Health officials confirm 6,778 new cases of COVID-19, 112 new deaths in Pa.

Pennsylvania COVID-19 live updates, news and information

Saturday, November 21, 2020
Pennsylvania's COVID vaccine plan will be in 3 phases
EMBED <>More Videos

Dr. Levine stresses when the vaccines are approved, there will be a limited supply and the drugs won't be available to everyone right away.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Saturday confirmed 6,778 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 302,564.

According to health officials, there are 3,162 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 2,952 on Friday.

Of that number, 661 patients are in the intensive care unit.

The trend in the 14-day moving average of number of hospitalized patients per day has increased by nearly 1,900 since the end of September.

Statewide percent positivity for the week of November 6 - November 12 stood at 9.6%.

Officials said there were 112 new deaths reported for a total of 9,801 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania will distribute COVID vaccines in 3 phases

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Thursday the health department is monitoring both Pfizer and Moderna, who are close to finishing their Phase 3 trials for each of their COVID-19 vaccines, as the state reported more than 7,000 new cases.

Levine said soon after Phase 3 is complete, both companies will request an Emergency Use Authorization through the FDA. Once the FDA completes their review on the vaccines, the FDA will grant an EUA. The CDC will then review and provide recommendations for the vaccines.

When the companies are given the green light, she said the state will be ready but admits the process will be challenging.

"It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania. I anticipate will be wearing masks in 2021. Well into maybe the end of 2021," said Dr. Rachel Levine.

Once approved, the state Department of Health will work to ensure the vaccines are distributed from manufacturers to providers.

"It is important to remember that when the vaccines are available, there may be a limited supply, which means that not everyone will be able to get the vaccine right away," Levine said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health's vaccine plan has three phases of distribution.

The first phase: It will focus on reaching critical populations due to the limited supply, which includes health care personnel, EMS first responders, critical workers maintaining core functions and essential workers, people 65 and older, and residents in congregate care settings.

The second phase: The health department anticipates a large number of vaccines will be available.

"This will allow us to ensure that those in Phase One who were not yet vaccinated can do so," Levine said.

The department will then expand its efforts to targeted populations, including vulnerable populations and those with health conditions who may be at high risk.

The third phase: This begins when the state has sufficient supplies of the vaccine or vaccines.

"In this phase we will begin to ensure the entire population has access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations," Levine said.

If the Federal approval process remains on the track, Levine said, there could be a vaccine in the next month. However, she said, it is not known how quickly the vaccine supply will meet the demand.

"A lot will depend on how much vaccine we get, which will determine how many people we vaccinate and again both those produces require two vaccinations," said Levine.

Montgomery County health care worker, Kim Allen, volunteered for the Moderna vaccine trials. She is excited about the promising results.

"Our immunization programs in the United States are credited with having controlled and eliminated the spread of epidemic disease like small pox, measles, mumps, rubella," said Allen.

Pennsylvania health leaders said there will be logistical challenges and other obstacles with distributing and administering a vaccine to the entire state, but say they are ready and are confident it will be safe.

"Every treatment can have some side effects but there have been no serious side effects. Most of the side effects have been some soreness at the site, maybe some tiredness or headache but the evidence so far is that they are very well tolerated," said Levine.

Levine said while it's good news about the progress of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is important for Pennsylvanians to follow the targeted mitigation orders set in place.

"It is important to remember that when the vaccine becomes available, it will not be a cure - certainly not an immediate cure or end to the coronavirus pandemic," Levine said.


How is 2nd wave of COVID-19 impacting local hospitals?

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Philadelphia region, doctors and medical professionals discuss how the virus is impacting hospitals.

Pennsylvania tightens mask mandate, orders COVID testing

Pennsylvania is working to curb the sharp increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations by issuing strict testing guidelines surrounding people traveling to the state.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the new requirements come as a new study from the IMHE at the University of Washington showed that Pennsylvania could run out of hospital ICU beds as soon as next month.


Philadelphia's new COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect: What You Need to Know

Philadelphia restaurant owners are hoping for booming outdoor dining sales as they have been forced to close their indoor dining rooms to patrons amid new COVID-19 restrictions.

Montco Schools Ordered to go Virtual

Health officials in Pennsylvania's third-most populous county ordered schools to temporarily halt classroom instruction in what they said was an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Montgomery County Board of Health mandated that all public and private K-12 schools in the suburban Philadelphia county offer virtual instruction for two weeks beginning Nov. 23.

Central Bucks School District has no plans to suspend in-class instruction

Sports and in-person classes will continue as planned for the foreseeable future for the Central Bucks School District, the third-largest in the state. The decision was confirmed by Superintendent Dr. John Kopicki, which resonated well with students and parents.


FDA approves 1st rapid virus test that gives results at home

U.S. regulators on Tuesday allowed emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home and delivers results in 30 minutes.

Health experts warn against holiday travel, unnecessary COVID testing

Health experts are urging caution ahead of the holiday season, asking that you think twice about traveling - and getting unnecessary COVID-19 tests.

As COVID cases rise, no need to stockpile supplies, expert says

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, consumers are stocking up, and grocery stores are responding. But before you go on a spending spree, there are some things to consider.

CDC says masks protect you, not just those around you, in updated guidance

As the U.S. sees a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases, the Centers for Disease Control released new mask guidance. The latest update says wearing a face-covering doesn't just protect the people around you, but it also protects the wearer from incoming virus projectiles.

CDC releases updated guidelines for Thanksgiving

The CDC posted its most specific guidance yet on Thanksgiving Monday, which emphasizes that the safest option for the holiday is celebrating only with people in your household or taking extra precautions like wearing masks and keeping your distance if you celebrate with others.


How to properly wash your hands

Which masks protect those around you best?

What to do if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms

Coronavirus testing near me