Luzerne County’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising again, and approximately 45.4% of eligible county residents are not fully vaccinated, the latest state statistics show.
Meanwhile, county acting Manager Romilda Crocamo said she and other administrators are monitoring statistics and speaking to regional medical officials to determine if any safety protocols will be brought back to county government properties, including symptom screening of visitors entering buildings and a mask requirement.
Health experts worldwide are warning of the spreading Delta variant, which is considered more dangerous and contagious.
There were 131 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county this week ending Thursday, or 73 more than last week’s 58 additional cases, according to the state’s early warning dashboard update posted Friday at www.health.pa.gov.
The county’s positivity rate, or the percentage of diagnostic tests yielding positive results, is now 4.9%, compared to 2.8% last week. At the state level, the positivity rate is currently 3.9%, the dashboard shows.
An average daily 9.3 county residents were hospitalized for the coronavirus this week, or six more than last week’s average daily 3.3. For comparison, the county’s average hospitalizations were 48.7 residents in early May and 130.6 in mid-January.
The number of hospitalized county residents on ventilators increased slightly this week, from none to 0.6, the dashboard said.
In the remaining two county benchmark statistics:
• The percentage of hospital visits tied to coronavirus-like illnesses rose from 0.6% last week to 0.8% this week.
• The number of cases per 100,000 residents, known as the incidence rate, increased from 18.3 to 41.3. Statewide, the incidence rate is 32.
On Friday, 154,891 of eligible county residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or 54.6%, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard at health.pa.gov.
The number was around 146,630 at the end of June, which means more than 8,000 have received all shots required for full protection in the last month.
Those 12 and older are able to be vaccinated. The state health department uses a count of residents 10 and older for the total eligible — 283,657 in the county — because it does not have a breakdown of those 12 and older.
Another 12,946 county residents are partially vaccinated.
County Emergency Management Agency Director Lucy Morgan has said she and others have been exhaustively working to make the vaccine accessible to all.
Former county manager C. David Pedri had announced in mid-May that masks would not be required inside county facilities for those fully vaccinated, based on updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Few workers and visitors currently don masks.