DOYLESTOWN >> The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations continued to accelerate last week in Bucks County, but so did the rate of new coronavirus infections.
Through Saturday, March 27, 156,595 people had been at least partially vaccinated here – a number roughly equivalent to 31 percent of the county’s adult population.
At the same time, new COVID infections increased by 23 percent over the previous week as the county passed the pandemic milestone of 50,000 total cases. Eleven people with COVID died, raising the death toll to 1,177.
Bucks County’s four mass vaccination clinics continued to function efficiently. The four sites operated by AMI Expeditionary Healthcare set another weekly record by administering 13,847 total doses.
Throughout the county, 42,813 shots were administered by all providers.
“Our cases are up a little as people are starting to go back to ‘normal,’” said Bucks County Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker. “However, vaccinations continue to greatly outpace cases, which is why it is much less concerning than it has been in the past. We’re on our way to beating this.”
County officials urged the public to continue following masking and distancing protocols. They also are working this week to extend vaccination appointments to a broader group of people.
Over the past week, the county has sought to clear its waiting list of residents who have pre-registered on its website for Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, emailing appointment invitations to 65,000 people. That process concluded Monday, March 29.
On Tuesday, March 30 last-call emails will be sent to everyone who pre-registered as 1A-eligible with the county – about 160,000 in all -- to make sure nobody was missed. Anyone who has already been vaccinated or scheduled an appointment should disregard the notice.
The outreach is part of Bucks County’s effort to comply with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order that all 1A-eligible residents be scheduled by March 31 for first-dose vaccination appointments. Those appointments are being booked well into late April at the county’s vaccination clinics.
Starting Thursday, April 1 Bucks County no longer will maintain a 1A wait list. A new link will be posted to the county website’s vaccination information page, where all 1A-eligible people can register directly for an appointment.
By May 1, the county expects to open appointments to all residents, regardless of age, occupation or health conditions.
Through March 27, 77,774 people had been fully vaccinated in Bucks County, along with 78,821 who had been partially vaccinated.
The uptick in vaccination numbers was countered by a continuing spike in new COVID infections. The state reported 1,664 new infections last week in Bucks, a 23 percent increase over the previous week.
Last week’s seven-day average for new cases exceeded 240 per day, the rose to 256 per day, the highest rate in seven weeks, while the test positivity rate rose to 9.2 percent from 6.7 percent two weeks ago.
Sixty-eight COVID patients were in Bucks County hospitals at the end of last week, 16 of them in intensive care and 12 on ventilators.
Statistics, charts, links to state health department data and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com.