PHILADELPHIA – As this fall begins, the moving average of new coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania is rising steadily as vaccination plateaus across much of the Philadelphia area. Meanwhile, the average daily number of cases in New Jersey – still far higher than in just two months – remains on a plateau.
Hospital stays, which experts say are a better barometer of how a largely vaccinated population fares against the highly communicable Delta variant, have increased slightly over the past two weeks in Pennsylvania and remain stable in New Jersey.
Coronavirus-related deaths have also increased since the summer, although an average of 60 people die from the virus each day in Pennsylvania and New Jersey combined, a number far lower than any previous increase. Experts say such a sharp drop in deaths shows that vaccines are working.
But after a spike in first shot administrations in August and early September, the number of first doses given in Pennsylvania that month is far lower than the number reported in August, according to an Inquirer analysis of CDC data.
The rising fall surge was anticipated by public health experts and local officials as summer ended and widespread classroom schooling began for the first time in a year and a half.
To make matters worse, delta has sometimes spread among vaccinated people – although the unvaccinated are much more likely to get serious illness, hospitalization, and death – and the increasingly cooler weather is causing gatherings to move indoors, where that is Risk of transmission is greater.
“We’re still fighting,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said at a briefing Wednesday. The virus “humiliates. … Every time you think you’ve figured it out, it takes a turn, ”mostly for the worse.
If children between the ages of 5 and 11 are approved for the Pfizer vaccine in the coming weeks and federal officials approve booster shots for select high-risk populations as expected this week, the increase could be dampened, some experts said. But immunity to a first, second or third shot does not take effect immediately, which means it will take some time for the effects of both measures to be seen.
The most significant impact would be if more unvaccinated people are vaccinated, which is why local officials are asking them to start their vaccinations.
Murphy reread the words of 91-year-old John Franklin’s son, a Lakewood resident who died of the virus earlier this year, on Wednesday: “People who refuse to be vaccinated have never had a family member die on FaceTime.” see. It’s awful. “
“People have to get vaccinated,” added the governor. “There’s no question that this is our best weapon.”
The rate of first dose administration across the region rose in August as people prepared to return to school and work and some mandates went into effect with full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. But in Pennsylvania, the pace in September is closer to July, which saw the lowest number of first shots in the Commonwealth since its inception.
More than 70% of all Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents have received at least one dose, but experts say an even higher level of protection is needed to combat the delta.
In Philadelphia and its suburbs, vaccine demand has been mixed in recent weeks, according to city and district officials.
The total number of shots fired in the city has been constant since mid-August, Philadelphia spokesman James Garrow said, with around 1,800 first shots a day.
Most of the new shot recipients are black or brown residents, Garrow said, and live in the city’s least vaccinated zip codes.
Montgomery and Chester counties have seen slight increases in the past few weeks, officials said, while Delaware County’s medical advisor Lisa O’Mahony said the district had “reached a kind of plateau”. Bucks County continues to report relatively low numbers at its vaccine clinics, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Chester County saw increased demand for Johnson & Johnson’s one-time vaccine, said Health Director Jeanne Franklin, “so likely these people were on the fence or had to get the job and single-dose vaccine.” was more appealing. “
More than 10,000 moderately or severely immunocompromised people in Philadelphia and its collar circles have received a third dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine since it was approved for this group last month, officials said. They are preparing to expand that effort to other high-risk populations – the less immunocompromised, those 65 and older, and some frontline workers – when the FDA approves the move as expected this week.
© 2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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