COVID-19 cases drop in city as vaccine efforts gain steam

by Kate Dolan
Posted 3/2/21

Case rates of the coronavirus continue to fall in Philadelphia and vaccination rates gradually rise, as the city works out how to expand sites and get the vaccine to more people.

“The doses …

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COVID-19 cases drop in city as vaccine efforts gain steam

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Case rates of the coronavirus continue to fall in Philadelphia and vaccination rates gradually rise, as the city works out how to expand sites and get the vaccine to more people.

“The doses that are available to us is increasing pretty much every week now,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley at Friday’s COVID-19 press briefing. The low vaccine supply being provided to the city has been pointed to as the major obstacle in vaccinating Philadelphia’s population since December.

“Now, it’s much more so that the limiting factor is more the number of doses that providers can deliver, than the number of doses that are arriving in the city,” he said.

Next week, 16,380 first doses of Pfizer and 15,600 first doses of Moderna will be available for administration. An additional 5,000 Moderna first doses have been shipped to pharmacies, bringing the total to about 37,000 first doses in the city.

The Philadelphia Department of Health opened three mass vaccination clinics this week, each open two days a week with a plan to vaccinate 500 people per day at each. The locations are the Martin Luther King Jr Older Adult Center at 2101 Cecil B. Moore Ave # 35, the Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School at 1100 E Erie Ave and the Bobby Morgan Arena at the University of Sciences in West Philly, at 835 S 43rd St. The city will invite those people who have registered with the city using the vaccine interest form and who fit Phase 1B criteria to these sites.

To fill out the vaccine interest form, visit covid-vaccine-interest.phila.gov

Dr. Ala Stanford, CEO of the Black Doctor's COVID-19 Consortium, joined Dr. Farley on Friday to discuss the BDCC vaccine distribution program. The organization was founded last spring and tested over 25,000 people for COVID-19. On January 16 in North Philadelphia, it opened its first vaccination clinic and has since hosted 20 clinics, vaccinating 15,871 people.

“We will continue to focus on the hardest hit zip codes,” said Dr. Stanford of the organization’s mission, offering the demographic information of those its vaccinated: 72.3% Black, 3.9% Asian, 18.5% White, 2.5% Hispanic, and 2.8% unknown or not listed. Beginning on March 1, the clinics will vaccinate on a first-come first-served basis, after the electronic registration system it was using didn’t fully accommodate the people it is trying to serve.

“Many of them were not from communities that were hardest hit, we were worsening a health disparity if you will, because those who didn’t have access to phones or computers were unable to register,” said Dr. Stanford.

The BDCC will continue to hold clinics 4-5 days per week. 

This week, on March 3, the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City will become home to a FEMA-operated vaccination site. The site hopes to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day and will stay open from 8 a.m. and until 8 p.m. for approximately six weeks. There are no walk-ins at this site. Again, the city will invite people who fit Phase 1B criteria who have filled out the online vaccine interest form.

Vaccines continue to be available at select pharmacy locations including Rite Aid, ShopRite, Walgreens and eight independent pharmacies in the city.

On Friday, the city announced 221 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and one new death. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 113,308 and the total number of deaths is 3,092. As of Friday morning, 292 people were being treated for the virus in Philadelphia hospitals. 

Case counts are dropping not only in Philadelphia but in the region and the nation.

“It’s not caused by the vaccine, because we haven’t given enough of the vaccine to explain that decline,” said Dr. Farley at Tuesday’s COVID-19 update press conference. “It more likely reflects the pattern that’s followed by other respiratory viruses where they peak in the winter and then they get better in the spring and summer.”

“So, it’s a sign that things will be getting better in the spring and summer, even better still as the vaccinating coverage increase over time,” said Dr. Farley.

For more information on how to get a vaccine, read the latest on the city’s COVID-19 website.

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