COVID-19 Update: Wednesday, March 31

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from Pennsylvania’s state government as of 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.

Department of Health

  • The Department of Health announced an initiative to vaccinate targeted industry workers and accelerate the vaccination timetable for people in Phases 1B, 1C, and 2.  All Pennsylvanians will be eligible to schedule vaccination appointments beginning April 19.  The new timetable is as follows:
    • March 31 – workers in four previously targeted industries:  law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store workers, and food and agriculture workers.
    • April 5 – all residents in Phase 1B will be eligible to start scheduling vaccinations.
    • April 12 – all residents in Phase 1C will be eligible to start scheduling vaccinations.
    • April 19 – all residents will be eligible to start scheduling vaccinations.

Learn more from this Department of Health news release.  Also, the city of Philadelphia quickly announced that it will not be following this timeline; see a news report here.

  • The Department of Health updated its interim guidance for skilled nursing facilities during COVID-19 with revisions to align with visitation guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), guidance for on-site beauty and barber shops, resources for providers, and information on the Secretary of Health’s order regarding a vaccine needs assessment survey that was due March 23, 2021.
  • The Department of Health has updated its quick start guide addressing changes in the COVID-19 event reporting system that were made on March 24, 2021.  Find the updated instructions here.

Department of Health – by the numbers

  • The daily number of new COVID-19 cases has risen over the past two-and-half weeks.  Yesterday’s total was the highest single-day figure in two months.
  • Despite the rising number of new COVID-19 cases the daily death totals are not rising.  Over the weekend Pennsylvania surpassed 25,000 deaths from COVID-19.
  • For the week from March 19 through March 25 the state’s overall COVID-19 test positivity rate was 7.6 percent, up from 6.5 percent last week.  This is the second consecutive week the state’s positivity rate has risen.
  • Seventeen counties currently have a positivity rate lower than five percent and none have a rate greater than 20 percent.
  • Six counties are currently experiencing low levels of community transmission of COVID-19, 26 counties are experiencing moderate levels of community transmission, and 35 counties – more than half of the state’s 67 counties – are currently experiencing substantial levels of community transmission.
  • In the past two weeks the number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen 43 percent; the number being treated for COVID-19 on ventilators has risen 26 percent; and the number being treated in hospital ICUs has risen 47 percent.
  • Currently, 20 percent of adult ICU beds in the state are unoccupied, as are 16 percent of medical/surgical beds, seven percent of pediatric ICU beds, 22 percent of pediatric beds, and 35 percent of airborne isolation units.
  • As of March 31 the state’s vaccine dashboard shows that more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are now fully vaccinated.  This number does not include Philadelphia, which operates a separate COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • The vaccine dashboard shows vaccine totals by county.
  • Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health reports that as of March 31, 267,000 Philadelphians are fully vaccinated.

Department of Community and Economic Development

The Department of Community and Economic Development has introduced a new, weekly newsletter with the latest information from the state about COVID-19 vaccines.  To subscribe to the “Unite Against COVID Weekly Update” newsletter, go here.

Department of State

Late last year the Department of State granted an extension of 90 days for certain license renewal deadlines for licensees under the Board of Medicine.  With licensees now having difficulty meeting the March 31 deadline, the department has granted an additional 30 days to renew all licenses under the Board of Medicine that were set to expire on December 31, 2020 and have not yet been renewed.  The new deadline is April 30, 2021, and while renewal fees have been waived, the requirement to renew licenses has not.  The Department of State says this will be the final extension for these licenses.  Learn more from this Department of State announcement.

Around the State

  • The Eagles Autism Foundation and Divine Providence Village, a residential facility in Delaware County for people with intellectual disabilities, hosted a vaccination clinic last weekend at Lincoln Financial Field for people with autism who are 18 years of age or older.  Another such clinic is being planned for late April.  Learn more from this Philadelphia Inquirer article.
  • The Scranton Times-Tribune has published a map showing vaccination rates, by county, for seniors ages 65 and older.  Find it here.
  • Next week FEMA will open its second vaccination site in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
  • State Representative Brian Smith (Jefferson, Indiana) has tested positive for COVID-19 and will work remotely for the next two weeks as he recovers and quarantines, according to the web site
  • Chester County’s health department has launched a new system for registering for COVID-19 vaccines.  Individuals who are already registered with the county and who are currently eligible for vaccines will receive emails inviting them to contact the county to schedule their vaccination in one of 88,000 appointment slots that will be available over the next 12 weeks.  The Chester County Daily Local News provides the details.
  • Two Westmoreland County commissioners are hosting an informational session in which participants will learn about the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines so they can make informed decisions about whether to get vaccinated, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.  The science discussion will be led by a University of Pittsburgh professor of medicine who specializes in infectious diseases.
  • Which members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation have received COVID-19 vaccines and which have not?  The Pennsylvania Capital-Star took roll call and presents the results.
  • If Philadelphia’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise the city’s health commissioner says he may reinstate some past restrictions, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

Resources to Consult

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Main COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 Provider Resources

Press Releases

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Main COVID-19 Page

PA Health Alert Network

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Main COVID-19 Page



Filed in Coronavirus, COVID-19.

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