With Case Counts Rising, Pennsylvania Remains In Phase 1A Of Vaccine Plan

It’s a Monday filled with developing COVID-19 headlines. In Pennsylvania, we’re seeing case counts increase and no announcement yet to advance beyond the current Phase 1A, KDKA's Meghan Schiller reports.

Video Transcript

- More than 25,000 people in Pennsylvania have now lost their lives because of the coronavirus. And new cases continue to rise, with more than 1 million reported since the start of the pandemic. Despite that, there is still no sign of the state advancing past the current phase 1A vaccination group.

- Yeah, our Meghan Schiller talked to a infectious disease doctor at Johns Hopkins, who says he's not surprised. Meghan's live now.


MEGHAN SCHILLER: Kim, he said he's not surprised because he says it's the same people, who are the young people that are out and about right now, enjoying life, he says, and spreading the virus that are the same people that cannot get a vaccine dose because they're not eligible. But he also wanted to point out it is not all doom and gloom. He says our hospitalization numbers are down, as well as the death numbers across the Commonwealth.

Let's begin with the positive tonight. This graph shows just how low the numbers of COVID-related deaths are across Allegheny County. Now let's look at the case counts across the state. You can see on the graph where it really dropped down in February. But now those case counts across the Commonwealth are crawling right back up. Dr. Amesh Adalja said we are transitioning into a different type of public health problem. How do we control the spread amongst people who are considered low risk, especially as the weather turns nice?

He says we worked hard to vaccinate Pennsylvanians at high risk, including people living in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities, people battling diseases and cancers. But Dr. Adalja said now we've reached the start of the next phase of this virus.

AMESH ADALJA: If we don't start vaccinating those-- those lower risk groups, you're going to see continued spread, continued disruption from that virus. But it won't be the same type of scenario that we had, for example, in the winter, where we were worried about hospital capacity, where we were seeing deaths. That's going to be a little bit different. But we will see more events being disrupted by COVID-19, especially as people want to get back to activities and athletics.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: And Dr. Adalja believes the new goal should be to get the vaccine to anyone who wants it.

Dr. Adalja did point out we are not going to get to what he calls COVID zero any time soon. But he also says he doesn't think it's sustainable for us to continue to have the case counts that we have had. Now, again, those case counts across the area going up, but he says, again, not a doom and gloom situation. But he does say it underscores the need for Pennsylvania to prioritize doses for those who have not yet had access. Reporting live downtown, Meghan Schiller, KDKA News.