As the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health was detailing plans for when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available, Dr. Rachel Levine said she expects masks to be a part of life well into the new year.
“I anticipate that we are going to be wearing masks well into 2021, maybe until the end of 2021 and continue with social distancing. We realize this is challenging for everyone in Pennsylvania but you can see the numbers are going up across the United States”, said Dr. Levine.
The Department of Health confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., November 19, that there were 7,126 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 288,978. This is the highest daily increase of cases.
There are 2,904 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. Of that number, 628 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19. Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.
Dr. Levine expects a vaccine could be ready by December. The plan is to distribute it in Pennsylvania in 3 phases targeting healthcare, essential workers and the elderly first. It could take at least 6 months or longer until the vaccine is available to everyone.
“We are in for a very challenging time. We anticipate rolling out the vaccine through the winter, spring and into summer. It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania”, said Dr. Levine.
Pfizer says its vaccine is 95% effective. Moderna says its vaccine candidate is also 95% effective.