coronavirus cases on Dec. 10, with cases dropping after Gov. Wolf’s new mitigation orders went into effect on Dec. 12. Those orders expired on Jan. 4.

Pike County is in the initial phase of vaccine distribution, known as Phase 1A, which focuses on vaccinating healthcare personnel, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities.

Statewide, with Phase 1A encompassing approximately one million people, demand initially exceeded supply.

“Locally, however, we are caught up on Phase 1A vaccinations,” said Pike County Emergency Management Director Tim Knapp on Jan. 4.

Pike County residents who meet 1A requirements can request a vaccination by emailing Knapp at tknapp@pikepa.org or calling 570-296-1911.

More information will be forthcoming as Pennsylvania advances to Phase 1B and Phase 2 of vaccine distribution to broader segments of the population.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 202 Pike County residents have been vaccinated as of Jan. 4.

“The virus continues to strain our health care systems and the dramatic rise in cases among all age groups, including among school-age children, is alarming,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said on Dec. 12, when mitigation measures when into effect.

Wayne Memorial administers second round

The second round of Wayne Memorial Hospital front-liners lined up to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Dec. 30. The Moderna shots, 10 to a vial, were given out last week and the previous week in the first round, and will continue to health care personnel who meet Phase 1A requirements, high-risk employees who have direct or indirect contact with patients who may be infectious and potentially COVID-positive, with or without showing symptoms.

The 1A category at the hospital includes Emergency Department clinical providers and registration staff, respiratory therapists, lab and radiology technologists, Environmental Services, security and maintenance personnel. Many other departments also fall into the high-risk category — for example, maternity.

In addition, both the hospital and Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers, its clinical affiliate, are preparing to offer a percentage of their vaccines to non-affiliated healthcare personnel who meet the Phase 1A requirements of the Department of Health’s Interim Vaccination Plan. That includes health care personnel working in Emergency Medical Services who are not affiliated with either Wayne Memorial entity.

The Community Health Centers have already begun reaching out to non-affiliated healthcare workers, such as EMS workers, private dentists and ophthalmologists. Several clinics have been set up to offer them vaccines in the next two weeks. Healthcare professionals who have not been contacted are asked to email covidvaccine@wmh.org or leave a message at 570-253-8197.

“It is our privilege to be able to offer these much-needed vaccines to as many people as we are able,” said WMCHC Executive Director Frederick Jackson, “and it is our hope that we will continue to be supplied with enough vaccine to have a true impact in our community.”

The commonwealth has set up a dashboard to track the number of vaccinations administered to residents in each county. The dashboard is available at health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

“Locally, however, we are caught up on Phase 1A vaccinations.” Emergency Management Director Tim Knapp