As COVID-19 cases rise in Bucks County, hospital seeks more vaccine from state of Pennsylvania

BRISTOL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Several states, including Pennsylvania, are seeing coronavirus cases continue on an upward trend. Bucks County is one of the areas causing concern in the Keystone State.

Health care providers at Lower Bucks Hospital are seeing the rise in cases first-hand.

"Actually, we have seen an increase in the cases of COVID in our patient population. We've been seeing this in the past couple of weeks, fluctuating back and forth, but more on the higher side," said Lea Rodriguez, the chief nursing officer for Lower Bucks Hospital.

"Today there are about 11 patients we have in the hospital that are COVID positive and there are some we're ruling out," she continued. "One day it will be 10, and the next day it will be 15, so it all depends on what we see in our emergency rooms and the patients we see. We are seeing many different ages in our COVID populations."

Rodriguez added that the more people they can vaccinate, the more the case counts will go down.

On Wednesday, they inoculated 400 people with the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. They also received an additional 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from Bucks County.

The state Department of Health stopped sending the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Lower Bucks Hospital, which had begun in December. The four southeastern Pennsylvania counties including Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware, all are receiving their own allotments to be distributed at county sites and where local officials see fit moving forward.

This was the first week the counties received a weekly expected allotment that includes at least 42,000 vaccines a week. Some counties received an extra amount this first week.

Lower Bucks Hospital officials, however, are urging the state and county to give them more doses.

"It is the population that's underserved who we are serving, and we have the resources," said Rodriguez.

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Case rates have risen especially in Michigan lately, averaging more than 6,600 cases a day over a week now against 1,350 daily cases five weeks ago.

Patients receiving vaccines on Wednesday at the Bristol hospital said rising case counts were a factor.

Briana Belford of Doylestown said most of her family is already vaccinated.

"I felt like this was my chance to get ahead of a curve maybe and be a part in bringing those back down," Belford said.

Anthony Brannon of Langhorne agreed.

"I was waiting for the first available shot and it happened to be the one I wanted, the Johnson & Johnson," Brannon said.

Michelle and Cornell McClease of Levittown both were hesitant to get the vaccine until they saw a rise in cases.

"I was very undecided, then I started to see cases jumping up around me and I started thinking, 'Oh, I might need to go ahead and get taken care of,'" said Michelle.

"In the beginning, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but the right thing to do was to protect myself, my family, my co-workers. I feel a lot better now that I have the vaccine," Cornell added.
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