PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Coronavirus cases spiked in Allegheny County on Friday despite increasing access to vaccinations.
“We have to hold on, we have to come together and not go out yet until people are vaccinated,” said Dr. Brian Lamb, an internal medicine specialist with Allegheny Health Network.
Vaccinations are increasing but so are COVID-19 cases. The Allegheny County Health Department said 593 new cases were reported Friday. Of these, 433 are confirmed cases and 160 are probable cases. This is a 214 increase from Thursday. Ten new deaths were also reported.
The health department reported that 72 of the new cases are from the age group 19 to 24, 245 cases are from the age group 25 to 49, and 82 cases are from the age group 50 to 64.
“We are seeing a rise in cases. Luckily, we are seeing them in younger, healthier patients. We have vaccinated a lot of the population, especially the older population, which is higher risk. So what we’re seeing is a younger population who may be out exposed to each other. But we’re hoping, in the long run, we are not going to see the hospitalizations and the mortality from this surge,” said Dr. Lamb.
Vaccine clinics have been ramping up in the area. Allegheny Health Network and the Allegheny County Health Department opened a two-day clinic in Monroeville on Friday. AHN hopes to vaccinate up to 13,000 people in Phases 1A, 1B and 1C. The state granted AHN permission to open eligibility for those in 1C.
While vaccine opportunities increase and COVID-19 numbers rise, many people have been getting out to enjoy the weather and eased restrictions at bars, restaurants and other businesses.
“I think it’s mind-blowing. I was hoping it was going to cut down soon and they started opening things up, but you never know nowadays,” said Ronnie Washabaugh, who wrote his motorcycle to the North Shore with his friends.
“We still need to be cautious and protective, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even though it might be a bit more prolonged than we thought it would be,” said Prateek Agarwal, who was walking with his girlfriend and puppy on the North Shore.
Dr. Lamb is urging people to not go out if they’re not vaccinated.
“If you have not had your vaccination, you still cannot go out and you cannot socialize with your friends,” Dr. Lamb said.
Opinions on COVID-19 vaccines vary.
“I’m still hesitant because it’s so new, but I’m down for it, nonetheless. Sooner or later I’ll probably end up getting one,” said Washabaugh.
“It’s worth any side effect that is temporary and relatively harmless in the end,” said Agarwal.
Doctors and other health experts are hoping for the best but fear the worst.
“The vaccine is safe, there is no reason to not get the vaccine,” Dr. Lamb said. “We all have to do our part to get back to normality. If we don’t do our part, the world could go back to where we were before,” Dr. Lamb said.
Allegheny Health Network’s vaccination clinic will continue Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Next Tier Connect at Pittsburgh East in Monroeville.
Walk-ins were welcome on Friday, but they will not be accepted on Saturday. Appointments are still available. You can schedule an appointment here.