Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley reports progress on the vaccine front this week, while announcing the continued increase of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley reported progress on the vaccine front this week, while announcing the continued increase of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city.
At Tuesday’s COVID-19 press conference, Dr. Farley said, “the vaccine is more available than ever.” There are 274 vaccine provider sites in the city, a number which grows each week, and all residents 16 and older are now eligible.
At Friday afternoon’s vaccine distribution update, Dr. Farley reported that 708,000 people have received one dose from Philadelphia providers as of Thursday night and 465,000 people have been fully vaccinated by the city.
CDC data shows that 32% of Philadelphia residents over 18 are fully vaccinated and 53% of residents over 65 are fully vaccinated.
For the week ending on April 11, 124,00 doses of the vaccine were delivered, a number which prompted Dr. Farley to say that vaccines are being administered “more quickly than ever.”
Even as the vaccine rollout expands, and a Friday morning report in the Philadelphia Inquirer announced that cases and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania are declining for the first time in a over a month, Dr. Farley cautioned that COVID-19 numbers are at high levels in Philadelphia.
Daily case counts have increased over the last few weeks, with an average of over 500 cases per day. The total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic is144,048.
Hospitalizations have increased from 504 last week to 564 by Thursday morning. Deaths rose from 23 for the week of March 21 to 44 deaths for the week of April 4. By Friday, the total number of Philadelphia residents who have succumbed to the virus stands at 3,434.
“The way this works is, you see first increases in cases, then increases in hospitalizations, then increases in deaths,” said Dr. Farley on Tuesday. “So, we do expect the number of deaths to rise to more than 50 per week soon.”
Due to the increases, the city will not be relaxing restrictions on April 30, which would have increased indoor capacity at restaurants and allowed indoor catered events.
“We already have too many unnecessary deaths,” said Dr. Farley.
On Friday morning, however, Dr. Farley announced that restaurants with outdoor seating will now be allowed to accommodate more than 50 people and bars can now seat groups no larger than four who are from the same household. Six feet of distance must be maintained for groups at bars and from tables, and a separation must be in place between the bartender and bar guests.
The city will address lifting more restrictions next week. Even as restrictions relax, Dr. Farley reminded residents that “the epidemic is still here and it is still deadly.” He asked that Philadelphians continue to practice safety precautions and emphasized the city’s efforts toward making vaccination easier and more accessible.
Residents can now make appointments directly online at the FEMA-operated clinics at Esperanza Community Vaccination Center and the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and many clinics are now accepting walk-ins as more appointment slots open up.
Dr. Farley sees the availability of appointments slots as a sign that demand for the vaccine is slowing, and he encouraged young people now eligible to bring older friends or family members with them to get vaccinated.