Philadelphia health officials: COVID-19 cases down for first time in 3 weeks

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley started Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing by offering some proof that the city's latest set of restrictions may be paying off.

"I have better news today. Our case counts have been falling for the past three weeks, but our case counts are still high and we need to be careful," Farley said.

On Tuesday, the city reported a 41% decrease in cases since implementing their "Safer At Home" restrictions, translating into some of the lowest infection rates in the region in some time.

"So, we see this as evidence the restrictions are working," Farley added.

He warned, however, the combination of both Christmas and the New Year's Eve holiday ill-advised gatherings could make case counts soar again.

"These two spikes may run together and they may feed off each other," he said.

To date, while still in the first phase of rollout more than 18,000 health care workers in high-risk environments have received a COVID 19 vaccine in the city.

Farley said the next 2 weeks, the city is allocated to receive less than 10,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

"The number of doses is small so people who want to be vaccinated including health care workers are going to have to be patient in getting the vaccine," Farley said.

As the weeks progress, nonprofit organizations like Philly Fighting COVID will be working with the city to help get more Philadelphians, especially health care workers vaccinated.

"The goal should be, the minute we get the vaccine in hand it should be in somebody's arm," said Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jose Torradas.

Torradas said one of the goals of the group is to help the city reach herd immunity.
"So many business interests want to get back so those hundreds of millions of dollars at stake without counting the thousands of lives that we're losing every day through not being at herd immunity," Torradas said.

Farley said the city's health systems are working to get the vaccines out at fast as possible.

"I don't believe that any of them are holding onto the vaccine, they certainly shouldn't be. There's plenty of people who should be in the queue," he said.
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