Pennsylvania residents could soon know when more COVID-19 vaccines are coming and where they will be.
“The states are going to get a better idea of how many vaccines we’re going to receive,” State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50, Jamestown, said Thursday. “We’re trying to get a more centralized and coherent process.”
Brooks, chairwoman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, represents Mercer and Crawford counties and parts of Erie Warren counties in the state Senate.
Pennsylvania’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines has faced criticism from a wide range of sources, including Gov. Tom Wolf, who said Tuesday that the state had to do a better job of dispensing the medication.
The state ranks 35th in number of doses administered per 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pennsylvania is below average in the United States in the percentage of residents vaccinated. As of Tuesday, a little more than 5% of the state’s population has received the vaccine, while the average nationwide is more than 6%.
West Virginia has ranked among the top U.S. states in dispensing vaccines, which Brooks found baffling.
“They’re even more rural than we are,” she said.
She cited two clinics last week in Greenville, run by the local Walberg pharmacy chain, which vaccinated 1,000 people in each session, as an example of how anxious people are to receive the medication.
Brooks has been meeting with officials from the state Health Department to get information on when more vaccines are coming. The second-term senator said state officials have been working to improve communication with the public and provide multiple, roving vaccine clinics, like one Thursday in the Mercer area.
“More communication, that’s what we’re working on,” she said.
By the numbers
The United States marked the pandemic’s fourth-worst day for deaths, 4,107, Thursday. However, new case counts continued to decline, which means a decrease in fatalities could be coming.
Mercer County had 32 new cases, a slight increase from the 32 a day earlier.
The United States marked its first fatality on Feb. 29 and its first case on Jan. 22, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pa. hospitalization readiness
Strain on hospitals in Pennsylvania continued to ease Thursday.
The state Department of Health reported that 3,691 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals throughout the state, a 2% decrease from the previous day.
Pennsylvania had 753 patients in intensive care and 435 on ventilators, both figures decreases from a day earlier.
The 14-day average for available ICU beds was 659.1 per day, which is a decrease from Wednesday’s figure, but it also reflects the closure of 25 ICU beds across the state.
Ventilator use averaged 519.1 per day over the last two weeks, also a decrease from the previous day.