Both coronavirus hospitalizations and vaccinations inched upward in Luzerne County this week, according to the latest state updates posted Friday.
An average daily 36.6 county residents were hospitalized for COVID-19 this week ending Thursday, compared to last week’s 30.1, said the early warning dashboard posted at www.health.pa.gov.
To put these figures in perspective, the county’s average daily hospitalizations were 3.3 in the week ending July 22 and 130.6 in mid-January.
Most people who are hospitalized or died from COVID-19 are unvaccinated, the state health department has said, pointing to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, report that 97% of those hospitalized and 99% of deaths involve the unvaccinated.
As of Friday, 164,681 county residents were fully vaccinated, or 58.1% of the 283,657 population estimated to be eligible, according to the state’s online vaccine dashboard at health.pa.gov, which was updated Friday.
This is an increase of 1,740 from the 162,941 county residents fully vaccinated last Friday, when the percentage was 57.44%.
Coronavirus vaccines are only available to those over age 11 at this time.
Luzerne County continues to rank 11th among Pennsylvania counties for its percentage of eligible residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the state vaccine dashboard said. There are 67 counties in the state, although Philadelphia is not part of the state statistics.
There were 478 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the county this week, or five more than last week’s 473 additional cases, the early warning dashboard said.
As a result, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, known as the incidence rate, increased from 149 to 150.6.
The county’s positivity rate, or the percentage of diagnostic tests yielding positive results, is now 10.4% compared to 10.1% last week.
The average daily number of hospitalized county residents on ventilators remained about the same this week. It was 4 last week and 4.3 this week.
In the final weekly benchmark, the percentage of hospital visits tied to coronavirus-like illnesses remained at 1.1% in the county.
Statewide, new cases rose from 18,226 last week to 19,380 this week, increasing the incidence rate to 151.4.
The state’s positivity rate increased from 8.2% to 9.1%.
An average 2,016.3 residents were hospitalized daily statewide this week, an increase of 196.6. Average daily hospitalized residents on ventilators increased from 223.6 last week to 248.6 this week.
County Acting Manager Romilda Crocamo said county division heads must submit plans next week indicating how they would re-institute remote work scheduling if it becomes necessary based on caseloads.
Crocamo said she does not know if the additional measure will be needed but wants to be prepared.
Her mask mandate for county properties remains in effect.
So far, few cases have been reported by county workers in recent weeks, said Crocamo.
She is not actively pursuing an employee vaccination mandate at this time, in part because it would require negotiation and agreements with the county’s multiple unions and the potential for litigation against the county.
On the subject of vaccine mandates, county Councilman Harry Haas sent his colleagues an email Friday seeking a council vote on introducing an ordinance that would ban employees from being “coerced to participate in” or “penalized for refusal of” medical preventative measures.