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