Montgomery County sees uptick in COVID-19 cases, more vaccine doses expected soon

Montgomery County is seeing nearly 200 new coronavirus infections a day, including several people who have contracted the more contagious UK variant, according to county chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh. 

The uptick in cases is something Arkoosh said needs to be taken seriously, even as the area expects to receive a payload of vaccine doses in the near future. She urged county residents to continue wearing masks and keep social distance to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and the variants. 

"We're so close to the end, we can see that light in the tunnel, we get closer to it every day with all the people we're vaccinating," Dr. Arkoosh said.

According to the latest data from Montgomery County's website updated on Wednesday, more than 63,000 residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Montgomery County is the third most populated county in the state with more than 820,000 residents.

Weeks after the southeastern counties were embroiled in a battle with the state for more doses, Arkoosh said Montgomery County is expecting 10,500 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the coming days. This will be added to the 6,000 weekly doses of the Pfizer vaccine that's directed to the county.

Arkoosh believes the impending increase of doses will help the county breeze through its 1A waiting list, which includes healthcare workers, long-term care staff and residents, and people older than 65. The acceleration will help Montgomery County meet the state's deadline of Apr. 19 to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults.

Two weeks ahead of fully expanded eligibility, Arkoosh suggested that supply might not immediately meet demand when people in Phase 1B are allowed to schedule appointments on Monday. 

"Just because people are eligible for the vaccine, that does not guarantee that we have a dose available to you," Arkoosh said. "I know on Monday there are a lot of 1B people who have been anxiously awaiting - and rightfully so, because they are frontline workers - to get vaccinated. They'll have an easier time getting it, it's coming soon, but it might not be quite on Monday."

Pennsylvania on Thursday reported more than 5M people in the state have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The latest study from Pfizer said its highly effective vaccine lasts for up to 6 months and protects against the South African variant. 

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