75 new COVID cases for Berks County

Keith Mayer, Reading Eagle, Pa.
·4 min read

Feb. 23—Berks County added 75 COVID cases on Tuesday, the fourth time in five days that the county had fewer than 100 new cases, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The pandemic case total reached 35,180.

Each new case is a new person testing positive. Each day's report is a composite of the previous day's totals.

The 14-day average of cases fell to 101, lowest since Nov. 9.

The average smooths the uneven reporting of test results.

Statewide, there were 2,830 new cases of COVID, bringing the statewide total to 917,848. The number of test results was 27,516.

The number of test results statewide peaked on Dec. 3 at nearly 80,000.

There were six more deaths of Berks residents in the state report for a pandemic total of 886. They were among 97 deaths reported statewide on Tuesday.

Statewide, a total of 23,711 people have died of COVID, the state said.

The county coroner's office added two deaths Tuesday, pushing the pandemic total to 856 deaths, including 43 nonresidents who won't appear in the state report for Berks.

Both deaths Tuesday were men who were Berks residents and their ages were 65 and 85.

Comparing the totals shows 71 Berks residents have died outside the county. Acting Coroner Jonn M. Hollenbach recently said most of those have died in hospitals and long-term care facilities adjoining Berks.

The health department report Tuesday showed 1,963 COVID hospitalizations statewide, with 69 in Berks.

Reading Hospital's online dashboard showed 54 COVID patients, and Penn State Health St. Joseph's had 16. Due to the flow of admission and discharges and the timing of each report, the hospitals' count rarely equals the state's.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations of Berks residents continue to show that more people are getting second does than first doses of the Pfizer or Moderna products.

The number of completed vaccinations Tuesday was up to 17,741 in the latest state Department of Health dashboard update while those remaining with only the first dose was down to 20,190.

The completed number was up nearly 700, and the first-dose total fell nearly 400 from the report Monday. Some first doses are being given, but more people are completing the process than starting it.

First-timers migrate to the "completed" column after the second dose.

It's unclear who is giving the vaccinations since the state's spreadsheet shows that no Berks providers have received vaccines since Feb. 12.

However, the federal and state pharmacy partnerships with CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid to inoculate residents of long-term care facilities continue.

For example, 80 doses were given at the Highlands at Wyomissing in the past few days, that spreadsheet shows.

Harsh winter weather was a big factor in slow distribution last week, officials said. Recent national news media reports indicate that the amount of vaccine supply is soon expected to increase significantly.

The health department said last week that some Moderna providers in the state had given second doses as first shots. As a result, the state said tens of thousands of appointments would need to be rescheduled and that delays in the time between first and second doses would be extended to 42 days from 21 for Pfizer and 28 for Moderna.

City Hall-library partnership

Reading Mayor Eddie Moran and the Reading Public Library encouraged residents without online access to go to the library system's branches to register for a COVID vaccine.

"All four library branches have computers, internet Wi-Fi connection, along with bilingual assistance," Moran said in a statement. "Everyone should have online access to reserve their vaccinations."

Bronwen Gamble, library system executive director, added, "We want residents and members of the community to know that we are open and ready to welcome everyone. ... Our staff is not only trained but enthusiastic to assist residents of Reading with the help they need."

Check the hours of operation:

— 610-655-6355 for the main branch, Fifth and Franklin streets.

— 610-655-6360 for the Northwest Branch, 901 Schuylkill Ave.

— 610-655-6361 for the Northeast Branch, 1348 N. 11th St.

— 610-655-6362 for the Southeast Branch, 1426 Perkiomen Ave.

The state remains in Phase 1A vaccinations, which includes anyone age 65 and older, plus long-term care facility residents, ambulance crews, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, technicians, pharmacy technicians, health professions students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, contractual health care professionals not directly employed by a health care facility, persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material.

Phase 1A also includes anyone age 16-64 with these conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, weakened immune system from solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, Type 2 diabetes mellitus.